In his book, The Startup Owner’s Manual, Steve Blank said: “get out of the building.” At Accelerate Okanagan, we truly believe in the power of this concept and the benefits it can have for your business. Whether that be creating opportunities to connect with other like-minded people, engage in customer discovery, or find new inspiration.
Last month, we sent our team around the country to see what was happening in startup ecosystems around Canada. Here is what they found:
Metabridge | Okanagan, BC | June 12 – 14
Our Acting CEO, Brea Lake, attended Metabridge LIVE on June 12th through 14th. This was the 11th year Metabridge has hosted their luxurious tech founder retreat in the Okanagan, and we were honoured to be a part of it!
The goal of Metabridge is to bring together a community of entrepreneurs, investors, and mentors and provide them with a curated experience of high-level networking.Those who attend the annual retreat come to disconnect and network with like-minded peers. It’s not about large conference sessions or selling products, it’s about those intimate conversations and once in a lifetime experiences.
While Brea was at Metabridge, she had the pleasure of attending two and a half jam-packed days of activities. This year’s theme was about mental health of founders and building authentic relationships. One of her highlights was attending an intimate roundtable with 20 other attendees and lead by Chris Saniga, Facebook and Michael Blonde, Hootsuite for a session around bringing your authentic self to work. Everyone in this session was able to join in the discussion, relate their personal experiences and provide the tools they have used to continually bring their authentic self to their careers and companies.
Jason Smith won the founder of the year award with his business, Kluein. Kluein is online software that enables the collection, curation and distribution of competitive intel. Another win went to local business owner, Shannon Christensen, founder of Mamas for Mamas, who received the People’s choice award. Metabridge’s closed with a reception on the Oak and Cru patio.
VIATEC Awards | Victoria, BC | June 14
On June 14th, Our Brand Manager, Joanna Schlosser Schlosser, and Project Coordinator, Sara Scott, headed to our Province’s capital to take in the 19th annual VIATEC Awards.
The VIATEC Awards celebrate the achievements made by both technology-focused companies and individuals that are located in the greater Victoria area. 49 finalists were honoured, with 15 recipients receiving trophies—whose astronaut-inspired design reflected the spirit of their achievements. This year’s awards played host to over 1,100 guests, making it one of the nation’s largest celebrations of its kind, and VIATEC’s most attended event to date!
One part awards show, two parts variety act; VIATEC has a reputation for putting on quite an experience, and this year’s ceremony did not disappoint. Playing on the theme “there’s no place like home,” the night featured two local dance troupes, a beatboxer, and a live band.
Joanna Schlosser and Sara were blown away by the performances and theatrics on display. Dan Gunn and the VIATEC team really knew how to inject local artists into their business community. Even the awards were hand made by a local artist, Russell Papp.
True North | Waterloo, ON | June 19 & 20
At the end of June, our Programs Manager, Thuy Tran, had the pleasure of visiting Waterloo for Communitech’s True North Conference to explore “Tech for Good”, ways technology can be used to improve the planet and make our lives better.
True North is a conference in Waterloo that brings together over 2,500 members of attendees to re-imagine tech as a force for positive change. The goal of this conference is to rally members of the Canadian tech scene, encouraging conversation around the intersection of society and technology.
The two days is a series of conversations that address some of the big topics that stems from stories such as Facebook data misuse our privacy, #metoo movement, fake news, and AI job displacement. There were three tracks: Age of Relearning – looking at how we prepare the workforce and the next generation to rethink education and prepare for the integration of AI, robots and automation. Living Digital – how society are living in the digital age and how that impacts our physical and mental health and our safety. Bridges not Walls – conservations on how technology can create solutions and unite nations and humanity.
One of the speakers, author of Thank you for being late: an optimists guide to the age of acceleration, Thomas Friedman speaks about having an optimistic mindset in an age of accelerators. He spoke not only about thinking outside the box but the importance of thinking without the box entirely.
Thomas Friedman also mentioned how critical it is to be a lifelong learner in this day and age. He said, “if you can’t be a lifelong learner, you can’t be a lifelong employee. Long are the days where you get a degree and work until you’re retired. Now it’s work, learn, work, learn, work, learn.”
He also asked this question: Does God exist in Cyber Space? Talking about all the technological advancement that started this acceleration in 2007, and how we all missed it. His solution is for all of us to slow down, build community and more than ever, embrace sustainable values, starting with strong family and strong community and anchoring them in a fast pace technology driven world.
Startup Fest | Montreal, QC | July 9-12
Mid-July, our Community Manager, Alex—alongside thousands of startups, investors and accelerators—got the chance to attend Startup Fest in Montreal.
Startup Fest is a week-long subset of festivals catered towards founders, accelerators, investors, hackers, and impact makers. Their catchphrase is: “small enough to meet who you need to meet, big enough that everybody’s there.”
The core few days included talks from incredible speakers like Chris Messina (the creator of the hashtag), Shan-Lyn Ma (the co-founder and CEO of Zola), and Harley Finkelstein (the COO of Shopify). In addition to speakers, there were tents where founders could present their ideas to grandma’s (Harley’s mom took part in this one), a pitch tent with a chance at a $100,000 investment, tech and art showcases, accelerator tents equipped with beer and freezies, as well as a wide range of food trucks boasting some seriously talented local chefs.
Alex got to hear two Canadian-grown success stories, Shopify and Lightspeed POS. Dax Dasilva, the founder of Lightspeed POS, talked about how “change begins with our choices” to be able to build thoughtful and sustainable businesses. Harley, COO of Shopify, shared his belief that Shopify wouldn’t be the success it is today if it hadn’t been built in Canada. He left the crowd with a call-to-action, stating that Canada needs more ambition. He emphasized that with more ambition, we will see amazing and impactful companies grow right here in our own country.
If you are looking to position your business to investors, you should be following Tamzen Webster. She shared tangible steps to help position your company in a more effective, relatable, and humanizing way. This can help your business get a green light for longer conversations with investors and supporters.
Jane Hu, Founder of Nonesuch Media, spoke to how great stories can come from unexpected places. She focused on how your team members and employees humanize your content, making it more powerful for your audience.
Chris Messina, creator of the hashtag and past twitter employee, spoke on the pros and cons of social media. Chris emphasized that we need to be responsible in our use of this powerful technology. He postulated that we can be the mindful creators of technology for better humans if we focus on investing and creating better versions of ourselves.
The list of incredible speakers and connections goes on. Feel free to connect with our Community Manager, Alex Goodhew over slack if you want to chat more.
Did you enjoy this behind the scene look at our time out of the office this summer? For a closer look follow us on Instagram.