Takeaways from CIX 2017, a Toronto tech conference

CIX conference bills itself as:

a leading technology conference where investors, innovative companies, founders and facilitators converge to learn, network, and do deals

This was my first time attending. I’d attend again. Not only on account of the quality of the participants and content, but also the welcoming and supportive atmosphere.

For some reason I was immediately reminded of older Toronto tech conferences from ten or more years ago — for example, the then-exciting mesh conference (current ones might still be exciting but I haven’t attended in years) that had the tagline “Canada’s web conference.” What stands out, in contrast, is how Toronto’s startup tech industry has matured. That Wild West town with its single church has become a peaceful city of the world.

These takeaways won’t come as a surprise to anyone immersed in the tech Zeitgeist. But the frequency at which so many speakers, founders and investors repeated these same few existential ideas — presented as the difference between growth and death — was surprising.

Focus, focus, focus

Startup culture thinks differently

Partnerships or death

The future versus now

Platforms and open source are eating the startup world

Surprisingly, I didn’t hear “we’re the Uber of x” once.

As for platforms, humour aside, this is clearly the path to growth. Allowing 3rd parties to develop for your platform directly is a beautiful thing.

Platforms interacting with other platforms with no human input or awareness is a little less beautiful. Your fridge detects you’re low on milk and connects to your grocery chain’s API, orders you more. The grocery chain connects to the delivery company’s API. Milk arrives at your door and the robot puts it in your fridge. Without you even knowing you were low on milk to begin with. Frightening and a little awesome.

AI + Machine Learning

Nonetheless, extremely excited about the possibilities of AI and ML to transform our world for the better.


One speaker put the importance of data into three pillars: simplicity, speed, and personalization.

We heard that a third of enterprise data is not used, sourced to a Forrester report. 99% not used if you’re in the retail industry.

Startups that stood out

  • SomaDetect — tech that measures dairy quality from every cow at every milking
  • SecureKey and BioConnect — interesting approaches to identity security
  • Real Matters — services for the mortgage industry

product + software architect | media exec @ Zoomer cofounder DarwinCX meshMD | cryptopunk #3390 | blockchain | gen art | shakespeare | golf

product + software architect | media exec @ Zoomer cofounder DarwinCX meshMD | cryptopunk #3390 | blockchain | gen art | shakespeare | golf