Canadian Tech Mob urges industry to take pride in IT achievements

The Web site features images of Jim Carrey, Sir Wilfred Laurier and a loon, but the icon the Canadian Tech Mob wants the industry to pay the closest attention to is its own.

Launched less than a month ago, the Canadian Tech Mob is part of a grassroots movement to promote enthusiasm and confidence among the country’s IT leaders. By including the icon on their own portals, the Webring will link from site to site, ostensibly demonstrating the success of Canada in the technology market, much like the success of its pop culture icons and political leaders.

Sean Wise, a venture capitalist based in Toronto, said the idea for Canadian Tech Mob came at least year’s CTIA Wireless conference, when he was giving a presentation at a cocktail party for Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

“I kept getting the feeling that people were so interested in India and China that they weren’t aware of what was going on north of the border,” he said. “We’re like the Great White Secret . . . everyone wants to talk about the sleeping tiger that is China, but what about the sleeping wolverine?”

At another industry event in the U.S., Wise noticed that nearly every panel discussion included a Canadian, whether it was the head of Google’s mergers and acquisitions groups or executives from Flickr. That’s when he and his partner in the Canadian Tech Mob, Reg Cheramy, started handing out maple leaf pins to draw more attention to their roots.

According to Cheramy, a self-described serial entrepeneur who runs a startup called Zigtag and a blog about Web 2.0 companies, the site has been accessed more than 40,000 times in 10 days. More than 70,000 pages on Google, meanwhile, include the Canadian Tech Mob name.

“We’ve only been at this for a couple of weeks,” he said. “The trick is to make it very easy for people to do — just put the icon on their site, and they become part of the Webring.”

Wise said the Canadian Tech Mob got a big boost when a contact in the Foreign Affairs department sent information about the icon to all of Canada’s trade commissioners. He said he hopes the idea will spark some enthusiasm among Canadians to do a better job of promoting the country’s IT achievements.

“The stats show how strong we are. We are punching above our weight class,” he said. “It’s just that we don’t have the same bravado and arrogance to taunt it to other countries. The World Bank named us the No. 1 place to start a business. That’s the World Bank — it’s not like Joe’s consulting firm that’s putting that out there.”

The Canadian Tech Mob is a non-profit venture that will remain an electronic campaign for now, but Wise did not rule out the idea of partnering with conference producers and other groups on other promotional activities in the future.

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