This week, we are excited to have Debbie Landa (@deblanda), one of Canada’s most extraordinary entrepreneur for the past 20 years, now working relentlessly to help other entrepreneurs. As CEO of Dealmaker Media and Founder of the Grow Conference, she’s putting startups at the forefront in the GrowLab accelerator or put them on stage in international conferences.
We’re focusing on connecting Montreal and Québec-based entrepreneurs to the BC/Vancouver ecosystem, and looking forward to collaborations and cross-partnerships, for the mutual benefit of both ecosystems.
NewTech (@heri) : We’re hearing about Vancouver & the BC region as a top place for startups. Why do you think it’s the case?
Debbie Landa : There are quite a few reasons that Vancouver and BC are and have increasingly becoming hubs for both major tech companies and startups.
Photo credit : GrowLab
The tech talent pool in Vancouver and BC is huge and growing. Not only are local Vancouverites being educated and trained at a high level for tech, but skilled engineers and developers are flooding to the city as tech goliaths like Amazon and Facebook set up shop. Vancouver’s own HootSuite’s meteoric expansion is a testament to what is possible here and, and success stories like that make moving into tech highly attractive to young graduates and anyone considering career moves. Vancouver is also a hub for incubators like GrowLab, Launch Acadamy and Invoke Labs who provide guidance, leadership and opportunities for startups.
Its proximity to Silicon Valley and even Seattle make it desirable for startups and larger companies alike, and obviously the quality of living must be mentioned.
There’s also a strong sense of community in the tech space here, where for the most part, startups want to help one another succeed.
Government support is also a key factor. BC offers lower taxes than most of North America and the Canadian government introduced the Start-up Visa Program, which according to their website, “ links immigrant entrepreneurs with experienced private sector organizations who are experts in working with start-ups.“
Beyond Vancouver, startups are popping up in Whistler, like PayrollHero and Lightmaker Group. I’d say it’s a combination of massive talent, an incubating community, and a government climate that makes BC an appealing destination for startups.
NewTech - What are the top 5 startups in BC to watch for currently?
5. Build Direct
HootSuite has grown way beyond the startup title now.
NewTech : What are the top resources you recommend when starting up in Vancouver / Whistler ?
Debbie Landa :
1 . Going to GROW Conference - this annual conference is the perfect collision of innovation, entrepreneurship and technology in a barrier-free, dynamic environment. It allows startups to get in front of venture capitalists and allows venture capitalists to see the next big things.
2. Check out GrowLab for guidance, networking, mentorship, and a collaborative workspace for an intensive 3 month program. Connecting the best and brightest entrepreneurs from around the world to a global network of top tier investors, mentors and partners. GrowLabs is the perfect launchpad for startups.
5. Startup Weekend Vancouver - An event that facilitates the creation of a startup company in a weekend, great place to meet likeminded idea makers and understand the startup ecosystem.
NewTech - There’s the Grow conference as well as the GrowLabs. Can you tell us what they are and how are they related?
Debbie Landa : The GROW Conference is something I started 5 years ago as a way to unite startups, venture capitalists and innovators together from Silicon Valley, into Canada. It began in Vancouver but after 4 successful years there, I’ve moved it to Whistler, BC, which is poised to be the most connected resort in the world. GROW explores “What’s Next” in tech, and this year’s focus is on connected everything, from wearables to smart devices, to drones, to apps that will automate your entire home.
I’m the co-founder of Growlab, along with Len Brody, Boris Wertz and Jason Bailey. We founded it right after the first GROW Conference, recognizing the need for such a program. GrowLab is a startup accelerator based in Vancouver that helps entrepreneurs build their companies through a 3 month intensive program. They are helped with seed funding and mentorship in a collaborative workspace. Think of them as a startup incubator. In many ways, the GROW Conference does that too, but on a much larger scale, bringing in the top minds from across Silicon Valley and Canada, together for a collision of innovation. Last year almost $50B in US venture capital came to Vancouver and we’re expecting a significantly higher figure this year in Whistler.
NewTech : This year’s year theme is the Internet of Things, amongst others. Why is it? What makes IoT the next big revolution?
Debbie Landa : The IoT revolution is already well upon us. We are experiencing a massive explosion around the Internet of things, wearables and smart devices. By 2020, some 26 billion “things” will be connected to the Internet. As IoT and wearable technology become ubiquitous, the amount of real-time data created will provide deep insights for marketers. Early adoption will be driven by industries ranging from health, fitness and medical, to smart home and payments. GROW is an opportunity for attendees to explore what that means, what this IoT world looks like, and what the connected future is. IoT will impact our lives at every level, and impact every sector. We’re trying to navigate just what that looks like and showcase some of the most exciting aspects of it. There’s no better place to explore what wearables, drones, connected consumers, life hacking apps and even robotics than the connected future resort of Whistler, BC, where every visitor is literally a walking beta tester.
NewTech - What should participants expect from the conference? What’s the special sauce?
Special sauce - this is the people who attend that make it awesome.
I believe the old school style conferences where everyone sits in a venue all day is over. I believe if you weave in ways to network and build new relationship, that directly affects your business, your longevity and the business/technology community. Being in the mountains gives everyone the fresh perspective they need to start to innovate and get out of their everyday ways of thinking.
NewTech (@heri) : Thanks Debbie, we also found that the best is in the corridor conversations. Don’t miss the opportunity to attend Grow Conference this week