It requires collaboration, leverage, dedicated resources, long term effort and focus to... see more
Author: Dan Gunn - CEO, VIATEC
What do I Mean by Return on Community?
I bring up Return on Community whenever I'm asked why companies join VIATEC. As a private-public innovation hub that supports a community of 955 tech companies from startups to scale-ups, our success is determined by how much they understand and support us. Not all of them are members (yet) but, the ones that are understand that they have a shared interest with the entire tech community and it requires collaboration, leverage, dedicated resources, long term effort and focus to effectively address those interests.
Let me give you a recent example. What I'm about to share would not have been possible if VIATEC, thanks to decades of membership support, was not ready and willing to move quickly.
We just submitted a comprehensive funding proposal to the Federal Government for the Women's Entrepreneurship Strategy's Ecosystem Fund. A five-year program developed to strengthen capacity of organizations supporting women entrepreneurs by ensuring they have the business supports they need to start or grow a business.
On October 26, at 8:25am we were notified about this program. I was in Kitchener at Communitech's Hub observing a cohort in their Strong Leaders Program. I was there to compare our current leadership programming, find new ideas and learn from other approaches. We're big believers in sharing our playbooks and learning from other organizations by visiting them....I'll save that for another article.
Anyway, by 8:48am, that same morning (5:48am PST) I had forwarded the details of the program to our COO, Rob Bennett, and asked that we get started right away on a submission.
VIATEC is focused on developing new projects, programs and partnerships aimed at supporting existing and future women leaders in our community’s tech sector. Currently, 34% of the companies in our accelerator program have a woman founder giving us a head start on most communities. The national average for women CEOs in tech companies is usually estimated at 5%, with only 1% of our top TSX companies having a woman CEO. It’s great to be above average but we intend to continue to support building on this advantage as a strategic priority. This also will get an article of its own soon.
Given our current strategic priorities, we had to take a run at this. The deadline for proposals was November 22. Less than four weeks away. That is a very short amount of time to develop the kind of quality partnerships, program details and budgets that we pride ourselves on. To us, it was worth setting aside other key initiatives and focusing our efforts on putting together a submission that, if approved, will help support and, in turn, increase the number of women founders and leaders in our community.
In the end, we submitted a doozy of a proposal. We're proud of it. It includes partners from Accelerate Okanagan (also our forming partners in creating BC's Venture Acceleration Program with Innovate BC), UVic, UBC and the Alacrity Foundation. We benefitted greatly from Erin Athene's ongoing work (Ladies Learning Code, Flip the Switch event and the BLAST Program), consultation from Communitech's Fierce Founders program and our Board Chair, Bobbi Leach, even took time out of her busy schedule at RevenueWire to review and edit our submission.
That is a big tent! Thankfully, our members have been supporting our organization for decades. That support means that we have a team of experienced program creators, proposal writers and partnership managers along with connections throughout our community, province and country.
It's in the hands of the decision makers now and it is tough to gauge our chances. What I know is that, thanks to our community and member's support, we were able to put this together and without that history of them understanding the value of Return on Community and supporting us we wouldn't have had a chance.
When it comes to a paid membership, the tip of the iceberg is the obvious "what's in it for me" R.O.I. stuff. Things like program access, company profile, member to members deals and discounts on training, job postings, workshops, space and events. While it is tangible and obvious, that alone is not enough and not nearly as valuable as the rest of that iceberg.
The rest of the Iceberg is where the real impact is. It is the convergence of resources, relationships, reputation, social capital, financial leverage, expertise, accountability, long-term thinking, shared interests, community mindedness, capacity, curation and knowledge harnessed by an honest broker dedicated to finding and addressing the great consequential denominators among its members. That concentration of influence is the difference between the impact and potential of an iceberg versus an ice cube.
