• Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    “Tech has now arrived, it’s proud and showing off a bit more.” see more

    Source: Capital Magazine
    Author: Andrew

    Victoria’s tech industry breathes life into downtown

    Victoria’s downtown core, which has been much maligned over the years as a dead zone where retail went to die, is very much alive and thriving these days — and it owes a portion of its renaissance to the region’s soaring technology sector.

    The high-tech sector, which boasts annual revenues in excess of $4 billion and is considered the city’s most valuable industry, has found a solid fit in the city’s downtown, filling in upper-floor and hard-to-rent offices. And the city seems to have responded in kind, flourishing with new retail offerings, cafes, pubs, restaurants, services and a host of new residential buildings.

    While no one in the tech sector is about to claim full responsibility for the life breathed into the downtown, it’s hard to avoid linking the fortunes of the two.

    “Tech has been a huge economic boon to downtown,” said Marc Foucher of Colliers International Victoria. “There are 380 tech firms operating in downtown Victoria alone and they are employing people who walk out for coffee every morning, eat lunch downtown, shop after work, go to yoga.

    “I’m not at all surprised that retail is coming back downtown. There are more shops, more vacant retail fronts are being leased up and following on that are the number of condos and rental buildings going up in Victoria. Tech is not responsible for all of it, but it plays a role.”

    According to Colliers’ most recent retail market overview, tech, tourism and increased downtown residential building have resulted in the retail vacancy rate dropping to 5.45 per cent at the end of last year compared to 8.53 per cent at the end of 2015.

    And Colliers’ last office-tenant demand profile study in 2015 showed that of all lease deals done in the region, tech and digital media accounted for 49 per cent, with government deals accounting for just 23 per cent.

    In the downtown core, tech accounted for 90,000 square feet of space leased in 2015 while government leasing accounted for 111,000 square feet.

    Dan Gunn, chief executive of the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council, known as VIATEC, said tech companies have been downtown a long time, but they are just now starting to make their presence felt by the sheer weight of their numbers.

    “The difference is the success they are having now and the size they are now,” said Gunn, noting there were more than 300 firms in the core five years ago. “Tech has now arrived, it’s proud and showing off a bit more.”

    He believes the establishment of VIATEC at the highly visible Fort Tectoria (777 Fort St.) and shared-space tech buildings such as The Summit (838 Fort St.), 844 Courtenay St., 955 View St. and SpaceStation (517 Fort St.) have provided natural hubs where tech workers can get together and experience a sense of community.

    “We wanted a retail street-level presence so people could identify and see the evidence of the tech sector,” said Gunn of VIATEC’s return to the downtown core in 2014. “Until then, tech had been largely invisible.”

    There’s no missing them now, and Gunn said that will continue as young companies who want to succeed have learned they need to be in desirable locations, close to amenities and on transit routes to attract and retain talent.

    “Having a good place to go for lunch or a beer, the amenities for day-to-day life are key considerations,” he said. “Downtown cores are appealing to tech companies and staff because of all they have to offer.”

    Tobyn Sowden, chief executive at software developer Redbrick, said they have always been a downtown company, starting in Market Square and now occupying a large open-floor space on a second floor on Store Street.

    “We were attracted to this building because we knew we could really customize it to meet our needs, and we worked with some amazing local designers and contractors to do just that,” said Sowden. “We are adamant about helping to promote a great work-life balance, and with so many of our team members walking, cycling and sometimes even running to work, being centrally located downtown is extremely important to us.”

    Sowden said the company feeds off the new energy downtown and the downtown seems to be doing the same in reaction to the influx of tech companies.

    “The amenities around us have multiplied and expanded since we opened up shop in 2011, and though we have a weakness for the amazing coffee shops and pubs nearby, we can't take full credit for their growth,” he said. “That said, I don’t think we can live without them; at the very least, our productivity would suffer without all of the coffee and lunch options at our doorstep.”

    Catherine Holt, chief executive of the Greater Victoria Chamber, said the tech sector has played a big role in creating the new vibe downtown. However, she is quick to point out it’s not the only factor.

    “Visitors and new downtown residents is what is re-invigorating downtown and absolutely the tech sector is a big part of that,” she said, noting the tech sector may not sell a lot of product or service here, but its workers do spend a lot of money in the city.

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    BCIC established the program with Accelerate Okanagan and VIATEC to assist small tech companies... see more


    Tech accelerators create 1,640 jobs

    An entrepreneurial program launched by the BC Innovation Council to help British Columbians transform their ideas into successful businesses is helping drive B.C.’s growing tech sector.

    Over the past five years, the Venture Acceleration Program has created 1,640 jobs, attracted $196 million in investment and generated more than $81.6 million in revenues provincewide.

    “B.C. boasts many innovative thinkers who are choosing our province as the place to start their technology companies,” said Amrik Virk, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens' Services. “The Venture Acceleration Program helps harness those ideas and bring local innovation to market more quickly, growing our tech sector and creating jobs.”

    The program helps entrepreneurs bring ideas to market faster, like LlamaZOO’s revolutionary 3D veterinary training platform, EasyAnatomy.

    “Participating in the Venture Acceleration Program gave us a formula and process to make sure we did the right things to validate our product, from finding and defining the customers to segmenting the market,” said Kevin Oke, LlamaZOO Interactive co-founder and vice-president of sales. “It was really instrumental to our success.”

    The program also helps experienced tech developers hone their business skills and make new connections, such as AirSenze Solutions and FreshWorks Studio founders Samarth Mod and Rohit Boolchandani who joined the program after immigrating to B.C.

    “We decided to stay in Victoria and start our own mobile app development company after completing our masters of business administration at the University of Victoria,” said Samarth Mod, AirSenze CEO and co-founder. “Participating in the Venture Acceleration Program at VIATEC provided us with mentorship, helped us get office space and network. Most importantly, by attending their fireside chats and other local tech meetups, we got to know the local tech community and learn from the experience of industry veterans.”

    The Venture Acceleration Program is delivered by a team of experienced professionals known as Executives in Residence, who act as mentors to help aspiring entrepreneurs bring new ideas to market more quickly, using a set of best practices for growing tech companies. Every entrepreneur in the program is assigned an Executive in Residence who becomes their primary advisor, often acting like an active member of their management team.

