September 2017 just got a little more interesting. On the heels of Toronto’s FanExpo (and kids going back to school, YAY!), the city will be geared to celebrate a key aspect of Toronto Life: Elevate Toronto, a festival supporting our love of technology innovation.

Razor Suleman- Elevate Toronto Leadership Team

This is Razor Suleman, Founder & Former CEO of Achievers, who got the party started yesterday morning within CN Tower’s Horizons Restaurant, that is 1136 feet up high above Toronto.

As part of Elevate Toronto’s Leadership Team, he got the rather large crowd absolutely excited for Toronto to move forward with a festival celebrating not only technology, but diversity in technology.

Eager to share his passion for the technology community in Toronto, Suleman reminded us of what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated not so long ago, “Diversity is our strength.”

Diversity is a key component to elevate Toronto’s standing as “Silicon North”. Multiculturism is a celebrated fact of Toronto life, which is why diversity will be on centre stage for Day 1 of this new tech fest.

We will feature high profile global trendsetters and disruptive thinkers in Diversity and Inclusion. The day will include impressive keynotes, inspirational talks and curated high-value networking. Launch party to follow. ~ ElevateToronto

Suleman decided that Elevate Toronto’s Leadership team would not work blindly for this first festival. Learning from the best, he’s spoken to organizers of both TIFF and SXSW to get an idea of how a globally staged festival is done right.

“It’s our time!” exclaimed Suleman near the end of his speech, “We don’t collaborate enough. We don’t market enough.”

Jodi Kovitz- Elevate Toronto Leadership Team

Jodi Kovitz, CEO of AceTech Ontario and founder of #MoveTheDial, a movement to increase female participation in the tech industry, took the stage to explain what will be experienced at this year’s Elevate Toronto.

Programmed events include TED Talk-esque staging for thought-provoking ideas, exhibitions throughout the city to impress upon Toronto’s leading discoveries in AI technology and improvements within the health sector, and the King Street Social which is an “open-door” event to explore some of Toronto’s biggest tech companies.

Kovitz then introduced Toronto’s Mayor John Tory.

Tory pleased the crowd by emphasizing our need to ramp up diversity, and ensuring the City of Toronto’s commitment to making this festival a world-stage success. The City has “a commitment to disruption.”

“Disruptor” is a buzzword within the marketing community, and when particularly aimed at Silicon Valley, it describes how innovators strive to change the status quo in any way they know how.

Take Uber for instance (ignoring the ongoing strife with taxi drivers, in paying its drivers fairly, and its apparent “boys club” culture.) It violently changed a rather stagnant aspect of city living within a matter of five years (and is still making waves nine years since its inception).

Tired of the choice of either hailing a cab, or paying an exorbitant amount for a private driver, Travis Kalanick and Garret Camp created an app that at its basic model, would let you hire a black car at a click of a button on your smartphone at an affordable price.

Tory is calling for disruptors, but with diversity in mind, in hopes of Toronto building similarly billion dollar brands.

With well-rounded knowledge at hand in all levels of creation (executives, designers, developers, etc,) these disruptive innovations can change the way we live and think, without the chaos that continues to follow Uber today.

Elevate Toronto – Right in The Metaphors

Honestly, couldn’t ask for better weather for an announcement to elevate Toronto’s footprint within the tech industry.

If you check out Instagram’s #ElevateToronto photo thread, you’ll notice that many of the pics from yesterday’s announcement were of shots looking outside of the CN Tower.

Toronto was experiencing weird weather, especially for a summer month, and it piqued the interest of both amateur and pro photographers alike, while we were all waiting for the announcement to begin.

Here are some of my fave shots from my DSLR, including how well they gel with yesterday’s topic.

In The Cloud

Technology loves to be “in the cloud”, and here were a bunch of geeks and nerds, well above it to talk all things tech fest. (Okay, it’s fog, but still. Roll with it?)

Rise Above the Cloud Fog Technology City - Elevate Toronto

Clear Above a Distorted View

A closer shot of downtown Toronto, slowly unveiled from the thick fog cover on Tuesday morning, while high above, Elevate Toronto’s leaders reveal their drive to showcase Toronto’s original tech story with the world.

Rise Above the Cloud Fog - Elevate Toronto

Rise and Shine

As the fog lifts, making its way to roll over Lake Ontario, Toronto is ready to truly take a stand and disrupt the global stage of technology innovation.

Rise Above the Cloud Fog Technology City - Elevate Toronto 2017

Ticket to Change

SO looking forward to Elevate Toronto’s 3-day technology fest in September (12 to 14,) though there is no word yet on ticket prices.

While we’re waiting for registration to unlock, there are ways that you can possibly enjoy the conference on a complimentary basis.

Check out Elevate Toronto’s website for guidelines, as there are ways to snag a complimentary ticket to what will be one of the best fests in town!

If you happen to check the box for being part of an under-represented group in the tech industry (female for instance,) be sure to apply for a complimentary pass!