VIATEC posted an articleVIATEC Foundation grant recipients include the Mustard Seed, Food Rescue and Robotic Butler programs see more
The VIATEC Foundation Announces its first Grant Recipients
VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA – June 5, 2018 - The VIATEC Foundation, which launched with a flourish at the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council Awards in 2017, has made its first donations to causes in the region. “We were overwhelmed by the initial outpouring of support from Victoria’s tech community, translating into over $166,000 in initial pledges. In the ensuing months, we have recruited an amazing team to the VIATEC Foundation Committee and developed a framework for giving that will support our community in areas of need that are important to Victoria’s technology ecosystem”, commented Mark Longo, Chair of the VIATEC foundation committee and long-standing member of the VIATEC Board of Directors.
Cheques totalling $40,000 have been made out to The Mustard Seed Street Church, the Food Rescue Project and the University of Victoria-based James, the Robotic Butler Program. “The Foundation Committee looked at a broad range of needs in the community, we looked for projects that were innovative and, in this first year, fit with themes that resonate with our membership,” said VIATEC Board Chair and foundation committee member Rasool Rayani.
The newly minted foundation, which in its first year is working in partnership with the Victoria Foundation, was established by VIATEC to connect Victoria’s technology sector to the broader community. The foundation offers a mechanism for the tech sector to harness its collective charitable efforts to maximize the impact of the sector’s donations.
Longo said they expect the foundation to attain charitable entity status within two years, but for the time being will carry out activities using the back office and charitable status of the Victoria Foundation. “The Victoria Foundation has been an excellent partner to us in launching our fund. They have the infrastructure in place to manage the permanent component of our fund and to process donations and charitable receipts seamlessly,” remarked Longo. “It is such a pleasure for the Victoria Foundation to be working with a vibrant organization of the stature of VIATEC. Their sound grant decisions are based on community needs,” said Sandra Richardson, chief executive of the Victoria Foundation.
The first round of grants includes $10,000 for the Mustard Seed food bank, $15,000 for the Food Rescue Project and $15,000 for James, the Robotic Butler.
“VIATEC has a long history of supporting the Mustard Seed food bank and last year (VIATEC chief executive) Dan Gunn took on a challenge to do stair climbing in support of additional fundraising. To amplify that effort the foundation chose to offer matching support for the money raised,” said Rayani. Gunn raised nearly $5,000 for the Mustard Seed, and the foundation more than doubled that amount with an additional donation of $10,000.
The Mustard Seed will also benefit from the $15,000 grant ear-marked for the Food Rescue Project as it operates that program’s food security distribution centre. “The Mustard Seed Street Church is incredibly grateful for the continued support of VIATEC. This donation will go toward the completion of the commercial processing kitchen at the Food Security Distribution Centre and we couldn’t be happier,” said Derek Pace, interim executive director of the Mustard Seed Street Church.
“As a member of the Food Share Network we have had the incredible opportunity to be the operational lead on the Food Rescue Project. This fresh, healthy, rescued food is then redistributed to individuals and families in need, through 43 agencies to an estimated 35,000 people.”
But Pace noted that even their efforts result in some waste with as much as eight per cent of the rescued food going to animal feed or into the waste stream.
“This kitchen project will give us the opportunity to take still useable food and turn it into delicious, ready-made meals,” he said, adding it will go a long way in their goal of reducing waste by half.
Rayani said the support of the Food Rescue Project was a natural fit for the new foundation.
“This program supports the entire region and assists the homeless, lower income households and students,” he said.
The Food Rescue Project is the flagship of the Food Share Network, which helps 35,000 people annually who experience food insecurity.
The program diverts high quality food, which may otherwise end up as waste, to those in need.
Food Share Network co-ordinator Brenda Bolton said adding a commercial kitchen that will be available to non-profit agencies in the region makes a huge difference.
“We anticipate a further reduction in food entering the waste stream and are excited about access to a commercial kitchen, employment and training programs for low-income individuals and the products that will be developed using fresh fruit and vegetables,” she said. “The Food Rescue Project is feeding 35,000 people through the collection of over one million pounds of high-quality fruit, vegetables and dairy products.”
