In the heart of downtown Toronto and just blocks away from Chinatown lies TWG (The Working Group) a development house that creates Web and mobile products for clients and the community at large.
I had the chance to visit their studio space for the first time when I participated in Startup Weekend Toronto last.
TWG is located at 425 Adelaide St. W and takes up most of the third floor of the building where they have plenty of space for holding eventa.
In one part of the studio, a TWG logo made of Lego blocks perches atop a desk, while another table serves as an art work holding station. They seem to highlight the mix of technical and creative expertise that permeates the collaborative environment.
TWG houses a collective of crack coders, stellar brainiacs and design mavericks who do custom development for clients be it applications, mobile or web. TWG has grown from just a handful collaborators five years ago to more than 25 members in two offices – one in Toronto and another in New York City which opened just a few weeks ago.
Andrés Aquino, a TWG partner who runs the studio, says if the first five years “were about discovering what we were capable of” then the last five years have been about “building strong Web and mobile technologies for people, for the purpose of solving their business problems.”
Their Toronto digs are not just home to TWG’s crew – it also house startups like ShopLocket, a firm that makes it easy to sell products from any Web site or blog with a widget. TWG also offers mentorship and incubation service for startups.
The common thread Aquino sees in successful startups is leadership. He said entrepreneurs also need to have drive, vision, and focus. “It’s really really hard, and you don’t understand how far you’re going to be pushed to the wall until you’re in it.”
“The worst thing you can do is lose focus and try to do too many things,” he said. “You need to know what your footholds are going to be to get yourself up to the next level. If you take your eye off that you’ll slip and begin trying to grasp too many things at once.”
In many ways TWG has become an anchor in Toronto’s burgeoning startup scene.
Its premises has been the venue for numerous events, from Startup Weekend Toronto last November which challenged teams to launch a startup in 54 hours to an Art Workshop on June 1 with Sammo (Sam Shuter) and Childhood Cancer Canada that gave children with cancer a chance to have fun and be creative. It’s these types of events that help TWG to be a force for change within the community.
In my next post, I’ll take a look at TWG’s apps and its mission.