    “In just five years, program participants have successfully generated over $81 million in revenues through locally generated ideas, products and services,” said Carl Anderson, president and CEO, BC Innovation Council. “I couldn’t be more proud of the accomplishments of our entrepreneurs provincewide, which I’ve witnessed first-hand when I was an Executive in Residence for BC Innovation Council’s Venture Acceleration Program.”

    The BC Innovation Council established the program with Accelerate Okanagan and Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council (VIATEC), to assist small tech companies, which make up the majority of B.C.’s tech sector, develop growth opportunities.

    “Programs like Venture Acceleration are incredibly important to B.C.’s growing small business sector because they allow entrepreneurs and start-ups to hone their skills and grow,” said Coralee Oakes, Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. “With the majority of the high-tech industry made up of small businesses, it’s essential to have the right support to help them achieve their goals.” 

    The Venture Acceleration Program supports the #BCTECH Strategy by helping B.C. tech companies develop revenue growth opportunities.

    The #BCTECH Strategy is a key component of the BC Jobs Plan to support the growth of B.C.’s vibrant technology sector and strengthen British Columbia’s diverse innovation economy. The multi-year strategy includes a $100-million BC Tech Fund and initiatives to increase talent development and market access for tech companies that will drive innovation and productivity throughout the province.

    In partnership with its Crown agency, the BC Innovation Council, the Province continues to drive tech through B.C.’s second #BCTECH Summit, March 14-15, 2017, with made-in-B.C. tech innovations, thought-provoking keynotes and networking opportunities. To register or learn more, go to: 

    Quick Facts:

    • As of February 2017, the Venture Acceleration Program has trained more than 995 entrepreneurs from over 589 companies.
    • The program is supported by the BC Acceleration Network, which is made up of 14 partners in nine regions throughout B.C. including:
      • Accelerate Okanagan Technology Association (Kelowna)
      • Bioenterprise (provincewide)
      • Bulkley Valley Economic Development Association (Smithers)
      • entrepreneurship@UBC (Vancouver)
      • Foresight Cleantech Accelerator Centre (Surrey)
      • Innovation Central Society (Prince George)
      • Innovation Island Technology Association (Nanaimo)
      • Kamloops Innovation
      • Kootenay Association for Science and Technology (Rossland)
      • New Ventures BC (provincewide)
      • Sumas Regional Consortium for High Tech (Mission)
      • VentureLabs (Vancouver)
      • Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council
      • Wavefront (Vancouver)
    • 95% of B.C. tech firms are small businesses, with most employing fewer than four employees.

    Learn More:

    BC Innovation Council:

    Venture Acceleration Program:

    #BCTECH Strategy:

    LlamaZOO Interactive:

    AirSenze Solutions:

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    There were robots and rockets and a talking glove, oh my! see more

    Source: Times Colonist
    Author: Michael Reid

    Around Town: Geeking out at Discover Tectoria

    There were robots and rockets and a talking glove, oh my!

    It wasn’t just super-cool technological crowd-pleasers like these that made Discover Tectoria, the high-tech showcase that packed them into Crystal Garden on Friday, such a blast.

    As one visitor remarked, almost as impressive as the high-tech doodads was that there were so many We’re Hiring signs displayed by dozens of local technology companies that participated.

    While this family-friendly event did to some extent have the feel of a hiring fair, it was a predominantly educational and entertaining showcase for the region’s thriving tech sector.

    “What is Tectoria, anyway?” was one question overheard from those not already in the know about the catchy moniker created by VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council) in 2011.

    To quote its playful slogan, Tectoria, the umbrella title for the capital region’s tech sector, is “home to 100 killer whales and 1,500 killer apps.”

    To describe the products and opportunites on view as mind-blowing would be putting it mildly, whether you were marvelling over the fun and games or the scientific applications.

    Popular draws included Victoria Hand Project’s low-cost 3D-printed prostheses, used in developing countries where amputees have limited access to prosthetic care.

    Another eye-catcher was Tango, the revolutionary glove designed to overcome the communications barrier between deaf and hearing individuals by using a glove equipped with sensors and a microcontroller.

    A user’s hand gestures correspond to phrases or letters that, via Bluetooth, appear on a smartphone screen in a text format that can be output as a digitized voice.

    Kamel Hamdan, Alaa Dawod and Abdul-Rahman Saleh head the development team for the University of Victoria project, working in association with Coast Capital Savings’ Innovation Centre.

    Other highlights included LimbicMedia’s interactive blinking-light installation; VRX Ventures’ massive racing simulator; and the Holografx station’s Instagram photo booth.

    “We’re creating a new prototype, our biggest screen at 49 inches,” said Anamaria Medina, a Colombia-raised electrical engineer who works at the Esquimalt-based company.

    The tech firm develops innovative holographic tools used to showcase products, services and company logos, she said.

    “We did the Instagram photo booth because this is what teenagers do now,” she said, pointing to giant hashtags and other social media tools.

    Matthew McCormack said he joined a capacity crowd for an afternoon seminar on Victoria’s video game sector in the Innovation Theatre to learn about employment opportunities.

    “I want to know how to get into the video game arts. What’s the best route to get my first job, to skip over working at the grocery store and get right to where I want to be working?” the Claremont student said.

    McCormack, an avid gamer who plays Rainbow Six, a first-person shooter, and the futuristic vehicular soccer game Rocket League, learned being a fan isn’t necessarily enough.

    “It’s a highly competitive industry. We don’t just hire you if you’re really into games,” said Eric Jordan, CEO of Codename Entertainment, with a smile.

    “You’ve got to be really good at art, or marketing, or businesss or programming, depending on what we’re hiring you for.”

    Jordan offered the crowd some pointers, including VIATEC’s Student Video Game Work Experience Program, which gives students a chance to work in a gaming studio.

    Moderator James Hursthouse of DigiBC got a few laughs when he asked if “there is something in the water here” to explain why so many tech types come to Victoria.

    “I think it’s where people want to live,” said Magda Rajkowski of Kano Apps. “It’s beautiful here, and there’s a lot of creativity.”

    Even before you entered Victoria Conference Centre, it was hard to miss UVic Centre for Aerospace Research’s sleek carbon fibre-and-fibreglass drone parked outside.

    “This is our workhorse, an aircraft designed to carry payloads, conduct research for companies or collaborators who want to test equipment,” explained operations manager Eldad Alber.

