A note from Katherine Barr
The Canadian technology ecosystem has seen a tremendous amount of positive change over the past five years since we first founded the C100. As I look back on the time and energy that I have contributed to the organization since its scrappy start, first with managing charter memberships and in the last couple of years as Co-Chair, I am really proud of the unique role that C100 has played, along with many of our partners, in helping to raise the bar for technology entrepreneurship in Canada.
I wrote an article last year on behalf of C100 on the changes that have taken place in Canada and how a whole new generation of bold tech entrepreneurs are going to make headlines globally over the next few years as they take their companies to exit well beyond the boundaries set by many of their predecessors. I could not have written this VentureBeat article five years ago when we first got the C100 off the ground.
It is at this inflection point of the organization where we can take a few minutes to pat ourselves on the back for what we've accomplished while also looking ahead to what still remains to be done by the C100.
In terms of what we can be proud of:
Early stage entrepreneurs
As a volunteer-started and now mostly still volunteer run organization with a full time Executive Director (and a growing staff), the C100 has had 180 of the top Canadian emerging tech companies participate in nine 48 Hours in the Valley cohorts, and more than 7,500 entrepreneurs participate in our Accelerate event series across four cities in Canada. We've been able to trace more than $1B in venture financing that has flowed through our ecosystem to these companies that have participated in C100 programming. The caliber of companies improved with each 48 Hours cohort and each year of the Accelerate series as we honed our programming content, caliber of speakers, and our company sourcing resources and filters. We're proud to have had exceptional talent such as Jack Dorsey, CEO of Square; Thuan Pham, CTO of Uber; and Geoff Moore, author of Crossing the Chasm, speak at our events.
Growth stage entrepreneurs
After starting with the early stage entrepreneurs, we then moved to connect growth stage Canadian tech entrepreneurs with each other and with the Silicon Valley ecosystem via the CEO Summit. We have had 90 of Canada's top growth-stage technology companies participate in the CEO Summit, as well as a new cohort of C-level executives from some of Canada's largest companies, including Magna.
Canadian government policy
The C100 has built partnerships at the federal, provincial and local levels in Canada and with the Canadian Consulate in San Francisco, have met with Canadian Ministers both in Canada (e.g., I had the privilege of participating in Minister Flaherty's 2013 Summer Policy Retreat in the Ottawa area) and as they have traveled through Silicon Valley, and have had a voice in every major policy decision related to technology entrepreneurship over the past few years (e.g., Section 116, startup visa program, VCAP financing, etc.).
Though, especially initially, the C100 was portrayed as representing a 'brain drain' by the media and others in Canada, our mandate has truly been to support and accelerate technology entrepreneurship and innovation in Canada by leveraging relevant and quality Silicon Valley resources - a 'brain flow' or 'brain merge' - and then stepping out of the way to let those relationships flourish organically for business partnerships, customer relationships, venture investments, andemployee placements from experienced folks in the US to tech companies in Canada.
Though sometimes misunderstood, our mission has not been to get Canadian tech companies to move permanently to Silicon Valley, though we understand and encourage companies to come and go from the Valley. We have loved seeing a number of promising Canadian tech companies flow through the Y Combinator program to build a strong network in Silicon Valley and then return to Canada.
In terms of what is ahead for C100:
Commitment to innovation ourselves
As with any organization, it is critical to continue to innovate and build into the whitespace where our impact is still needed. As a startup ourselves, we are committed to continually re-inventing ourselves and our programs to stay relevant in the role that we play in the Canadian technology ecosystem. We are turning over the C100 board to add diverse new skill sets and perspectives as we plan for the future of the organization.
It has been my pleasure to have worked with both Joanne Fedeyko, C100's new Executive Director, as well as Scott Bonham, my Co-Chair for the past year.
Joanne has worked hard to manage the fire hose that turned her way when she took over as Executive Director last year, and we are grateful for how she has stepped up to keep the organization moving forward and flourishing during a time of great growth and transition.
Scott has brought an amazing blend of gravitas and vision with lighthearted fun to the organization. He is the driving force behind adding a third target audience for us in terms of helping mature Canadian companies to embrace innovation and help to move the needle on Canada's declining productivity rate. This includes adding a group of large company executives to a second track in our CEO Summit as well as creating a "concierge" program for a handful of mature companies in Canada that want stronger connections to technology innovation and partners in Silicon Valley. We believe that each of three target audiences - early stage, growth stage and mature companies - can learn from and add value to each other moving forward.
We are also excited to announce that Angela Strange will be taking over as Co-Chair as I step out of the role this month. Angela has been a part of C100 from the beginning and we look with anticipation to what she will bring to the organization not only in terms of her great energy and innovative thinking, but also in her new role as a Partner at Andreessen Horowitz.
I will remain in on the C100 board and will continue to be fully committed to fulfilling C100's mission of supporting tech entrepreneurship and innovation in Canada through founder and other relevant meetings, speaking engagements and etc.
A huge thank you to the C100 board members who donated countless hours of volunteer time behind the scenes to help the organization to run efficiently and improve the caliber of activities each step along the way.
A huge thank you as well to all of the C100 sponsors for your support, and to our priceless Charter Members for your time and engagement with the entrepreneurs we support. We are committed to continual improvement on our communications and creating increasing opportunities for engagement for our stakeholders.
To all of our partners in the Canadian technology ecosystem, we look forward to continuing to work positively and constructively together on building a thriving ecosystem for first class technology entrepreneurship and innovation in Canada.
And to the entrepreneurs we work with, thank you for all of your hard work, innovation and determination, and we look to you with excitement to drive the next generation of global-scale, billion dollar technology companies in Canada!
I step aside from my role as Co-Chair with pride about what we have all accomplished together to date through the C100, and with exhilaration about what is still to come with the stellar team that we have in place to lead the organization through its next stage of growth.
Yours in partnership,
Outgoing C100 Co-Chair