Introducing Student Talent to Local Startups to Boost Ecosystem a Growing Event Model

In today’s economy, employment opportunities for students and recent grads are sparse.

Most of us, even if we do find a job, usually have to work outside our area of expertise on a lower salary than we were expecting. One sector is proving to be different however.

The world of tech is one in which talent and skills can open new doors and provide amazing opportunities for students. To highlight this, Riipen and UVic’s Computer Science Course Union (CSCU) recently hosted a tech career fair at the university. Modelled after the Techvibes Tech Fest, the event aimed to entice computer science and other students to get involved in Victoria’s tech startup scene while also giving local businesses the opportunity to engage with young, bright minds.

Nearly 100 students attended the event. Eight local tech companies showcased their opportunities, work culture, and projects during brief presentations at the beginning of the evening. Many of these have already launched projects on Riipen, an innovative recruitment company that aims to connect students with potential employers through online tasks and challenges. A special guest appearance by Dan Gunn, CEO of Victoria’s accelerator, VIATeC, kicked off the presentations with some background knowledge of the tech industry in the city. Once the presentations were done, students were free to wander around and meet the teams in attendance.

The variety in companies ranged from gaming studios to software as a service (SaaS) startups to media platforms to payment processing companies, highlighting the diversity that the tech sector offers. The companies in attendance were:

  • Sendwithus, a company focused on making transactional email simple and effective.
  • Kano Apps, a gaming studio focused on creating mobile and social games.
  • MediaCore, a video medial platform used for teaching and learning.
  • Echosec, a startup focused on location-based search using social media.
  • Beanstream, one of Canada’s largest payment processors.

A number of these companies were founded by former UVic students or are made up of a large percentage of them. The goal of the event was to show current students that many opportunities exist locally. It also gave these companies the chance to interact with up-and-coming talent in a more casual setting and to participate in a more proactive form of recruitment.

Will Fraser, the CEO of Referral SaaSquatch and a UVic alumnus, had this to say about the event: “It was great to see so many eager students and successful startups in one room. It really makes you feel like Victoria is a great place to base your company.”

The projects that have been launched through the Riipen platform will provide students with short (4-8 hour) assignments for companies like these and others. Many of the companies at the event currently have coding and development projects running. Each assignment offers an incentive, generally a cash reward or the possibility of an interview with the company, as well as a guaranteed evaluation for the student’s online portfolio. Students are able to gain some work experience and companies have the chance to snatch up talent in an unconventional way.

Riipen also took part in The HTML500 event organized by Lighthouse Labs this past weekend in Vancouver and will be attending the three upcoming events in Calgary, London, and Toronto. The Riipen team is also currently coordinating more of these events at other institutions. Their hope is to make events like this startup fair a regular occurrence at universities across the province and beyond, enabling students to discover their local tech community while also giving startups the opportunity to connect with young talent.