#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!



A New Hope


To the moon and back with Chris Hadfield!

Yesterday Col. Chris Hadfield took hundreds of us on a remarkable journey into space. From sharing his childhood dreams of space travel, to taking us aboard the Apollo 11 to navigate the Eagle with Buzz Aldrin and take Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon. Chris rocketed us out through earth’s atmosphere to board the International Space Station so we could orbit the world alongside him as Canada’s first astronaut to float freely in space. At 17,000 miles per hour we circled earth’s magnificence, watched the sunrise every 92 minutes and surfed the aurora australis. When it was time to go home he hurled us like a meteor exploding back into our atmosphere before landing us safely on earth to disembark with 3 simple take aways: 1.Be good to your body 2. Love learning 3. Make good decisions and see them through.


and then he played an awesome song.

And that was a day I will always remember!


Thank you Columbia Basin Trust for bringing this wonderful person with such a big heart to the Kootenays.



5 Take-aways #BCTECHSummit


5 take-aways:

1. The future is here.

Everything we have wondered about, that could happen in the future – is already happening right now. Anything you can imagine being done by a robot or artificial intelligence will be done by a robot or AI – and way sooner than you may think.

2. The creative economy is the next revolution.

As menial jobs become obsolete, renewed value will be found in people’s use of their creative imagination. The world will be increasingly dependent on people who can invent, think outside of the box, solve problems, and innovate. Future employees will no longer care what can you do, but what can you make.

3. Data is king.

As AI gadgets or smart electronics infiltrate daily life under the guise of convenience, our behaviours are being tracked in all aspects of life. Where do we shop, what do we buy, when do we turn off the lights in the house or run out of floss for our teeth? Businesses want as much data as possible on their demographics, so they can more accurately  predict customer needs and create highly targeted marketing campaigns. Privacy? Security? The experts openly admit that they don’t have a handle on this yet. AI gadgets from smart sprinklers to thermostats turned on from an app can be easily hacked, and so can the private networks they operate on.

4. British Columbia is bright and shiny, sparkling on the world map.

Tech innovators across the province are making huge strides across all sectors and the world is watching. Investors came from across Canada and the US to source out “the next big thing,” and look for talented creators from developers to designers. The money is real and hungry. Everyone wants to catch the wave and BC is gaining international attention. The Kootenays are glimmering & gleaming in the lead, with representation from KAST, MIDAS, Selkirk College, RDI, Imagine Kootenay, local businesses, start-ups & talent. The Kootenays are aglow!

5. BC Education needs to nurture creatives K-12.

Our world is changing rapidly. If we want to have future influence over the direction it is going in, educational institutions need to shift drastically from creating workers/consumers to thinkers/creators.

Traditional education systems were designed to reward students for following the rules, doing what they’re told, and regurgitating answers with unquestioning compliance. Its been a perfect economic formula. Education feeds a population with a herd mentality that is easy to create work for, sell to, and profit from. But as artificial intelligence replaces our need for labour and regurgitators of facts, the pursuit of knowledge in and of itself, is no longer enough. IBM’s Watson or Google Home can answer questions for you. Robots can replace you.  What matters most now is not what people know, but what people can DO with knowledge. Can they identify potential problems? Ask good questions? Make rich connections? Make new inferences? Test possible solutions? Express new ideas?

So the biggest take-away from the BCTECH summit for me is asking if our kids are being prepared? Do our schools know how to create great thinkers? Do they know how to create creators?

Preparing for a creative economy is not about just handing kids iPads or teaching them coding. It is about creating a mindset. Students need to feel confident being creative from a young age. We need kids to be encouraged to colour outside the lines, feel positive about making mistakes, and learn to challenge the status quo. Schools need to foster rich environments of experimentation, help kids master trial and error, teach them to think for themselves, and tinker with abandon. The great thinkers of our time, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs & Elon Musk, were all tinkerers, self learners, and acted outside the realm of social norms. Everyone is born with creative potential – we just have to start nurturing it from K-12 deeply.

I think the future is friendly (as long as we are a part of it!)

A Big Thank you to Columbia Basin Trust, KAST, Tech Club, Midas, BCIC, my VAP mentors, and tech friends for a great summit experience.

drawing echolocation…


 for bat signs!

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New Logo Day!

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Kokanee Creek Nature Centre is a super fun information centre at Kokanee Creek Park. Its a great place to learn about nature, local wildlife and do fun activities with kids. I was more than happy to design a logo, sticker design and banner for this organization operated by the West Kootenay Eco Society. Our book The Heart of a River will be on sale all summer there so you can go and check that out too. Yay for summer!


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Pinkdog Designs poster for Corazon

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Fun job!  I was asked to design the poster for Corazón’s upcoming concert. I hadn’t yet heard them sing but wanted to do something authentic. I love the idea that they are a youth choir and that someone like their director Allison Girvan is sharing her passion for music with so many. It only took watching a few video clips to see why they are so exceptional. Their music is not your typical stand up straight, don’t move and sing kind of choir. They sway and dance and seem to feel the music deep down in their bones. I loved how the singers seemed like a collective of differences. Each individual seemed to express a uniqueness about themselves while still being part of a cohesive whole. (kind of like life in Nelson BC!)

For the poster design I was thinking of colour and spring and sunlight through stain glass. There was a poster I had seen recently from a San Fransisco design exhibition that overlapped colour and this idea of colours overlapping seemed to lend itself to the way sound overlaps and makes new sounds. With the towers of colour I wanted to convey the way sound travels like shafts of light while showing the rise and fall of sound through changes in colour and how differences in height.

I also wanted to incorporate the look of the tribal tattoo designs that they had drawn on their faces – they remind me of musical signatures and clefs – except more abstract and interpreted – like their music.

“Corazón sings from the heart and has in turn won the hearts of many Canadian audiences in the nine years since it began. This talented and motivated group of young singers from the town of Nelson B.C. has gained a reputation for their blend, intonation and their world music repertoire.” Directed by Allison Girvan, Corazón will be singing this weekend.

I hope you enjoy the poster. See you at the concert!

New Branding for Young Entrepreneurs Project!

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More diagram illustrations…

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Drawing Diagrams…

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New Website Day




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This local non-profit is dear to my heart because they help protect the water, forest and wildlife here in the mountains.

The site needed to be fully responsive to mobile platforms, easy to edit by its members and affordable so I built it online using Squarespace.com – a user-friendly website builder designed for simple website communications.

And while some clients need a custom built wordpress site that has more complex functions, applications, design and CMS – some don’t.

You can learn more about BCS here