    One software developer, for example, asked the team to design wings that would be flexible based on their software designed for such a purpose.

    “Hopefully we’ll get more students interested in aerospace,” said Alber. “A master’s program for aeronautics is going to be available soon, so it would be nice to see more exposure and people applying for it.”

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    Discover Tectoria is the Island's BIGGEST Tech Expo and it’s taking over the Crystal Garden 02/24 see more

    Discover Tectoria to show off local tech with one-day expo

    VIATEC puts their FREE tech expo on at the Crystal Garden Feb 24, 2017 from 11am to 6pm

    Victoria, BC (February 22, 2017) - Discover Tectoria is the Island's BIGGEST Tech Expo and it’s taking over the Crystal Garden from 11am to 6pm on February 24th with tech companies, gadgets, inventions, drones and more. The expo, organized by VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology & Entrepreneurship Council), will feature a:


    • Main floor Tradeshow
      (local tech companies demonstrating products, hiring staff, or co-ops)

    • Video Game Lounge
      (local companies allow you to test drive their inventions)

    • WorkBC Startup Alley
      (get a sneak peek at the future of Tectoria)

    • UVic Research District
      (see some amazing projects post-secondary students have put together)

    • Innovation Theatre, sponsored by BMO & Royal Roads University
      (a line-up of great panel discussions and a Keynote Address from Jesse Brown of CANADALAND)

    • Benevity Combustion Chamber
      (Science Venture demos for the kids!)

    • PLUS: Robot battles, flying drones, a Victoria Beer Week lounge and a WildPlay Element Parks prize package

    VIATEC is taking full advantage of the tri-district Pro-D Day scheduled on the same day and is encouraging parents to bring their kids to enjoy a full day of exploration. Post secondary exams will also be wrapped up, so it’s a great event for students to make connections.

    Youth get a glimpse into a future working in tech, post-secondary students and job seekers get to meet potential employers, local and visiting investors can check out some up-and-coming businesses, and tech companies get to showcase their products and services to over 3500 attendees.

    “We created this event to showcase the innovation taking place right here in Victoria,” explains Dan Gunn, CEO of VIATEC. “Discover Tectoria gives our local tech companies a platform where they can be seen and heard by investors, media, job seekers and youth. There’s no better way to inspire our future tech workers than filling a space with over 3500 people, robot battles, drones, creative minds and limitless imaginations.”

    Simultaneously, VIATEC, the City of Victoria and the Capital Investment Network are hosting the Capital Mission II for a contingent of visiting angel and VC investors from February 22 to 24. Invitees will experience first-hand the city’s highly sought after quality of life, including how easy it is to travel to and from Victoria, the vibrancy of our innovative business community and the depth of our local deal flow. It all kicks off tonight at Fort Tectoria with the Welcome Night. The trip will finish with a visit to Discover Tectoria.

    Media are encouraged to attend Discover Tectoria and also get in on multiple tech story ideas for the future. The event is the ideal place for media outlets to capture the vibrancy and diversity of the local tech scene all in one room. Please contact VIATEC below if you would like to attend and if you need help arranging interviews or photo-ops.

    For the full Program and Exhibitor Map, click here.

    [2016 Video Recap]
    [2016 Photo Gallery]



    Dan Gunn


    Screen Shot 2017-02-22 at 10.52.15 AM.png


    VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council), started in 1989. Our mission is to serve as the one-stop hub that connects people, knowledge and resources to grow and promote the Greater Victoria technology sector (Victoria's biggest industry).

    We work closely with our members to offer a variety of events, programs and services. In addition, VIATEC serves as the front door of the local tech sector and as its spokesperson. To better support local innovators, we recently acquired our own building (Fort Tectoria) where we offer flexible and affordable office space to emerging local companies along with a gathering/event space for local entrepreneurs.


  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    A portion of Victoria's Airport has been transformed into the “Tectoria Innovation Station" see more

    “Tectoria Innovation Station” to launch at the Victoria International Airport

    Ribbon cutting to take place February 20, 2017 at 11am

    VICTORIA, BC (February 15, 2017) -  A portion of Victoria International Airport’s Arrival Rotunda has been transformed into the “Tectoria Innovation Station,” a new interactive exhibit heralding Greater Victoria’s long history of innovation and entrepreneurship and the thriving tech sector that developed as a result.

    The installation features a mad scientist's laboratory complete with transparent video screens and detailed historical accounts of our region’s innovations all surrounded by intricate pipes, gauges and switches to catch the attention of passersby and draw them in for a closer look. It was developed specifically to give the local technology sector added awareness, airport guests an added experience, and potential talent and investors a place to go for more information,

    VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology & Entrepreneurship Council) and the Victoria Airport Authority (VAA), have spent the last 10 years informally exploring ways to work together to spread the word about our top local industry, technology. ”When we heard that the Victoria Airport Authority had a potential area that we could utilize to build an intriguing interactive exhibit we jumped at the chance,” Dan Gunn, VIATEC CEO explained. “We quickly started developing concepts on something that would be out of the ordinary and soon after opened discussions with potential funding partners.

    “Technology plays such an integral role in our local economy,” says Geoff Dickson, VAA President and CEO. “We’re pleased to partner with VIATEC and showcase this interactive display. It’s a great way for us to support Victoria’s technology sector and to provide our passengers and the public with a unique experience and opportunity to learn about the positive contributions it makes to the region.”

    The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce and South Island Prosperity Project (Prosperity Project) were intrigued and agreed to dedicate some of the funding they had received from Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) to the project.

    ”It takes a village to raise an economy and we are very grateful to the Victoria Airport Authority and our funding partners for making this possible,” acclaimed Dan Gunn. “With 1.85 million visitors walking through the gates at one of the world’s greatest airports, we are fortunate to be offered the opportunity to build a presence at the primary gateway to our community. Tourism is our best draw and once people are hooked on our island lifestyle many of them want to stay. We believe this exhibit will give the ones that want to move here, the info they need to understand how they might find a job or, better yet, invest in or create a new company here.”

    "We're proud to be part of the team that brought this project to life,” said Emilie de Rosenroll, Executive Director of the Prosperity Project. “The Tectoria Innovation Station is a way to raise the profile of our local entrepreneurial culture, and it will help the Prosperity Project connect with new companies and established entrepreneurs through the website."

