2019 Conference

2019 Venture Out Conference

Happening soon!

Join us March 14 and 15, 2019 in Toronto

Questions about the Conference? Please email ventureout@startproud.org

Venture Out is Canada’s first and largest conference connecting LGBTQA+ entrepreneurs and folks in tech to career opportunities, role models, and each other. 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.

2019 Keynote Speakers

Andreas Souvaliotis

Andreas Souvaliotis is the founder of Carrot Rewards, Canada’s most popular wellness app and the world’s first national health rewards program. A decade earlier he started Green Rewards, the world’s first mass eco-loyalty platform, which was acquired and fused into the popular AIR MILES program.

Andreas has been recognized globally for his achievements and thought leadership in harnessing nudge theory to promote positive behaviour shifts on a mass scale. 

As a bestselling author and prolific speaker, Andreas is a leading Canadian advocate for innovative approaches to address public health, climate change, diversity and citizenship. 

He serves on the Boards of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, Windmill Microlending and the Young Presidents’ Organization, and also advises a number of academic institutions and NGOs.

Speaking at Venture Out on Thursday at 6:15PM


Kiana ‘rookz’ Eastmond is an award-winning entrepreneur. She is also the founder of Sandbox Studios–one of the most successful Urban Music Artist Development and Recording Facilities in Toronto, Canada. Sandbox has opened its doors to A-list celebrities such as Cardi B, Tory Lanez, Kid Ink and many more of the city’s up and coming acts.
rookz is currently the Executive Director at Manifesto and splits her time with appearing at special events that speak to her expertise while simultaneously serving her community. Though she is not an overnight success, rookz continues to share story in hopes of inspiring others to push through their current circumstances.
So far, she has been featured in The Globe & Mail, ELLE Magazine, The Toronto Star, FLARE and Complex just to name a few. rookz has also partnered with numerous brands such as American Express, Live Nation, Nike, Jordan, Google & YouTube Music.
Speaking at Venture Out on Friday at 12:20PM

2019 Schedule

Day 1

Thursday, March 14

5:30 PM Conference opens!

6:00 PM Welcome & Land Acknowledgement

6:15 PM Keynote #1: Andreas Souvaliotis, CEO, Carrot Rewards

7:00 PM Startup Pitch Event

  • Companies: Toni Marlow, All Day Sunday, Virtual Gurus
  • Investors: OMERS Ventures, Golden Ventures, Real Ventures, StandUp Ventures, & York Angels

8:00 PM Networking Reception presented by Scotiabank


Day 2

Friday, March 15

9:45 AM LinkedIn presents Rock your Profile (includes professional headshot)

10:00 AM Recruitment Fair presented by Opencare

12:00 PM Welcome & Land Acknowledgement

12:20 PM Keynote #2: rookz, Founder, Sandbox Studios, interviewed by Anita Li

1:00 PM Workshops (16 sessions) – See below!

1:00 PM Community Fair in Main Atrium, presented by Rangle.io

5:00 PM Tech for Social Good: Lightning Talks & Panel Discussion, presented by Hubba

8:00 PM After Party at Glad Day Bookstore!


Applying AI to Mental Wellness Support in the Workplace

Using the latest AI technology, IBM Canada built a chatbot trained to guide employees to mental health services and resources to help with work, health, family, and life challenges. Kimberley Messer & Colleen McDowell will discuss how the anonymous and confidential chatbot allows employees to ask questions in a safe and private space, reducing shame, fear, and any societal or associative stigma. This workshop will also discuss the future of AI in supporting mental wellness for marginalized communities in Canada.

The Neverending Story: Coming Out Professionally

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.

Inclusive Content: One nudge at a time

How can we ensure our content standards are scalable? How can we use our technical capabilities to scale and automate standards? In this workshop, four TELUS Digital directors, developers, and content strategists will discuss an automatic feedback tool built into their CMS platform (Contentful) that gently reminds and warns content writers of language usage that is problematic or non-inclusive. They will look at the technical implementation details and how this scales across the team.

Allyship in Action: Recruit & Retain Top Talent who are 2SLGBTQ+

Come learn how to be a leader in allyship at your organization from the Challenge Accepted Collective team! They will walk folks through how to recruit and retain top 2SLGBTQ+ talent. This will be an interactive workshop that can help provide practical tools and knowledge on how to hire with best diversity and inclusion practices.

