Last month, our Business Analyst Morgan Rosenberg explored the West coast landscape for entrepreneurs. In an effort to expand and improve our program offerings in London, Morgan made connections and ignited partnerships for TechAlliance, and brought back some great insights.
Overall, Vancouver is doing things right for entrepreneurs. With an abundance of organizations, a great talent funnel, and a culture ravenous for innovation, there is a lot of opportunity in this city. What Vancouver has done very well is capitalize on this culture through private enterprise to increase the success rate of entrepreneurs.
A great case study: the HiVE – a community hub for social innovation.
What they do well:
- They run like a business, and attract some heavy hitters into their space. This includes an incubator (Launch Academy), a VC backed accelerator (Highline), a VC backed startup studio (Stanley Park Ventures), and a coding bootcamp (Lighthouse Labs). The in-house ecosystem gives entrepreneurs all the tools they need to succeed in one building, and facilitates next level collaboration between the players in the startup ecosystem. Coming into the space for a meeting with one of them, I ended up having meetings with ALL of them. The same is true for any high potential entrepreneurs.
- They focus on accountability and results. Although each of the organizations listed above provide excellent support, programming and connections, it’s entrepreneur driven. If you don’t do the work, no one is going to pick it up for you. In the not-for-profit space, organizations fail due to an “everything for everyone” mentality, which is common amongst entrepreneurial support organizations (more on key success factors for non-profits here). Conversely, in these programs, resources exist, but only for those truly driven and focused on succeeding. This lets the best float to the top and leverage the ecosystem to its full potential – no wasted resources.
- They leverage a BC-wide network of innovation. Similar to Ontario’s RIC system, British Columbia also has a government funded innovation support network. In BC, this network spans the province with both geographic hubs (e.g. a Vancouver innovation centre) and subject-matter hubs (e.g. Innovation Boulevard, BC’s health tech accelerator). This matrix structure makes it easy to access the best of breed support from anywhere in the province. Knowing what’s available and how to tap into it has been key to the rapid rate of innovation and successful entrepreneurs in Vancouver.
There are a lot of similarities that can be drawn between London and Victoria’s entrepreneurship scene. Both are great geographic hubs for cross border business, and both have a new wave of energy and successful entrepreneurs.
A great case study: VIATEC – Victoria’s innovation centre
What they do well:
- They’ve created one central downtown hub for tech entrepreneurship. With a coffee shop on the first floor that is open to anyone and the envy of any “third place”, it sets the tone for Techtoria’s subsequent two floors of co-working space and one floor of innovation centre offices. With prime real estate and intelligent design, it’s an inviting and fun space to be in. And it’s chalked with resources for startups.
- They only offer program based support. VIATEC dodges the “everything for everyone” non-profit pitfall by offering their support through a three tiered program. At the top tier is the Rev Up program for established companies, with a team of at least eight employees and a 500k run rate. In the middle is their largest program, VAP, which is open to companies as early as pre-revenue, so long as they have a proof of concept and product market fit. Finally, for all those not ready for VAP, they offer ad-hoc “pre-VAP” coaching, with a focus on making them ready to apply. This keeps the focus on building a successful and thriving economy, and empowers VIATEC create more impact per VIATEC staff member and dollar spent.
- They throw true blowout events. Only the video of their latest party can do it justice (click here). These sellout events bring together the best and brightest from the community to celebrate true achievement, in style. It gives entrepreneurs something to aspire to, and attendees something to talk about until the next event. Big success demands big celebration, and VIATEC learned that you can’t deliver on one without the other.
What we can learn:
- It’s time to take collaboration to the next level. Innovation Works broke the ice and is proving out the model. It’s time for the rest of the community to jump on board.
- It’s time to get creative with our financial and people resources. Other communities do more with less. The gauntlet has been thrown, and we’re prime to pick it up.
- It’s time to start celebrating our wins. We need to be from the top of the roof dinosaurs, dancers and 70’s rock performances loud about the great things we do. It attracts and retains the winners, and gives the next generation of talent an extra boost of ambition.
In short, we’re doing a lot of things well in London, but there is so much room to grow. With a refreshed team of driven staff and EIRs, we’re excited to bring London to new heights through our entrepreneurship community! Have ideas for how to make London even better? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org