Originally from Mexico, Erika Kurczyn fell in love with Toronto, and decided to call Canada home. Now at BDC Capital, her role is focused on building the Canadian tech ecosystem. Read on to see her global idea for tech and innovation.
How did you get involved in tech?
I moved to Canada 16 years ago from my native Mexico in order to work for the Mexican Trade Commission, helping Mexicans get access to the Canadian market. I loved it here, and so I stayed.
I eventually left the trade commission to join a mining company doing international relations, which was not tech related at all. However, when I moved to Montreal and joined the BDC in 2011, I got moved into the tech world.
I was given the opportunity to work for the strategic investments and partnership team, with the goal of helping build the Canadian tech ecosystem.
Now I’m back in Toronto (I moved back in 2013), still working for the BDC, and loving it.
You have 3 hours to make someone fall in love with Toronto – where do you take them and what do you show them?
I’d start by taking them to the Distillery District. There are so many interesting shops there, art, and great restaurants.
I’d want to show them MaRS Discovery District, so they can see where the innovation in Toronto is happening. There are so many hubs of tech innovation in the city, so we’d continue “tech hopping” on King Street West so I can show them the big startups that are doing well.
Then we’d go across town to Ossington Avenue, where I’d take them to Reposado, a tequila bar. It’s small and they have jazz, making it pretty intimate.
Elevate Toronto is founded on three principles (#DiversityIsOurStrength, #DisruptTogether, #ItsOurTime). Which one resonates most with you?
There are so many companies in Toronto finally doing well. The tech space always takes a few years before you start to see things happening, and we are now seeing successes in the tech space. This means now is the time for Toronto to showcase to the world what we are doing in tech.
We have all the ingredients for success. Investors are here, accelerators are strong, we have startups that have grown and founders who are now giving back to the community.
What is your “global idea” for tech and innovation?
My global idea is to find more areas of collaboration around key tech hubs in the world. I want to see accelerators connected to accelerators, startups to startups, and investors to investors. From there, they’d share best practices.
I think this would really raise the bar for everyone to see what top people around the world are doing. We can learn from each others’ mistakes and then find opportunities to collaborate.
No one can do everything, so it’s important for companies to go out, learn, and come back home. When they’ve become successful or have learning to share, they can then give back to their communities.
What should the world know about the Toronto tech community?
Toronto is showing results but we are not good at bragging. Toronto is a pretty friendly city and, compared to other tech hubs in the world, a cheap place to start and grow a company.