Boris Mann

Open Source. Community. Decentralized Web. Building dev tools at Fission. Cooks & eats.


Vancouver tech needs to wake up

Brent Holliday writes about what is needed for BC’s technology industry to succeed, which is itself a follow on to Jevon’s StartupNorth post on Canada’s next 5 years. I have some further thoughts on the five areas that Brent discusses:


I have heard this "start 'em young" story before. But I don't think this is the battle that the startup tech community should be fighting. Absolutely we want web-literate youth, and Mozilla (as one example) is an organization that is doing amazing work here. But the pain the startup community faces is talent.

Let's build more hackers. Intern, mentor, hire juniors. Code (and design) as craft, and move people up the ladder (rather than moving away because you've hit the ceiling in Vancouver). Hacker School is something that New York is doing that we could emulate locally. Promoting a startup as your first stop after university. Connecting with university co-op programs. But this is most appropriate for companies that are already heading up their growth curve, of which there are few at the moment.

Community as the framework

I agree with Brent a 100% here. But the web entrepreneurs don't yet have a voice that is listened to by policy makers. Again, not something I feel like fighting, so let's just double down and continue to work together without creating unnecessary bureaucracy. Let's try lots of things and do more of what works. If it isn't sustainable or doesn't work, it's just not meant to be. Danny Robinson's proposed model for BCIC, with a UserVoice forum of the community voting for initiatives, and a model of early small investments leading to long term sustaining investments is perfect. Let's clone that out in the open in the community, not run through some government entity.

Tighter Silicon Valley links

I think Vancouver is doing a good job here, but I don't think Silicon Valley is the right answer. Rather, let's build tighter links all over the world. Turkey, Romania, and the UK are three areas that have come up in recent conversations. We can be an excellent launch pad for those countries to connect with the North American market, as well as a convenient point to connect with Silicon Valley.


I see this as a supporting piece to make Vancouver-as-landing-pad succeed.

Grow like hell and don’t stop

The message is, make big bets and don't cash in early. Still a tough thing to see for people going through their first startup loop. I believe we should be doing it, but it's currently harder than it needs to be to follow this path. I don't see enough Canadian investors on board with this model.

Brent ends with: "Shout about it or be proactively involved through the various organizations that are available. Right now". Well, vantechia * is my attempt at shouting about it. None of the current organizations are ones that I feel represent me as a web entrepreneur, so there is nothing that I can get behind and push. So, I'll keep helping to grow companies, and spend a little bit of time shouting.

*vantechia: Short for “Vancouver Tech Is Awesome” - this is what is now Pixel Crafters and the Pixel Crafters Meetup group.