Bolton said the need continues to grow. “In 2016, an estimated 20,000 residents used food banks and meal programs to get enough food,” she said, adding nearly 30 per cent of those accessing emergency food resources are children.
The VIATEC Foundation held a donor appreciation event at the food security distribution centre on June 4th and donors witnessed first-hand the amazing potential of the centre to reduce food insecurity in the local community.
The University of Victoria-based James, the Robotic Butler Program, is also addressing a significant and growing need.
The program, housed at UVic’s School of Public Health and Social Policy, is developing robotic technology to increase the independence and quality of life of disabled users and offer assistance to caregivers and healthcare professionals working with disabled people.
Program lead Nigel Livingston, a professor at the School of Public Health and Social Policy, said the grant will have a significant impact on the program.
“First, in accelerating our research. It is also very significant and important to us that VIATEC has recognized the potential of our work. Having this type of recognition is important to other potential supporters,” he said. “Currently almost one in seven Canadians live with a disability.”
The program has already developed a sophisticated prototype of a mobile platform that can either move autonomously or be controlled by a user.
The platform can accommodate a suite of interchangeable modules that perform specific tasks like opening doors, pushing buttons, positioning trays and carrying groceries.
“The grant of $15,000 toward James the Butler Project supports professor Nigel Livingston’s cutting-edge work. It demonstrates the use of new research and technology playing a strong role in healthcare regarding people with physical disabilities,” said Richardson. “It enables people to focus on their abilities rather than disabilities.”
Donations can be made to the VIATEC Foundation Fund at https://victoriafoundation.bc.ca/make-a-donation/ or by sending a cheque payable to the Victoria Foundation—with the memo line of “VIATEC Foundation Fund”—to Victoria Foundation, #200 - 703 Broughton Street, Victoria BC, V8W 1E2.
Hope is to convert the building into a multi-media arts hub perhaps with a café and pub. see more
Source: Times Colonist
Author: Bill Cleverley
Arts hub in works for former Maritime Museum building in Bastion Square
Work is underway to transform the former Maritime Museum in Bastion Square into a shared community arts space with areas for workshops, studios, exhibits and performances.
The project is in conceptual stages, but the hope is to convert the former Maritime Museum building into a multi-media arts hub perhaps with a café and pub, Victoria councillors were told Thursday.
“The whole point of this is to create affordable, shared art space for the community,” said Mayor Lisa Helps.
Helps said that she has met with representatives from the province and the federal government and they are both “very excited about this project” and the province has agreed to fund an estimate of what would be needed to rehab the building and outfit the space.
The province “is spending a lot of money to keep it vacant, which isn’t in anyone’s interest, so I think we’ve got potentially really solid partners with the province and with the federal government on this project. So I think we need to, as a council, just let the work continue,” Helps said.
“I think this is a great proposal,” said Coun. Ben Isitt, adding he would support the city providing a subsidy “as a junior partner.”
“I don’t think revenue neutral is realistic for this type of facility. Many artists are starving. They don’t have substantial incomes and if we want a facility that’s going to be accessible to a real diversity of artists and also the public-use components, I think a level of subsidization is supportable,” he said.
Helps said it’s premature to think about subsidies, but there’s potential to generate revenue through a lease for a pub or café in the centre.
An arts hub is an ideal concept to pursue for the building and would help revitalize the square, said Coun. Pam Madoff.
“In the past when the square was first created it was full of retailers and restaurants, and there were tons of people. Over the years, it’s really evolved into more of an office hub which really doesn’t bring a lot of people through the square,” Madoff said.
“There’s an attempt to animate it with the market and that sort of thing, but it really needs more people coming and going on a regular basis and an arts hub is certainly seen as key to that,” she said.
