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Torontonians who are shaking up the tech sector

Sarah Selhi founded SpaceiShare, a peer-to-peer marketplace for storage and parking space

Torontonians who are shaking up the tech sector

Company HQ: Richmond and Peter Founded: 2015 Employees: 6 Users: 1,600

How it works: “We connect people who have extra space with people who need it—it’s essentially Airbnb for storage. Users can list or search for space near them, then reserve and pay for it online.”

Eureka moment: “My Auntie Joan moved to Edmonton for a few years and put some of her stuff into storage. When I found out she was paying $500 a month, my jaw dropped. I looked at my empty basement and thought, ‘I would have done it for way less.’ That got me thinking about how many other people have wasted space they’d be willing to share. In a city like Toronto, where condos are tiny, there’s always a need for storage.”

How much you spent initially: “Two of my former colleagues and I put up $100,000, with some help from our families, to build an early version of the platform. Our first priority was securing insurance—we use the same company as Airbnb and Uber to make sure hosts and renters are covered.”

Your turning point: “I pitched at the Toronto Dragons’ Den auditions and soon after, they called to tell me they wanted me to be on the show. The opportunity to share my idea with some of Canada’s most successful entrepreneurs was pivotal.”

Your big-time backers: “The MergeLane Accelerator Program helped us with $25,000 in financing.”

Tech jargon you hate: “Terms like ‘AI’ and ‘machine learning’ are really trendy right now. I think people overuse them because it’s what investors want to hear.”

Tech jargon you use too much: “I use a lot of acronyms. I hate them, but they’re convenient.”

The best advice you’ve received: “One of the founders of eBay said he got started by selling Beanie Babies and PEZ. He told me to focus on doing one thing really well, then grow from there.”

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The worst advice you’ve received: “I quit my old job to start this company. A few people questioned whether it was a good idea and told me I should play it safe.”

Past life: “I’ve worked in sales at other start-ups, and I spent a bit of time in waste management.”

Your go-to office attire: “Jeans and a tee with the SpaceiShare logo on it. I’d wear it every day if it wasn’t weird.”

Your tech role model: “X Prize Foundation chair Peter Diamandis. He thinks big, and isn’t afraid of ambitious projects.”

App you can’t live without: “Shazam. It’s the first app I ever used and I still love it.”

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