As I reflect on the last several years of my life, it has been a pretty wicked ride.
Growing up in Vancouver and going on to create to create a truly disruptive company in Silicon Valley was hardly a predictable journey. There two things I feel are worth highlighting that have helped make all of this possible – the unique environment I came from and the people I have met along the way.
THE CORE: GREAT PEOPLE, DYNAMIC ENVIRONMENTS
Ever since I had my first taste of video games, I have loved the culture and innovation within the tech industry. After I graduated from the University of British Columbia and began working at Digg in Silicon Valley, I began to understand that in order to make my mark in this industry, it was critical that I surround myself with brilliant people – examples I could learn from and people I would be able to work with to bring mind-blowing ideas to life.
I think a big myth is that these relationships come together entirely by chance – that luck is somehow the only driving force that brings super-successful people together. What I learned was that these relationships were simply the result of maximizing serendipitous moments by identifying opportunities for strong collaboration in the right environment.
Vancouver provides just such an environment and the GROW Conference accelerates these opportunities. Throughout my life, I have been able to take full advantage of these moments, as Vancouver offers an incredible culture of cooperation and has taught me never to take anything for granted.
Vancouverites have a history of working together to accomplish truly extraordinary things. Likewise, GROW provides a venue where the next generation of entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley and from around the world can experience the collaborative Vancouver culture, which results in a combustible environment for creation. This was something I witnessed firsthand.
GROW: ESSENTIAL FUEL FOR INVENTING THE FUTURE
I attended GROW in 2010 while I was in the process of launching Kiip. At that conference I met Frank Christiaens, the founder of Cross Pacific Capital. As we discussed my vision of building a brand new mobile rewards network from the ground up, Frank caught that vision and became one of my first angel investors.
In the two years since that first meeting, Kiip has taken a business concept and changed the future of mobile advertising. By highlighting users’ achievements and acknowledging those moments of happiness with real, tangible rewards, Kiip has pioneered a fundamental shift in mobile marketing.
CANADIAN ROOTS, GLOBAL BRANCHES
Our company now has employees in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and London, and partly due to the relationships we made from GROW, we now have an incredible launching pad into Asia. We have just closed our biggest funding round to date, and are currently in over 400 games and apps.
These accomplishments are a direct reflection of the relationships I have forged through events like GROW and qualities I can trace back to my Canadian roots. In fact, after attending my first GROW conference in 2010, I had the privilege to be invited back in 2011 as a speaker to share my own experiences. I’m excited to be speaking again this year as well.
Based on my experience, I believe that all entrepreneurs have the ability to change the world around them. This, however, does not happen passively.
In order to maximize success, entrepreneurs need to make it happen by recognizing fleeting moments of opportunity and by surrounding themselves with the best and brightest. This rarely, if ever, happens by chance. That is the benefit of conferences such as GROW. Opportunities are there to take a kid from Vancouver with an idea, create relationships and develop it into a company that is changing the lives of millions of people. It just comes down to taking ownership of your serendipity.
Sidenote: Kiip raised $11 million in Series B funding today.