The arts hub is not a city-led project. A small group with members from the Downtown Victoria Business Association, the Bastion Square Revitalization Association, the community and city hall are meeting “to see the project through the pre-project development phase,” says a city staff report.
Owned by the province, 28 Bastion Square opened as a courthouse in 1888 and most recently housed the Maritime Museum. The museum was forced to move out in 2014 after the province raised concerns about the condition of building. It has remained unoccupied since.
A design charette is scheduled late this month to help inform what work would have to be done by the province to bring the building up to usable standards.
The city transferred the building to the province in 1977, said city solicitor Tom Zworski.
At that time the province agreed the old courthouse would remain in public ownership, that it would upgrade the building to current standards and any use of the building would have to comply with local zoning.
Coun. Geoff Young said he’s enthusiastic about the idea of federal and provincial funding but warned any city subsidies should be approached with caution.
“We know that it’s possible to drift into situations where subsidies are very heavy,” Young said.
“As I have mentioned on many occasions, the taxpayers of this city sink $750,000 a year into the McPherson Theatre and have done so for many years.”
ArticleCapital Investment Network presents a fireside chat with Jeff Mallett and Hannes Blum on September 13 at Fort TectoriaCapital Investment Network presents a fireside chat with Jeff Mallett and Hannes Blum on... see more
Victoria, BC: The Capital Investment Network, with the support of VIATEC, is pleased to present Jeff Mallett, founding president and COO of Yahoo! in a live interview with Hannes Blum, venture partner North America for Acton Capital Partners and former CEO of Abebooks. The focus of the interview will be Jeff’s experiences as an angel investor.
For the past 30 years, Jeff has been an executive, director, and active investor in technology, media, sports, and entertainment ventures. In 2002, Jeff founded Mallett Sports & Entertainment LLC (MSE), a diversified global investment and advisory company. MSE has ventures that include the San Francisco Giants, AT&T Park and Mission Rock Development, Comcast Bay Area Sports Network, the San Jose Giants, Major League Soccer, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Derby County FC, digital music company SNOCAP Inc., custom apparel company Indochino Inc., and mobile ticketing service Gametime United Inc. MSE is also a founding investor and limited partner in Version One Ventures LLC and an advisor to Steve Nash Enterprises and Foundation.
From 1995 to 2002 and prior to MSE, Jeff was the founding president, COO, director, and 12th employee of internet giant Yahoo! Inc. There he managed a global workforce of over 4,000 employees in 27 countries and oversaw Yahoo’s first $4 billion in revenues. Under his leadership, Yahoo! grew from a startup with less than six weeks of cash and no revenue to a publicly traded company whose value reached $135 billion.
Hannes Blum is an entrepreneur/investor who is currently the venture partner North America for Acton Capital Partners. Until mid-2015, he was president and CEO of Abebooks in Victoria, where oversaw the sale of AbeBooks to Amazon.
Capital Investment Network (CIN) is a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting, growing, and strengthening the local angel investor community. CIN’s mission is to offer investor-focused education, resources, and events to increase the level of sophistication and deal flow among local angel investors, explore different investment approaches, facilitate collaboration, and grow the local investment community.
CIN is very pleased to be able to bring expertise of the calibre offered by Jeff and Hannes to Victoria’s investor community.
Fireside chat with Jeff Mallett and Hannes Blum
Tuesday, September 13, 6 to 9 pm
(One-hour interview, followed by refreshments)
Fort Tectoria (VIATeC)
777 Fort Street, Victoria
Cost: $20.00. Seats are limited.
