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.
Introducing, We are #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 Michael. Michael Macaulay is a Partner at Lawson Lundell LLP and the ultimate community connector. When he’s not helping entrepreneurs advance their business, you’ll find Michael with his family—hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter.
Where do you work in the Okanagan?
I’m a partner at Lawson Lundell, a full-service business law firm with a long history in Vancouver. Our office in Kelowna’s Innovation Centre is our youngest and smallest location and focuses on servicing the technology sector and working with clients in the innovation space.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
One of the things that I enjoy the most is helping to guide founders and early-stage companies—not just through corporate structure and legal documents—but trying to help them think about how their structure works and evolves with their business. I like working with them in getting the right foundation for their practices, their approach to governance, their approach to risk management, and making connections and introductions.
What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?
There’s a little bit of luck but there’s also a lot of intentionality. You need to put yourself in a position where you have the right skills so, when there is an opportunity, you’re able to take advantage of it. You need to build out your network and get to know the right people so you’re creating those opportunities. Lastly, you need to take action and not be afraid to make a bold move. There are no certainties in anything but, through some combination of luck and action, you can position yourself to have the career you’re looking for.
How were you first introduced to the OKGNtech community?
I was introduced to Accelerate Okanagan through a sponsorship opportunity. I’ve always had an interest in tech, so I was the obvious candidate for that engagement. During my first connection with the tech community, Andrew Greer, who was the Community Manager at the time, picked me up at the airport and he had put together such a fantastic day—a lunch and learn with a bunch of exciting companies, break-out one-on-ones with those companies, and then startup drinks in the evening. I was left with the impression that the Okanagan had this vibrancy about it.
What do you enjoy about the OKGNtech community?
If you’re building a startup, it’s hard to find a better place than in the Okanagan right now. It is easier for early-stage companies to raise their initial round of funding. Angel investors are active and people don’t just invest with the bottom line in mind, they want to invest in order to build the tech community. You’ve got investors who are wanting to come in earlier than they might in a bigger centre because they see something in the founder—they want it to happen for them and for the community. It’s a huge thing to give people that chance.
What are some ways you give back to the OKGNtech community?
I facilitate connections between people outside the Okanagan who are looking to reach in. I often get calls or emails from folks that are thinking about relocating to the Okanagan. Being able to be an ambassador to the region—explaining why it’s a great place for them to move their business or talents—is something I really enjoy. More of those since COVID started. A lot of Canadian ex-pats looking to come home and Kelowna is very high on their list.
Do you think there is anything missing from the community here?
What I find really positive about the community here is that people are identifying what’s missing and they’re working to fill those gaps. The gaps I see now are around attracting anchor companies to the region. Even if they’re just small offices, they help with talent attraction. When they locate here, it’s a sign from a large player that it’s a place to believe in. Once you get a few, more will follow.
The best piece of advice you like to share?
Give first. I find that you get out of life what you put into it. If you’re a helper first and do what you can to contribute something, it has a way of coming back to you one way or another. Making those connections, those introductions, giving your time to places where you think you can have an impact, is better for everybody. If more people see each other acting that way, they are more inclined to do the same.