LlamaZOO Interactive Inc. posted an articleLlamaZOO to Unveil World’s First Virtual Reality Canine Dissection at 2017 Western Veterinary Conference, Las VegasWorld's first Virtual Reality Canine Dissection to be debuted by LlamaZOO in Vegas during WVC 2017. see more
LlamaZOO Interactive Inc. (LlamaZOO), developers of world-leading 3D veterinary anatomy software EasyAnatomy, will for the first time ever be enabling users to explore the intricacies of canine anatomy in virtual reality (VR). LlamaZOO has chosen the 2017 Western Veterinary Conference, one of the largest annual veterinary conferences in the world, as the venue to unveil this breakthrough in veterinary medicine.
“We’ve made tremendous leaps in EasyAnatomy’s development this year, adding the complete nervous and circulatory systems along with animated pathologies” said LlamaZOO co-founder and CEO Charles Lavigne. “It’s all lined up to make WVC the ideal place for us to demonstrate our medically accurate 3D canine in VR for the first time.”
“Being able to interact with a life-sized virtual canine cadaver, place your head inside its abdomen, and hold its organs in your hands is an extremely convincing argument for the advantages of 3D interaction compared to plastic models or textbooks” added co-founder and VP Sales Kevin Oke.
EasyAnatomy is currently available on tablet, laptop, and desktop devices, and since its preliminary launch last summer has been adopted by veterinary practitioners, students, and educators all over the world. LlamaZOO’s aim is to help veterinarians have more engaged, informed, and effective conversations with clients about their pet’s health, and the recent addition of animated pathologies to EasyAnatomy makes this even easier.
“Our veterinary advisors and customers have been urging us to add pathologies to EasyAnatomy since we first launched” commented Oke. “Showing an owner what a healthy pet should look like is one thing, but being able to present them with how their pet’s ailment actually appears, and demonstrate how that condition will deteriorate over time if left untreated is incredibly powerful. Our users are excited to start having more informed conversations with clients, and to enjoy the resulting increase in compliance.”
Veterinary medicine is evolving, and veterinarians are increasingly adopting solutions that boost efficiency, and differentiate their practice in a competitive landscape.
“The newest generation of pet owners have grown up surrounded by technology, and they’ve come to expect the businesses they interact with to be technology-inclined too” said Oke. “The time and cost savings that an effective use of technology offers is too attractive to ignore, and we’re seeing more and more veterinarians making innovative changes.”
The 2017 Western Veterinary Conference takes place March 5-9 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. Over 14,000 participants are expected to attend, including 6000+ veterinarians and 500+ exhibiting companies. LlamaZOO will be located at Booth 1131 during the exhibition, and is now accepting reservations for limited VR demonstrations: www.easy-anatomy.com/WVC
LlamaZOO is a leading education technology company that develops award-winning interactive software. With a primary focus on veterinary medicine, LlamaZOO has partnered with distinguished international institutions including the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Missouri, and the University of Saskatchewan in developing its 3D veterinary anatomy solution, EasyAnatomy.
In March LlamaZOO will be one of 10 worldwide finalists competing in SXSWedu Launch. The company has previously been awarded the VIATEC Startup of the Year Award, been named “Top Regional Startup” by BCIC New Ventures, and was recognized as one of Douglas Magazine’s “10 to Watch”. Founded in 2014 and privately held, LlamaZOO is headquartered in Victoria BC, Canada.
Co-Founder & VP Sales
LlamaZOO Interactive Inc.
LlamaZOO Interactive Inc. posted an articleLlamaZOO is the only Canadian company to be named a Top 10 Finalist for SXSWedu Launch. see more
LlamaZOO Interactive Inc. Only Canadian Company Named as Top 10 Finalist in 2017's SXSWedu Launch Competition
AUSTIN, Texas, Jan. 11, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- SXSWedu® unveiled the 10 Launch competition startup finalists in the countdown to the 2017 Conference & Festival which begins March 6th. The competition, which spans two days, is one of the premier components of the event and showcases early-stage companies from around the world that are dedicated to supporting teaching and learning. Over the past five years, SXSWedu's popular Launch competition has featured startups that have gone on to receive millions in funding and impact learning across the country.
