The famous Collision conference came to Toronto, the host city for the first year of a three-year stint. The conference name bodes the kind of experience it was for the CoinChange team- valuable and fortuitous “collisions” happened everywhere! This includes connection collisions with talented founders and startup gurus, and amazing insight collisions thanks to keynote and speaker panels featuring global industry icons. Whether we were waiting in line, sitting in the audience, at dinners or networking events- tidbits of learning and inspiration were literally everywhere.
Collision was four jam-packed days, starting on Victoria Day, May 20th. Along with world-leading speakers, there were investor meetings, startup demos, networking and more — the event was focused on startup scaling best practices, trending tech and building industries of the future.
It was the biggest tech event in Toronto ever, attracting over 25,000 attendees and spanning the entire Enercare Centre. We wish the tech existed so we could “clone” ourselves — so many great sessions happened all at the same time. The expansive event had more than 17 different tracks with 600+ speakers. Topics included corporate innovation, digital marketing, HealthTech, FinTech, artificial intelligence (AI), Software-as-a-service (SaaS), environmental tech, funding, founder roundtables and intimate Q&A’s with speakers. Over 750 journalists attended including Bloomberg, CNN, and CNBC, documenting the massive event.
We heard presentations from many big-name names in the tech industry like Ev Williams, CEO of Medium, Canada’s own Tobias Lutke, CEO of Shopify, and Adi Tatarko, CEO of Houzz. We enjoyed hearing from author and VC Roger McNamee of Elevation, giving insight into privacy and warnings about data ownership, weighing in on Sidewalk Toronto, developers of the Toronto Waterfront with partner Google. Our CEO Max Galash met with speaker Tim Draper from DFJ in Silicon Valley, a venture capital legend and a huge supporter of Blockchain/digital assets. Big names in journalism were also plentiful including Kara Swisher from Recode. Adding to diversity were big entertainment industry players gearing up to play a bigger role in the tech world, like actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogan and Damon Wayans Jr. and rappers Timbaland and Akon. Welcoming the crowd from 125 countries was Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, plus a contingent of Government departments and almost every crown corporation touching trade and innovation.
One of our best “collisions” was meeting Bobby Thakkar of Slash Ventures, from Austin, Texas while waiting in line for Night Summit in Liberty Village. In 30 minutes, this digital marketing wunderkind saved us countless hours by architecting our future strategy based on his unique knowledge of experiential and advanced digital marketing. This was one of many by-chance “collisions” with the thousands of seasoned global company builders in town. You could walk through the show and run into someone you know only sporadically, unlike like most Toronto tech conferences.
The PITCH award was given to a lucky startup company chosen by a panel of judges, a Collision tradition previously awarded to Uber and Robinhood in past years. This year’s winner was LOLIWARE, a pioneer using seaweed and technology to replace single-use plastics like straws. They were one of the 60 startups selected to showcase their company on the mainstage. We encountered companies all week that could have made the top 60, leading us to wonder what criteria was used for selection. It must have been hard for the judges to choose a winner!
Collision was a monumental gathering that we think cemented Toronto as a major ecosystem of innovation on the world’s stage. Paddy Cosgrave, co-founder of Web Summit and originator of the event, and Toronto’s own Sunil Sharma of Techstars were key contributors in bringing this event to Canada. We found the event very well-organized and most likely this was due to an army of volunteers and contributors working in the background.
In the end, one of our key learnings was this — We all must seek to thrive in a world where every industry is now defined by tech and a “tech industry”. Tech is horizontal and not vertical. Every company will grow or die based on the fast realization and adoption of this fact. The CoinChange team looks forward to doing this again next year at Collision 2020 in Toronto.
Coinchange is an innovative Canadian financial services company helping people and companies navigate the new digital asset economy. We offer a fast, transparent and digital OTC (Over-the-Counter) exchange service for buying and selling digital currencies for trades as low as $3K (during our Beta launch period). Fees are so yesterday, keep more of your money by using Coinchange — Sign-up today! www.coinchange.ca