Conversations - Alex Norman of AngelList Canada

November 11, 2017

“Everything I do is aligned in making Canada and particularly Toronto a more competitive space for tech companies.”

Alex Norman is the CEO of AngelList Canada, a co-founder at TechToronto, and an early stage VC via his fund, N49P.

In this episode, we talk about:

“I’m always intellectually curious. I haven’t tried to optimize for fame or money. I’ve tried to optimize for what interests me.” - Alex

On working with startups:

“They [startups] were always short of people and looking for great talent. I had the opportunity to work with startups and do roles that I didn’t have enough age or experience for, traditionally. I jumped there to learn.”

On choosing opportunities: enough rope to hang yourself

“Where is the job or opportunity that will let you grow? And give you lots of responsibility and give you enough rope to hang yourself?”

“Surround yourself with a team you can learn from. I like to get people that are smarter than me, have different perspectives than me. Those can be complemented by online learning. But if you put yourself in that space, you will also find what you should be focusing on.

On SF/NY vs. Toronto-Waterloo
“I think the Toronto-Waterloo corridor has something special going on right now, I think there’ll be lots of large companies, and I think you should stay home. I want all the talent to stay here and I think we’re going to build big things. But I do think there are benefits to getting other perspectives on the world by being part of different ecosystems. It’s a question for each person.

For getting a world class experience, there’s companies [here] like Shopify, Wattpad, Freshbooks, and lots of small companies that are growing quickly that you can learn from, that can be just as valuable.”

On building the Toronto tech ecosystem:

  1. “Put the ecosystem first. If you take care of the community, the community will take care of you.”
  2. “Random collisions lead to collaboration. The thing that builds an ecosystem is random people that wouldn’t normally know each other meet and do something magical. Education and know-how only get you so far, but eventually what build companies are people.”


Quotes lightly edited for publication.