2018 Conference

2018 Venture Out Conference

Connecting LGBTQA+  people in tech to career opportunities, role models, and each other.

March 15 and 16, 2018

MaRS Discovery District, Toronto


If you are a sponsor or speaker and have not yet registered, please email your Venture Out contact.

Venture Out is Canada’s first conference for LGBTQA+ students and young professionals interested in careers in tech and entrepreneurship. Every year, we gather together with startups, speakers, and thought leaders from across Canada at MaRS Discovery District for workshops, receptions, panels, and networking opportunities.

Join us, and help build a more diverse and inclusive future.


Evening Kickoff

Thursday, March 15

Kick off Venture Out 2018 in style with refreshments and conversation. Mingle with LGBTQA+ students and tech professionals at all career levels.

6 PM – Kickoff
6:20 PM – Panel: Investing in LGBTQA+ Founders
7:10 PM – Pitch Competition
8:00 PM – Cocktail Reception presented by Tulip Retail

Conference and After Party

Friday, March 16

An action-packed day of speakers, panels, and workshops Join us in the evening for a reception celebrating the next generation of LGBTQA+ talent!

10:30 AM – Exhibitor & Job Fair opens!
9:45 AM – Rock Your Profile & Free Head Shots with LinkedIn
12:00 PM – Friday kickoff
12:20 PM – Keynote: Andrea Ross, Shopify
1:00 PM – Breakout Sessions (12 sessions in total, 4 streams)
4:15 PM – Feature Panel: presented by TransFocus & Hubba
4:50 PM – Keynote: Dax Dasilva, Lightspeed
5:30 PM – Lightning Round talks
6:00 PM – Keynote: Natasha Negovanlis & Chris Studer
7:00 PM – Closing remarks
8:00 PM – After Party presented by Intelex


Dax Dasilva

Dax Dasilva

Join us for a fireside interview with Lightspeed Founder and CEO Dax Dasilva and Newstalk 1010’s John Moore. The fireside chat will highlight Dasilva’s involvement in the community through Never Apart, his not-for-profit organization that aims to ignite positive social change and spiritual awareness through cultural programming

Andrea Ross

Andrea Ross

Andrea Ross discusses her 25 years of experience as an LGBTQA+ member in the tech industry, and her current role at Shopify. Learn how her team is reducing barriers through strategic work-integrated learning partnerships and increasing accessibility to computer science education through a unique program called Dev Degree.

Natasha Negovanlis

Natasha Negovanlis

Get REAL‘s Chris Studer chats with Canadian actress Natasha Negovanlis about the importance of queer representation in the media and how she leveraged digital tech platforms such as YouTube to build a brand and webseries.

Kai Scott

Kai is a principal partner at TransFocus. He combines his technical skills developed from over 10 years as a social scientist with his lived experiences as a trans man to create innovative tools and solutions that address points of exclusion for transgender employees and customers. Check out Kai’s profile on the Venture Out Blog.


Dispelling Myths and Incorporating Gender Diversity in the Tech Industry

Given recent societal and legal changes, companies are becoming more aware of and responsive to the needs and issues of transgender employees and customers. This is an emerging area of consideration for the tech industry, especially as companies face and respond to labour shortages. This presentation focuses on defining key terms, issues, and challenges facing transgender people in the workplace. The presenters will also provide workable tools and solutions related to gender diversity, including policies, gender data, communications, benefits, washrooms, and gendered programs. The session is intended to be interactive and informational with practical and inclusive measures to improve employee experiences.

Design Thinking

Design thinking is a key skill in tech across all disciplines.

What you’ll learn: This workshop will give you a foundational understanding of the design thinking mindsets and process (empathizing, defining the problem, ideating, prototyping, testing).

What you’ll do: You will experience the value of working as part of a diverse and cross-discipline group, practice design thinking hands-on, and create and ‘test’ on a preliminary low-fidelity prototype.  

Using Culture to Scale from Start Up to Unicorn

Your company’s culture is created with input from every team member, regardless of position or relationship. Using a Design Thinking Approach, Deanne Harrison, SVP, People & Process at 24-7 Intouch will lead an interactive workshop, exploring how culture and diversity best practices can help you scale while maintaining what makes your company unique.   
You will learn how to: 

  • Create a flexible plan that gives voices and channels for your people to contribute to the culture conversation.
  • Design a scalable strategy that will ensure your team grows stronger together.