    “The Tectoria Innovation Station is one of several joint projects that the Greater Victoria Chamber has undertaken over the past three years to support trade and investment,” said Catherine Holt, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce. “Thanks to funding from Western Economic Diversification Canada and stakeholders throughout the region, we have been able to bring the right people together to see outcomes, like this one, that will resonate within our community and economy for years.”

    The unveiling will take place on February 20, 2017 at 11am in the Arrivals Rotunda of the Victoria International Airport. Following a few announcements and a ribbon cutting, media and the public are encouraged to take the first steps through the installation.



    With the vision statement that, “Innovation, entrepreneurship and technology has shaped Victoria’s present, past and inspires our potential going forward.”  VIATEC sought out local designer and fabricator, Russell Papp, to bring a “Mad Scientist’s Lab” theme to fruition. Russell is well known for projects around town including the Phillip’s Beer Wagons and some of Tourism Victoria’s exhibits last October.

    Airport visitors will get to peer into portals containing Holografyx Showcase video displays, press buttons and gears, and flip through drafting table designs containing bits of Victoria’s rich, innovative history. From aviation, to shipbuilding, ocean sciences and education. The first video features short overviews of AXYS Technologies, FTS and Viking Air. The drafting table features are opening with historical overviews of key elements of our economy, and VIATEC is encouraging locals to submit suggested additions and corrections, so that the exhibit is ever-changing and improving. A feedback form on the web site will make it easy for people to provide suggested edits and updates.


    Your readers, listeners and viewers are welcome to learn even more about how to connect with, join or learn more about the local tech scene by attending Discover Tectoria on February 24, 2017 from 11am to 6pm at the Crystal Garden.


    Tessa Bousfield
    Marketing & Events Director, VIATEC
    e:, c: 250-896-7668


  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    The challenge raised $82,274 in cash and food [so far, with more detailed results to come] see more

    Source: Times Colonist
    Author: Andrew Duffy

    State of the heart: tech sector gives big

    It’s a massive industry that makes a deep economic impact on the region, and for most of the year it quietly goes about employing more than 20,000 people.

    Yet at this time of year, when the need is greatest and the weather cold, the region’s $4-billion technology sector roars into action with the annual Victoria Innovation Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council Food Bank Challenge.

    The event, in its [14th year], has raised more than $2 million for the Mustard Seed Food Bank since its inception.

    “I think it’s important the technology sector does what it can for the community, and this is one of the most visible ways we have to show that,” said VIATEC chief executive Dan Gunn. “The interesting thing about this is very few tech firms have customers in Victoria, so they don’t do marketing charity work. All their philanthropy is hidden because they don’t need their logo on it.”

    But Gunn said the companies, in a collegial and tight-knit tech community, are ultra-competitive.

    “And when you pit them against each other, it brings [the best] out of them,” he said, noting the challenge has grown to include 34 local tech firms.

    This year, the challenge raised $82,274 in cash and food [so far, with more detailed results to come.]

    The vast majority, $68,256, was raised in cash, cheques and online donations, while about 5,367 pounds of food was collected.

    Gunn said the sector has decided to push the cash side of the challenge, especially at this time of year.

    “It’s a great time to ask people to give because people are more generous of spirit, but that’s a challenge for the food bank,” he said. “Because they get all this food at once, they may have a slow month [in terms of donations] later.

    “We focus on cash, so they will have funds to distribute throughout year and to target things they don’t have in stock.”

    The Mustard Seed also has better buying power, with its dollar able to get up to three times more than a regular shopper could.

    The competing tech companies were also vying for titles, as well as bragging rights.

    This year’s biggest money raiser was Carmanah Technologies, which donated $21,377, and the greatest food contribution came from Beanstream, which collected 1,502 pounds of food.

    To raise money and food, all 34 companies held fundraisers over the past four weeks, including a Flytographer Christmas sweater fun run, Starfish Medical’s annual chili cook-off, Ringpartner’s wine night and Carmanah’s ping-pong tournament.

    Last year, VIATEC’s challenge raised $74,000 and 1,000 pounds of food during its Christmas drive, while a food drive in February of last year raised another $47,000 for the Mustard Seed Food Bank.

    The annual challenge has become a huge event for VIATEC, and it has spurred the organization to establish a foundation.

    “It’s something we expect to launch in the new year so we can do things like this throughout the year,” Gunn said.

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    This week’s highlight is on Christina Seargeant. see more


    Haro Ventures Mini Series: An Interview with Christina Seargeant

    For the month of December, Haro Ventures is launching a mini series highlighting and celebrating awesome female leaders / movers and shakers in our tech community. We will be publishing one interview weekly to share insights into the roles, goals, and vision of these individuals in order to help us all grow a better understanding of who's shaping our community.

    Between working as HR business partner with Workday and volunteering with Ladies Learning CodeVIATEC, and networking community PeopleOps, Christina is a quintessential (and busy!) member of our tech community. We were thrilled to sit down with Christina to learn about what she does with Workday, her childhood role models, what keeps her inspired, what mistake she’s most learned from, and her vision of diversity in our community.

    • What is your role at Workday and how did you come into that position? / Your involvement with Ladies Learning Code?

    I’m an HR business partner at Workday, supporting everyone from the frontline employees to the VPs of Workday Canada. We have an offices and teams that comprise 150 employees all over Canada in Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. I’m meant to be the first point of contact for all things HR related and position myself as a champion for Canadian benefits and the different programs we offer in Canada.

    I came into the role because Workday offered me the position during its acquisition of MediaCore in August 2015. I was the director of people operations at MediaCore, which meant I oversaw anything to do with people and general business operations including facilities, legal and some finance.

    I got involved with Ladies Learning Code (LLC) just before the chapter launched in Victoria. I met Erin Athene at Discover Tectoria where she told me about the organization being based in Toronto with chapters popping up all across the country. I was instantly intrigued and wanted to help out. She needed to raise $1000 to get things started and kick off the first workshop. MediaCore wasn’t in a financial position to offer the funds but we wanted to help in other ways. When Erin started a Tilt campaign to rally the funds through the community, within just a few hours Dan Gunn of VIATeC said he would match any fundraised money up to $5000 dollars. I instantly called Erin and suggested we needed to change our goal from $1000 to $10,000 knowing how these funds would help us do great things for our chapter. In the end, we raised $11,000 and became the poster child chapter for LLC when it comes to harnessing community support. The companies we spoke with along the way were so interested in supporting us and loved what we were doing.

