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Torontonians who are shaking up the tech sector

Roy Pereira founded zoom.ai, an automated assistant that uses machine learning to schedule your meetings

Torontonians who are shaking up the tech sector

Company HQ: Front and Blue Jays Way Founded: 2016 Employees: 12
Users: 10,000

How it works: “Zoom.ai is like a fully automated version of Google Calendar. The software can schedule your regular meetings—complete with time and preferred locations—within 10 seconds, based on your digital footprint, so you don’t have to do the when-are-you-free dance.”

Eureka moment: “I used to work at a larger company, and a lot of people on my team weren’t happy because they got stuck doing admin work that wasn’t part of their job description. Since it’s rare to have support staff these days, I wanted to create something that would free up some of their time by automating lower-level tasks.”

How much you spent initially: “I ran the company by myself for the first six months, which was more about investing time than cash. Once I had a prototype, I raised $200,000 (U.S.) during my first round of funding.”

Your turning point: “I was doing a presentation about the future of AI in the workplace, and the chief innovation officer of PWC Canada was in the audience. He came up to me after the talk and invited me to present to his team.”

Your big-time backers: “Evolution Equity Partners is our biggest investor. They gave us $2.1 million last year.”

Tech jargon you use too much:  “I use ‘optionality’ at least once a day. When you’re an entrepreneur, it’s always good to have more options.”

Tech trend you hate: “I’m tired of people pumping bitcoin.”

The best advice you’ve received: “You can’t get to success without a lot of failure, so it’s best to experiment as often and as quickly as you can.”

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The worst advice you’ve received: “An old boss told me that to get employees to respect you, they need to fear you. I couldn’t disagree more.”

Your tech role model: “Tony Rosati, an Ottawa-based business guy who mentored me on how to be an entrepreneur.”

App you can’t live without: “Ritual. I use it every day.”

Torontonians who are shaking up the tech sector

Coolest thing in your office: “We work in a massive shared office, and you have to walk a quarter of a kilometre to get to the bathroom, so we have scooters.”

Your go-to office attire: “Weather permitting, I wear shorts and flip-flops almost every day, but I fancy it up with a short-sleeve dress shirt.”

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If you weren’t running a start-up: “I’d run a bar on a beach, where I could wear shorts year round.”

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