After a rigorous selection process led by the Launch Advisory Board Committee, 10 early-stage education companies have been selected for the sixth annual Launch competition at SXSWedu. Finalists will compete in two rounds of pitching before a panel of judges and will receive guidance and mentoring from industry leaders. Through this exercise, they will learn key tips and refine their pitches each step of the way. The winner of the competition will be chosen and announced on Wednesday, March 8th at the Launch Party & Winner Announcement hosted by Walton Family Foundation.
This year's top 10 finalists are:
- Adjunct Professor Link (Valparaiso, IN)
- ALEX, Anyone's Learning Experience (Washington Township, NJ)
- ASD Reading (Las Vegas, NV)
- Cell-Ed (Palo Alto, CA)
- LlamaZOO (Victoria, BC)
- Quizling – the Knowledge Game! (Canberra, Australia)
- Sown to Grow (Oakland, CA)
- Teachers Connect (Boston, MA)
- The Graide Network (Chicago, IL)
- The Whether powered by Better Weekdays (Saint Louis, MO)
"Each year the Launch competition highlights the intersection of creativity and innovation in the education sector," said Ron Reed, Director, SXSWedu. "We are delighted to provide a platform where early-stage startups get exposed to new ideas and leaders who can support their continued development. The unique interaction between educators, administrators and business leaders at the event helps form the groundwork for these startups to build impactful companies that serve the larger learning community."
Past winners of SXSWedu Launch Program include: ELSA (2016), Zaption (2015), RobotLAB (2014), Clever (2013), BloomBoard (2012). ELSA (2016), which stands for English Language Speech Assistant, is a mobile app that uses AI to help people improve their pronunciation. The company is garnering lots of traction with international students and media. Clever (2013), a platform that simplifies and secures the integration of student data exchanged between SIS platforms and educational applications, recently partnered with Google on a Chromebook integration for learners. Lastly, BloomBoard (2012), one of the leading professional development platforms for K-12 educators, has built a number of vibrant partnerships with K-12 schools and state departments of education.
Emcees, judges and coaches for this year's launch program will be announced over the next few weeks. For the full program for SXSWedu, please go to the online schedule.
Source: Yahoo Finance
The SXSWedu® Conference & Festival fosters and celebrates innovations in learning by hosting a diverse and energetic community of stakeholders across a variety of backgrounds in education. The annual four-day event affords registrants open access to engaging sessions, immersive workshops, interactive learning experiences, film screenings, early-stage startups, business opportunities and networking. Through collaboration, creativity and social action, SXSWedu empowers its global community to Connect. Discover. Impact. SXSWedu is a component of the South by Southwest® family of conferences and festivals. Join the passionate and innovative community at SXSWedu, March 6-9, 2017 in Austin, Texas. For more information, please visit http://sxswedu.com
CEO & Co-Founder | LlamaZOO Interactive Inc.
"Being a start-up has become a mainstream aspiration of so many, and why wouldn’t it?" see more
Source: Times Colonist
Author: Andrew Duffy
Flytographer takes off, linking travellers with photographers
Just over three years ago, Nicole Smith worked out of her garage on weekends, evenings and whenever she had a spare moment, trying to launch her new business.
This week, the founder of Flytographer, which has exploded in popularity, reached a milestone when she crossed the threshold into 2,000 square feet of office space at Market Square.
“It feels incredible, it’s so exciting,” said Smith, whose team is now in stand-alone digs on Market Square’s third floor. They had been located in shared office space previously.
“This is a big milestone, a psychological one as well as a notable one,” Smith said. “It feels like a new chapter is starting.”
The company, an online marketplace connecting travellers to photographers around the world to capture special moments and memories, seems to be well on the way to writing itself a bestseller as it steps into the next stage of its growth and development.