Queer + Trans in Product: Why It Truly Matters

You want an inclusive company, but you don’t understand why it actually matters to have underrepresented genders and sexualities on your team? What does gender and sexuality have to do with work, anyway? Nonbinary lesbian and product designer at Crescendo, RC Woodmass, outlines how their identities and experiences have made all the difference in their work in tech.

Scaling Your Engineering Team

This workshop will focus on challenges you may face when doubling your team’s headcount. Borrowell‘s Katy Innes will focus on Engineering hiring within a short time frame. Touching on setting expectations, interview processes, org design, and candidate experience – the goal of this session is for you to come away with a practical overview of how to grow your team.

Ideation Workshop

This ideation workshop is a highly interactive session hosted by University of Toronto-Entrepreneurship‘s Ignacio Mongrell, where participants learn to use their inner problem-solving skills. Ideation is the creative process of generating, developing and communicating new ideas. Innovation isn’t simple. That’s why the ideation workshop exists – it is a powerful tool to help you get out of the stale modes of thought that can start to dull even the sharpest minds over time.

Making Your Voice Heard

The need for diverse representation on product teams has never been greater. But as a designer, how can you make your voice heard, to speak up for good, accessible, inclusive design? We might not think of facilitation, persuasion, and negotiation as essential design skills, but they’re an indispensable part of any designer’s toolkit. In this talk, Naomi Bower from TWG will discuss effective, battle-tested strategies you can start to use right now to be more successful with the things you care about as a designer — and give that awesome, inclusive UX a fighting chance of ending up in people’s hands.

Metrics That Matter

What are the factors that drive tech companies forward? How do these metrics differ in early stage and later stage funding? Every tech company strives to achieve certain KPIs to showcase their growth and attract investors. It is equally important that their employees understand how to contribute to them. Join PwC Canada‘s Camille Matute to gain a better understanding of the KPIs that drive a tech company’s growth and your role in achieving them.

Rock Your Profile

We want who you are to align with what you do, and LinkedIn is a first step to help you get there. Attend LinkedIn’s “Rock Your Profile” session to learn best practice recommendations for building an all-star profile that tells your professional story. Then, swing by our headshot photographer to top it off with a profile picture that truly represents you.

Ladies, Wine & Design: Zine Workshop

Zines are a powerful and accessible platform allowing folx to rapidly share experiences and bring issues to the forefront. Join Kristine Buerano and Rachel Tham from Ladies, Wine, & Design for a DIY workshop (presented by Prodigy Game), encouraging participants to harness the impact within each of our stories and develop zines as a tool to find community, provide support, and actuate change.

5 Simple Rules of Investing

Join the team from Wealthsimple to learn how to set yourself up on the path to financial freedom. Everyone has their own financial goal, we are here to encourage better saving and investing among Canadians and help you reach those goals. We’ll discuss how to make smart investment decisions and how to plan for life’s big changes. Bring your questions, we’d like to make this as interactive as possible!

A Critical Analysis of Sidewalk Labs

Join Saadia Muzaffar, founder of TechGirls Canada, in a critical analysis of Sidewalk Labs and an engaging discussion on how poorly regulated, data-fueled spaces impact community and the importance of public consultation. She will talk about why she resigned from Waterfront Toronto’s Digital Strategy Advisory Panel, the concerns that remain, and welcome questions from the audience on data collection, privacy, and what happens next.

Convergence of Blockchain & AI : Autonomous Revolution

Delivered by Omid Sadeghi, Interim Director, Lassonde PD, York University. Presented by Uberflip.

Bridge School Panel: Breaking Into Tech

Hear from three students and recent graduates of coding bootcamps, including the Bridge School and HackerYou, to learn more about what it’s like to go through a bootcamp course, how they got their start in tech, the role of mentorship, and the challenges they’ve faced. Panelists: Kritika Ganapathy, Jasper Lyn Walton, and Ruby Bantock. Moderated by ZJ Hadley and presented by Tucows.

Trans & Non binary Inclusion in the Workforce

Looking to learn the basics of trans and non binary inclusion in the workplace? Join the Challenge Accepted Collective team for a brief dive into the complex categories of human identity, and an introduction into how we can create more inclusive environments for folks of all gender identities and expressions.

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

“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.”

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