Justin Trudeau’s keynote speech predictably stole the show as the Collision Conference got underway in Toronto on Victoria Day, with the Prime Minister crediting the country's openness to immigrants to Canada's thriving technology sector.
"Access to talent obviously comes from immigration and it comes from training young and educating Canadians right," said Trudeau, who also stressed that Canada is attracting entrepreneurs to the country by becoming a major source of tech talent.
Trudeau’s inspiring comments were far from the only highlight, however, as the people and companies who are redefining the global tech industry came together for North America's fastest-growing tech conference. Here’s a rundown of Collision day one:
Welcoming thousands to Collision
Collision founder and CEO Paddy Cosgrave welcomed tens of thousands of attendees from 125 countries, remarking that Toronto had “firmly arrived on the global tech scene.” Cosgrove was especially impressed that Collision reached peak capacity by 5pm on a public holiday.
A new era of entrepreneurship
Michelle Zatlyn, co-founder and COO of Cloudflare, and Canadian singer/songwriter Jessie Reyez sat down to discuss a new era of entrepreneurship, sharing their respective perspectives and learnings on building their individual businesses from the ground up.
Born in Saskatchewan, Michelle shared a story from her youth. She said she applied to all the top Canadian business schools, but someone asked her why she wasn’t applying to Harvard. So, she put her name in the hat, it got pulled, and she was lucky enough to get in. That’s when she learned, “if you don’t put your name in the hat, it will never get pulled.”
Her advice: be the person who puts their name in, and be the person who motivates others to do so.
Comic relief meets cannabis
Comedian Seth Rogen and longtime filmmaking partner Evan Goldberg took the floor to discuss Seth’s favourite topic: marijuana. Specifically, how the two have started Houseplant, a new cannabis venture in Vancouver.
Calling it a creatively gratifying experience, Seth and Evan -- the minds behind Pineapple Express and Superbad -- said they are enjoying the opportunity to build an entirely new product that they are proud of.
Opening night fireworks
Finally, John Tory, Mayor of Toronto, officially kicked off Collision with a bang (fireworks at centre stage that marked the opening of the four-day conference).
Like Trudeau, Mayor Tory praised the virtues of diversity, noting that 51 per cent of Torontonians are born outside of the country. With Toronto now being the fourth-largest tech market in North America, Tory said he wanted to bring the conference to the city because he wanted some of Toronto to rub off on Collision, and some of Collision to rub off on Toronto.
Tory also said he wants to make sure that Toronto’s tech ecosystem isn’t just about creating jobs and producing investment and money – he’s asking the tech people to go beyond and help build a great city.
For more Collision coverage, check back tomorrow. FHR is on the ground floor at the conference and will be posting blogs all week.