From a solo effort three years ago that offered services with photographers in 18 cities, Flytographer’s 10 full-time staff now connect vacationers with more than 400 photographers in more than 200 cities around the world.
The company offers a robust technical booking system and sophisticated distribution network, through partnerships with high-end hotels and such companies as Expedia, that will see it pull in more than $2 million in revenue this year.
Smith said this translates to more than 6,500 per cent growth since it launched.
“Honestly, I always thought it would take off, even in the early days when I didn’t think it was going as fast as I thought it should be,” she said. “But I always thought it would be something people would love.
“My early customers confirmed that.”
The success happened as a result of marketing and getting the word out, which resulted in plenty of media coverage — including mentions by Oprah, Condé Nast Traveler and Forbes.
Now it’s about building on that early success and scaling up.
“I think we are just getting started,” Smith said. “The biggest thing for us at this stage is we have proven the mode — we know it works and people love it. Now it’s a land grab.”
It’s an enviable position that not every start-up reaches.
Start-up culture has very much taken hold in Victoria and other high-tech hubs in North America, but many would-be entrepreneurs don’t see the dark side of the game.
“Being a start-up has become a mainstream aspiration of so many, and why wouldn’t it? You’re independent, control your own fate. You’re clever and well-rewarded. It’s romanticized to some degree,” said Dan Gunn, chief executive of the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council, which runs an accelerator program for start-up firms that need mentorship, coaching and direction.
Gunn said the problem is that most start-ups will stumble and it’s a tough slog to establish a business.
“It can be very hard, and you have to ask yourself: How long do you want to eat Kraft Dinner and own a bus pass?” he said.
And many never make it.
Since the accelerator program was launched in the spring of 2012, VIATEC has had 300 companies apply. Of those, 180 were interviewed to determine their suitability, less than 100 were accepted and only 60 are still going concerns.
Flytographer is one of the 60.
“Nicole was a star,” Gunn said. “Her ability to stay focused and to build on a vision was exceptional, and her coachability was one of the keys to her success.
“The ones that succeed are the ones that listen, work hard and adapt — and put the time in.”
Smith knows there’s still plenty to do.
“There’s a lot coming up for us,” she said, noting they are rolling out a new booking platform and constantly looking to expand their distribution network.
She said the firm will be spurred along by the new space, which has added a bolt of energy to her team.
“I’m seeing the impact that space has on a team. I’ve never seen the team more motivated,” she said.
The Frosty Pop Corps posted an articleFrosty Pop gets 11th Apple feature with new arcade puzzle game Teeter. see more
VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA, June 30, 2016 — Today, The Frosty Pop Corps released "Teeter", an original arcade puzzle game for iPhone, iPad, and iPod. The game is currently featured in countires around the world in the Apple App Store.
“This is the first time I have eschewed the free to play model for a paid one,” said founder Faisal Sethi. “So although this is not the first time I have been featured in the App Store, the validation feels a bit different. It will be interesting to see the consequential effects this time out comparatively to the others.”
Since 2015, The Frosty Pop Corps have been featured 11 times in the App Store, most recently with Walls & Balls (free), the first release of a planned trilogy of ball games.
“ Teeter is definitely ‘The Empire’ of my mobile trilogy,” said Sethi. “In hindsight, I suspect it will be recognized as the best one, and hopefully worth the box office breaking $1.99 USD price tag.”
Teeter can be downloaded here: https://itunes.apple.com/app/teeter/id1084084901
About The Frosty Pop Corps:
The Frosty Pop Corps makes beautifully designed digital toys for your iPhone, iPad, and iPod (and sometimes Android device) in beautiful Victoria, British Columbia.
The studio has been featured multiple times by Apple in the Best New Games, New Games We Love, Recommended Apps & Games, and 15 Hidden Gems sections of the Apple App Store.
Founder Faisal Sethi has been nominated for two SXSW Interactive Awards. His projects have been featured on TechCrunch, MSN, Yahoo!, CBC, CTV, The Next Web, The Canadian Press and then some.
