Toronto or Waterloo / Kitchener for tech startups?

We always want a great place to start our business. In deciding where to bring your business, you must define your priorities on several factors like operating and developer costs. Both, Toronto and Waterloo are considered very business friendly cities but which one is better?

The question below was asked on Quora recently on where it is better to create a technology startup. See the answers given below.

Which is the better place to start a tech startup in Ontario: Toronto or Waterloo? Why? It seems like it would be easier to attract people to Toronto, but Waterloo has a strong support community.

Stavros Rougas , Co-founder Expertise Finder (, journalist, writes:

I co-founded a startup that is based in both Waterloo region (downtown Kitchener at Communitech) and in Toronto.

Waterloo region is better for an early startup:
– cheaper
– engineering talent pool
– far easier to connect with people and get support (ie people more more helpful and open)
– tech is the big industry in town

Where Toronto excels:
– need to raise money (more Canadians with money live here, VCs…)
– partnerships: Canadian head offices are normally in Toronto
– connecting with prominent people beyond tech
– have a bit of traction and need to grow (more of everything available if show a little success)
– pool of creative people beyond engineers (marketing…)
– Toronto is more interesting, this attracts people even though it costs
more, Kitchener-Waterloo remains a nice glorified suburb where you
must have a car to have much of a life (light rail and other pending
projects are changing this slowly)

Jesse Rodgers, Building startups in Toronto. Co-founder of TribeHR. Built up VeloCity:

That is a really complicated question that gets even more complicated by the fact that you don’t hear about the activity in Toronto and *everything* startup or tech related gets coverage in Waterloo. I don’t think either place is better than the other but each has it strengths, you decide which you value more.

What I think Toronto’s strengths are:
High net worth individuals that have built $100M+ companies in Canada, have a track record of investing in and helping tech companies grow, and will likely found another company themselves.
Research and talent – there is $1.2 Billion in research annually at the University of Toronto alone and 17K grad students from the top schools across North America.
The city is coming of age and offers a heck of a lifestyle for young adults. You can rent a condo right down town where you and the founding team can live/work… it is a more common practice than people think.

What I think Waterloo’s strengths are:
There is a tight community of founders that know how to get from the idea stage to seed level with a great support network to make the scary ‘founding a company’ feel less scary. This is a huge plus btw.
You can easily access the Co-op student talent at the University of Waterloo which is *the best* talent you will find at an undergraduate level anywhere in North America. It is also extremely cost effective talent.
You can still access Toronto’s ecosystem from Waterloo — this one is diminishing quickly as the transit situation is rapidly deteriorating (it now takes over 4 hours for a round trip, it was 2 hours) however there are ways to still make it work.

Have fun with your choice… and remember location won’t make you successful unless you are in retail 😉


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