“The bottom line is we are not at our potential – nowhere near our potential.”
Toronto Mayor, John Tory masterfully summed up the city’s flourishing startup and tech ecosystem. With an ever-expanding workforce, Toronto has all the building blocks towards layering a solid foundation for more startups to evolve into global powerhouses. With a local tech culture that values entrepreneurialism, an educational infrastructure, hands-on training and a growing reputation to boot - the positive signs that the Toronto tech sector is beginning to come into its own are showing on the global stage.
The youth-loving culture in the tech industry
Much has been written across prominent publications about the layers of factors that go into Toronto’s booming tech environment. A favorable currency exchange, affordable healthcare and a government that encourages innovation in technology top the list - but there’s an underscoring question we forget to look at: what else is there that serves as the beacon for pulling people in?
Simply put, Toronto is sitting on a gold mine of talent – and we’re starting to really see the rush.
The numbers validate Toronto as a hotbed for talent with over 231,000 tech jobs and the city hosting between 2,500 and 4,100 active tech startups. The city will only continue to expand with an estimated 3.5 million people to be added to the Greater Toronto area in the next 20 years.
What does the supporting community have to offer the talent pool? Consider what the majority of new graduates want to do once they’ve tossed off the cap and gown –by and large they will flock to the major city centres to immerse themselves in the urban environment, to embrace the vibrant nightlife and to thrive off its creative neighbourhoods. And if you’re in the technology sector in a smaller town, and the company doesn’t work out, you’re kind of limited to what other options there are available for you.
Tech companies have a certain age that comprises the bulk of their workforce that helps engineer and sell their product. Now with that age bracket sometimes comes an unfortunate connotation attached with regards to age discrimination, but the fact of the matter is that the majority of their labour force are in their mid 20’s to early 30’s.
Is Toronto a better startup environment than Silicon Valley?
Should we constantly be comparing ourselves to Silicon Valley? Short answer – no.
They are still the Holy Grail for technology companies, and produce more unicorns than a fairy tale.
“The difference between Canada and Silicon Valley’s startup ecosystems is difficult to define, and hard to understand until you’ve lived in the U.S. for a significant enough period of time. But in addition to their world-famous kindness, Canadians are vibrant, educated, intelligent – and loyal.” – Steve Woods, Google Canada’s Senior Engineering Director. “If you’re creating a startup you need loyalty, because people can walk away, because they’re easily employable, so you want people who are committed, who don’t feel like they’re just doing it for themselves – and in Canada you get that.”
With access to cottage country only an hour away, the U.S. border within reach, world-class professional sports teams, a vibrant arts and culture scene and a city that’s nestled along one of the Great Lakes – and not to pump our own tires here, but sometimes we forget how fortunate we are for this melting pot we call home. Plus our trademarked politeness is even being seem as a value add with TechCrunch boasting that, “the international community has long regarded Canadians as being a kinder, friendlier and a more accepting culture. Softer and less aggressive both socially and in business - Canadians are pleasurable to work with.”
While there’s no denying what Silicon Valley has done for the technology landscape, Toronto can’t be overlooked for what their booming talent pool offers towards building a sustainable ecosystem.