Looking for a summer job? Or are you graduating in the spring and looking for full-time work? Interested in working for a company that is pushing the boundaries of technology today? Well, then, it is time to polish up your résumé and dig out your portfolio: the largest start-up career expo in the country is coming to town, and you will not want to miss it.



On February 25, 80 companies and an estimated 1,500 students will descend on the MaRS Discovery District for a full day of networking. The event is being organized by the You’re Next Career Network, a non-profit organization originally founded by U of T students. Their stated goal for the expo? “To connect students to startups as well as to provide a strong community to foster a startup mentality at the University of Toronto.”

It’s an event that has been in the planning for over a year, and has become much bigger than the organizers ever initially intended. You’re Next Career Network ran their first startup expo in the Great Hall at Hart House, just over a year ago, with 38 companies and about 700 student attendees. When Matt Pua, managing director for the startup hub and a current engineering student at U of T, began working on plans for this year’s event with his team, they planned for only a modest increase in attendance and company participation.

In late November, their plans changed. As Pua puts it, “We were discussing being a little bit more ambitious. [We said] let’s bring more companies, let’s bring more students.” The result? They switched venues and began marketing the expo at universities all across Ontario ­— and with 80 startups participating, it is now expected to be the biggest event of its kind anywhere in the nation.

Although the expo will be set up much like a traditional career fair, the focus on startups makes it unique. Many of the participating companies have been founded only in the last three or four years, often by entrepreneurs who were only recently students themselves. Pua says that it is “different in the sense that the startups aren’t as known yet, but they’re pushing more innovative things than at the corporate, larger companies … they [the startups] move faster, they change faster, they can adapt faster.” The startups that will be attending the expo are looking for students with motivation, passion, and creativity — but recruiting students is not the only benefit for these companies. The expo is also an opportunity for startups to build up their own contacts in the industry, to network, and to promote themselves.

Sameera Banduk recently joined Thalmic Labs, one of the startups attending the expo, as their marketing director. She describes the startup culture as “a really exciting place to be,” and says that the biggest difference between working for a startup and working for a larger, more established corporation is the “ability to have a really big impact on whatever you’re working on … Every single thing you do contributes in a big way.”

Although dress and atmosphere may be more laid back than at a traditional career fair, the startups are still looking for top talent ­— the best that U of T and the other Ontario universities have to offer. Philip Chen, a U of T engineering alumnus, is a co-founder and the coo of Seamless Mobile Health, a recent startup that aims to reduce hospitals’ readmission rates by allowing patients released from hospital after surgery to track their symptoms, and providing them with advice in real-time. In the future, the company is looking to expand internationally, and to build partnerships with large hospital systems in both Canada and the US.

According to Chen, students wanting to stand out at the expo should have “a good understanding of the company, and how they can help the company achieve that vision.” Banduk says that the most important qualities include “being passionate, being able to prove that you can tackle challenges.” Pua strongly recommends that students bring not only a résumé, but a portfolio, or samples of their work, or anything else that demonstrates their creativity.

Many of the participating companies are looking for developers and engineers, but those are not the only positions available — many of the startups are also looking to build their marketing teams, their design teams, or their sales teams. Other open positions include business analysts, data scientists, product managers, copywriters, and social media specialists, and companies will be recruiting interns as well as full-time employees.

For those who may be curious about the startup culture but do not know where their particular skill set might be best employed, the You’re Next Career Network is also offering a career expo bootcamp this coming Wednesday evening, exclusively for University of Toronto students. Attendees will hear a keynote talk about the advantages and challenges of working at a start-up, followed by presentations and the opportunity for open discussion with ten mentors from different industries. The goal is to help students decide what areas they might want to work in, and then to help them target specific roles that suit their strengths. Attendees will also get early access to the complete list of companies and positions available at the upcoming expo.

The Start Up Career Expo will be held from 10 am to 4 pm on Tuesday, February 25. Students who register in advance of the event will be entered to win prizes sponsored by some of the startups attending the expo. The Start-Up Career Expo Bootcamp is this Wednesday, February 12, from 6 pm to 8 pm; participation is restricted to 60 students, so early registration is advised.


Selected companies in attendance


Seamless Mobile

Seamless Mobile was founded by two U of T students and a friend from UBC, who met through Next36, a selective program for student entrepreneurs that provides instruction, mentorship, and financial support for participants. The award-winning app supports patients who are recovering from surgery and have been released from the hospital. By allowing patients to track their symptoms, catch any signs of distress or complications, and get real-time advice, the company works with hospitals to lower their surgical readmission rates. Current positions include a web and social media intern, and a market research intern; they are also looking to increase their development team.



Founded in July 2010, this startup focuses on tablet-based lead capture and data collection, allowing businesses to conduct surveys and analyze results with leading edge mobile technology. At the moment, they are particularly looking for people with experience developing applications in Java.


Juice Mobile

Also founded in 2010, Juice Mobile provides mobile marketing services to publishers, brands, and advertisers. By demystifying the often puzzling and certainly very new field of mobile marketing, Juice Mobile provides their clients with new technologies that allow for more efficient advertising. Recent achievements include launching Canada’s first real-time bidding platform, and launching live countdown, multi-tab expandable, and wipe-away advertisements. This past year, they released a new mobile platform, Nectar, that eliminates price from the purchase equation. Open positions include a junior C++ developer, a junior sales planner, and a junior account executive


Thalmic Labs

The Myo armband from Thalmic Labs seems like something out of a science fiction novel — by simply gesturing with your hand, you can interact freely with your computer, phone, or any other digital device. The company has started shipping prototypes to selected developers, and plans a wider release for mid-2014.  The armband works by sensing muscle movement, and transmitting the information over Bluetooth. If the idea of wearable technology gets you excited, they are looking for electrical, software, and mechanical engineers, as well as designers and customer support specialists.



Eventmobi’s platform allows clients to easily and quickly create a mobile app for any sort of conference or event. Just this month, they released Fusion 2.0, a tool that integrates all aspects of event coordination ­— a help desk, registration, surveys, interactive maps, sharing conference files and presentations, and more. After downloading the customized app onto their mobile device, conference attendees can access the app (and all of the relevant information) even if the event location itself does not have an internet connection. Who are they looking for? According to cto and co-founder Bob Vaez, “people who take initiative, add value, and are willing to learn every single day.”



FreshBooks is an invoicing and billing application, designed to solve the accounting and organizational problems of small business owners. It provides users with the ability to create and manage invoices, expenses, and projects, all in one place. Founded in 2003, the company now boasts over five million users in 120 countries, and bills itself as the “#1 cloud accounting solution.” Positions are available in development, marketing, product management, and design.



The first daily deal site owned and operated in Canada, TeamBuy was founded in 2009 and aims to bring its clients “great deals every day in cities across North America.” By guaranteeing their merchants a certain number of customers, they can offer the public discounts of usually around 50 to 60 per cent off. The company was also featured on the CBC show Dragon’s Den, and in less than five years, they have grown to 120 employees, with over three million online members. They’re looking for a back-end developer, and copywriting, graphic design, and social media interns, amongst other positions.