Photo: The Christmas tree in Consul General Prato’s private residence. See our Facebook album for more photos from the trip.


New York City glittered last week. From the oversized Christmas ornaments outside of Simon and Schuster, to the Swarovski-laden 76-foot tree in Rockefeller Center, the city glowed brighter than normal as it prepared for the holiday season.

The Communitech HYPERDRIVE cohort, in town for meetings and events, also sparkled while in New York City, but this was no holiday. The five companies were here to hustle.

The HYPERDRIVE New York City trip is a bi-annual five days of meetings, panels and meet-and-greets. Generous spare time is allowed in the schedule, but not for quick shopping trips at Bloomingdales – participating companies are expected to fill their time meeting with industry experts, venture and angel firms and local workspaces.

And our companies found it wasn’t hard to fill their schedules. WellRead Inc. arranged 11 meetings in three days with venture capital firms and accelerators on top of the packed programming.

“It’s important for our companies to move into an international market when they are ready,” said Doug Cooper, Managing Director. “New York City is one of the largest and most vibrant markets in the world and it is right next door.  It is the place to find customers and close deals. We find a lot of our companies benefit from the types of industry headquartered in the city.”

New York is HYPERDRIVE’s city of choice for a few reasons: its relative proximity to Waterloo; its reputation as the heart of the advertising and financial world, and its focus on becoming an East Coast tech hub.

New York City prides itself on its sense of community. The Canadian expat circle is active and well-entrenched, and everyone is willing to meet for a drink.

And really, for the participating HYPERDRIVE companies, that was a huge takeaway.

The New York tech scene has a different culture than Waterloo Region’s – they dress up in business clothes for meetups, and they are brutally quick in rejecting implausible pitches – but like the region, they want to help your company become the best it can be.

Five HYPERDRIVE companies participated in the December trip, three from the current cohort and two from previous cohorts.

The schedule was packed with morning-to-evening meetings. At the end of a few long days, it was easy to want to limp back to the hotel instead of socializing with the cohort.

However, in a city where business deals are sealed on squash courts or over an old-fashioned, the after-work cocktails were integral. Guests and speakers consistently stressed that the New York culture values relationships, and that potential clients and investors are interested in companies’ stories, not just the tech angle.

“Investors invest in stories – not pitches. Be a storyteller,” Pierre-Georges Roy, Partner at GroupArgent, told the HYPERDRIVE companies when speaking about how to catch an investor’s attention in New York City.

The companies took that advice to heart as they turned chance meetings and cocktails into conversations and anecdotes.

And the stories are turning into success for the HYPERDRIVE cohorts.

Over margaritas at a Mexican bar, one company intrigued a lawyer doing interesting tech work with some well-known VCs. That serendipitous late-night drink turned into an even later-night email conversation, which will turn into a meeting with the VCs later in December.

“It’s valuable to go [to New York] when HYPERDRIVE goes because there’s power in numbers,” said Rob Darling, CEO of WellRead Inc. ( “We helped friends get meetings and they helped us get meetings, even when we were down there. It happens organically.

“That’s one of the benefits of a community like HYPERDRIVE. You can’t underestimate the value of serendipity.”

Darling’s experience is only one of many say-yes moments the HYPERDRIVE team experienced while in New York City. Each company looks forward to returning to continue to build their networks in the concrete jungle.

“This is meant to be the first of many trips {to New York City} for our companies,” said program manager Kory Jeffery. “Don’t go with us on your first round and expect to be meeting with chequebooks. Use us, and this trip, to make relationships. And plan on coming back.”