We the North: Toronto-Waterloo-Windsor corridor is a new Silicon Valley

Attendees from around the globe recently landed in Windsor for the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA) connectTEC Conference 2019 at Caesars Windsor.

Among the global visitors was Radoslaw Szmit, VP of Operations at cshark, who flew in from Poland for the event and also spent some time in Toronto on his visit. He shared his thoughts on his experience in this guest blog post.

“Only one thing is ever guaranteed, that is that you will definitely not achieve the goal if you don’t take the shot.”

Canadians know well who said it. For the rest of the world it may be just another crafty quote. The above mentioned goes well with the following: “You miss 100% of shots you don’t take”. Said by the same man and a genius on his own in a discipline he mastered as nobody else before. Wayne Gretzky – the hockey hero not only in Canada.

When doing research about Canada few months ago I came across few more quotes of the famous player. But those two fit exactly with the strategy we established at CSHARK. Prepare well and take shots. In Canada. Offer technological advancements for startups and mature companies. Invest.

Canada, according to the latest data, is the 10th biggest economy in the World. With the number of people at the same level as in Poland (37m.) the country in the past years has contained the level of unemployment and is likely to develop with the pace of 2-3% annually. While services are the major sector, manufacturing is the cornerstone of an economy with 68% of its exports constituting of merchandise exports. Canada is laying a lot of emphasis on manufacturing which is crucial to its future economic growth. Recently a lot is invested in high technologies and ICT, although some reports show that there is serious shortage of skilled tech staff, reaching 220 000 only in the Toronto-Waterloo-Windsor corridor by 2021. Canada itself is changing and opening doors wide open for immigrants and foreign companies to invest and support the local business in the quest to become ever more global.

The recent and very positive change of the country can be seen well in Toronto by the example of the local basketball team. I had great opportunity to be there when Raptors won their first NBA title. The change of the team and how it is perceived not only locally but globally, started few years ago with well-crafted rebranding and marketing strategy. Few years ago, basketball was not a top popular sport in Canada. Or not as popular as hockey. Today, when you go out to parks and playgrounds, they’re full of kids shooting like Kawhi Leonard or Kyle Lowry. The famous “We the North” motto and black flags are everywhere. Yes, from a niche sport and team playing first NBA games in a football stadium to NBA champions. From “they, somewhere in the north” to “We the North”. It all shows well the change the country is following. Also, regarding the investment possibilities.

“Toronto-Waterloo-Windsor corridor is a new Silicon Valley”

In fact, many companies move there from the San Francisco bay area.  Challenges to find affordable housing and competent staff drive them north. Canada is a good place to start the Northern-American dream, it has got well established investment offices and startup hubs where networking is easy. For Europeans it is also easier to get there (vs. Silicon Valley). It is only 6 hours difference (so still a lot of work can be done together the same day if tech/software teams are shared between Canada and Europe).

 

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We take this opportunity at CSHARK.

We want to take shots, and I know at least some of them will land in the net of startups. Scaleups and mature companies are also on our radar – we want to help them succeed with transfer of know-how and IPs, direct or indirect investments, mentoring or just software development that speeds up the development process and allows for fast-to-market entry. There are: experience, knowledge and products which we tested in Europe. We know the strategy works well and the companies we work with (e.g. The Knights of Unity or Husarion) can be also a part of global network we want to create with Canadian enterprises.

I hope that soon at CSHARK we will be able to say as well “We the North”. Apparently, as the immigration officer at Toronto Pearson Airport mentioned to me “you become Canadian in 30 seconds – we are the nation of immigrants”, after one week in Ontario I think of applying for green card. Who knows, maybe next time? 😉

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Radosław Szmit is VP Operations for CSHARK, a company making tailored software solutions and helping organizations boost their business with IT outsourcing and IT consulting.