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Missed Web Summit? Collision Conference Steps Up as Toronto’s Answer

Did you miss last year’s Collision conference? No worries, because you’re in luck, as Toronto hosts Collision, Web Summit’s North American counterpart, June 22-26 with no fewer than 25,000 people.

Last November, 70,000 people descended on what once (long ago) was the sleepy fishing village of Lisbon, Portugal — a modern capitol that’s now come into its own due in no small part to a brand still somewhat undiscovered stateside: Web Summit. 

In nine years, Web Summit has grown to be one of the most popular technology conferences in the world, and the reason is because it’s just different. In just nine years, Web Summit grew from 400 to over 70,000 attendees from more than 160 countries.

Diversity and inclusion is vital to the thriving success Web Summit has brought to its attendees, attracting attention from Fortune 500 companies to the world’s most exciting tech companies, plus more than 2,500 of the world’s leading media.

And this November, Web Summit returns to Lisbon for the fifth time going from November 2-5. Tickets for the 2020 conference went on sale on Thursday.

Can’t wait that long? You’re in luck. Toronto, arguably North America’s most underrated “big city” is home to C number of Fortune 5000 companies, hosts Web Summit’s North American counterpart, CollisionCollision is one of the fastest growing tech conferences in North America, growing to over 30,000 attendees from over 100 plus countries, serving as a crossroads for the world’s most influential buyers, sellers, emerging companies, and policymakers.

What Collision brings to the table is its extremely diverse demographic, comprising of 45.7 percent female attendees, 66 percent senior management, and 1,300-plus journalists.

Toronto, much like Canada more broadly, is having its moment. Collision is co-hosted by Techstars Toronto’s Sunil Sharma, who leads an otherwise underrepresented Canadian population at Web Summit to Collision’s stage.

Last year, prime minister Justin Trudeau “opened” for actor-producer duo and now-turned entrepreneurs Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. 

But what else did we take away from last year’s Collision?

#1 — If You Don’t Put Your Name in the Hat, It’ll Never Get Pulled

Perhaps the most important lesson of all. Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game. Thanks Wayne Gretzky.

Michelle Zatlyn, co-founder and COO of Cloudflare, shared a story about how she got into Harvard Business School. She was living in Toronto at the time, applying to local schools when a stranger at a party asked her why she wasn’t applying to Harvard. She gave her excuses, believing she wasn’t qualified enough. It wasn’t until that stranger shrugged her shoulders and told her that if “you don’t put your name in the hat, it’ll never get pulled.” Following that advice, she applied and got in.

#2 — Leave Your Ego at the Door, Because We Don’t Have Time For It
Michelle Zatlyn & Jessie Reyez on Centre Stage | Collision 2019

The biggest journey in your pathway to success is focusing on your weaknesses as well as your strengths. And Jessie Reyez, a singer and songwriter shared that when you’re building a team you should take stock of what you’re not good at — and surround yourself with people who can make up for your shortcomings.

“The only thing stopping you from doing it is, usually, your ego,” Reyez concluded.

#3 — For Every Small Market and Every Person That Underestimates You, Use It As Your Strength

Being an underdog is incredibly freeing, according to Michele Romanow, co-founder and President of Clearbanc, and a technology investor on CBC’s Dragon’s Den.

“For every small market and every person that underestimates you, use it as your strength,” Romanow shared. “When you’re considered ‘small’ you have opportunities and doors open to you that might not be there when you’re a big player.”

In an interview last year with Forbes, Romanow emphasized that failure is the beginning to anyone’s entrepreneurial journey:

“You have to understand that all ideas start very small. The biggest piece of advice I have is that you have to start right now. Literally, right now, where you are today. Once you start, and realize it’s not working, you start to iterate and run these experimentations, until you get what eventually becomes innovative. You have to fail. You shouldn’t feel like you’re not there, or you don’t have the perfect idea—you only really get there by trying a bunch of ideas.”

As of today, it is anticipated that over 900 CEOs, founders, government leaders and more will speak at Collision 2020.

So far, the first 100 speakers have been announced, which include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Thuan Pham (CTO, Uber),
  • Jamie Moldafsky (CMO, Wells Fargo),
  • Susan Goldberg (Editor-In-Chief, National Geographic Magazine & News)
  • Cassie Kozyrkov (Chief Decision Scientist, Google)
  • Mona Siddiqui (CDO, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services),
  • Nicholas Thompson (Editor-In-Chief, Wired), and the list goes on.

For Grit Daily’s audience of technophiles and entertainment supernerds looking to get in on the events scene, Collision is that one annual opportunity to tiptoe in closer to home and also get a better glimpse at “The Six” (Drake), “The Big Smoke” (Alan Fotheringham), “Hollywood North” (Toronto Film Festival) — or  just Toronto in the name of authenticity.