5 Questions with BCIC’s Danny Robinson

As mentioned late last year, we’re making some big content improvements on Techvibes for 2011. First up is an upgrade of the 5 Questions series starting today.

The 5 Questions series is expanding from its roots in Toronto and extending across Canada. We’re moving the focus from social media to startup and asking Canada’s most influential entrepreneurs hard-hitting questions about their successes and failures in order to share valuable advice with the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Up first for 2011 is Danny Robinson, the freshly appointed CEO of the BCIC (for those of you outside of BC, that’s the British Columbia Innovation Council).

1. Who are you and what do you do?

Danny Robinson, CEO of BCIC. Prior to BCIC, I co-founded Bootup, where I have been working to build BC’s technology eco-system for the past few years. I’ve recently joined BCIC to help amplify my natural passion and belief that BC can be the #1 place to start and grow a technology company in the world. Yes, #1 in the world. We can do it, and we will.

2. What startups or projects have you been involved with over the years? Which is your favourite and why?

Strutta, Bootup, Summify, DimeRocker, Layerboom, LetsGoForDinner, FoodTree, Compass Engine, AdHack, Contractual.ly, Mingleverse, etc. My favourites are the ones with founders who give it everything they’ve got, and I mean everything. Win or Fail. I can’t pick one, but the successes will speak for themselves.

3. There is no doubt that Silicon Valley is the ultimate startup ecosystem. What can Canadian cities learn from the Valley to recreate some of that buzz?

First, l’d like to clarify that we’re not trying to recreate Silicon Valley here in BC. But perhaps as you put it: “recreating the buzz” is a good way of saying it. I think Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Waterloo have all generated a fair amount of buzz. Most buzz that happens outside our borders happens when one of our companies is funded by a VC or exits to a US technology company. That’s great news, and we should applaud it and amplify it. We have many successes here already, but once investors catch wind that people are building companies and making money, it won’t take long for our province to become inundated with sources of capital.

4. What are your thoughts on social media – where it started, how far it’s come, and its impact on you.

Social media has had and will continue to have a positive effect on our eco-system and culture as a whole. The argument from the skeptics is that news that’s false can be accepted as the truth, but the reality is that the connected public are way too suspicious to believe everything they read these days anyway. The drama of social media has numbed people so much that they don’t take anything too seriously until they read it from multiple independent sources. But giving people the ability to challenge stories, witness an open debate, and weigh in with varying viewpoints is a constructive way to expand our understanding of each other. In my experience it does not divide cultures, it connects them through healthy debate. What divides cultures is fear of the unknown. Social media the opposite – it’s a fire-hose of information. That said, Social media is in it’s “high school” phase right now. It hasn’t fully matured yet, but it will.

5. What excites you about the possibilities of the next year or two?

I’m most excited about creating alignment in mission throughout the entire eco-system in all of BC, not just Vancouver. What I’ve learned over the past few years is that everyone’s heart is in the same place. There are many people who are working hard to make BC a great place for tech companies and I’d like to see how we can support those who are making a measured difference. But, in general, I think you’ll see BC become much more confident, focused on a common goal and driven over the next two years. That’s what will lead us to becoming the best place to start and grow a technology company in the world. That’s what makes me jump out of bed every morning, and I’m honoured and humbled to be a part of it.

If there is a Canadian entrepreneur that you want us to reach out to, feel free to suggest them in the comments below. If you believe you have something to share with our audience and would like to be interviewed, fire us a note to fivequestions@techvibes.com.