Integrating startup culture

Photo by Jessica Dik

Photo by Jessica Dik

On Monday, Communitech hosted its second Talent Collision Day, inviting students and entrepreneurs in the region to listen to and network with local startups.

“Here at Communitech we run many networking events,” said Marylin Ma, account manager of startup services, at the start of the event. “This is just one of many to help you integrate into the startup ecosystem and just see what’s out there.”

10 startups were featured at the event and were each given a few minutes on stage to pitch their company’s vision and hiring needs. The audience was made up of other startups and talent looking to make connections with one another.

“Talent” refers to those in attendance with skills in technical development, business development, marketing communication and design.

The first time the event was run was in February.

“Great success, lots of positive responses,” said Ma. “Three startups managed to hire successfully from the event, so we thought it was worth it to run it again.”

They’re hoping to continue to run it bi-annually, in tandem with each co-op cohort at Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo.

The event was sold out the week prior, so Ma said she feels the event was a success.

“Even one successful hire, we count that as a successful event because that is the end result,” she said. “Ultimately, just bring everyone together to start talking startups and especially inspiring young students and new graduates to be involved in entrepreneurship is really the end take-away.”

As incentive for people to take advantage of the networking opportunity, they offered a $50 gift card to the person who tweeted the most pictures of them networking to #talentcollision.

Homefed was one of the startups present. Their company is meant to connect people over home-cooked meals.

“How many people here have sat at home on a Wednesday night, looked at Facebook, Twitter, seen pictures of people’s food?” asked James Mclean, cofounder of Homefed. “We want to make it so you can actually buy that food and eat it with them. We’ve found that people are starved for social connection and that’s what we’re on a mission to do, connect people over food.”

Mclean explained that he was there representing Homefed to look for technical talent to join their startup.

“It’s something that needs to be done,” he said of the event. “It’s really important to bring people together that are looking and also it’s great because it pushes the culture of startups.”

SkyWatch was another startup who presented at the event. The company’s goal is to try and index space to “deliver the universe through the browser” to the public. They have connections with both Google and NASA.

They were at the event looking for talent as well as to promote the fact that they will be taking on co-op students starting in January.

“The fact that we are able to come here, and pitch to everybody and get the introductions is fantastic,” said Ryan Ovas, cofounder of SkyWatch.

“It takes a lot of the hurdles down when finding talent.”

Andrew Tran, a student at the University of Waterloo, attended the event with one of his classes, but also attended out of personal interest.

“I’m really interested in startup culture,” he said. “I’m also looking for people to join me in building my startup idea.”

Ma said that Communitech is currently developing more events and programs that specifically target students.

“We’re rolling out an ambassador program as well, and we’re integrating in the clubs at Laurier,” she said. “So definitely going to have lots coming for students, we’re not stopping here.”

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