Top Accelerator, Techstars, to Launch Community Pilot in Okanagan

News August 29, 2017

Posted by Heidi Mann

Top Accelerator, Techstars, to Launch Community Pilot in Okanagan Featured Image

From August 28–September 7, Techstars’ Entrepreneur in Residence, Chris Heivly, will visit the Okanagan as part of a worldwide community pilot project. Techstars – named by Forbes, TechCrunch and Inc. as one of the  top accelerators in the U.S. – has selected the Okanagan as the only Canadian region to participate in the community pilot project, which aims to support local entrepreneurs and establish a long-term working relationship between startup communities.

“The Okanagan is fighting way above its playing weight. They have a robust and mature startup ecosystem  compared to the size of the overall population,” says Heivly. “I have been to the Okanagan a number of times over a year and a half period but this will be a deeper dive and a chance to really connect with what makes this community, the people.”

Heivly’s visit marks the first of four phases within the community pilot project. Techstars will begin by meeting with a number of startup founders in Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton. They will then develop a community assessment, measuring the Okanagan using a Techstars scorecard. Based on the results of the interviews and assessments, Techstars will collaborate with Accelerate Okanagan to create a three, six and 12-month community roadmap. Finally, they will come alongside the community and support implementation.

“We are confident that Chris Heivly’s insight will be valuable to us as our tech community continues to grow,” said Raghwa Gopal, CEO of Accelerate Okanagan. “The fact that we were chosen out of 20 applicants as one of five pilot locations is a testament to the vibrancy of our tech community.”

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

For more information or to secure an interview with Chris Heivly or Raghwa Gopal, please contact Kathleen Reid at or 604-724-1242.

For media assets, including: logos, imagery, bios and a backgrounder, click here. New photos will be added throughout the pilot project.


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 a 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.


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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