To register, go to http://capitalinvestmentnetwork.ca
There have certainly been a lot of firsts for Rob in the last 5 years of working with VIATEC! see more
Source: Gustavson School of Business
Author: Rob Bennett
I’ve had a lot of roles over the years from co-founding Municipal Software and Datamat Services, angel investing in Teampages, Oprius and Simation, to my role as a BCIC accredited mentor and my participation in the Gustavson School of Business mentor program. The two common themes in my varied roles has been coaching and working with a wide variety of stakeholders – two things that have prepared me well for my work at VIATEC. And speaking of my work at VIATEC…
One day, the then Chair of VIATEC, Art Aylesworth, stopped by the office and saw me hanging a disco ball from the ceiling. He asked me how I was doing. I responded, “Really well, Art”, which I think Art took as a pat response. So he pulled in closer to me and said, “Rob, no, really – how’s it going?” I said, “Art, every day I do something I’ve never done before, and will never do again!”
Whether it’s dressing up in a foam finger at a golf tournament declaring that “Tech is #1”, or as Darth Vader welcoming guests at VIATEC’s Tech Awards and leading the World’s Largest Indoor Light Sabre Battle, or as Jolly Old St. Nick during VIATEC’s Member Christmas Party, there have certainly been a lot of firsts in the last 5 years of working with VIATEC!
But here’s the amazing part – even the serious days are truly remarkable. I get to work with a number of very successful, insightful and generous people in our community who are interested in seeing entrepreneurs and their companies grow. Through programs like ICE at UVic, or working with the faculty and staff at the business school or the Faculty of Engineering, or our own Accelerator Programs, there are some incredible people who offer sage words of advice for entrepreneurs that are dedicated to their dreams. These people have “been there, done that;” they get involved because it is the right thing to do, and also sometimes because they’re willing to place a financial bet on the entrepreneur and their team. It’s quite humbling and mind-blowing all at the same time, and I continue to learn from these very accomplished people on a daily basis.
And then there’s the entrepreneurs – from every walk of life. Their passion is inspirational, and the energy they put towards their ventures is awesome. These people want to change the world, and we have a community of others that wish to help them. Is there anything better than that?
Oh yeah, one more thing that just has to be said. Events. VIATEC EVENTS. There’s a bit of a reputation that VIATEC has built over the years about having kick-ass events. From the VIATEC Technology Awards to Discover Tectoria, from multi-day events held annually like Experience Tectoria to one-evening events like the monthly VIAfest meetings, or the many festivals that we support around the community. There is always something happening – an excuse to meet people, get caught up and learn from each other. Although there is always a serious thread to every event, fun is the priority. A tremendous amount of work is done by the very accomplished team at VIATEC and our events typically go off without a hitch. To be part of Team VIATEC is an amazing experience unto itself – it’s truly remarkable what such a proficient – and prolific – team accomplishes.
Today I’m preparing for five companies to come and interview with our crack Executive-In-Residence team to get access to our Accelerator Program. We’ve met with all five already, and I’m quite excited about what each of these companies has to offer. The mere thought that one of these companies, or one of the alumni from the program, could grow to become the next Hootsuite or Shopify makes one pause to think a bit. And to be someone that has perhaps said something or done something to help along the way makes this one of the most fulfilling roles I’ve ever had!
Rob Bennett is the Chief Operating Officer and Program Director for VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council), and it’s the best “job” he’s ever had!
In 25 years our tech sector has more than tripled from $1 billion in annual revenue to $3.15 billion see more
Source: BCIC and VIATEC
Over the past 25 years, Victoria’s technology sector has more than tripled from $1 billion in annual revenue to $3.15 billion. That type of growth doesn’t happen by chance.
Countless individuals from different backgrounds including industry, academia and government have worked together to build the city’s advanced technology sector. At the centre of this major collaboration has been the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council (VIATEC).
VIATEC, part of the BC Acceleration Network, has served as a community hub, connected entrepreneurs to resources and information and been the largest local proponent of advanced tech in Victoria. As a result of their efforts, the city’s sector is now the largest private industry and boasts the following:
- 900 tech companies
- 15,000 workers employed
- $4 billion annual economic impact
To learn more about how VIATEC has helped to transform Victoria’s economy through the development of their tech industry, read the report: It Takes A Community: How Community-Based Organizations Can Help Grow Advanced Technology Companies in Regional BC