Faisal has worked with Walt Disney, Jonas Brothers, Zappos, and the National Film Board of Canada, among others. In 2009, his team was honored with an award for their museum exhibit design for The Canadian War Museum.
Faisal has a Bull Terrier named Moses and loves the CBC.
To recieve press copies of "Teeter", please email hello [ at ] frostypop.com.
David Sovka posted an articleFoundry Spatial released a new online tool that provides detailed information about Alberta’s water see more
Victoria, BC – June 1, 2016 – Today award-winning environmental science and consulting firm Foundry Spatial released a new online tool that provides detailed information about Alberta’s water resources at a fraction the cost and time of traditional water reporting methods.
The Alberta Water Tool provides accurate, real-time information on surface water resources, existing water allocations, and the needs of the natural environment through a point-and-click map that allows users to select a specific waterbody, and generate a comprehensive, up-to-date report in seconds.
“This is disruptive technology in action,” says Ben Kerr, Chief Executive Officer and Senior Water Scientist at Victoria-based Foundry Spatial. “Normally, it would take a professional hydrologist two weeks and $20,000 to prepare the kind of report we literally do in seconds, for about 1% of the cost.”
Visit the Alberta Water Tool: www.alberta-watertool.com
Developed to help scientists, industry explorers, communities and government decision-makers, the Alberta Water Tool uses innovative technology to collect and analyze data for each watershed, including estimates of water flow for rivers, lakes and streams, watershed characteristics such as land cover, climate and impacts from predicted future climate change across west-central Alberta.
“The best decisions are made when you have the best information,” says Kerr. The Alberta Water tool draws hydrological data from 30,600 surface and groundwater allocation points, and 185 hydrometric stations, for 181,000 unique watersheds in Alberta.
“This is a first in Alberta, but it builds on water resource mapping work we originally did in British Columbia,” says Kerr, who was the lead developer on the project. The first version of the engine powering the Alberta Water Tool was developed in 2012 for the Northeast Water Tool for the BC Oil and Gas Commission. It was recognized by a BC Premier’s Award for Regional Innovation, an award from the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC, and also won an Environmental Innovation Award at the Global Petroleum Show.
Today the Alberta Water Tool incorporates hydrology modelling science generated from the Integrated Assessment of West Central Alberta project, and is supported by several associations whose membership needs support for sound water management planning, including the Petroleum Technology Alliance of Canada (PTAC), the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) and 12 oil and gas industry companies currently operating in west-central Alberta. The development of the technology was supported by both the National Research Council-Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) and Tecterra.
“The Alberta Water Tool will shake up traditional water research methods,” admits Kerr, “But that’s a good thing because now resource management experts can replace repetitive, time-consuming data gathering tasks with higher-order impact analysis and planning work.”
The Alberta Water Tool and its forerunner in BC are unique in North America as a water-resource decision-support tools. But not for long.
“This is just the beginning,” says Kerr. “We’re very excited to be rolling out sophisticated tools that support sound water resource management in other regions across Canada and the USA. Water is one of the biggest issues we are going to face in the future, and we need to better understand our water resources today in order to plan for tomorrow.”
About Foundry Spatial
Based in Victoria, BC, Foundry Spatial is an environmental science and consulting firm. Our expert team of scientists and programmers builds helpful tools that turn raw data into meaningful information for smart, sustainable, resource management decision-making. We have a proven track record, having delivered hydrology modeling and decision support tools for more than one million km2 of Western Canada. For more information, visit www.foundryspatial.com
About the Alberta Water Tool
More information about the new Alberta Water Tool can be found at: http://www.alberta-watertool.com
Craft Technology Services Corp (Craftt.com) posted an articleVIATEC Accelerator company, Craftt, closes strategic partnership with ContainerWorld. see more
Victoria, BC - December 14th, 2015 - Craft Technology Services Corporation (Craftt) is excited to announce a recent partnership with ContainerWorld Forwarding Services Inc., a leading logistics provider to the alcoholic beverage industry.
