Communitech start up

Odeyemi Adaran works with his group during Communitech's startup conference in downtown Kitchener. (Amanda Grant/CBC News)

Odeyemi Adaran used to work at Blackberry in Waterloo. But when his friends started to lose their jobs he decided it was time to make a change.

"It wasn't as fun as it used to be," said Adaran. "A lot of people were demotivated coming into work, myself especially." 

So he started to look for something new in 2012 and left the company to join Desire2Learn in Kitchener, a former startup that is now boasts a staff of over 800 around the globe.

Although he wasn't born in Waterloo Region, Adaran feels committed to the community. He recently bought a house, and he's currently enrolled in the Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology program at the University of Waterloo.

"I feel as though there are so many great people here," Adaran said. "This is where I see myself for a long time."

And he is hopeful that the region will thrive in the coming years – even as news of massive job cuts, a billion-dollar quarterly loss and a potential sale of BlackBerry casts a dark cloud over its future.

Citing Communitech, mentorship programs and both Wilfrid Laurier and Waterloo universities, Adaran says Waterloo Region is an innovative community, a place with resources and a supportive community spirit. 

"A lot of people want to invest in their community," he said. "And try to invest in those companies locally."

This past weekend Adaran was taking advantage of those resources and was one of over 70 people that participated in Communitech's startup weekend. His pitch was an app called Juk that lets club-goers send requests to the DJ.

"Music is big part of my life," he said. 

Through the Communitech program, he was connected with three designers and two developers who were intrigued by his pitch. Over 48 hours the team worked on the idea, competing against nine other teams for funding and work space for three months at the Communitech Hub. 

For Adaran the options seem endless, and he hopes his former co-workers at Blackberry are able to find the same opportunities. 

"I love the company," Adaran said. "It's a shame to see where it is right now but it's a competitive environment."