Digital Media People to Watch in Ontario in 2010

2009 saw the further introduction of the Techvibes brand in the Toronto tech community.  In the coming 12 months we will be highlighting many insightful people, innovative companies and exciting events.  Here’s a non-exhaustive compilation of some of the people that we think will be playing a role is shaping technology in Ontario in 2010.

Ali Asaria – Well.caAsaria left Canadian tech darling Research In Motion to create brands itself as Canada’s largest online health & beauty store.  With products that are not exclusive, Asaria had to figure out how to differentiate themselves from the rest of the competition.  So they have chosen to focus on unparallelled customer service and free shipping anywhere in Canada.

Jordan Banks – Thunder Road Capital – A recent investor in Banks is currently the managing partner at Thunder Road Capital which he founded in 2008 to provide investment and advisory services to early stage tech companies. Banks helped launch eBay Canada and became the second employee of their Canadian office. At eBay Canada, he had overall management and P&L responsibility including operations, strategy and marketing. Banks is also credited with building the eBay brand and eBay’s community of users in Canada.

Erin Bury – Sprouter –  Erin is the Community Manager for Toronto tech start-up Sprouter.  Sprouter facilitates collaboration between entrepreneurs globally. Entrepreneurs can expand networks, start discussions, and follow topics relevant to their business.  Instead of answering “what are you doing?” in 140 characters, users answer “what are you working on?”  The idea is to connect entrepreneurs with each other based on similar interests and goals.  You can share what you are working on or solicit feedback from others.  Sprouter lets you follow users – just like Twitter – and send private messages as long as the user follows you back.

Lauren Friese – TalentEgg – Recent winner of the Impact National Conference pitch competition, Friese created TalentEgg as a response to a void she felt was present in the Canadian marketplace.  TalentEgg is a career site for Canadian students and new grads looking for meaningful entry level career opportunities.  The site connects students with employers that have high-quality entry level opportunities available, and allows employers to brand themselves and advertise job opportunities to the 18-25 crowd.

Kunal Gupta – Polar MobileGupta is the Chair of the Impact Entrepreneurship Group – an organization he founded in his first year at the University of Waterloo with a group of like-minded students. In a few short years, Impact has grown from a small conference to one of Canada’s largest student-run entrepreneurship groups.  Gupta is also the CEO of Polar Mobile, a mobile software development firm developing client-branded solutions for media companies.  Polar’s content and advertising platform provides publishers, brands and advertisers the tools to deliver, measure and monetize digital media on all major mobile devices.

Steve Hulford – FileMobile – FileMobile is Hulford’s third venture. He serves as Filemobile’s chief creative officer and is responsible for product development and delivery. Hulford  has a passion for blending creative and technical solutions that drive media value. Previously, he was a co-owner of, which was purchased by Rogers Communications in 2008. Hulford has served as the vice-president of sports products for TSN and RDS where he managed the product development and P&L for these popular Canadian sports websites.

Carol Leaman – PostRank – Founded in 2007 and based in Waterloo, PostRank monitors and collects social engagement events correlated with online content in real-time across the web.  PostRank gathers where and when stories generate comments, bookmarks, tweets, and other forms of interaction from a host of social hubs. Publishers and people interested in their content use PostRank Data Services and Analytics to gauge influence and reach with audiences.  PostRank also offers Analytics tools to publishers to expose where their audience actually is story by story, and to help them engage in timely conversations and improve targeting of their communications.

Mike Lee – Rogers Ventures – Lee is VP of New Ventures for Rogers Communications and is responsible for new ventures assessment, investment and development for the Rogers Communications’ group of companies.  Rogers Ventures is a new source of early stage seed level investment for technology start-ups (which include Zoocasa, GridCentric and Thoora).  Another part of the Rogers Ventures’ mandate is supporting the innovation ecosystem by providing direct funding to community programs that help create innovation momentum in this country.

Tobi Lutke – Shopify – Lutke is cofounder and CEO of Shopify, alumni of the Ruby on Rails core team and a startup advisor.  Shopify is a hosted application that allows users to set up an online store to sell their products. It lets them organize products, customize a storefront, accept credit card payments through payment gateways, track and respond to orders — all without the hassle of running a physical store.

Keith McSpurren – CoverItLive – Since its release in late 2007, CoveritLive has been used by thousands of writers to engage millions of readers around the world. It is actively used both by bloggers as well as those in mainstream media. By providing easy to use, web based software, CiL has quickly gained use around the world by publishers looking to improve their coverage of breaking news, interact with readers and create engaging events for audiences both large and niche. From niche events like chess tournaments in Germany or local elections in London, to marquee events like the NFL Draft and American Idol, CoveritLive powers live events with social engagement for thousands of digital destinations around the world.