    After that I took on the role of chapter lead with Erin. She manages our sponsorship, fundraising and community partners while I lead the workshops and logistics and make sure we have a programming pipeline for the year. We work with a number of other amazing ladies that have helped us make our Victoria chapter what it is today.

    • What’s the most satisfying part of your role there?

    The most satisfying part of working with LLC is definitely being able to support people who are otherwise unfamiliar with technology or don’t feel confident they could do well in that field. To see their confidence increase from the moment they walk through the door in the morning to when they leave the workshops at the end of the day is really empowering. We help people realize their goals, whether they’re looking for a new role in their current workspace or re-entering the workforce.

    I’m personally passionate about helping people pursue their careers in technology, which is largely why my role at Workday is so satisfying to me as well. I love helping people take on challenges when it comes to career or the workplace, and I work with a number of managers that are really supportive and want to see good things for their employees. I especially enjoy recruitment because I get to be a part of helping to build a strong team, and the team we’ve created so far is so great.

    • What did you want to be when you were a kid? Who were your childhood role models?

    When I was a teenager I wanted to be a photographer. I actually pursued this dream and started a freelance photography business when I was 16 and which I still own and operate to this day. The reason why I don’t do photography full time, however, is because I don’t want my passion and hobby to turn into the source of pressure it might be if I relied on it to make a living. For me, it’s important to keep photography as a hobby business that’s there for me when I feel the need for a creative outlet. Im passionate about what I do as a career as well, but in a very different way.

    As an only child, I played a lot of video games as a kid and would relish in that escapism it provided. As I look back now I think a lot of those characters I played as then could be considered my role models. They commanded their presence, their powers, chased demons, and created magic. They definitely had an ensemble of traits I aspire towards.

    • What or who inspires you the most?

    I think what I draw most of my inspiration from is our tech community. I think we have a number of really fantastic people here who are really passionate about making our industry as vibrant as it can be and I’m personally really interested in helping this community grow and flourish as much as I can.

    In 2013, I founded a networking group in Victoria called PeopleOps. It stemmed from my interest in finding other people who are in HR roles in startups to learn from and grow with. I didn’t have a full grasp on what our community really entailed back then, so the amount of interest I received was really overwhelming. Lots of people responded saying “I’m figuring this out for the first time too”. We’re now at 65 members and run a vibrant and active Slack channel where we discuss the professional and developmental events we run on a monthly basis. We see people in HR grow and push themselves professionally while helping their respective teams grow and be successful. They want to be better to help their companies. Their passion is very inspiring and it inspires me to give back.

    Much in the same way, LLC is a vibrant community of women who want to grow and learn and be a part of the community as both learners and mentors.

    The passion both these groups show is very inspiring and reminds me to give it back.

    • With F@#% Up Nights becoming a popular community event, we’re witnessing a positive trend of being open about your failures and mistakes. What mistake have you made that you wouldn’t go back in time to change if you had the chance? What did you learn from it/them?

    What comes to mind for me isn’t a mistake, but something pivotal I experienced that yielded several learning opportunities: the work surrounding MediaCore’s acquisition. While overall I consider the acquisition a success, it wasn’t easy and there were many bumps along the way.

    It was the case of a startup company being purchased by a public company in San Francisco that has many accolades and strong revenue and is a solid contender in the market place. As far as acquiring companies are concerned, it probably couldn’t have got much better. The whole process of being acquired and of exiting, however, proved to be quite difficult and taught me a lot.

    It taught me about communication, how people deal with change, about self-balance, about advocating for employees, advocating for the company being sold and the company doing the buying. I learned that the due diligence process is extremely important, and about many intricacies that come with selling a company.

    While I wouldn’t go back in time to change anything, I’ll definitely use the knowledge I gained to benefit me and the company I’m with the next time I’m involved in a similar process.

    I look forward to the day when we do it all again.

    • Do you see a positive trend of expanding the diversity in tech in Victoria?

    I think there’s a lot of opportunity for us to create a more diverse tech community in Victoria. Things can always be better, and we could always be trending up. It can tend to be a matter of whether or not a community has the champions that are willing to put in the effort to make that happen, and I think that we do here in Victoria. More than ever, people are willing to have the conversation about what their companies need in order to attract diverse talent and engage them in a meaningful way. Change like that isn’t derived from one meeting to decide on strategy, but has to be a continuous conversation and continuous community goal.

    Stay tuned for more interviews with awesome leading women in our community by following us onFacebook or Medium

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    Technology now typically employs more people than mining, oil and gas, and forestry sectors combined see more

    Source: Quartz
    Author: Nevin Thompson

    Brexit and Trump could be good news for Canada’s tech scene

    By 2019, it’s estimated there will be 182,000 job openings in Canada’s tech sector—and no Canadians to fill them. Better-known for maple syrup, snow-capped mountains, and head-of-state heartthrob Justin Trudeau, Canada is also home to a vibrant tech sector that is crying out for workers. And Donald Trump’s unlikely presidency may already be helping Canadian tech firms fill those spots.

    On the night of Nov. 8, as many Americans realized that Trump was going to be elected president of the United States of America, a flood of hundreds of thousands of visitors crashed Canada’s immigration website. People were presumably looking for ways to relocate to Canada and escape whatever Trump has in store for the four years ahead.

    But in fact, Americans accounted for just half of the surge in visits to the immigration website—visitors from other parts of the world made up the other half. But why?

    Options for foreign workers looking to emigrate are narrowing. June’s Brexit decision in Britain was based in on a desire to tighten the UK’s border and restrict its flow of immigrants. Indeed, the future of the European Union, the world’s largest trade zone, is in question as anti-immigrant, right-wing parties in the Netherlands and in France seem poised for victory in 2017. In the US, on top of vowing to build a wall with Mexico and deport immigrants, Trump has promised to clamp down on the H-1B visas that bring 85,000 skilled international workersinto America each year.

    Meanwhile, across Canada, 71,000 tech companies are responsible for over 7% of Canada’s economic output and 5.6% of Canada’s total employment: Technology now typically employs more people than mining, oil and gas, and forestry sectors combined. Canada, with its reputation for tolerance and openness to diversity and immigration, has been called one of the world’s last “safe harbors.” Add an almost unlimited demand for skilled workers across the country, and it’s easy to see why Canada could become the next hub for the globe-trotting workforce.

