ABDULLAH SNOBAR

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE DMZ AND CEO OF DMZ VENTURES

" TORONTO TECH IS AT A TURNING POINT, AND WE’VE GOT A RESPONSIBILITY TO UPHOLD."

- ABDULLAH SNOBAR, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE DMZ AND CEO OF DMZ VENTURES

Let’s be real: Toronto tech has been hitting it out of the park lately. The ecosystem has soared to new highs. Venture funding deals are crushing new records. The GTA is rich with leading innovation hubs. Merger and acquisition activity is revving up. We’re now rated as North America’s fastest-growing job market.

All eyes are on Toronto. The ball’s in our court, and it feels good. But what’s our next play?

We’re entering a golden age for the startup ecosystem and witnessing the ripple effects of our previous successes. Be that as it may, to double down on our momentum, we need to keep our eyes peeled for threats. That means ensuring our homegrown startups have the capital, connectedness, market reach, know-how, and – perhaps more crucial than ever, the talent – to keep us going in the right direction.

While Toronto’s experiencing “brain gain”, a huge disconnect in the job market remains. The founders that come to the DMZ consistently cite access to talent as one of their biggest barriers to growth. The rise in remote work has heightened the war on talent, tempting top talent to flock south of the border. Further, dozens of American tech giants are now setting up shop in Toronto. It’s something to be celebrated with caution – incubators are working so hard to roll out the red carpet for our early-stage startups, and yet we’re at the threat of large enterprises stealing their limelight. Yes, it’s flattering that the likes of Netflix, Reddit, TikTok, and several others are opening offices in Canada. But we’re at risk of our startup talent packing their bags and leaving for the big guys.

Governments, corporates, universities, and any other players in the innovation ecosystem, let’s give Toronto every shot we can to stimulate a globally competitive ecosystem for years to come. If you don’t know how you can make an impact, reach out to the DMZ.

Our tech sector is undeniably red-hot right now, but with great power comes great responsibility. If we don’t nurture it – our talent, our startups, our technology – we could see it come crashing down just as fast.

Abdullah is the Executive Director of the DMZ, a leading tech incubator, and the CEO of DMZ Ventures. Under Abdullah’s leadership, the incubator has expanded its global impact by establishing a worldwide network of DMZpowered incubators across 12 countries. To date, the DMZ has helped 700+ startups raise $1.65 billion+ in capital.

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