ContainerWorld has made an equity investment in Craftt. The two parties have also entered into a consulting agreement in which Craftt’s web knowledge and expertise will aid ContainerWorld in improving the software and services they offer to their clients.
“This is an ideal partnership for us and for ContainerWorld. Our services complement each other really well. ContainerWorld is the industry leader in logistics and Craftt is the easiest way for a brewery to manage their inventory and orders.” says Ryan Stratton, founder of Craftt.
“Together, we can provide a full-service platform for breweries to manage their business all the way from manufacturing through to the product being delivered to their customers.”
Craftt’s brewery management software is designed specifically to help craft breweries stop keg loss and get better insight and control over their inventory. With powerful reporting features, breweries can significantly reduce the time they spend on creating regulatory reports to send to the relevant governing bodies. The recent investment will go towards growing the development team, among other things, to further improve Craftt’s software.
“We want to make Craftt the go-to platform for breweries, helping them manage their inventory, and their business, efficiently.” Stratton goes on to say. “Through this strategic partnership, we will be able to ensure craft brewers make the most of their time by simplifying these often complex aspects of the job.”
Unlike spreadsheets or expensive, bloated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, Craftt’s software makes it easy for every brewery employee to quickly access and manage their inventory and assets in real time through any smart device. Understanding current inventory and capacity levels allows breweries to make better decisions when it comes to production, customer orders, and distribution, and allows them to have a comprehensive overview of what resources are available in the brewery at any given time.
Partnering with ContainerWorld will provide Craftt’s clients with additional benefits, giving them direct access to one of the best logistics and distribution companies in the beverage industry today.
Craftt is a Victoria, BC startup and part of the VIATEC Accelerator program. They build innovative tools and services to modernize and simplify the way beverage companies manage their business.
ContainerWorld is a multi-faceted company based in British Columbia. They provide clients with worldwide door-to-door logistics services, including inventory management, freight forwarding, warehousing, and distribution.
Startup Canada announced the regional winners and runners-up of the 2nd annual Startup Canada Awards see more
The movers and shakers of Canada’s entrepreneurship movement to be celebrated nationwide
October 2, 2015, OTTAWA, ON – Today, Startup Canada announced the regional winners and runners-up of the second annual Startup Canada Awards. Winners will be celebrated and recognized during special grassroots events featuring a reception, ceremony, and fireside chats in communities across Canada this fall.
“These winners are architects of a better future for Canada for entrepreneurs,” said Victoria Lennox, CEO of Startup Canada. “As champions of the entrepreneurship movement, they deserve to be celebrated to the highest degree. Thank you and congratulations to all nominees and winners for elevating the efforts, ambitions, and standards of success for the entrepreneurship community locally and across Canada.”
Click on the links below to see the winners from each region:
- Atlantic Awards
- Quebec Awards
- Ontario Awards
- B.C. and the North Awards (Runner-up: Our very own Todd Dunlop, President & CEO of Ring Partner and VIATEC's Executive in Residence!)
- Prairies Awards
The Startup Canada Awards can be likened to the Oscars for the Canadian entrepreneurship community – celebrating and recognizing the individuals, communities and institutions that have demonstrated innovation, excellence, outstanding achievement and impact in advancing Canadian entrepreneurship.
The names of the regional winners will be pushed forward to the National Adjudication Committee and the national winners will be celebrated at the Startup Canada Awards Grand Finale at the CN Tower in Toronto on Dec. 1.
Regional events will be held throughout Startup Canada’s #EveryEntrepreneur Tour, which launches Oct. 14 in Halifax, N.S., and will land in six major cities before concluding in Toronto on Dec. 14. The national tour will provide on-site inspiration, mentorship and training to thousands of entrepreneurs.