    “Donald Trump has definitely been a topic of conversation here in Seattle,” says Dan Gunn, chief executive officer of VIATEC, a Canada-based community organization and 16,000 square-foot technology accelerator. In the days following the US election, Gunn was spending time in Seattle for Startup Week. “There are questions about what Trump means for tech and for tech workers in the States. Highly skilled workers from around the world, particularly visible or religious minorities who had their sights set on moving to the US, might look to Canada for opportunities instead.”

    As head of VIATEC, Gunn helped build a thriving technology sector in Victoria—a small Canadian city of about 350,000 people located on an island just to the north of Seattle. Once known mainly as a sleepy government town and destination for retirees and tourists, Victoria is now home to a thriving tech scene that has attracted everyone from global giants like Amazon and Schneider Electric to game developers such as Kixeye and a satellite office.

    Just like the rest of the Canadian technology sector, Victoria—nicknamed “Tectoria”—has plenty of job openings. “Canada is growing, a thriving innovation sector, and advanced technology has become the number-one industry in Victoria,” Gunn says. “Nearly 900 companies employ over 23,000 people here. And they’re always hiring.”

    Across Canada, the need for workers is currently so great that a number of employers and industry organizations have banded together with the Canadian government to launch Go North Canada. The initiative is an attempt first and foremost to lure some of the more than 350,000 Canadians who work in Silicon Valley (as well as Canadians in other parts of the US) back home.

    “Canadian companies are currently looking to fill three different kinds, of roles: technical talent, experienced sales and marketing talent, and people in leadership roles who have experience scaling up companies,” says Heather Galt, vice president for human resources at Communitech, an Ontario technology-startup hub, who is helping promote the Go North Campaign across Canada. Galt says that Canada can often offer a better quality of life compared to working in the US: It has better schools, lower commute times, and a stunning natural environment.

    The Trudeau government has also announced a new strategy to make it easier for companies to recruit foreign tech talent. Compared to the H-1B visa process in the US, which can take about six months to set up, it normally takes nine months or more for foreign tech workers to receive a Canadian work visa.

    “Dealing with red tape is the number-one obstacle to bringing foreign talent to Canada,” says Noah Warder. Warder leads operations at Sendwithus, a Victoria-based startup that builds tools for email marketing. “It’s much easier to bring Canadians north of the border,” he says.

    While it’s still too early to determine whether or not Justin Trudeau’s new immigration strategy will make it easier to recruit foreign workers, the prospect of Canada’s attractive tech scene—not to mention its equally attractive outdoor wonderland—should give many foreign workers something to dream about.

    You can follow Nevin on Twitter at @Nevin_Thompson. Learn how to write for Quartz Ideas. We welcome your comments at

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    With technology comes youth, and with youth comes fresh perspectives and change. see more

    Source: Huffington Post
    Author: Adrian Brijbassi

    The 'Coolification' Of Victoria, B.C. Continues

    It's 1 p.m. on a Sunday and Douglas Street is teeming with action. Over there, a bhangra dance class is ruling the corner of Johnson Street. Up the block, local band Lovecoast is turning out funky, danceable pop songs on a sun-lit stage. In front of them is a beer garden, food trucks and artisan vendors, altering downtown Victoria into a street party not unlike what you might see on a weekend in Montreal.

    Of all of Canada's major cities, Victoria would be considered the farthest away from cutting edge. For years, it has been a retirement hot spot for mainlanders from British Columbia, as well as Albertans and Ontarians.

    But a tech boom, evolving music scene, rejuvenated interest in farming and craft food production, and a soft housing market compared to the sky-high cost of ownership in Vancouver has helped bring and retain more young people. That's leading to days like Car-Free Day, an event organized by the Downtown Victoria Business Association.

    "Victoria is a tech town," says Stephen Roughley, general manager at the Victoria Marriott Inner Harbour. "You have that demographic already here, with a lot of small tech firms and app companies, and it's only growing."

    Most people would be surprised to know technology -- and not government or tourism -- is the No. 1 industry in the beautiful capital of British Columbia. It generates $3.15 billion in annual revenue and employs 23,000 people across more than 880 companies, according to the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council (VIATEC).

    With technology comes youth, and with youth comes fresh perspectives and change, often in exciting ways. Noticeably, the Rifflandia music festival, which takes place in mid-September, is quickly emerging as a major event in Western Canada. This year's headliners included Michael Franti and Spearhead, and X Ambassadors. Along with Rifflandia, there are craft beer festivals, one of the nation's most popular Fringe fests, and other events geared for millennials and Gen-Xers.

    So while visitors will still arrive for some of the nation's best whale-watching tours and high-tea experiences, you will also be able to mingle with a youthful crowd in good, popular hangouts such as The Commons. The recently opened bar is part of three restaurants operated by 10 Acres Farms and its owner, Mike Murphy, who has spent more than 20 years as a restaurateur in the city. Murphy says young diners are leading a change in the city's culinary scene as they're demanding to know where their food is coming from and are eager to support local suppliers.

    "They know about GMO products and they know it's not good for them and they ask a lot more questions about what's on the menu. I think 'farm-to-table' is one of the most overused terms out there but it does speak to how people are thinking these days," he says.

    Murphy bought 10 Acre Farms five years ago and has begun to ramp up the amount of food it provides to his three Victoria restaurants -- The Commons10 Acres Bistro and The Kitchen, the fine-dining component of the operation.

    Similarly, the preferences of a new group of consumer is also shifting the hotel industry.

    "In previous generations you would never have a table where two people sitting together didn't know each other. It happens all the time now and one of the aims of the hotel industry is figuring how to serve that new generation of customer," Roughley says.

    You can expect mobile check-in to be offered at Marriotts around the world in coming years and the new renovation of the Victoria property planned for next year will have numerous technology and decor changes to appeal to a younger crowd.

    While Tofino -- with its hippie culture and world-class surfing -- has for years been the Vancouver Island destination of choice for the young and young at heart, Victoria is demonstrating it can provide an urban experience that is also fit for the times.

