Getting the most out of Elevate, Canada’s premiere tech festival, is a bit like eating at a luxury buffet: it’s best to take a step back, observe, and figure out a plan of attack before digging in. With so many incredible speakers (Michelle Obama, Chris Hadfield, etc.) and even more great networking events (hackathons, King West parties, and so on), one could be excused for feeling a bit overwhelmed by the bounty.
Not to worry. We’ve assembled an impressive roster of Elevate veterans — startup founders from across sectors — with advice for any would-be speaker, seeker or attendee.
Stephany Lapierre is no stranger to strategy. As founder and CEO of Tealbook, a company that uses AI to simplify the supply chain, she’s a master of seeing the big picture and connecting the dots. She has two minds about Elevate. As an entrepreneur, Stephany always  engages early to identify speaking opportunities;  schedules meetings with promising out-of-town investors; and  gets her team excited about the event so they can promote the company online. And as a civilian: attend talks, crash some parties and have fun.
Elevate is a great opportunity to pitch to potential partners and customers. But you’ve got to do it right. “Practise. It’s just that simple,” says Reformulary founder and CEO Helen Stevenson. Practise on your team; practise on your loved ones; practise on industry outsiders. “You might be speaking to a room with hundreds of high-profile decision-makers, so you need to be crisp, clear and coherent,” she says. And don’t cram your slides with too much text, Helen implores. Nobody likes reading a PowerPoint presentation, but everyone enjoys listening to a great storyteller.
“I love the smell of a newspaper, but I try not to get sentimental about the past,” says Vuk Magdelinic, founder and CEO of Overbond. “Tech is changing all industries and you don’t want to get left behind.” That’s why Vuk loves conferences like Elevate — they open your eyes to where the world is going. And he encourages both entrepreneurs and general attendees to educate themselves about long-term trends as a means of future-proofing their businesses and careers. Vuk, for his part, is fueling his own brand of positive change. He’ll be at Elevate promoting Overbond’s new Montreal R&D labs, some of the world’s deepest vertical data stacks for fixed income capital markets AI modelling.
Sometimes, it really is about who you know, so why not know everyone? Networking can be the best part of Elevate, according to Lexi Kaplan, conversationHEALTH co-founder and CPO. “It’s really those one-on-one conversations that happen in and around the tentpole events where I find the most value,” Lexi says. Since last year’s event, Lexi’s company has more than doubled in size, and she’s always on the lookout for that next great hire. Festivals like Elevate are fertile grounds for top-notch talent. Maybe she’ll see you there?
Elevate takes place Sept. 20–26 in several venues across Toronto. Get your passes today.