The hall in the Burroughes Building was packed with entrepreneurs (along with one person claiming to work in venture capital) for Extreme Startups Demo Day, all curious to learn more about the Toronto ecosystem from the organization's "Chief Innovation Hunter," Andy Yang.
Yang starts off by showing a Venn diagram with three sections: the first two are recognized as Talent (ranging from entrepreneurs to public companies, as well as everything in between) and Capital (angel investors, accelerators, tech studios, super angels, fund of funds, and public market). Toronto, being home to Google Canada’s and Facebook Canada’s headquarters, is capable of attracting the top tech talent from across the country.
Frankly, Yang’s visual aids are the gem of the presentation. They’re comprehensive and contain a series of names that serve as a great starting point for research. This ranges from experienced local entrepreneurs to different types of venture capitals and funds.
Yang advises the audience to do their diligence about people in funds, and to understand what excites them. He also advises meeting people that aren’t decision-makers, but have the decision-maker’s ears (often second-in-command or the ones frequenting startup events). These people, despite not being decision-makers, will be your advocates and will vouch for your startup, should they feel compelled to. Glancing at apprehensive faces, he reassures the audience that he will be releasing the slideshow.
Yang points out that these two circles, Talent and Capital, are generally in the spotlight. Then, there’s the third circle, titled Policy and Community.
Policy and Community has access to Talent and Capital, and consists of organizations like blogs (yours truly was mentioned), media, conferences (like NXNEi), municipal/local organizations (like MaRS and the DMZ), and provincial/federal policy.
I’ll admit to being impressed by the neat categorization of the three types of presences required for a healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem. In retrospect, I can also see this model applying very much to other fields, such as the music industry or journalism. Keep your eyes peeled for Yang’s slides—I know I’m going to be waiting for them with bated breath.