Providing a platform for tech companies to collide and confer netted great results from Waterloo Region’s 8th Annual Entrepreneur Week, held November 7th through11th. The event spawned follow-up deals, allowed start-ups to shine and enabled hundreds of entrepreneurs – from small, medium and large companies alike — to gather inspiration from tech gurus who have been there, done that. More than 1,500 people attended Entrepreneur Week events.
“Bringing people together and getting people to help each other — that’s totally the right thing for the entrepreneurs,” said Garry Tan, CEO of California-based seed investment company Y Combinator who was a keynote speaker during Entrepreneur Week. Tan added that The Communitech Hub is “not something you see, at this scale, anywhere else”.
Y Combinator was instrumental in raising the profile of Vidyard, a Communitech Hub startup that had its roots in the University of Waterloo’s VeloCity tech incubator program. Vidyard announced November 17 that it has received $1.65 million in funding from Silicon Valley investors.
“Entrepreneur Week in Waterloo Region is the largest such event in North America and continues to grow as we strive to create more companies and jobs in Waterloo Region and beyond,” said Iain Klugman, CEO of Communitech which stages Entrepreneur Week annually.
Communitech represents 800 tech companies that employ 30,000 people in a tech sector that exceeds $25 billion in annual revenues and start-up seed capital totalling $300 million. Communitech has helped create 165 new companies and 390 jobs in Canada over the past year.
Other achievements by Waterloo tech sector companies announced during Entrepreneur Week include:
- 2D2C, Inc., maker of the SafePlug, was honored by the Consumer Electronics Association with a 2012 International CES Best of Innovations Design and Engineering Award on November 8th
- Aeryon Labs received the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) 2011 Mind to Market Award on November 8th
- I Think Security recently won the Cyber Security Challenge 2011 held in London, UK and which recognizes the #1 product to protect digital content
Putting investors and startups together to enable commercialization of ideas is one of the key benefits of Entrepreneur Week, and this year many connections were made including:
- over 70 Venture Capital & startup one-to-one meetings
- 200 attendees at the Founders and Funders event
- over 40 Strategic Partner Day meetings
This year’s Entrepreneur Week included keynotes by Tan as well as self-made millionaire Ryan Blair, author of ‘Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain’ and Lean Startup guru Eric Ries, who has developed the lean startup methodology to redefine how products are initiated and launched. Live blogging of keynotes was so successful that Communitech plans to cover future events in that way to enable participation by those not able to attend events ‘live’. For recaps of keynotes go to:
Garry Tan from Y Combinator: Keynote Recap
Eric Ries of The Lean Startup: Keynote Recap
“Events were compelling and provided lots of idea stimulation for start-ups on how to develop their ideas and follow through on getting them to market, whether that’s a straight run or whether there’s some ‘pivoting’ along the way,” Klugman said, adding that “Entrepreneur Week seeds ideas and business relationships for the mid-sized and multinational companies from the Region and across Canada that connect during the week.”