Toronto, June 26: With Canada’s 150th birthday fast approaching, John Huehn’s invigorating speech at InTheChat’s Innov-AI-tion Mixer seemed more than serendipitous. Huehn, the CEO of InTheChat, extolled the benefits of supporting Canadian innovation, starting with his own home-grown tech story.
The InTheChat concept started from Huehn’s dining room table in Leaside, Toronto. As his toddler-aged daughter played with his BlackBerry, he imagined how she would contact companies when she reached adulthood. After more than a decade of experience in the call centre space, Huehn envisioned a future where consumer preference would shift from phone-based services to text-based digital communications. From these initial imaginings, InTheChat was born.
Go west, young man.
Huehn sold his home in Toronto, invested the money he had made into the founding of InTheChat, and moved his family to Canada’s booming tech hub: Waterloo. Start ups require talent; and Waterloo’s innovation ecosystem provided the ideal pool of highly-skilled employees who would make the InTheChat concept into a reality.
Start ups create jobs.
Along with the company’s primary goal of changing the way consumers interact with companies, Huehn founded InTheChat with the goal of employing people. He foresaw the need to evolve Canada from an information economy to an innovation economy and believed entrepreneurialism in tech was the best way to create new skilled jobs for the coming workforce. He committed to being a part of that shift toward “cool” 21st-century employment. At Monday’s event, he referred to the InTheChat employees as “cool Canadian people with cool Canadian jobs at a cool Canadian company”.
Innovation needs big business, big business needs innovation.
Of course, emerging Canadian companies cannot succeed through grit alone. They need the support of the larger business community. Establishing a solid client base is essential for a company’s long-term success, and when Canadian corporations partner with Canadian start-ups, they contribute to this success. Big businesses feed young companies, who in turn create new, meaningful and well-paid jobs, fostering a greater national culture of innovation and support for the growth of a healthy economy. And everyone benefits from a healthy economy!
The world needs more Canada.
Borrowing from President Obama and U2’s Bono, Huehn emphasized that “the world needs more Canada.” Likewise, Canada needs more Canada. Pockets of high-tech activity like we see in Kitchener-Waterloo have taught us that we have the innovative power and collaborative spirit to make great things happen. Canada needs everyone on board to spread and accelerate home-grown innovation; and bring more Canada to Canada — and to the world.