We are OKGNtech | Meet Mike

Blog We Are OKGNtech May 1, 2020

Posted by Harrison Crerar

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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 Mike. Mike Lerner is the co-founder and Chief Technical Officer of Greenspace Mental Health. When he isn’t developing software to improve the availability of mental health solutions, you’ll find Mike enjoying some family time with his wife and young kids.

Why did you choose the Okanagan to call home?

We moved out of Toronto a few years back. We knew we wanted to be on the west coast so we looked at Kelowna, Victoria, and San Francisco and ultimately, we decided on Kelowna. It was important to me that there was a healthy, active, and thriving community. We came here to visit and lived like locals for a few weeks to experience it first hand. The outdoors and tech community’s work-life balance really appealed to us.

What is your role at Greenspace?

I’m one of the original founders and CTO for Greenspace. I lead the engineering team, so my day-to-day is mixed between building the product and the team’s culture and leadership. I really enjoy working alongside really talented people, leveraging their diverse experiences, to create a product that has a positive impact on mental health.

How did you get into this kind of work?

My background is in engineering with a focus on web and mobile development. An app can have such an impact on people’s lives when you find a need in the market. I became interested in mental health, cause I had some family and friends that were going through some challenges. That’s when I started with Greenspace as more of an advisor. After the launch of the service and seeing the traction it got, I was all-in.

How has Greenspace reacted to COVID-19?

We are fortunate to be in a market that is busier now due to COVID-19. We’ve certainly had to adjust our strategy, especially on the sales side—what kind of deals are closing and how fast they’re going through the pipeline. Overall, there is an increased demand for our application. There are opportunities to support providers that are scrambling right now to go online.

Can you tell me about the Health Canada RFP Greenspace won?

It came along quickly. The Government Canada put out an RFP a month ago in anticipation of Canadians needing more support dealing with mental health challenges as a result of COVID-19. We ended up winning the bid and launched our Wellness Together Canada initiative. Before that, our core product was always targeting the provider side. Now, for the first time, we’ve launched something that was used purely by patients in a self-guided way. There are opportunities to make it a longer-term product for us.

What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?

Get your hands dirty and try a lot of things. A common thing I see when interviewing students is that a lot of them are getting really good theoretical knowledge in the classroom, but each individual needs to supplement that with practical experiences. Try building applications or solutions to problems that you see around you. Get involved in companies through summer jobs or coops. You’ll learn a lot that you can apply to your own future ideas or to other early-stage companies.

Do you think there is anything missing from the community here?

From an employment perspective, it would be really beneficial to have more stories around growth-stage businesses and anchor companies. For example, when we try to attract employees from out of town, one of the common things we get asked is how many other employment options they have if it doesn’t work out with Greenspace. In absolute terms, this is still a very early-stage community. More of those success stories can do a lot of good.

Is there something you want to be remembered for?

For me, seeing more patients benefit from our solution, improving their mental health challenges and thriving in their lives, that’s the biggest motivation that I can ask for. Over time, my hope is to amplify and maximize the reach of our technology solution—how many people’s lives it helps, how many clinics or organizations it’s deployed across. This is a global problem, so we want to make sure we’re not confined to operating only within Canada.

Connect with Mike. Learn more about Greenspace Mental Health. Hungry for more? Meet Sandra.

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