Communitech tightens focus on founders to supercharge Canadian tech
Innovation hub streamlines programming to boost access to talent, sales and growth capital
KITCHENER, ONT., September 30, 2021 — Communitech, Canada’s leading innovation hub, is going back to its roots to refocus on helping founders and their teams to grow faster and bigger than ever before.
This new direction, called the True North Strategy, is the direct result of recent conversations with hundreds of Canadian tech founders, who named access to talent and government procurement opportunities as their top challenges in growing globally dominant companies.
Communitech will help founders meet those challenges by doing fewer things and doing them better, based on data. It will also leverage trust as Canada’s competitive advantage globally, helping founders who have a Tech for Good™ focus to grow profitable companies that tackle meaningful problems.
The strategy was rolled out at Communitech’s annual general meeting on Sept. 29, to a hybrid gathering of founders and partners after the Communitech Board of Directors approved it earlier in the month.
“Our goal is clear,” Communitech CEO Chris Albinson said after speaking at his first AGM since he joined the innovation hub in May. “We are going to help Canada take its place as the world’s leading tech ecosystem by helping 14 founders reach $1 billion in annual revenue by 2030.”
This stretch goal was inspired by Canada’s Own the Podium program for Olympic athletes, which resulted in 14 gold medals for Canada – the most of any country – at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. Cathy Priestner, the Olympic medallist who devised Own the Podium, will serve Communitech as its newest executive advisor to the CEO.
“In my more than 1,000 discussions with Canadian founders since May, I can say with certainty: Our founders want to win gold medals – they want to grow aggressively and dominate their segments,” Albinson said. “Communitech is going to dig in on serving the founder to do exactly that, by getting them the talent and capital and sales opportunities they need.”
Said Priestner: “This is the approach we used to put Canada on a path to owning the Olympic podium. It’s a different environment, but the same principles apply: We need to focus on those with the highest growth potential – using data, not just opinion – and put the best coaches, money and training at their disposal, at the speed and scale they need.”
Communitech has signalled this new direction recently. The not-for-profit innovation hub acquired Prospect, the country’s largest tech job board, and is integrating it with existing efforts to connect founders with talent. Also, Communitech’s Outpost program, which helps founders hire talent in international locations in half the average time at an eighth of the average cost, is rapidly scaling to help founders win the competition for global talent.
Communitech is also tapping into datasets from across Canada so that it can lead the country in quantifying the likelihood of homegrown companies to grow to global scale. This data will help Communitech support high-potential founders and give Canadian governments the confidence they need to buy more products and services from our innovators, a critical area where Canada lags its G7 peers.
Martin Basiri, CEO and Co-Founder of ApplyBoard, welcomed Communitech’s back-to-basics strategy to help high-growth companies like his to grow.
“Communitech is the Canadian tech community’s supercharger,” he said. “This is where you go to grow faster, at lower cost, because Communitech brings these key services to your door. We’re excited to be working with Communitech on the True North Strategy – this is what Canadian startups need now.”
Communitech’s returning board Chair, serial entrepreneur Dave Caputo, said, “Communitech was founded by founders for founders. Over the years we’ve grown and expanded our focus to meet the needs of our stakeholders over time, through huge upheavals in Canada and Waterloo Region’s tech ecosystem. Now it’s time to go back to basics and put Canadian founders on offence in a hyper-competitive global environment.
“As we do this,” he concluded, “we’re going to leverage Canada’s brand as a trusted partner and global citizen. The world trusts Canada and they know they can trust Canadian tech. We’re going to leverage that Tech-for-Good trust factor so that Canadian founders become the most sought-after private sector leaders on the planet.”
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Communitech was launched in 1997 by a group of founders committed to making Waterloo Region a global tech leader. Today, Communitech is Canada’s leading innovation hub, supporting a community of more than 1,600 founders of startups, scale-ups and at-scale companies on their journey to a billion dollars in annual revenue.
Communitech helps founders start, grow and succeed in three distinct ways
Communitech is a convenor – the centre of gravity for founders, innovators and partners. It’s a clubhouse and connector for those building trust-based tech and world-class companies.
Communitech delivers programs to help founders with what they need most – accelerating access to talent, sales and growth capital.
Communitech is helping to build a world-leading ecosystem with trust at its core – making sure we have all the ingredients (and the brand) to help founders build successful companies, solve meaningful problems and secure Canada’s position as the largest tech ecosystem on the planet.