A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support, and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.
Our community is strong and growing with record speed and maintaining connection through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic, we’ve got a plan.
Introducing, The Faces of #OKGNtech. A showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters, and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth, and more excitement. Follow along (on the blog and on Instagram @OKGNtech) to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.
Meet Austin. Austin Walper is a co-founder, CEO, project manager, sales, and graphic designer for Playr Gaming [Editor’s note: so many hats, so little time #classicentrepreneur]. You can find Austin working from home or from the coworking space at Accelerate Okanagan. We recently caught up with Austin to learn more about the art of networking and his entrepreneurial journey.
Can you tell us a little bit about your entrepreneurial journey?
“I have always had a bit of that entrepreneurial hustle and the standard lemonade stand was really just the beginning for me. One of my first success startups was renting VHS tapes to my friends. My mom even helped me with these handwritten contracts. I also sold gum in middle school. It was against the rules to chew gum in elementary school so I knew when I hit middle school, it would be in high demand. I would buy it in bulk and then sell it for 50 cents a piece.”
“I was never that guy shovelling snow or raking leaves for extra cash. I would take mind work over physical work any day. I’d rather make half the money making a website than shovelling 100 driveways. It’s always been about working with my brain.”
What’s it like working in the Innovation Centre?
“I watched an interview with Jeff Keen and Lane Merrifield about what inspired them to build the Innovation Centre and it really resonated with me. Their goal was to foster collision points and celebrate inclusion and I can say without hesitation that I experience both those things on a daily basis when I am in the building.”
Who is your biggest cheerleader?
“My mother is without a doubt my biggest supporter. She always seems to know when I need support, even though I don’t ask for it. The startup life is not always easy and is often uncertain but she is always there on the sidelines, cheering me on. It’s definitely been a big motivator for me to work hard so I can return the favour and ensure she retires comfortably.”
How were you first introduced to #OKGNtech?
“The first Startup Drinks I attended was in the Innovation Centre in the Accelerate Okanagan lounge. When I left, my wallet was so full of business cards, it felt uncomfortable in my pocket. I honestly felt like my life changed that night. I was super inspired and a few short months later, I left my full-time job and started working in the Innovation Centre on my own thing.“
How do you find balance while being an entrepreneur?
“This journey has taught me a lot about myself. Sometimes I push myself too far but I am learning to manage that. You know, to be aware when I am getting burnt out, when I work best, and when I am most creative. For example, waking up and diving right into interface design—not a good idea.” #restoreandrepeat
What’s a piece of advice you would like to share?
“The art of networking is really the art of interrupting. Just inserting yourself into a group and saying “Hey guys stop talking to each other and say hi to me!”. it’s not for everybody for sure but I love it. I’m a networking machine”. #goingforit #allthebusinesscards #networkingmachine
“For me, it’s been important to surround myself with people who respect the grind. Finding people that really get what it takes to be an entrepreneur is key. I mean, it’s a lifestyle really and finding your own sense of balance is key.”#Respectthegrind
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