The Okanagan tech community is one of only five tech communities selected to participate in the Techstars Community Pilot Project. The Techstars team arrived at the end of August and has been performing a grassroots, founders-first assessment of our startup ecosystem. The goal is to accelerate growth in our startup community beyond what would happen organically and to inspire future innovation and ideas for a diverse group of community leaders and partners to rally around.
As part of this assessment, a dinner for a group of local founders was hosted at Bar Norcino on Tuesday evening. The goal of the event was to connect the Techstars team with the some of the passionate entrepreneurs in the Okanagan tech community and promote some lively discussion.
Peter Matejcek, founder of INhouse Video, was one of the entrepreneurs who joined the discussion. Matejcek’s latest blog explores the future of Okanagan tech, the importance of staying curious, and the power of asking for help. Here are some of his thoughts:
On the power of community
Every time I go and sit with others, I learn not only about some aspect of technology, business, marketing etc. but about myself. The Founder event was an opportunity to actively engage in how to keep the community spirit engine going, and how to keep feeding the momentum that has been started by many in our community.
Listening to stories of tech giants like Chris Heivly (Founder of map-quest; for those youngsters, this was the first Google Maps) about how they sat around a room, hashing out crazy ideas of what to do to spark the local community, like organizing crazy festivals just for the heck of it. And young energized entrepreneur Josh Fraser from Data Nerds speaking passionately about employee retention and the happiness of his team.
On staying curious
From Accelerate Okanagan to the Innovation Center, to the local and federal government – all have been building new roads to a tech frontier in our valley of golf, lakes and wineries. This dinner/gathering, of which we hope to have many more, was just another step to expanding the energy that is clearly buzzing around tech in the Okanagan.My lesson from that evening was to always ask and explore with others, with no agenda in mind.
On asking for help
At times, I am more of an introvert than most people know. As an immigrant kid whose parents escaped a hard communist country (which I vividly remember), I am often gripped by a “fear first” mentality. It’s something I have been working on for some time, to not let fear from the past cloud and hinder my future decisions and possibilities.
Last night I was reminded again that the people surrounding you always want to help. Not just help you, but help their surroundings, community, and anyone who asks. That is especially true of the great people of the Kelowna technology community that so openly invited me into their lives years ago.
On meeting the Prime Minister
I’d heard that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was at the local Cactus Club restaurant a couple of blocks away attending a Liberal event. It’s not every day that the leader of our great nation is just down the road in a public setting. I am not on the guest list of course, but it won’t be my first attempt to show up to an event, ask politely, be honest and get let in.Many from my local tech family were there.
After a few hellos, our Mayor Colin Basran kindly introduced me to the very open and welcoming Prime Minister. I shook his hand, told him about our dream of slowly and steadily growing a great local company, said thanks for stopping by our great city, and quickly let him get back to his passionate storytelling. The next morning, the Kelowna life just keeps getting better, as I got big high fives from my three kids – Dad got to meet the Big Guy.
The Techstars Community Pilot is an incredible opportunity for the Okanagan to engage with some of the most experienced global startup community thought leaders in the world. It is also a chance to inject new methodology into the Okanagan’s current culture and collaborate with some of the highest quality entrepreneurial ecosystems worldwide. We are excited about the ideas and conversation this project has already sparked and what we might contribute to the global tech community as a result.