Thinking Big at Collision Conference

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Last week the world (at least what felt like the world - much of the startup ecosystem, a couple celebrities, and LOI) descended on Toronto to attend #CollisionConf. It was the first Collision hosted in a Canadian city and hands down, it was in the top five conferences in Canada. Filled with immersive brand activations, ecosystem boosts, lightning speed talks, a massive start up showcase and pitch event, and a night summit to accelerate networking for the most social of attendees.

And it was BIG -  with over 25K attendees over the 4 days and some heavy-weight speakers like Seth Rogen, Major Lazor, Akon, Timbaland, Kara Swisher, even Justin Trudeau made an appearance on opening night. The big names in tech were represented too - Facebook, Twitter, Mailchimp, Microsoft, IBM and the list goes on. Added to this esteemed list were so many incredible startups from early stage to scale, from all over North America. It was a true delight to see all that incredible hard work and vision in one very large room.  The LOI alumni ventures were also represented with Blume, Trufan, Ava, Aiva Labs, MultiMuse and Ascend Solutions all represented in the Alpha and Beta programs.

Certainly people's’ first reactions were of sensory overload, which quickly turned into excitement about the potential of a conference like Collision having a home in Toronto. If anything, it reminded me of the potential and opportunities we have to tackle the problems in our world  growing at increasing speed. Solutions are abundant and they are ready to be seized - but it is up to us. We as Canadians are in perfect position to take advantage of what our start up ecosystems have to offer in terms of support and networks all across Canada, and the proximity to the largest startup meccas in the world. I believe we sometimes forget what we are capable of.

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If I was to take anything away from my time at Collision and share with others, aside from the great time, was the vital need to THINK BIG. #WeTheNorth have so much potential, but perhaps our Canadian nature of being too polite or too comfortable to think aggressively, prevents us from thinking big and believing  we can truly change the world. There was no better session to remind us of this then the final panel of the entire conference featuring our own homegrown talents from across Canada including Michele Romanow (Clearbanc), Ryan Holmes (Hootsuite) Jean-Francois Gagne (Element AI), and Ba Blackstock (Bitmoji). They shared their experiences building global companies right in our own backyard, the struggle to innovate and what it really takes to adopt a mindset of growth and innovation. Michele Romanow of Clearbanc said it best ‘I want to grow a global company, IN Canada’ Its’ a change of perspective but it starts with you.

And it reminded me, that sometimes what it takes to go big is to simply believe that you can go big. It is about changing your perspective of how you view your role and the vision of your startup. You do not have to move to different places, bring in external talent or follow a previously set out pattern to success. You can, in fact, build right inside Canada, on your own terms. This is particularly relevant for our work at League of Innovators ensuring that youth across Canada understand they too can build ventures - successful, scalable, impactful ventures wherever they may be - on their own terms.