What Toronto’s 2005–2010 Tech Startup Scene Meant To Me

(cross-posted from elsewhere — recording a little sliver of history)

Here’s my slice of history in 2005–2010 in Toronto and what the local tech scene meant to us.

This was a period when my team built a product from here in Toronto which at least few users found better than the UI/UX offered by Google Reader at the time :)

The desktop-like web icons and the idea of personalized news has really taken off since. We had it without knowing/seeing iPhone at the time. We bet on the wrong horse (people actively curating their RSS feeds manually) and didn’t persevere long enough to see sunlight (towards auto-curation which Facebook news feed does; or the AI-driven feed curation which China’s Toutiao does). What if we had ? From both design and the long-term trend here, we were on to something but let it go too soon.

However, we were out to out-do Google, and for a brief few moments, we did. We hung around Bahen Centre (at UofT), looked at MaRS Centre in amazement, read StartupNorth the blog, attended Founders Lunch organized by John and Malgosia Green and others, tried to network at local TiE events, and when it all f*cked up presented at BarCamp with what went wrong.

And then there was of course Techvibes. There was no one else doing daily, regular reporting of no matter what happened in Toronto’s tech scene. Rob Lewis built that team and reported very, very diligently day in and day out. No matter the event, Techvibes was there (PS: I worked for them briefly and wrote a few blog posts with them as well, including one which saw me getting invited to meet Canada’s largest telco’s CEO; to moderate events; and other fun stuff). This was the pre-BetaKit days, which along with SN-the-FB group now, reporting from Sean, Garrett and others do a pretty darn good job of covering the local tech scene.

It is as good a time as ever to do a startup in Toronto. The energy is only amplified, and the best is yet to come in the next decade. Thanks all who persevered and made this a better place.

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