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 a connection through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic, we’ve got a plan.
We are #OKGNtech is 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 Alanna. Alanna Haggard is the Startup Programs Lead at Accelerate Okanagan and the Founder of the Knotty List and Void of Course. When she’s not bringing guidance and support to entrepreneurs throughout the Okanagan, you’ll find Alanna out in the woods camping or sipping red wine while reading a good book.
What are some of your responsibilities at Accelerate Okanagan?
As the Startup Programs Lead, I connect with entrepreneurs to figure out the best options for mentorship and opportunities to grow their business through the Venture Acceleration Program. A big part of my role is speaking with participating companies to hear their feedback and identify opportunities to improve the program so that we’re continuing to provide valuable solutions. I’m a big believer in practicing what you preach, and if we’re telling our cohorts to perform customer discovery, so should we.
What do you enjoy most about your role as a Startup Programs Lead?
Being surrounded by entrepreneurs every day. It’s really inspiring to see people come up with an idea, commit to working on it and then seek out support. I love being a part of their journey and being a part of their business’s growth. A lot of the time the businesses that join are quite early, so it’s amazing when we get to see them launch their business and start generating revenue. It makes me feel like a proud mom when our companies succeed and hit major milestones.
What made you want to start your own businesses?
I’m someone who likes to push myself. Starting these businesses was an opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and start something of my own. Being surrounded by entrepreneurs, their spirit is so infectious. I was envious of their drive and wanted that for myself. One of our mentors told me that I needed to chase my own passions. That’s where the Knotty List and Void of Course came from—I love crocheting, reading tarot and performing reiki in my spare time. I saw it as an opportunity to explore my passions to see what I could build.
How did you get into this kind of work?
I’ve always chased my passions and followed my gut instinct. And as a result, I’ve had a lot of jobs. I was looking for work where I could make an impact. I graduated from Okanagan College, completing their Communication, Culture and Journalism course. I eventually found a community coordinator job listing with Accelerate Okanagan and the qualifications resonated with me. I applied and after the interview, my gut was telling me that I needed that job. I got the same feeling when the Startup Program lead opportunity came up. They were jobs where I felt like I could make a difference.
What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?
It’s okay to change your mind as long as you’re trusting your intuition and chasing your passions. A lot of the time, especially in high school, you can feel pressured to choose a career path without knowing much about what it actually looks like. Instead, take the time to figure out who you are and what you want in life. If you’re interested in something, reach out to someone in that field and see if you can shadow them or ask questions. If you don’t, you can end up in an unsatisfying career. Being somewhere you can be passionate about the work you’re doing is worth a few career changes.
Do you think there is anything missing from the community here?
I’d like to see more support for mental health and wellness in the community. Mental well-being can be one of the first things a company loses during “crunch times” and I don’t think that’s a healthy practice. With all the changes in the pandemic and people working remotely, it would be great to see a little more structural support for those entrepreneurs. A lot of them are solopreneurs or operate in small teams that don’t have access to benefits but need that support. Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely journey and I don’t want anyone to feel alone.
What is one piece of advice you often share with others?
Everything happens for a reason. In life, everyone’s going to face different challenges. You can face that challenge with a negative attitude or you can figure out how to get through it. We’re all given everything we need to succeed in life and every challenge we grow through just helps develop us into that person we were meant to be. In the moment, it may feel unfair, but when you come out the other side you’ll find that you’ve taken away learnings you couldn’t have gotten from anywhere else.
Is there something you want to be remembered for?
Something I’d like to be remembered for is showing up authentically and making an impact on the entrepreneurs in our community. It’s what’s driven a lot of my decisions. As someone who has been looking for a job where I can make a difference, being able to help startups grow has made me smile every day. I’m someone who wants to give back to the community and stay true to my values. If people reflect back on me, I hope they feel that.
Connect with Alanna. Learn more about Accelerate Okanagan, the Knotty List and Void of Course. Ready for more? Meet Carollynn.
Being somewhere you can be passionate about the work you’re doing is worth a few career changes.