Jason Goldlist and Alex Norman founded Tech Toronto in 2014. It started as a meetup of about 75 people at Ryerson’s DMZ, but has since grown to bring together more than 500 people in Toronto’s vibrant tech scene at RBC Waterpark Place each month. They’ve brought their event organizing touch to the west coast, as well, having launched TechVancouver in February. Through TechTO, Jason and Alex bring the community great talks and introduce it to great tech—now, The Sheet sets out to get to know them a bit better.
- To people who frequent the monthly Tech Toronto meetup, you guys are familiar faces. But what do you do outside of the meetup?
JASON GOLDLIST: Head of Marketing at Wealthsimple, a fintech startup from Toronto that makes smart investing easy.
ALEX NORMAN: Tech Toronto—the wider organization—is now taking up more of my time. We’re working on an economic report with PwC to show the impact tech has on Toronto, launched TechVancouver and a have few more exciting projects that we will announce shortly.
I also spend my time advising a few start-ups, investing in a few (sometimes the same ones) and I have a start-up that I co-founded and I am helping out (part-time).
- If you couldn’t do what you’re doing, what would you do?
JG: I’d still be working with my friends, but maybe building a company from a concept on my “Ideas” Trello board. That’s where I park all of my crazy business ideas.
AN: Not really sure—I enjoy building things, so I guess I would join a high-potential start-up and help it figure out how to conquer the world.
- You’re 10 years old and your parents give you the option between a pogo stick and a hoverboard. What do you choose?
JG: Definitely Marty McFly’s hoverboard.
AN: A pogo stick—as long as I can make some adjustments, like adding some hardware to track my metrics and see how I can pogo better. (And you know that Jason said hoverboard.)
- What’s a moment that stands out to you from early in your career? And in the last year?
JG: Early career: Alex was one of my first managers. I still haven’t recovered. Last year: 10x growth for both Wealthsimple clients and TechTO members, from 1,000 to 10,000 each.
AN: Early in my career: Helping EMC buy Data General. It was a bit surreal as I had read Soul of a New Machine a couple of years earlier and now I was helping a hot new tech company buy a legendary tech company. Last year: So many moments. I will go with having the mayor at TechTO in January.
- Best thing you’ve seen on the internet lately?
JG: The brand new TechToronto.org website we just launched!
AN: MSQRD app—been using it for a while now and it is a great time killer that I can enjoy with my six-year-old and one-year-old. I also love Dash & Dot robots (not internet and again for my six year old daughter).
- Your favourite “Uber/AirBnB for” idea?
JG: I’ll go with McSweeney’s “Uber for Organ Transplants.” If you haven’t read about it yet, do it now!
AN: I have tried many of the “X for” ideas but haven’t found one that I love. An Uber for a handyman that actually worked would be awesome.
- Are you a dog person or a cat person?
- What’s one habit you wish you could break?
JG: Saying “awesome” too much at TechTO. I just can’t help it.
AN: My nightly sugar habit. I always eat something sweet before bed.
- Describe the Toronto startup scene in one sentence.
AN: A dynamic and growing tech ecosystem one big exit away from being world class.