CBC hosts Victoria 2.0: is Vancouver Island the new tech hub?

Source: CBC All Points West

Tech is a $3B industry in Victoria, with 900 companies responsible for 2,200 jobs

Tech enthusiasts gathered at Fort Tectoria Friday morning to hear from a panel of entrepreneurs in Victoria's burgeoning tech industry, hosted by CBC British Columbia as part of its Inspiration Series.

CBC Radio One's On The Island host Gregor Craigie and All Points West host Robyn Burns asked three panelists about startups and Victoria's future as a leader in the tech world.

"With 900 tech companies, 22,000 employees and over $3 billion in total revenue, it's hard to deny: the old stereotypes are dead," said Craigie.

The panel discussion, called Victoria 2.0, covered topics ranging from gender imbalance in tech companies to the impact of a low Canadian dollar on local businesses.

Why Victoria?

The three panelists had a range of experiences and came from a variety of backgrounds, but when it came to talking about why they chose Victoria as a place to live and work, they all agreed: Victoria is a close-knit community and that's good for startups.

"One of the great things about Victoria is it is a smaller community, you're able to really make those deep connections," said Nicole Smith, founder of Flytographer.

Best of all, the city is affordable, she said.

"And you're actually able to afford a house."

Smith worked in Vancouver and Seattle before moving back to her hometown on the island seven years ago.

Charles Lavigne moved to Victoria three years ago from the Lower Mainland.

"It really came down to the community. It was just so inviting and so supportive," said the co-founder and CEO of LlamaZOO.

"I think Vancouver is a lot bigger, so it's more dispersed."

Entrepreneur Brad Van Vugt said choosing between the Silicon Valley and Victoria was easy. The small B.C. city offers something other places don't, he said.

"You have this incredibly tight community, incredibly dedicated, smallish group of founders, but they're trying to do big things," said Van Vugt, co-founder and CEO of Sendwithus.

"If you go to a larger city you're going to get a lot more noise."