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Canada's first LGBTQA+ tech conference returns to Toronto for its third year
[March 06, 2019]

Canada's first LGBTQA+ tech conference returns to Toronto for its third year

Venture Out welcomes keynote speakers Andreas Souvaliotis, founder of Carrot Rewards and Kiana 'rookz' Eastmond, founder Sandbox Studios

TORONTO, March 6, 2019 /CNW/ - Canada's tech community will once again come together at Venture Out, the country's first and largest conference focused on building an inclusive and diverse future for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Asexual/Aromantic (LGBTQA+) folks in technology and entrepreneurship. From Thursday, March 14 to Friday, March 15 at MaRS Discovery District and presented by Kijiji, Venture Out will host a variety of talks and workshops focused on a range of topics including product design, business development, raising capital, content marketing strategy, and allyship in the workplace.

"Venture Out has become so much more than just a two-day tech conference," said Lisa Durnford and Simon Mills, conference co-chairs of Venture Out. "We've become a community, with events running throughout the year. In 2018, 1200 people participated in our programming—including Toronto's first LGBTQA+ hackathon for non-profits and our Global Tech Event during Pride--and we hope to build on this growth in 2019. Our goal has always been to provide the LGBTQA+ community with a safe space for recruitment and networking with tech companies, and nothing makes us happier than seeing that come to fruition."

This year's conference will feature keynote speakers Kiana 'rookz' Eastmond, founder and Director of Sandbox Studios and Executive Director of Manifesto, who will be in discussion with Anita Li from The Discourse, and talk about her experience as an entrepreneur in Toronto; and Andreas Souvaliotis, founder and CEO of Carrot Rewards, Canada's most-popular wellness app. Souvaliotis will speak about his entrepreneurial journey as a gay immigrant, which he outlines in his new book, "Misfit: Changemaker with an Edge".

"Venture Out is about all of the things that make our country special: inclusion, innovation, young energy and optimism," said Andrea Souvaliotis, CEO of Carot Rewards. "I am uniquely proud to be supporting this year's event and can't wait to be inspired by the next generation of Canadian LGBTQA+ entrepreneurs."

"I'm grateful to have had a supportive community around me through the ups and downs of building a business," said rookz, founder and Director of Sandbox Studios and Executive Director of Manifesto. "I'm excited to share some of my story and what I've learned with Venture Out and future entrepreneurs."

The first day of the conference will culminate in a pitch event featuring LGBTQA+ founders who are looking to scale their ventures and raise capital: Toni Marlow, a clothing brand defying gender norms, All Day Sunday, making cannabis-enhanced serums to treat pain, and Virtual Gurus, a talent-as-a-service solution for virtual assistants. The panel will consist of five investors: Snita Balsara, Investment Manager at StandUp Ventures; Soha Yasrebi, Analyst at OMERS Ventures; Jill Watson, Associate at Golden Ventures; Stephanie McGuinty, Operations Manager at Real Ventures; and Jennifer Renda, angel investor with York Angels.

With 16 breakout sessions and workshops, Venture Out will also include:

  • Join IBM's Kimberley Messer and Colleen McDowell to discuss the future of AI in supporting mental wellness for marginalized communities in Canada, and learn about IBM's chatbot that allows employees to ask questions in a safe and private space, reducing shame, fear, and any societal or associative stigma.
  • Loopio's Drew Jagdat, Jodie Baer and Robert Guenette will be sharing their personal stories about coming out professionally. In an honest and engaging panel discussion, they will provide insight on how to support yourself and each other in these situations.
  • Christine Hsu and the Challenge Accepted team will facilitate an interactive workshop on how to be a leader in allyship at one's organization and how to recruit and retain top 2SLGBTQ+ talent, providing practical tools and knowledge on how to incorporate best diversity and inclusion practices into hiring strategies.

Venture Out 2019 is presented by title sponsor Kijiji. The conference is also sponsored by some of Toronto's most recognizable startups including Hubba, Wealthsimple, Opencare, Uberflip, Borrowell, Fiix, Prodigy Game, Loopio and LinkedIn, and is organized in partnership with community partners including Ample Labs, Venture for Canada, and Get REAL.

To purchase tickets and to learn more about Venture Out, please visit:

Social media links

Cision is the exclusive distribution partner of the Venture Out Conference. 

About Venture Out
Venture Out is a summit that connects Canada's dynamic startup sector with the country's most innovative, engaged and entrepreneurial Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Asexual/Aromantic (LGBTQA+) students. Venture Out is an initiative of Start Proud, the not for profit that facilitates the professional development of students as they transition from school to career in order to build a national network within the LGBTQA+ community.

About Start Proud
Start Proud is a Canadian registered non-profit that provides resources and opportunities for LGTBQA+ students, young professionals, and pro-LGBTQA+ organizations across Canada. Formerly known as Out on Bay Street, the non-profit provides members of the LGBTQA+ community with the necessary tools, resources and knowledge needed to transition through school to career. Start Proud works toward empowering institutions to embrace inclusiveness within the workplace and diversity within the workforce.

SOURCE Venture Out

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