Startup Canada brought its #EveryEntrepreneur tour to the Imperial in downtown Vancouver last week, showcasing the best of the local startup community in BC. The big take-away from the event’s many panel discussions? The need to build communities and community leaders, create diverse and innovative new markets, and educate youth so they can fully participate in a thriving local tech sector.
In the panel ‘West Coast startup Community & Support’, Dan Gunn, CEO of Victoria’s VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and entrepreneurship Council) noted the key things for innovators to consider for their role in building the community: focus on your impact, and “say yes, make it better, or get out of the way.” VIATEC in Victoria is working with Girls Learning Code to help girls 8-13 years old how to learn how to use HTML and CSS basics. Gunn believes their proactive approach is a good example of how Victoria can grow a thriving entrepreneur community.
Hans Peter Meyer, founder of the #WeAreYQQ project in the Comox Valley, suggested small communities can punch above their weight, look bigger and play in a bigger marketplace by working together to promote local talent.
In the ‘EveryEntrepreneur Has a Voice’ panel, speakers talked about the importance of educating youth on becoming entrepreneurs. Several initiatives are being taken around BC to address this issue, such as panelist Meredith Powell’s TNBT (The Next Big Thing) project, run in partnership with Hootsuite in Vancouver. The TNBT is a 3-month intensive program for youth aged 15-23 to gain peer and network support while growing their startups.
In addition to the education panels, Startup Canada recognized local innovators for their achievements. The Startup Canada Entrepreneur of the Year award winners were Natalie Dakers, President & CEO of Accel-rx, and Brian Scudamore, founder and CEO of O2E Brands. The Innovation award winner was Aspect Biosystems, an award-winning biotechnology company specializing in 3D bioprinting and tissue engineering. Ray Walia, Co-Founder & CEO of Launch Academy, and Jill Earthy, Chief Growth Officer of FrontFundr, each won the award for Entrepreneur Promotion.
Images courtesy Startup Canada.