Oh Baby! Navigating Parental Leave Policies to Support All Families

Ella Gorevalov, Culture Specialist at Nulogy, and Larissa Holmes, Head of People Operations at Borrowell will discuss implementing inclusive parental leave and parental support policies, and how companies can give consideration to individual needs and diverse family structures.

How to communicate for maximum impact – with minimum stress

This is about providing you with basic techniques for communicating your message clearly to any audience. The tips presented here will work whether you are writing an email, preparing a video or crafting anything from a blog to a major report. You will leave with a better idea of what it takes to communicate clearly, and equipped with the basic tools for getting your message out.

Strategies of a Corporate Ally

How can a company make positive impact externally on the LGBTQ community (hint: it starts at home).

How I Fu*@d Up My Career Twice And Found My Calling In Tech

The path to finding the right job and feeling fulfilled by our careers is less about fitting in into a predetermined narrative and more about living authentically. It starts by knowing and loving who we are, by keeping a pulse on the things that makes us feel most “alive,” and following those signals. In this interview-style session, Jose Sanchez, a gay immigrant with decades of experience in tech and Director of Marketing at Limelight, will explore his journey of epic failures and self-acceptance, how he fast-tracked his current career (and helped others), as well as offer practical steps to make your way forward.

Navigating a global career while LGBTQA+

Best practises, considerations and advice when working and interacting with people outside Canada in a work setting.

Attending Venture Out as an ally? More strategies on how to level up your solidarity

Given your response to our blog post, Venture Out staff wanted to dedicate a space to further explore the topic of allyship and what can look like in a workplace. We’ll also touch on topics about risk, politics, and power dynamics that often feel out of your control. If you’re committed to level up your allyship game, but nervous on how to start or even WHERE to start, this workshop is for you!

Technical Interviews: What You Need To Know

This workshop will focus on tactics and strategies to navigate the world of technical interviews. Topics covered will include mindset, answering difficult questions, common scenarios, study resources, and how to get a into a technical interview in the first place.

Blockchain, Crypto, Bitcoin, oh my! A plain language approach to understanding what this fuss is all about

The aim of this workshop is to spread ideas that can help the general public understand the basic fundamentals of cryptocurrency, how it impacts the economy, its history, and more. Let’s learn together.

Creating an inclusive workplace with Uberflip!

The past year Uberflip has been working to create an inclusive, diverse workplace. Today they share their challenges, successes and tips on how everyone can work towards making their workplaces, schools and lives more inclusive. They’ll also be sharing their resource hub they’ve created to ensure you keep the conversation going.

Journey to a Flexible Career

Are you considering starting or changing to a career in tech or embark on an your own entrepreneurial undertaking? You will be interested in this interactive talk where the speaker will share valuable lessons he learned from following an unconventional career path.

“The panelists were very open and honest…
I appreciated the realness.”


Shopify Logo


Intelex Logo
Hubba Logo
Rangle.io Logo
Lightspeed Logo
Never Apart Logo
Lyft logo
MaRS Logo
Eventmobi Logo
24-7 Intouch Logo


Uberflip Logo
Limelight Live Marketing Platform Logo
Peerscale Logo
StartUp HERE Toronto Logo
TWG Logo
Nulogy Logo
88 Logo
City of Toronto Logo
Security Compass Logo
Coinsquare Logo
BetaKit Logo
LinkedIn Logo


Pink Triangle Press Logo
Logojoy logo
Airbnb Logo
Plum.io Logo
Rogers Logo
Ada Support Logo
Interactive Ontario Logo
CrowdRiff Logo
Slalom Logo
League Logo
Top Hat Logo
TD Logo
Beau's Logo
Move The Dial Logo

“It was really great to see so many companies in the tech community come out in support of something so important to workplaces and inclusivity.”

Questions & Answers

It is for people who either want to make their workplace more inclusive, or who want to work at an inclusive workplace.

Yes, allies are more than welcome.

Amazing speakers, panels, networking sessions, workshops, seminars, and more!

You’ll meet amazing people doing amazing things in the startup & tech space, connect with people who have shared experiences similar to yours, and attend workshops run by brilliant people on subjects ranging from marketing to blockchain.

Venture Out is a network of individuals, companies and community organizations working together to build an LGBTQA+ tech and entrepreneurship community, with the goal of creating a more diverse & inclusive future.

We highlight LGBTQA+ tech leaders as well as groundbreaking projects and companies. We also produce events and conferences, which bring together ideas, and connect early-career professionals to new opportunities and to each other.

Ask 🙂 email ventureout@startproud.org