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    In the high-tech sector, employers are always on the hunt for experienced senior talent. see more

    Source: Times Colonist
    Author: Carla Wilson

    Victoria employers looking for new ways to attract and keep workers

    Competition to snap up employees in the capital region and elsewhere on Vancouver Island is so stiff that employers are developing new strategies to attract workers.

    Greater Victoria has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Canada; it was just five per cent in October, Statistics Canada said, behind only Guelph, Ont., and Vancouver.

    Look around the region and you’ll see help wanted signs posted in many business windows. Opportunities are available in a range of sectors, such as public administration where 3,700 new jobs were created in the past year.

    Construction, high-tech, and the restaurant sector are all mapping out plans to attract and retain more workers.

    The Vancouver Island Construction Association is offering a free six-week program for young people to deliver basic training and certifications that will get them started on a work site.

    Open to 15- to 19-year-olds, it has slots for a new government-funded Youth Constructing a Future program, starting Monday. Two more six-week programs will be offered after this one. It includes meeting with employers and visits to work sites.

    This is the latest step in a years-long campaign to attract people to trades at a time when B.C.’s economy is growing. Jobs are driven by hundreds of millions of dollars worth of projects such as high-rise condominiums, B.C. Hydro projects, new up-Island hospitals and military construction.

    The program is hoping to tap into unemployed young people between 15 and 24 years old in B.C. “We are still at a 14 per cent unemployment rate [in B.C. for young people], which is troubling,” said Greg Baynton, president of the Island Construction Association.

    B.C. needs 17,000 new entrants to the trades over the next nine years, he said. Of those, 15 to 20 per cent will be required on the Island.

    While the B.C. Construction Association said the average yearly wage of construction workers is $57,700, Baynton thinks that is a conservative figure.

    Workers who have completed apprenticeships can earn $25 to $35 per hour, plus benefits. Baynton said some trades, such as mechanical and carpentry, earn in the $70,000 to $80,000 per year range as employers respond to the tight labour market.

    Some workers have moved to B.C. from Alberta but while that helps the shortfall in employees, not all skills can be directly transferred, Baynton said. “It’s just a completely different environment.”

    In the high-tech sector, with its estimated 23,000 workers in Greater Victoria, employers are always on the hunt for experienced senior talent. “It’s not a new story,” said Dan Gunn, executive director of the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council.

    Local post-secondary institutions funnel students and graduates to the tech sector. The capital region’s livability is among attractions that will pull experienced people here. And while locals complain about high housing prices, Victoria falls below other major cities, Gunn said. A lower cost of living, less commuting and lower health costs compared with the U.S. are among other advantages.

    The council is working on additional human resources training for its members to help them attract workers, including ways to lure people from the Lower Mainland, he said. These programs will be rolled out in the new year.

    At Victoria’s Latitude Geographics on Wharf Street, founder and CEO Steven Myhill-Jones said its latest job postings reflect company’s growth. The 17-year-old firm, supplying web-based maps for clients in Canada and internationally, has 130 employees.

    It attracts staff and retains staff with competitive compensation. Latitude is dedicated to making a difference in the world, meaning employees can be proud of what they do, he said.

    The other factor in retaining workers is a strong company culture. This includes company-supplied healthy snacks, a patio, yoga twice a week, continuing education, opportunities for advancement, and the chance to travel for work. As well, “we have a bottomless budget for books,” Myhill-Jones said.

    The B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association is talking with provincial officials about how to attract and keep workers, with pilot programs also expected in the new year, said Ian Tostenson, the organization’s president and CEO.

    A shortage of workers is “serious all throughout the province,” he said. The sector has 180,000 employees in B.C.

    He anticipates projects will be launched early in 2017. This may mean the sector may have to rethink its business model by offering more stability in hours for workers and better benefits. It is smaller business that are affected the most, he said.

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    Hayhurst borrowed the Fuckup idea from a group of tech entrepreneurs in Mexico... see more


    The Refreshing Brand Strategy of Failure

    One of my favorite reads (albeit not in the brand strategy genre) is the Book of Heroic Failures by Stephen Pile, founder of the Not Terribly Good Club of Great Britain.

    The book, now in its third edition (a runaway success, it seems – not great if Mr. Pile is interested in living the brand) documents people who are brilliant at being abysmal.

    As Pile says “It is a grave misreading of the human predicament to think that everything will be a success. Sanity and happiness come from embracing catastrophe and applauding it.”

    Which brings me to the worrying subject that inspired this post – our growing cultural need to never be seen as failures.

    It was a James Altucher podcast with media entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk that snapped me to attention. Vaynerchuk was spitting mad at the legions of self-help gurus who ran commercials showing hundreds of thousands of dollars on their kitchen table, a Ferrari in the garage, and the promise that they could help you, Joe Q Public, achieve the same results.

    As Vaynerchuk said, these commercials were disturbing for three reasons:

    • They were lies – generally the Ferrari was rented, the fortune borrowed, and the advice dished out by someone who had no real-world experience to back their advice;
    • They propagated the myth that success should come effortlessly, and quickly;
    • They painted over the disturbing realities facing most risk-taking entrepreneurs – 97% business failure rates and, according to a number of studies, an inordinately high rate of suicide, depression and mental illness (49% of silicon valley founders were diagnosed with depression vs 7% among the general population).


    I work primarily with tech companies. And tech is probably the worst offender when it comes to the myth of overnight, effortless success.

    Which was why I sat down last week to interview Jim Hayhurst, CEO of Pretio Interactive, and co-founder of Fuckup Nights Victoria.

    Hayhurst borrowed the Fuckup idea from a group of tech entrepreneurs in Mexico who felt the need to reinstate sanity in their world. The format of the evening was simple – three local tech stars take the stage to present – in the most unvarnished, painfully honest terms – how they fucked up again and again on their road to success.

    The event in Mexico proved wildly popular, and has since spread to many cities around the world.

    It isn’t hard to see why. First, it’s cathartic. It also provides valuable reassurance to startup founders that their trials and tribulations are entirely normal. And finally, it teaches us to learn from our mistakes, instead of pursuing the insanity of failing fast / forward.

    As Hayhurst said “Just as bad as the myth of instant success is the bastardized myth of failing forward. Failing forward was originally all about failing, learning from your failure, adjusting, and incorporating your learnings into your business. But it has come to mean failing without learning, only to fail, fail fail again.”