The community can join in the celebration and conversation by attending one of the upcoming grassroots events:
- Atlantic Awards Reception | | Halifax
- Quebec Awards Reception | | Montreal
- Ontario Awards (Location TBA)| Pre-Registration Open
- B.C. & the North Awards Reception | | Vancouver
- Prairies Awards Reception | | Calgary
The Startup Canada Awards are proudly supported by Intuit Canada, TruShield Insurance,UPS Canada, Wolf Blass, MNP LLP, Scotiabank, BDC, and TELUS. The Startup Canada Awards are also supported by Fluid Review by Survey Monkey and Rideau Hall.
For more information on the Startup Canada Awards, visit www.startupaward.ca.
Communications and Marketing Manager, Startup Canada
What looks like a trade show, feels like a farmers' market, and builds community like a block party? see more
An Invitation for Your Tech Start-up
Sunday November 8th, 10am-4pm, Royal BC Museum
What looks like a trade show, feels like a farmers' market, and builds community like a block party? We invite you to have a table and do a Flash Presentation at Living the New Economy Victoria’s Third Annual Opportunity Fair! Join up to 45 other entrepreneurs and project leaders who will fill the room with the excitement of their innovative businesses and enterprising ideas. This day is free to the public and is about creating a thriving, regenerative economy in the Victoria region.
Present Your Opportunity. Take your passion to the next level, test run your idea with a receptive public, enlist support, connect with local entrepreneurs, investors and community! The event will support you with a wide audience of potential clients or customers and other resources to help move your existing businesses or emerging ideas ahead.
To register, submit your application at: www.livingtheneweconomy.com/opportunity-fair.
Contact Sally Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Experience Tectoria, a chance for the rest of the world to dive into the local tech scene. see more
Three days of high-tech hoopla kicks off today as the Victoria Advanced Technology Council opens up Experience Tectoria, a chance for the rest of the world to dive into the local tech scene and for firms to strut their stuff.
The three-day conference and networking event has seminars, workshops, pitch opportunities and entertainment for tech firms and the public.
Dan Gunn, executive director of VIATEC, said the event serves a number of audiences.
“We bring in what we call VIPs — investor types, tech bloggers — basically people of influence from markets that are important to our members,” Gunn said, adding it is also a chance for firms to take in seminars on how to better run their companies, raise capital or find talent.
There is a broad creative component, including music at Rifflandia, speaking with artists about the creative process and a question-and-answer session with comedian Nathan Fielder (lead actor in Nathan For You on Comedy Central).
“But the most important thing is the great networking opportunity this is,” said Gunn, noting the events bring together sector leaders and mixes them with local companies.
An economic impact study commissioned by VIATEC and released last year shows the sector has a total annual impact of $4.03 billion on the local economy. Total revenues generated by high-tech's 900 local companies is $3.15 billion annually.
The sector directly employs 15,000 people as well as more than 3,000 consultants and advisers, and another 5,000 individuals working in technology for companies outside the high-tech sphere.
Many of the events at Experience Tectoria are open to the public and tickets are still available online at experiencetectoria.ca.
VIATEC posted an articleStartup Basics Program supplies participants with the tools and resources to accelerate their idea. see more
Accelerate Okanagan has expanded its program offering to further support the BC Southern Interior tech community. Developed for early stage entrepreneurs and career-changers, the Startup Basics Program supplies participants with the tools and resources to accelerate their idea to the next stage in their entrepreneurial journey.
Startup Basics is comprised of weekly sessions and seminars occurring from September to December 2015. Sessions are presented by community organizations, as well as Accelerate Okanagan Executive in Residence mentors, partners, clients, and alumni. Each session is designed to educate the entrepreneur on the fundamentals essential to developing their startup.
“Delivering the building blocks of a solid business foundation, our Startup Basics program comes out of our Community Development team as a way of providing helpful resources to the BC Southern Interior startup community. With the addition of our webinar feature, we have made this program easily accessible and formatted to suit any stage of startup. Accelerate Okanagan is fortunate to have a broad spectrum of expertise in our Partners and EiRs; with their participation in this initiative we are able to help startups thrive with competence, connection, and community,” says Pilar Portela, CEO of Accelerate Okanagan.
