The first Startup Week Okanagan will take place in Kelowna BC from March 1 through 10.
Organized by community volunteers and members of Digital Okanagan, Accelerate Okanagan and Creative Okanagan, the event promises to be 10 action-packed days that combine music, education, art, entertainment, business and technology.
The Okanagan tech and startup scene is growing – and fast. Kelowna is home to the Disney-acquired Club Penguin, co-founded by Lance Priebe, Lane Merrifield and Dave Krysko, and more recently Vineyard Networks, which was acquired by Procera Networks earlier this year. As the small region increases the number of tech success stories, the Okanagan Valley looks to be making a name for itself.
Cynthia Gunsinger, one of the driving forces behind Startup Week Okanagan stated that “for awhile, there have been murmurs of wanting a SXSW-type event.” After the success and support around last year’s Startup Weekend and the meetups already happening on a weekly basis, it only made sense to have a ten day event showcasing the tremendous professional talent in the valley.
The 10-day bender kicks off with Global Music Fest, which brings some of the best emerging multicultural bands from around BC to the Okanagan. As part of Global Music Fest, OYP and GenNext have organized timeDRIVE, a unique silent auction that will host over 200 young professionals from all sectors. Attendees bid on prizes with volunteer hours of their professionals skills to local non-profits instead of with cash.
“The tech sector is a thriving and integral part of the cultural shift happening in the Valley and we are stoked to be a part of it,” says Donnie Ungaro, Young Professionals & Culture Development Officer for the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission. “What’s happening here is the tech sector is merging into mainstream and traditional business. At any given event you’ll get a coder, a designer, a lawyer and an accountant hanging out together.”
One of Startup Week’s featured events is Accelerate Okanagan’s, Entrepreneurs Unplugged. On Monday, March 4, Lance Priebe and Lane Merrifield will share their startup stories at the Streaming Cafe. The event will be live streamed.
Other activities during the week include TedX Brown Bag Lunch, Intro to Photography, HackNightKL, GameNightKL and Startup Mashup – a convergence of tech-minded professionals from #geekbeers Vernon & Kelowna, Startup Drinks, and Tech Talk Penticton, where the city has kindly donated to pay for a bus to attend the event in Kelowna.
For the early risers, there are a variety of one-hour morning meetups that focus on lean startup methodologies (#LeanCoffeeKL), software development (devKL), user experience (@UXBreakfast) and digital arts (Art Brew).
Finally, Startup Week Okanagan wraps up with the crowd favorite, Startup Weekend, where designers, coders and business savvy individuals gather to create and pitch a startup in 52 hours.