Techstars Reveals Results of Community Pilot in the Okanagan and Highlights Next Steps

News December 13, 2017

Posted by Joanna Schlosser

Techstars Reveals Results of Community Pilot in the Okanagan and Highlights Next Steps Featured Image

On Thursday, December 7th, 2017 Chris Heivly, Executive in Residence at Techstars, returned to the Okanagan to share findings from an assessment of the Okanagan startup ecosystem. Results were revealed to members of the startup community, partners and the Accelerate Okanagan team.

Using a model developed by one of the world’s top accelerators, Techstars, Heivly assessed and scored the community, then highlighted a roadmap to support its success and enable the next set of leaders to thrive in the community.

“Having Techstars present their assessment of our startup ecosystem to a room full of community leaders will help to empower the community to take action in supporting the entrepreneurs.” —Brea Retzlaff, Operations Manager with Accelerate Okanagan

The Okanagan was selected as one of only five regions to participate in the project – and was the only one in Canada. Heivly conducted 48 interviews with over 80 community members in his first visit to the Okanagan between August 29 and September 5 of this year. These interviews provided a foundation for Heivly’s assessment of the Okanagan’s startup community.

The goal of the project is to accelerate entrepreneurial growth in the Okanagan beyond what would happen organically and to inspire future innovation and ideas for a diverse group of community leaders and partners to rally around.

“Our mission is clear—we want to help community leaders, who are motivated and passionate about their community, build, accelerate, and grow their overall startup eco-system,” said Heivly.

Heivly’s readout focused on elements of the following:

  • Strengths and weaknesses of the Okanagan’s startup ecosystem

  • Opportunities for increased participation from the greater community

  • Recommendations for entrepreneurial growth in the Okanagan region

The initiative has inspired much community support, with the following organizations acting as project sponsors: Okanagan College, Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission, University of British Columbia Okanagan, Valley First, City of KelownaLawson Lundell LLP., WTFast, Strawhouse,  Community Futures of Central Okanagan, Bananatag, Data Nerds, Nucleus Strategies.

For more information or to schedule an interview with Raghwa Gopal, CEO of Accelerate Okanagan, please contact Karda Rolland-Berge at or 604-910-7447.

For media assets, including: logos, imagery, full readout report, bios and backgrounder, click here. To see a video of the full readout, click here. Video of specific readout segments can be found on Accelerate Okanagan’s YouTube Channel.

About Accelerate Okanagan

Accelerate Okanagan’s (AO) mission is to give new and growing technology-driven businesses the mentorship, connections, and community they need to thrive. This is accomplished by leading the development and growth of strong entrepreneurs and by helping companies accelerate the commercialization of their technology products and services. The end goal is to help businesses grow and create high paying knowledge-based jobs and positive economic and social benefit to the region.

About Chris Heivly andTechstars

Techstars is a worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. Techstars Startup Programs inspire, educate and connect entrepreneurs. Chris Heivly is an early stage investor and entrepreneur. He co-founded MapQuest, managed a $25 million corporate venture fund, co-founded The Startup Factory (a Techstars-like accelerator) and has led various early-stage companies as CEO/COO. He recently joined Techstars to leverage their collective experiences to help communities optimize their ecosystem goals through these community projects.

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