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Tech in T.O.: Ritual food app CEO, co-founder talks emerging tech in Toronto

Tech in T.O.: Ritual app finds home in Toronto amid rapid growth
WATCH: The food-ordering app Ritual is rapidly growing and has expanded across the globe, but it’s still true to its Toronto roots. Co-founder Ray Reddy explains why the company was founded in the 6ix.

This is the sixth instalment of a 10-part series on Toronto’s technology community.

When it came time for Ritual co-founder Ray Reddy to launch his food app, he was motivated to headquarter the business in Toronto, one of the most diverse cities in the world, after having grown up in nearby Mississauga.

Ritual was started in 2014 by Reddy, Robert Kim and Larry Stinson, and the app allows people to order food for takeout from local restaurants and cafés.

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The first restaurant to join the app was Thor Espresso Bar, a café in Toronto that is still featured on the app, along with more than 2,000 other restaurants and cafés in the city.

One of the app’s unique features is the piggyback setting, which allows people in offices to join in on an order.

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Ritual is available in more than 40 different cities across North America, Europe, Asia, the United Kingdom and Australia and employs more than 300 people worldwide. Its Toronto office alone houses more than 200 people.

“When Google acquired our company, we moved back to Silicon Valley. That was a great experience, but one of the greatest challenges there is that average income is so high that when you work there, it’s not a good proxy for the rest of the world,” Reddy said.

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“People in the valley will often trade money for time all day long. They will accept products that will charge very high prices for things or pay for convenience, but the rest of the world really isn’t that way.

“We really wanted a city we thought was representative of North America, just large cities here. That’s one big reason why we wanted an East Coast city that represented cities like New York and Chicago that we would sort of launch in. The other one is that just that talent that just starting to become available in Toronto.”

The CEO and co-founder said the fact that Toronto was close to friends and family also drew him back to Canada.

Extended: Ritual co-founder Ray Reddy explains tech growth in Toronto
Extended: Ritual co-founder Ray Reddy explains tech growth in Toronto
“We missed [Toronto] a lot. I mean, we grew up here so a part of it was family and friends, and the other part of it was Toronto is really a great, world-class, global city. There’s great food, the diversity, just the inclusiveness of Toronto,” he said.
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“If you’re going to take something like Ritual and we are going to scale it around the world, we wanted the first city to be representative of what other cities look like.”

Reddy said that in the last 10 years, there has been a tech boom in Toronto.

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“If you look at the trajectory that Toronto is on now, I would say, compared to my experience in the valley, we are able to attract a very similar scale and similar world-class people here in Toronto,” he said.

“I think for the first time they’re seeing that there’s enough choice and liquidity in the market here, too, because what it takes for people to come back isn’t one company; it needs to be an ecosystem. They have to believe that if things don’t work out in one company, there is going to be another good opportunity for them.

“It’s not about one or two companies succeeding, the entire ecosystem succeeds or it doesn’t so that’s why we think that when any company in the ecosystem does well, it’s a great thing for Toronto.”

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