Whistler’s Sea To Sky Summit emphasizes understanding your values when building a business

sarah goodman

When it comes to the technology industry, a lot can change in a year — not only from the innovation perspective, but when it comes to people’s lives.

In April 2016, Michelle Martin experienced a breakdown. The serial entrepreneur and founder of startups —including Ethelo and NXT Level You — had been living what she calls an ultra-efficient lifestyle, constantly trying to optimize her life and iterating her daily routines to get more done. “It was very much the Silicon Valley style of living,” she says. She was literally headed in that direction, having purchased a ticket to California. She was set to get on a plane, but her body had other plans.

“Through the process of living this entirely hardcore business tech CEO life, I actually had a massive, massive health crash and couldn’t get on that plane to the Valley,” she tells me over the phone. “I ended up moving up to Whistler.”

“If you compare machines to human societies, machines have already exceeded the intelligence of societies.”
– Bob Lamb

Once settled in the woodland covered, lifestyle-focused community and away from the hustle and bustle of the city, she began the search to rediscover the startup community. As she recalls, “There was a ton of brilliant people, really successful people, a lot of entrepreneurial energy, but I didn’t find the people necessarily talking to each other.” Martin set out to bring the community together and empower local entrepreneurs looking to “think big, make big change,” but also “live a lifestyle that’s super sustainable.”

The result is the Sea to Sky Startup Society, a group connection point for innovators in technology and social enterprise in Whistler. Along with Startup Vancouver, The Society is hosting the upcoming Sea to Sky Summit.

The one-day conference, slated to take place Friday, September 22, is focused on unlocking entrepreneurial peak potential through targeted sessions like “Discover the true north of your values and decisions” and “Expand your possibilities with emerging technology.” The Summit has announced a slew of keynotes, including local CEOs and international experts.

BetaKit was able to connect with a number of speakers, including Bob Lamb, CEO of the Foundation for Inclusion; Sarah Goodman, CEO of Vancouver-based VitalSines Inc.; and Women Investing in Women founder Anu Bhardwaj about what event attendees can expect from their talks.

Bob Lamb
Bob Lamb, the Foundation for Inclusion

Bob Lambs’ organization, the Foundation for Inclusion, is an incubator for technology projects that measurably scale human empathy. A renowned academic and former US Department of Defence executive, Lamb will argue that despite our greatest fears, AI can humanity from itself.

Lamb explains it this way: “If you compare machines not to human individuals but to human societies, what you discover is that machines have already exceeded the intelligence of societies.” His talk will offer evidence and a framework for understanding that point of view, and postulate that human societies need technology to solve complex problems collectively.

Sarah Goodman’s startup, VitalSines Inc., produces iHeart, a device that can determine a user’s internal age by measuring aortic stiffness, a proven risk indicator of heart and brain disease. Goodman will be featured on a panel that will explore how attendees can engineer their best self, which makes sense given her three years of work with iHeart.

“Our goal behind iHeart is helping people live longer and healthier lives through health technology and health metrics that matter,” she explained.

dragons' den
iHeart’s Sarah Goodman pitching on Dragons’ Den

Goodman has at least one major fan: summit organizer Martin, who has been using her iHeart’s insights to improve her health and well-being. “It was at the [2016] BC Tech Summit where I met [Sarah] and realized something was wrong thanks to her tech,” says Martin. “Now, I’m back to being my true age.”

Anu Bhardwaj is a former private equity executive, and her company, Women Investing in Women (WIN), is one of the largest global media organizations focused on women’s issues, entrepreneurship, and investing.

She framed her talk as a journey “from broke ass to badass,” explaining that there’s a misconception that people need lots of money to be an investor.

“It doesn’t take a lot to make a lot,” she said. “The laws have changed; crowdfunding is in play; you can invest as an angel investor; there are so many opportunities to get in,” she said.

Bhardwaj believes that both men and women have a chance to influence the world through who we invest in, and that currently, women are under-invested in — despite the fact that some studies indicate higher returns from women-founded startups. “Once the world figures this out, things are going to change,” she said.

The Sea to Sky Summit is organized into four themes throughout the day.

Early bird passes are available online for $99 until August 25, and then $129 thereafter.


William Johnson

William Johnson is a writer, communications strategist, and founder of the Vancouver Tech Journal. You can reach him at williamjohnson.ca.

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