Yesterday (Jan 19th, 2016) we held our first meetup in Toronto.  What a great start! More than 130 people attended, and more than 135 people watched the live stream!.  If our first meetup is good indication of what we will see the rest of the year, I’m excited!

Before describing what happened on this first meetup, let me quickly recap what we did with meetups in 2015:

The Toronto BDU meetup grew from 1,100 members to 3,800; it more than tripled!

  • We re-focused the meetup to cover mainly big data, analytics and data science topics (before we were covering everything: Social, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud topics),
  • We aligned the meetup closely to Big Data University (the meetup name was changed from SMAC to Big Data University).
  • We delivered 37 meetups with a very aggressive schedule in the last quarter: 2 meetups per week!  We did this on purpose to drive us crazy =), and at the same time to create content in Big Data University.
  • The meetups from September to December were delivered as part of the “Data Science Workshop Series” that we were testing out.  Most of the content is now available in our Data Science Learning Path, and you can watch the replay of the events in
  • In 2015 we also expanded to other cities: Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal and Washington DC.

This year our plan is to run at least 2 meetups per month in Toronto, and at least 1 meetup per month in other cities. We hope to get more community members to present (we can provide support).  We will do a re-run of the Data Science Workshop Series, but we will also introduce new topics here and there.


Close to 130 people attending the Getting started with Data Science Toronto BDU meetup

Getting Started with Data Science – Toronto BDU Meetup


In yesterday’s meetup (replay here: Getting started with Data Science) 86% of the attendees were coming to the meetup for the first time.  This is good news, it shows that there is a lot of interest about Data Science.

After introducing the attendees to the meetup, we had the pleasure to listen to the insights of Dr. Murtaza Haider, author of the book “Getting started with Data Science – Making sense of data with analytics“. In his opinion, a data scientist is a great story teller.  Yes, it’s important to have the skills and background to analyze the data, but if a person cannot tell the story out of the data, he or she will not be a good data scientist.  His animated presentation which was held in interview-style format (I was the interviewer) was followed by a demo session of different Data Science tools by one of our data scientists in my team: Dr. Saeed Aghabozorgi (Saeed).

Saeed covered mainly two tools: Watson Analytics, which I often describe as “the next generation of Excel”, and the Data Scientist Workbench, a collection of tools that happens to be developed by my team and built on open source technology.

If you are interested in this topic, please watch the replay, and take these three free courses in Big Data University:

On behalf of the BDU team, we wish you a successful 2016!