Happy Birthday My City Lives!
Tomorrow, February 24 2011, is the official one year birthday for Toronto-based digital start-up, My City Lives. In honour of this special day we present to you a 5 Questions feature with co-founder Adil Dhalla.
What motivates you to do what you do on a daily basis?
It’s hard for me to succinctly boil down my answer to a few key things but speaking generally I can say that I feel for My City Lives what a tween feels for Justin Bieber – unyielding love and borderline obsession to the point of hilarity for onlookers.
If you had 30 seconds to impart your wisdom on a classroom of soon-to-be graduates, what would you say?
Take everyone’s thoughts for what they are, thoughts particular to an individual’s own experience. There is certainly a lot to learn from others, accomplished or not, but a big trap one can fall into is learning and then attempting to emulate someone else’s path rather than carving out their own. There is not one right path and rarely are there two paths exactly the same. So if you chose to use someone else’s experiences as your own blueprint, you’ll always be more likely to follow than you will be to lead. And to clarify, it’s not about doing something new or being disruptive, it’s about recognizing that no circumstances are the same and that you alone know what you’re capable of accomplishing. Write your own story.
In your opinion, what has been one of the most important technological developments over the past 12 months?
Thinking in a local context, we’ve got to feel good about the emergence of the Toronto startup/tech community in the last year. When we (My City Lives) launched a year ago at one of Sprouter’s SproutUps, there were maybe 100 people in attendance. Last week’s SproutUp had 600 by comparison. A relatively similar growth has occurred in a number of other key events in the city. A year ago, we had a small handful of local success stories to talk about. Today we have more than I can count and a bevy of upcoming products such as Urb-Ops, Rocketr and Postage App that will only further establish our city and community as a model for how things get done. A year ago, sub communities like LeanCoffeeTO, FatBeer and The Yorkville Media Centre either didn’t exist or did, but no one knew about them. Today, the excitement around them is palatable. A year ago, co-working and collaborative spaces were something to aspire for, but today we have Camaraderie, a second CSI and now Foundery (among others) that are not only normalizing the concept, but making it stick.
The point is, I can’t pinpoint one thing that’s changed the game locally, but I think we can all agree that the community of game changers in this city is vibrant and growing at an awesome rate. The end game of this is that we can hopefully stop referring to our city as the x of the north (i.e. “Sillicon Valley of the North”) and rather just as “Toronto” with the conviction that our collective efforts stand for something.
If you had a crystal ball, what would you say will be the most important technological development over the next 12 months?
The group-buying phenomena is going to start slowing down as consumers get “dealed” out and businesses learn that the long term ROI isn’t there as previously believed. It might not be the most important development, but whether you play in the local space or have concerns about a bubble and skyrocketing valuations, there will be an interesting ripple effect.
Who is one of Canada’s tech stars and why?
There are so many to choose from so I’m going to give some love to handful of up and comers including our own Community Manager (and my kid sister) Amira Dhalla (@amirad), Amrita Mathur (@amritamathur) who is behind Techkik, Raymond Kao (@raykao) who is behind Coworking Toronto and Robleh Jama (@robjama) who is behind the Pocket Zoo success story.