Toronto Startups: Guide to Toronto’s Tech Scene

Toronto has fast become an innovative hub for tech start-ups. With a population of over 2.5 million people and growing, Toronto is the epicentre of first-rate incubators, accelerators, coworking areas and offer an array of government incentives. Host to now the highest concentration of startups in the world, Toronto is leading the way for startups to grow and thrive. With tech startups gravitating towards Toronto like bees to a beehive, the Collision Conference – a tech conference – has also made its debut in Toronto and has dates already set for the upcoming year. A lot of the success on Toronto’s tech scene is attributed to the high immigrant-centred population and is the fourth largest city in North America (ahead of Chicago even, in terms of population) it’s no wonder tech starts up are flocking to this city. 

But with the good comes the, dare I say it? The drawbacks!! Tech startups are in abundance and those looking to break into Toronto’s tech scene have a lot of information to navigate through. From exploring the potential of their startup to the pitfalls and hurdles they may have to work through. The tech scene has a lot of promise and a lot to offer but understanding is paramount to your start-up. Where do you start? What needs to be done first? What can be dealt with later? A million questions and just as many answers. We are here to help guide you through the process and provide you with a better understanding of how to navigate yourself on this thriving and ever-growing tech scene.

Where to Start?

A vital aspect or as some would say, the most important part of a tech startup is networking and support organizations. Incubators, accelerators and various tech and startup industry events supplement entrepreneurs with various networking connections and mentorship from other entrepreneurs who have been in the tech scene for a while. With the world still reeling and learning from a world dealing with a pandemic, many meet, and events have been taken to an online platform but that doesn’t change the quality of information these events and networking meets provide. What are some of these events and online forms you ask? Let’s dig in. 

FoundersBeta events, providing events for startups via an online forum. Their start-up events connect you with the cofounder of FoundersBeta, a mentor, a beta user or an advisor. Their events range from helping startups to more in-depth conversations like recruiting and other HR problems. Follow the link to see what their upcoming events are. 

TechTO, a Toronto based company, hosts online meets up and events helping you with different aspects to your startup. TechTO also has a digital community you can join, a knowledge library, helping you keep up to date with tech trends and informational resources and tech events. 

Some other meetups, events and networking forms for Toronto tech startups:

Growth Hacking Toronto – teaching startups on how to implement growth into their products, teams and services. 

F*ckup Nights Toronto- Space for entrepreneurs to discuss entrepreneurial failures and what they learned from them. 

HealthTO – Hosted by TechTO – Providing space for Health Tech Leaders in Toronto to discuss issues and content related to the innovation of health and wellness for the future.

Fintech Toronto – Hosted by TechTO – discuss content regarding technological innovations and regulations concerning the finance industry.

Hip Haus –Hosting events in Toronto and Dallas, Hip Haus is a networking event for young professionals.

StartupTech Unleashed – assists new and existing businesses startups to nurture growth and ideas from beginning to end. They host events in various Canadian cities including Toronto and Montreal. 

Women in Product – A community for women in the workplace, startups. Women in product host a network of over 22,000 

Toronto Product Management Association (TPMA) – A non-profit organization that addresses the needs of product managers, marketing managers and other professionals that work within the tech product management field. You can find a list of upcoming and past events that TPMA has offered. 

Open People Network – Open People Network assists startups in the early stages to accelerate their growth. They host various events throughout the year. For a full list of events, check out their event schedule. 

DMZ Ryerson – Helping startups accelerate, scale, raise and hire. DMC Ryerson Offers a wide array of services to help you grow. Check out their website for upcoming events. 

Toronto Product People – An online community of Product Managers in Toronto. A forum to connect with other professionals to meet and learn from one another. 

Tech Ladies Poker – Toronto Women in the tech community – a networking event to learn and connect from other women. 

Venture Out – an LGBTQ2S+ inclusive non-profit organization for startups in tech and entrepreneurship. Consistently working to broaden the social impact. 

DesignX – A global design community with connections from Canada, the US and Europe. Bringing together design and technology intersection with business.  


Conferences and Annual Events

Social Light Conference – An annual conference for startups, entrepreneurs, brands, influencers, businesses and community leaders. Inspiring innovation for a positive global impact. 

Startup Open House – Startup Open House is an inclusive community. Promoting diversity throughout their event(s). Provide a space for those looking to change the world, building impactful companies.

Collision Conference –  A conference for all things tech. Collision also provides a program for startups.

DX3 – Canada’s largest retail, marketing and technology event.  Big Data and

AI Corp – empowering the data community with knowledge, skills, technology and connections to the master the dimensions of a post-digital world.


Startup Competitions

One way to win some non-dilutive funding is startup competitions. Non-dilutive funding is a great way to provide your startup with a boost and also assists with exposure with pitches. Following is a list of some startup competitions. 

The Queen’s Entrepreneur Competition
University of Toronto Scarborough Startup Competition
Dragon’s Den
Telus Small Business Competition
Lion’s Lair
The Pitch
Pitch for Purse


Speak to a Startup Coach

A new start-up or an existing one? Looking to scale up? Speak to us at SRJ Chartered Professional Accountants to help you with scaling your business and thriving. SRJ Chartered Professional Accountants is here to help you with the challenges a startup brings from managing day to day operations to working with you on your long-term strategy. We work with you to ensure that you are profitable and are here to assist you with your accounting needs. We are experienced in working with high growth startups and can also help secure funding through government tax credits. Set up a consult with us to see how we can help you. 


