How do you build up a tech community on Vancouver island? One coder at a time, apparently. Victoria’s startup community leaders are hosting Startup Slam, a one-day series of technical workshops on October 3rd, where students can learn what it’s really like to work for a startup.
“Our goal is to grow tech in BC and on the island. How do we hire a 25 or 50-person engineering team in Victoria? It doesn’t really exist yet.”
– Brad Van Vugt
“We’re doing this to grow the community, not just for our own recruiting,” explains Brad Van Vugt, co-founder of Sendwithus, a Victoria-based startup. “Our goal is to grow tech in BC and on the island. In order for us to hit sustainability we need in terms of talent levels, we need to build a whole community. Our long-term goal is to have the headquarters of the company here, so a lot of what we do in the community is about what we need to sustain the company in 5 years. How do we hire a 25 or 50-person engineering team in Victoria? It doesn’t really exist yet.” But that’s what Startup Slam aims to fix.
Which technologies, in particular, are in demand for the local startup community? Van Vugt lists them off with relish: “Git and Github, for version control and collaboration; Heroku, for deploying and demo-ing code; web frameworks like Express, Django, Ruby on Rails, for speeding up development; and modern languages, like node.js and go. Those are the areas we hear are lacking most, not only from recruiting companies but also students and faculty. The Startup Slam event workshops are directly aimed at addressing those gaps.”
The organizers of Startup Slam have tried other events and avenues to introduce new university graduates to the startup world, which is an ongoing challenge. “The biggest barrier to kids coming out of the University of Victoria or UBC and wanting to work for startups is a knowledge gap,” Van Vugt says. “They don’t know which companies are here to work for. They don’t come out of school with the education and experience to work with technologies that startups work with. Our goal is to bridge that gap. There are some really cool companies doing some really cool stuff. We want to shine a light on the whole community – and teach them about what technologies we actually use.”