Written by Andrew Seale
Sheetal Jailty is nothing short of fiery when the subject of “collaboration” in the Toronto ecosystem comes up.
“Amongst the startups themselves, we always try to help each other,” says Jailty. But where the co-founder and CEO of TribalScale, a Toronto-based digital design and development house, thinks the ecosystem falters is a lack of recognition amongst larger Canadian firms as to what’s actually going on with the city’s tech scene.
“I think the major corporations in Canada should really start taking notice of these amazing startups that are out here and start working with them and helping them through their problems rather than letting them try to figure it out on their own with Americans,” he says. “I think we think small because it’s so hard to get opportunities in Canada.”
TribalScale, which is just over a year old, does 90 per cent of its business in the U.S., developing digital solutions for high profile clients like the ABC News and PGA Tour as well as assets for smaller startups. But Jailty still calls TribalScale a homegrown success story, a global company built on the back of Toronto’s startup ecosystem, a byproduct of the collaboration going on between startups.
“We’ve hired 97 people here in Toronto in one year, opened an office in New York, San Francisco… hired six people in L.A. we're going to do $15 million in revenue,” he says. The company practices pair programming (“agile on steroids” as Jailty calls it) frequently teaming up two developers or engineer is at the same computer to build project in tandem. The end result allows one to spot for pain-points while the other builds the product. It also allows knowledge transfer in a unique way.
“If you have a pair of engineers and one person is a rockstar the other is smart and hungry then over time you're going to have two rockstars,” explains Jailty.
The TribalScale CEO’s predilection towards pair programming could be one of the reasons he’s so adamant about collaboration.
“We have a great community, a lot of cool events,” he says adding that while there’s no doubt the Toronto ecosystem is on the edge of something great, it’s time for the city to get louder, to introduce its best and brightest startups to the world stage.
“If all the accelerators in Toronto got together and said, we are going to showcase the top companies we have (over) five days, don’t you think that every investor from the Valley and New York would jump on a plane? We have the talent.”
But Jailty recognizes that it’s the players in the ecosystem that drive the change. Which is why TribalScale makes a habit out of evaluating the pitches it gets from other Toronto companies and if they’re not going to use the product they come back to the founder with “real feedback” as to their reasoning. He says he also tries to share his contacts when possible.
“I think if we're going to all be there for the wine and cheese and beer at a social, I think we should also be there for each other when times are hard, helping other entrepreneurs get over those speed bumps,” he says. “If I put a couple coins in the Toronto ecosystem piggy bank (and) everybody does it, eventually one day we'll have a very large pot.”