#BCTECH Summit – My Top 5 Takeaways


#BCTECH Summit – My TOP 5 Takeaways:


At last year’s BCTECH Summit my personal mantra was MIE (MAKE IT EPIC!) – dream big, think outside the box and learn as much as I can about startups so I can start one of my own.

One year later at the summit I have just launched the test site of my new startup EduFunder.com and MIH is my new acronym. For me, starting a startup is kind of like laying the track of a highspeed rollercoaster while riding it at the same time. It seems to require relentless problem solving, invention and execution. It seems to demand an endless happy willingness to ride the ups and downs of trial and error to pursue an unmapped path. So as I finish up testing and get ready for launch I just keep telling myself to MIH – Make It Happen! (and hold on.)

MIH from a tiny mountain town in the middle of nowhere takes a lot of imagination. I find myself assuming that people outside of our utopian bubble have similar experiences and care about the same things that we do. This year’s BCTECH Summit refreshingly reinforced for me that our landscape of concerns, trends and future vision is deeply mutual.

Here are my Top 5 Takeaways:

  1. Tech Needs Talent

    It actually sounds urgent. Even though tech jobs pay 85% higher than other industries, CEO’s like Ryan Holmes of Hootsuite says there is still an increasing demand for tech talent that isn’t be being filled. While schools are scrambling trying to figure out how to engage new learners, big thinkers like Linked In’s Jake Hirsch-Allen are taking the lead with initiatives like making Lynda.com available to 1 million highschool students in Ontario. Wow! As someone who is self-taught in most things – this would be like winning the lottery. There are so many amazing applications directly related to getting a job. Hmmm maybe we could use something like this in BC?

  2. “Creativity is a muscle that needs to be exercised”

    These were the words of Brent Bushnell – master entertainer/creator/inventor from 2 Bit Circus (and director of my all time favourite video that has over 58 million views) As a designer I rely on playing, juxtaposing and experimenting through trial and error to come up with new ideas. It was exciting to see the creative process finally promoted from barely surviving on the fringe to unabashedly leading the way.

  3. Tech Needs More Women

    Across the tech scene it was pretty obvious that there are lots of suits & not many skirts. It was Johnathan Sposato who pointed out that only 3% of funded startups are female-founded. As the co-founder of Geekwire, Picmonkey and the only person to sell 2 companies to Google he is leading a new trend of putting his money where the future is and announced he is only investing in female-founded companies. From my own experience as an entrepreneur working with all sexes, races, religions, abilities and walks of life, I agree with the title of his new book. We are “Better Together”.

  4. Soft Skills are King

    This theme came up in almost every talk I attended at the summit. In the search for talent, tech companies and startups are increasingly demanding more non-tech skills like a positive attitude, adaptability, ability to collaborate, listen well, be resilient, have inherent drive and coachability. With technology rapidly evolving, soft skills are now being seen as the deal breakers that can help weather a company through the storm of change that will just keep coming. These qualities are so important to the tech industry that schools like UBC are taking note and changing their criteria to a more “holistic approach” emphasizing personal profile criteria such as leadership and communication. hmmm….Refreshing!

  5. My last and BIGGEST takeaway is that Students ARE our future.

    I think I stood up and cheered when VP of Worldwide Education at Microsoft Anthony Salcito said “our world’s most valuable resource is not our oil or our lumber or our tourism. It is our students because they ARE our future.”  I TOTALLY agree. When our future is so uncertain  – who else will be around to take over but the students of our future? The new GenZ ‘rs coming out into the world are passionate, socially conscious, super tech savvy and discerning. The educational opportunities we share with them will ultimately shape our collective future.  We all win the future when the future is bright!

Next year’s mantra?

A big thank you Columbia Basin Trust for sponsoring me at this event, AlphaEdge for being fabulous, #KAST and the #BCIC #VAP for supporting rural innovation, Hussein Hallak from Launch Academy for keeping it real, #RyanHolmes for the inspiration and Keith Ippel from #SpringActivator for the ocean-view crash course on next-steps.
See you next year!