What do you get when you mix a lot of tech talk with sausage, schnitzel, polka music and a few cold beverages?
The Communitech Hub was filled with plenty of Gemütlichkeit on Oct. 12 as the tech community came together for an Oktoberfest-style day of learning, networking and celebrating.
The event attracted more than 500 founders, investors and partners from the local ecosystem, the Waterloo-Toronto corridor and farther afield for a variety of workshops, panel discussions, peer-to-peer talks and socializing.
“What a testament to the energy and spirit of Canadian tech!” said Chris Albinson, CEO and President of Communitech. “Events like Techtoberfest help fuel the sense of community that is so important in building a strong, world-leading tech ecosystem like the one we enjoy here in Waterloo Region and across Canada.”
The day kicked off with a reunion brunch for women and non-binary founders who had all participated in the Communitech-led Fierce Founders program over the past nine years.
Guest speaker Assel Beglinova, CEO and co-founder of Paperstack, talked about the importance of founders building a community.
“Many individuals genuinely want to contribute, unleashing their potential,” she said. “Bring people into your circle, not just for their presence but to actively collaborate with you. Recognize the unique abilities each person possesses and leverage their expertise and efforts.”
Elsewhere in the Hub, Communitech held a peer-to-peer discussion for members of Team True North, a data-driven initiative that identifies and supports high-potential Canadian private tech companies that are on track to achieve global scale.
Led by Trusscore CEO Dave Caputo, a serial founder and former Communitech board chair, the discussion focused on how tech leaders are adapting to the economic headwinds that have buffeted the industry over the past year.
“Communitech is a community of tech enthusiasts who support each other through learning and collaboration,” Caputo said. “This strengthens our community's capabilities. Events like this introduce us to potential partners. I met 10 new founders today – one I might use their product, two I might seek assistance from, and three might ask for my help. These events make such connections possible.”
Throughout the afternoon, the walls of the Hub’s ground-floor meeting space reverberated with the lively music of legendary accordion player and polka king Walter Ostanek and his keyboardist, Wayne Malton.
In the afternoon, founders and investors came together for Investorhaus – a two-hour event that included networking and panel discussions about funding opportunities and the challenges that lie ahead for the tech industry.
Sunil Sharma, Managing Director of Techstars Toronto Accelerator, talked about the importance of events that bring the tech community together.
“Waterloo boasts an incredibly strong global reputation, quite possibly one of the most robust city brands globally for a city of this size,” he said. “I would be optimistic that there are startups in the region waiting to be discovered and this is where they can be discovered.”
Sharma, whose Techstars Toronto recently celebrated its 100th investment, also highlighted the importance of diversity.
“The ecosystem involves a variety of players and organizations, each with its unique role,” he said. “Our focus is on identifying and nurturing strong local companies. After investing resources in education and integration, we want to keep strong companies here. Our approach is to invest locally while staying globally connected."
Later in the day, Communitech CEO Chris Albinson acknowledged the support of founders, partners and supporters.
“I want to thank you all for helping us put on Techtoberfest, and for your ongoing support in making Canada the best place on the planet to work in tech and build great, big, amazing things.”