Earlier this week the 500 Startups Roadshow stopped at a Canadian city.
Toronto was their second stop in a global tour that includes cities like Berlin, Los Angeles and Tel Aviv.
Hosted at the OneEleven office – an accelerator for big data and tech startups that include alumni like WealthSimple and Careerify – at least 300 people got the chance to network with other Toronto-based founders, meet the 500 startups team and talk to founders who have gone through the 500 startups accelerator.
As Toronto becomes a bigger player in the global startup ecosystem, an event like this was only a matter of time. Amanda Parker, founder of a startup focused on helping SMBs measure and optimize marketing called Datayak, went through 500 Startups and pushed the team to come to Toronto.
“All the Canadian startups in my batch and other batches got extremely close and we thought, 500 needs to come to Toronto, we’re all just coming to them,” Parker says with a laugh. “So I said to them, I’m gonna stop referring companies to you until you get on a plane, and they did.”
Parker, whose startup is based in the OneEleven office, hopes that this will be a signal to Americans who may not see Canada as that big of an influence in the startup scene.
“The tech companies that are coming out of here, and all the amazing talent that comes out of Canada needs to be curated better,” Parker says.
During the event, the 500 Startups team introduced themselves and gave a brief intro on what they do, and stressed that they were actively looking for talent to add to their accelerator. They take four batches of about 30 startups at their several accelerator locations – one in San Francisco, one in Mountain View, and another location in Mexico City, where they foster startups that cater to Spanish-speaking markets.
“We’re already one of the most active seed investors in Canada, and we’ve invested in a ton of awesome companies in this ecosystem,” says Max Fram-Schwartz, a venture partner with 500 Startups.
Whether at a networking event or a large accelerator like 500 Startups, Fram-Schwartz emphasized that community support when building your company is important in building an atmosphere that boosts entrepreneurship.
“What we’ve found in building and growing our accelerator is the power of community,” he says. “Building a startup is tough, and having other founders around you that are going through the same experience is really powerful.”