Name: Alexander J. Kotyck
Home Base: Toronto
Occupation: Founder and CEO of BridgeRock
Instagram & Twitter: @AlexKotyck
Bio: Alexander is the Founder and CEO of BridgeRock, a social enterprise that is working with the MIT Media Lab to establish a "living lab" for City Science in Toronto. With the support of private and public investors, the lab will study ways to improve economic prosperity and quality of life for people living in cities, while stimulating innovation and job creation in the City of Toronto.
Driven by curiosity for the way the world works and how technology can make it better, Alexander has developed products for large companies and governments, authored white papers on advanced applications of computer science, and now enjoys bringing the #1 science-based technology organization in the world to his hometown to make city life better for the now 3.5 billion (and growing) urban citizens of the world.
Q: Most visited destination for business
A: Boston. After living there for 2 years I’m now traveling back regularly to Cambridge, across the Charles River, for meetings with MIT.
Q: Local knowledge tip
A: If you need to book a hotel in Boston last minute, you will likely be out of luck as the entire city books up regularly. Try Airbnb if you are stuck and need to stay downtown.
Q: DIY vs. travel agent
Q: Most impressive airport
A: Zurich airport is the best in the world. The train station is integrated right into the airport, making transition and regional travel so easy.
Q: Preferred luggage
A: Tumi. Battle and time-tested. Every time I try something else I'm always disappointed.
Q: What three things are on your must-pack-or-will-suffer-a-meltdown list?
A: My iPad, workout gear, and glasses.
Q: Preferred airline
A: Singapore Airlines. I wish they flew everywhere.
Q: Aisle or window
Q: Jet lag strategy
A: If flying to the west coast from the east, I try to stay on east coast time and just go to bed early or wake up early. If flying to Asia, make sure you workout to help your sleep patterns.
Q: Staying in shape on the road
A: Critical. Typically go on a run or workout in the hotel gym.
Q: A travel moment that sparked an entrepreneurial idea or solution
A: I was in the MIT Media Lab, celebrating a 100-year anniversary for an organization that I belong to, and after seeing some of the research projects up close I realized that I needed to bring City Science to Toronto.
Q: Most interesting foreign brand unknown in North America that you think gets it right
A: If you wait long enough, the great foreign brands do not stay unknown in North America for long. Uniqlo, now in the US and soon to be in Canada, is a perfect example.
Q: Best hotel bar for networking with other entrepreneurs
A: I love going to the Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston. The Oak Room is a great place to meet people from all over the world. And the martini menu is excellent.
Q: Time & money saving tips
A: As lines blur between personal and business time, it's hard to maintain a healthy balance. So whenever I travel long distance for business, I always try and tack on a couple of extra days to explore the region on personal time. Need to be in Switzerland for meetings on Monday? Depart the Friday before and take a day to go skiing in the Alps. You'll be fully recovered from the trip and in the right mindset for a productive Monday morning.
Q: What hotel has truly lived up to the hype?
A: The Sheraton on Queen in Toronto is an older hotel that I stayed at regularly while transitioning life back to Toronto from Boston. I'll never forget the Christmas where they not only upgraded me to a full suite, but they also sent up a fully decorated tree, a bottle of wine, and stockings and gifts for my three children. I've stayed in some spectacular places, exotic places, and expensive places, but I will never forget that Christmas where the staff went above and beyond.
Q: Describe your guilty pleasure when traveling
A: I love seared foie gras with a nice Sauterne. So good but so bad...
Q: Brushes with greatness: Most famous or interesting person you have spotted or bantered with on your travels…
A: I've met actors, elite athletes, captains of industry, and heads of government. But the most memorable was when I was traveling with a team of people from Hugo Boss to see the menswear debut at Milan Fashion Week. We were staying at the Hotel Principe di Savoia Milan. So was Robbie Williams at the time, and a huge crowd had gathered at the front of the hotel waiting for a glimpse of the rock star. Well, I was mistaken for Robbie by a large group of German cosmetic agents in the lobby one morning. About 40 of them asked me to pose with them for pictures. They really thought I was Robbie Williams! My colleagues laughed hysterically. I just rolled with it.
Q: Tell us about a great little place you recommend to friends
A: One of my most favourite places to eat in North America is No. 9 Park on Beacon Hill in Boston. It is a superb little out-of-the-way place that has the best food and impeccable service. I haven't found anything else like it anywhere.
Q: The most painfully cool hotel you’ve ever stayed in?
A: Love to stay at the Hotel Gansevoort Meatpacking NYC. Great base camp for New York weekend getaways.
Q: The best spa experience of your life
A: Nothing can compare to the Skypark infinity pool at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
Q: A beloved travel book, fiction or non-fiction
A: Fiction: Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
Non-fiction: Social Physics by Alex "Sandy" Pentland