Startup Accelerators and Incubators

Toronto boasts a list of over 60 business incubators and accelerators in the city and the number is continuously growing. From universities to a plethora of different business and co-working spaces providing an in-depth and intensive amount of information and assistance for tech startups in Toronto. Who and what are some of these companies? Let’s dive in.

Creative Destruction Lab – for science and technology-based companies to accelerate your startup to a massive level. Creative Destruction Lab helps startups beyond the initial stages and are developing or currently working on or with a prototype. Mentorship is provided by Angel investors and entrepreneurs. Their program also provides opportunities to raise capital and they also provide business development support and concept feedback.

Hatchery –  Hosted by UoT, they create startups, providing an in-depth suite of programs and services to aid students with entrepreneurial goals to form teams, developing new competencies and launching the company or companies. They focus on tech business or tech-enabled businesses. They do require you to be a student of UoT.

Founder Institute Toronto – The Founder Institute works with teams and entrepreneurs before they are in advanced stages to be accepted into a seed-accelerator program. They help build an enduring business in Toronto and are invested in your success. They provide a strong and supportive network and participants join an equity collective where a contribution of 4% of the company is shared with a pool. Financial returns to this pool are then shared by the members of the alumni, program mentors and local leaders. 

gBETA Toronto – gBETA program is a nationally ranked startup accelerator. gBETA is a free 7-week program for early-stage startups with local roots. Focusing on tech and tech-enabled businesses they work with early stage, mission-driven startups. gBETA offers personalized coaching services and mentorship. They also offer 1-on-1 meetings with industry experts, networking opportunities and access to perks from vendors, as well as pitch nights. 

JLABS – JLABS focuses on health tech and life science startups. Providing life science incubator empowering and innovation in health and wellness. Looking for breakthrough ideas and those who want to make an impact in the health industry.

LaunchYU – LaunchYU works with entrepreneurs who want to build on their innovative ideas, focusing on tech and tech-enabled companies. They offer a 4-month accelerator program aimed to support entrepreneurs as they build, scale and launch their venture/ideas. LaunchYU offers bootcamps, 1-one-1 mentorship and workshops. 

NEXT Canada – Focusing on tech and tech-enabled businesses, NEXT Canada provides accelerator services to those looking to make a large impact on local and global prosperity. They offer several programs from mentorship to networking opportunities and access to funding. 

Ryerson DMZ Accelerator – DMZ works with tech startups in Canada. Helping them grow their businesses and assisting with helping them connect to customers. Focusing on tech and tech-enabled businesses, DMZ works with high-potential Canadian startups. They offer a fast-paced, 3.5-month program, also offering coaching, mentorship, growth and investment opportunities and a supportive community to help startups scale. 

The Hub – A U of T Scarborough startup incubator, they focus on tech and tech-enabled companies. They work with current students and alumni from all disciplines. They provide coaching, workshops and a workspace. 

The Next 36 – Accelerates the growth of Canadian startups. The Next 36 chooses 36 individuals to build their business or scale an existing idea. They focus on tech or tech-enabled companies and their programs are open to university students in the last 2 years of their study or who have graduated within the past 2 years. 


Coworking Space

Coworking spaces are popping up all over the city and are a great benefit to startups. While navigating through the to-do list of a startup, co-working spaces can help you figure out what location works best for you or if you prefer working from one area vs another. Many coworking spaces like Acme works offer flexible working hours. Workplace One also offers many coworking spaces in the city. With so many locations to choose from startups can try different areas and see what works for them. 


Government Support

Companies also have government incentives that can be taken advantage of. For example the Strategic Innovation Fund. This fund provides up to 1.26 billion over a five year period for large-scale technology and industrial projects. Another incentive available is the Clean Growth Hub. This offers over $2.3 billion worth of services and programs that aid in the growth of clean technology in Canada. Other perks available for startups come in different forms. Some in the form of wage subsidies and some in assistance programs. 

Another advantage available to startups is the presence of corporations like Samsung and Uber who have set up research offices in the city. Collaboration with such companies is a possibility and startups can benefit from the resources of these large corporations. 

The Canadian government is also prioritizing helping foreign businesses relocate to Canada and Toronto is at the top of their list.  A Startup Visa Program commenced in 2013 and partnered with VC funds and Angel Investors, along with that they have partnered with over 25 incubators. Once applied and accepted The Canadian government will help immigrate the startups CEO as well as up to 5 founding members as well as their families. This process is a lengthy one but once established can be very profitable. 

There are also significant research and development tax credits and grants available in Toronto, Mississauga, Ontario and the rest of Canada.  Many companies from all over the world are setting up operations in Canada to take advantage of these incentives.  The scientific research (SR&ED) and experimental development tax credits are a significant reason for organizations thriving in this ecosystem.The incentives for startups in Toronto are many and we are here to help you grow your business. With the many subsidies the government is offering small business and the support systems available let us help you with the long-term goals and plans of your startup. Please contact SRJ Chartered Professional Accounts for more information at 647-725-2537 or send an email to info@srjca.com to set up a consult