Documentary About Waterloo’s Startup Community Explodes Past Crowdfunding Goal: ‘People Want It’

Taylor Jackson knew the Kitchener-Waterloo startup community was a collaborative group. That’s what his upcoming documentary, Startup Community, is all about.

But it wasn’t until he asked them to help fund it that he realized just how collaborative they are.

Less than three full days after the film’s funding campaign launched on June 8, on crowdfunding site Indiegogo, Jackson and his collaborators have already raised more than the $10,000 they say they need to properly promote the film.

“I don’t think I knew the full extend of it until we saw the response,” Jackson says. “After the first day we had raised $6,000 it was insane.”

For Jackson, the strong response “showed us that people want it.”

The film is another example of the growing level of attention being paid to the startup hub in Kitchener-Waterloo. In November, the region was named one of the top 20 startup ecosystems in the world by in a report by Spanish telecom giant Telefónica and business intelligence firm Startup Genome. In May, the region and its flagship accelerator, Communitech were profiled in USA Today.

It’s a far cry from just a few years ago, when the region startup community was still largely flying under the radar.  

Jackson says the film will be a tool to help continue promoting the region, “It’s a 30 minute conversation that people can have with people like politicians and investors.”

For Jackson the film is a chance to showcase a region he loves and an industry that he think plays a large role in that.

“I think we live in an amazing place,” says Jackson. “There’s competition, but it’s not a cutthroat environment.”

But Jackson says he’s not quite sure why Kitchener-Waterloo’s tech industry is so unique. “That’s what we’re trying to find out,” he says. “We’re still just asking people more and more questions.”

Jackson, who works as a wedding photographer, isn’t a part of the region’s tech community, though he says he has friends in the industry. But he says that being something of an “outsider,” helps him “to tell a better story to people who aren’t a part of it.”

Jackson says the film is around 50 percent finished and he expects to have it “cut and done” by September 16. He plans to submit the documentary to film festivals in the fall before releasing it, for free, online in early 2014.

Releasing the film for free is important, Jackson says. “It’s a community effort,” he says, “I don’t feel like I own it.”