- Entrepreneur Support Ecosystem
- Startup Basics: Legal & Accounting
- Value Proposition and Customer Discovery
- Turn your Idea into Reality: Prototyping and Testing
- Startup Basics: Project Management
- Legal and Insurance: Protecting your Business
- Product and Market Fit Startup Basics: Metrics
- Hiring Contractors and Creating Contracts
- CEO vs. Co-Founder
- Funding Mechanics for Startups
- Perfecting Your Business Pitch
- Introduction to the Business Model Generation
For only $25.00/session, get inspired and learn how to take the next step with your business idea. Please click here for session schedule and registration information. Space is limited, so please register early! Can’t make it to Kelowna? Don’t worry, we’ve got it covered. Register to watch a live webinar of each scheduled session.
Silkstart Importer posted an article"This place has a very entrepreneurial attitude.” see more
Source: Globe & Mail
Author: Sean Silcoff
Burgeoning tech companies are on the rise in Canada, attracting funding and IPO buzz in hubs across the country. The Globe & Mail's occasional series explores how each locale nurtures its entrepreneurs, the challenges they face and the rising stars we’re watching.
Owen Matthews found the perfect way to convince his father, Ottawa tech pioneer Terry Matthews, to invest in a startup in his home base of Victoria: The company, Echosec Systems Ltd., can track social media postings by their geographic origin, so to demonstrate the power of the tool, the younger Mr. Matthews showed his father what had been posted to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram in the vicinity of his house. What showed up during the demonstration eight months ago shocked the billionaire: 15 pictures, including one of his grand-daughter, on his property. The first thing the elder Mr. Matthews did was track down the posters to get them to remove the pictures. The next thing he did was invest. “I like this tool, it clearly has a lot of value,” he told his son, who noted that the technology is already used by military and law enforcement agencies.
While Terry Matthews is known as one of Ottawa’s most prominent tech investors, he and his son have also poured money and time into Victoria, another government town with a surprisingly buoyant tech ecosystem. Victoria does not have any big tech companies, but it has enough small and medium-sized firms that the sector – not government or tourism – is the top employer in the metropolis of 344,000 people. The Victoria Advanced Technology Council says there are 900 technology companies employing 15,000 people in the area, generating $4-billion in economic impact. “Most people go to Vancouver and miss Victoria because it’s a cute government town,” Owen Matthews says. “But this place has a very entrepreneurial attitude.”
Mayor Lisa Helps argues that Victoria’s climate, abundance of restaurants, local beer and coffee, rental units and pleasant lifestyle options (“work here ends at kayak o’clock”) make it a magnet for startups. “What works in our ecosystem that makes us unique is small companies that grow rapidly and punch away above their weight on the world market,” she says.
It’s certainly helped by the Matthews family: Owen Matthews, 43, came to University of Victoria to study computer science and psychology and never left, starting a telecommunications software company in 1998 and selling it to Vancouver’s CounterPath Corp. in 2007 (the Matthews family owns close to 30 per cent of the stock).
He’s since helped develop the local startup scene by convincing several government and industry bodies, along with his alma mater and father, to fund the creation of the non-profit Alacrity Foundation, dedicated to helping nascent entrepreneurs get on their feet.
Owen Matthews argues that the first six to 12 months of an entrepreneurial enterprise is too early for serious investors to commit financing. So the foundation offers training, space, mentorship, access to industry players and expense money to help get B.C.-based business and engineering graduates on their feet as entrepreneurs. The idea is that if they flourish at Alacrity, there may be investors ready to jump in after a year.
Sure enough, several companies that have graduated from the program have landed seed investments, from the Matthews family and others. They include telecommunications software startup Tutela, online marketing firm Pretio and Echosec.
Karl Swannie, a former partner of local geospatial technology firm CloverPoint who heads Echosec, argues that “you have to be good in Victoria to survive. Your software has to be good enough to make it off the island. Because if you don’t do well, you die.”