    Hayhurst is quick to add that the myth of instant success is pervasive throughout our society, not just in the tech sector. “Thanks to social media, we’re inundated with images of people who are better looking, happier, more successful than us. If I’m 13 years old and I don’t have as many likes as another kid, I’m devastated. Either I get depressed, or I turn to more and more outlandish ways of getting myself noticed.” We’re living in a world of reality stars who achieved dizzying success by simply debasing themselves into the spotlight. Talent seems a trivial detail. This ain’t healthy, folks.

    So how can we correct this? From a brand perspective, I have an idea.


    Celebrating failure, as Hayhurst pointed out, is useful for a number of reasons. We learn from it, and we build community around our shared imperfections.

    Community is one of the key pillars of every successful brand strategy. Could brands build a community of fans by admitting imperfection?

    Consider the story of the Bass Pub from the Book of Heroic Failures:

    “In 1995 the Polar Bear in Soho was named the worst pub in London by the listings magazine Time Out. Business immediately shot up by 60%. By the time they had erected a banner outside saying ‘The Worst Pub in the West End’ it was impossible to get in.”

    Or, on a larger (and more serious) scale, take a look at Patagonia’s Footprint Chronicles – a wildly successful program that pointed out the company’s frustrations with the unsustainable way it produced its garments.

    Finally, take a look at Apple. Behind the bright white sheen lurk countless errors and failures (remember asking artists to play along with Apple Radio for free for 3 months?) But Apple remains undiminished, because the company isn’t afraid to pivot, or even abort. And it still treats mishaps and gaffes as opportunities to get closer to its fans.

    I believe there’s tremendous blue ocean for brands willing to embrace imperfection.

    And if you fail, you’ll succeed even more convincingly next time.

    As a brand strategy expert, successful entrepreneur, and award-winning author, Marc Stoiber uses simplicity and creativity to help people discover what’s awesome about their business… and then helps them tell the world. For more on creating your company’s value proposition, connect with Marc on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn, and sign up to his monthly newsletter.  

    Want to try building your own powerful brand to create unfair business advantage? Try out Marc’s DIY Brand Build Guide – available Nov 1, 2016.

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    JackFlash Photography is giving away FREE* photo shoots for Victoria’s superheroes who support the.. see more

    FREE* photoshoot for VIATEC’s superheroes!

    Victoria, BC (October 18, 2016) -  Locally owned and operated JackFlash Photography, in partnership with CrackerJack Communications, has announced today that it will be giving away FREE* photo shoots for Victoria’s superheroes who support The Movember Foundation. 

    *Those who grow a mustache in the month of November, and make a $75 plus charitable donation towards The Movember Foundation will be rewarded with a portrait of themselves featuring their Movember mustaches. VIATEC members will have the option of donating $50 plus towards the cause instead. 

    For those who want to support the cause but cannot grow a mustache themselves, a fake mustache can be substituted for the photo shoot. The photo shoot holds a $275 value, and 100% of donations made will go directly to The Movember Foundation by donating to “”.

    The offer is limited to the first 50 people, and will be running from October 24th – November 30th, 2016.

    Reservations and questions for the photo shoot give-away can be directed to


    About The Movember Foundation

    Growing a mustache for the month of November is a show of support for The Movember Foundation.

    The Movember Foundation is committed to addressing some of the biggest health issues faced by men: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health and suicide prevention. 

    In 13 years The Foundation has funded more than 1,200 men’s health projects around the world. By 2030, the goal of The Movember Foundation is to reduce the number of men dying prematurely by 25%.

    More information about the foundation can be found at:

    About JackFlash Photography

    Jack Adamson of JackFlash Photography, in partnership with CrackerJack Communications–an ad/marketing agency alternative– opened its doors last year to support a growing need for capturing more authentic moments in time. Whether it’s a personal or a corporate portrait, an event, engagement or wedding, Jack has the eye, skill and dedication to provide his clients in Victoria and Vancouver Island with photographic memories that will stand out and be cherished for years to come.

    This initiative to raise monies for The Movember Foundation is Jack’s way of paying it forward to the local community who also see the value of supporting this important cause, and to help document such heroic acts.



  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    "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.

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    Experience Tectoria 2016 was an investor summit that brought local entrepreneurs and visiting... see more

    Experience Tectoria 2016 was an investor summit that brought local entrepreneurs and visiting investors together from Sept 15-17, while participating in some very unique events that showcased our local talent and everything else it has to offer! Below is a video created by Gradio Media, capturing the entire event.

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    Rifflandia attracts a large off island crowd, but it’s also attracting international investors... see more

    Source: CHEK News
    Reporter: Monica Martinez

    WATCH: Rifflandia attracts a large off island crowd, but it’s also attracting a group of international investors who are here to listen to more than the music. Monica Martinez has the story. 












    The energy of Rifflandia is in the air this weekend, transforming parking lots and retail outlets to music venues and filling Victoria’s streets with hip festival goers.

    The four day music festival attracts thousands of off island visitors, including a group of international investors who are here to listen to more than the music.

    “I come for the tech and for the companies. The good party afterwards and the music is a big bonus, packaging it together is a very clever idea,” said venture capitalist Sashko Despotovski. 

    He came all the way from Norway to hear pitches from local tech companies.

    “The tech hub in Victoria is evolving very fast. For a city of this size to have something of this mature is very impressive,” he said.

    For four years now, VIATEC has been pairing tech events alongside Rifflandia, taking inspiration from the South by Southwest event in Austin, Texas.

    “Rifflandia is a great backdrop when you are bringing out of town guests, for them to see a dynamic and vibrant city and for us to have lots of things to entertain them with,” said VIATEC CEO Dan Gunn.

    Experience Tectoria offers a number of tech events to the public, where people get a chance to learn about Victoria’s thriving tech community.

    “It really reinforces why we have such a great tech industry here and I think over the years, we’ll see more and more people come to Victoria to invest,” said LlamaZoo CEO and Co-Founder Charles Lavigne.

    There are also private Dragon Den style pitch events where companies like Agog Labs will try to secure funding.

    “We are currently doing a $1.5-million round of investment and it seems to be going extremely well and a lot of that is local angel investment from Victoria,” said CEO and Co-Founder Conan Reis.

    And when business is done, the Experience Tectoria fun continues with craft beer and days of live music.