• by William Mougayar
    Venture advisor, 4x entrepreneur, marketer & strategist. I live in Toronto, curate a lot, blog a bit, and help startups.

Unpacking Toronto’s Tech Startup Events

Too Many Tech Startup Events in Toronto? Hell Yeah!events image

Since mid October of this year, there has been an incredible amount of tech startup related events in Toronto, and the frenzy continues until mid-December. That’s more than I ever remembered in the past 7 years that I’ve been involved in this community.

What’s happening? Let’s deconstruct what’s going on, and list the constellations that are responsible for this flurry of activity.

If you’re in the Greater Toronto Area, suddenly, it feels like we went from a handful of events per week to several, and often overlapping events “per day”! I think it’s good thing for the Toronto Tech Startup ecosystem (and I’m not counting the dozens of regular Meetups that continue to occur). I am focused on the more significant events with at least 75 attendees.

There is a good variety of events across several topics and angles, and this is a sign of a healthy ecosystem. The events I’m seeing cover the gamut of topics:

  • Software

  • Creative

  • Venture Capital

  • Women in tech

  • Marketing

  • Bitcoin

  • SaaS

  • Sales

  • Hackathons

  • Wearables

  • Portfolio companies related

  • Lawyer-clients related

  • Product management

  • Ones with out of town experts

  • Etc.


An interesting fact about these events is they are totally decentralized. No one entity or organizer controls, manages or hosts a majority of them. And no one ever will.

I’m also seeing new types of events, such as in the areas of Wearables, Product Hunt, Bitcoin, Women in tech; and there are some new cool event spaces such as at Bitmaker Labs, OneEleven, Pivotal Labs, MakeWorks and Shopify.

How you learn about these upcoming events has always been a challenge, but it’s getting better. Here’s a quick list of the key constellations that you need to keep an eye on:

The Toronto Startup Digest has been doing a great job with their Monday morning email, but despite their comprehensiveness, additional events seem to pop-up here and there. In addition to the weekly email, their Web Calendar view offers a quick way to glance at a whole month of activity on one page. There are some significant upcoming events such as:  AccelerateTO, Startup Open House, HohoTO, MeshMarketing, AndroidTO, MakerFaire, CIX.

The Startup North Facebook Page has taken a life of its own as a collective contribution of news, events and opinions surrounding the entire Canadian tech startup space. New events are often announced there.

The Startup North Events page has a comprehensive listing of events as well, and it goes beyond Toronto, covering all of Canada.

Tom Emrich and the Wearables machine. Tom has been a driving force in the Toronto tech Wearables space (and globally too). He has been spearheading the always-packed, always-waitlisted Toronto We are Wearables monthly meetup,  just ran a world-class WEST conference, and has more events up his tech sleeves, such as  SmartWeek Toronto: October 24-26, Sports Hack Weekend: November 14-16, and FITC Wearables: November 13.

Decentral is Toronto’s center for everything Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Their popular weekly Wednesday Meetup often gets 100+ attendees, among the movers, shakers and wannabees of the Bitcoin space. Pssst, their next guest speaker on Oct 29th is Andreas Antonopoulos, world renowned Bitcoin expert.

Bitmaker Labs recently kicked off their Think Thursday series of monthly interviews in their new 8,000 sq ft King Street West offices. Led by Craig Hunter, this series of events has been well received by the community.

OneEleven, a new 15,000 sqft cool space has been seeing a good share of quality events, some of them organized by OneEleven, and others run by select external partners. OneEleven is also home to my events, and it is where I ran the first event there in October 2013.

Pivotal Labs in Toronto. Their Google-sque new event space is one of Toronto’s latest. It opened a few months ago, and has hosted a variety of developers and startup related events.

Startup Grind. Michael Cayley, the dynamo Director behind the Toronto Chapter keeps grinding and bringing impressive speakers from the US and Canada.

HighLine (the merger of Extreme Startups and Vancouver’s GrowLab) has been on a roll, hosting a number of lunch and evening events of an extremely good quality. You can subscribe to get notified via their Meetup group.

Shopify has a new really hip event space that can host 200 attendees, and they have been hosting and organizing selected events that benefit the Toronto community. Satish Kanwar is the Shopify Toronto ring leader.

The MaRS events page has a pretty good listing that includes their own events and others in Toronto. They also have an event submission page, if you’d like to see your event listed there.

Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone is always bustling with activity, and they are hosts to a number of startup related events. The next event they are hosting is no less than the famous AccelerateTO.

MakeWorks is a new 10,000 sqft space that used to be an old shoe factory, now reincarnated as an attractive co-working space / shared R&D labs for everything related to the makers segment, and includes an event space.

The Working Group is a strategy, design and development firm that has been hosting a number of interesting events in their office. The most recent one was with the authors of the Value Proposition Design book.

BNOTIONS  is also an active instigator and sponsor to a number of local events, some of them are listed on The YMC site.

If you’re a developer or designer, there a number of key events in that space, such as DevTO, HackerNest, GirlGeeksToronto, Rails Pub Nite (link includes Unspace events too), and TorontoUX.

Adding Your Event

If you would like to add a new event to Startup Digest, email Josh Sookman or Will Lam, and/or post your event directly on the StartupNorth Events page. While you’re at it, announce it on the StartupNorth Facebook page. And when you tweet it, how about adding the hashtag #TOtechevent so others can find these events easily?

See you at the events! A good entrepreneur is a networked entrepreneur!

ps- If I missed any significant tech event organizers or constellations in the GTA, please point them in the comments space.

pps- Are you happy with how you’re keeping track of these events based on the above information? If you have any suggestions or ideas, let’s hear it.

ppps- The goal of this post was not to list all events, but rather to point people to where they can look to find out about events that interest them. So, my apologies if I didn’t list your event specifically.

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