Venture Out, Canada’s first LGBTQA+ tech conference, has announced that it is returning to Toronto for its second annual event on March 15 and 16 at MaRS Discovery District with Dax Dasilva, CEO of Lightspeed as a keynote presenter. Venture Out aims to inspire members of the LGBTQ community to seek careers in tech and entrepreneurship.

This year’s event will also feature keynotes from some of Canada’s most prominent LGBTQ and ally leaders including Natasha Negovanlis, Canadian digital superstar and star of the web-series-turned-movie Carmilla; and Paul Grossinger, co-founder of Gaingels.

The conference, which is presented by title sponsor Shopify, will also feature over 22 panels, breakout sessions and workshops on topics including inclusive parental leave policies and the importance of investing in LGBTQ founders.

The conference's panels, breakout sessions, and workshops, other speaker highlights this year include:

  • Social scientist Kai Scott, MA, will host an interactive and informative workshop on transgender involvement that will dispel myths and discuss the advantages of incorporating gender diversity in the tech industry.
  • Ella Gorevalov, Culture Specialist at Nulogy and co-founder of The Expecting Playbook, will discuss implementing inclusive parental leave and parental support policies, and how companies can give consideration to individual needs and diverse family structures.
  • Highlighting his personal journey being a gay immigrant, Jose Sanchez, Director of Marketing at Limelight, will share how he broke into the tech scene and landed his dream job.
  • Entrepreneur, angel investor, and founder of Gaingels, Paul Grossinger will explore the importance of investing in LGBTQ founders.

In the lead up to this year's conference, Venture Out will host Pride Hacks, a two-day hackathon that brings together developers to solve issues for LGBTQA+ not-for-profits. The hackathon will take place at RBC Waterpark Place on Friday, February 23 from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. and Saturday, February 24 from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Participating organizations include Rainbow Railroad, Pride at Work Canada, and Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

Additional programming details and the full conference agenda will be released in the coming weeks.