It doesn’t make much sense to bring up venture capitalists from San Francisco — arguably the world’s most active centre for tech investors — any given week to check out 30 startups in Vancouver, according to Ray Walia.
“Chance are they’ll see two, three companies that they really like. They are not prone to come back to Vancouver on a regular basis for a 10% ratio of companies that they’re interested in,” said the executive director of Vancouver-based Launch Academy business incubator.
“But if I was to showcase the top 10 companies from Vancouver, the top 10 from Calgary, the top 10 from Seattle, the top 10 from Portland, those would be 40 fairly elite companies.”
Walia is co-organizing the November 21 Cascadia Summit at Science World, the closing event for Startup Week Vancouver.
The summit is expected to draw more than 500 investors and entrepreneurs looking to develop relations and secure funding.
“It’s an opportunity to showcase the best of the best,” Walia said.
“The Pacific Northwest and Cascadia region have so much more in common with each other than we do, say, with our counterparts on the east coast, that it makes sense for us to collaborate and work together on a more (regular) basis.”
While Startup Weekend wrapped Sunday (November 16), Startup Week Vancouver has since grown organically from the original event.
“It’s a very, very important week for Vancouver. I think it’s a strong signal that the space we’re occupying — not just locally and regionally, but globally — (is) as a significant startup centre,” said Vancouver Economic Commission CEO Ian McKay, whose organization is the presenting sponsor for the week’s events.
In addition to the Cascadia Summit, Invoke Media hosts an Insights on Innovation panel Monday (November 17) at its offices 1 Alexander St. in Gastown.
The Yaletown Roundhouse community centre is putting on a tech job fair Tuesday (November 18), while Wednesday’s (November 19) Impact conference at The Imperial (319 Main St.) focuses on providing entrepreneurs with direction for creating startups with a flair for social enterprise.
The Highline accelerator, which was created over the summer through a merger of Vancouver's GrowLabs and Toronto's Extreme Startups, is hosting a startup social at Republic nightclub (958 Granville St.) on Thursday evening.
McKay said the recent success of Vancouver-based startups like Avigilon (TSX:AVO) and Hoosuite proves the city is becoming a leader in the tech world.
“You don’t need to move to another country or another location to pursue your startup dream and this week is really a validation of that,” McKay said.
“If you have the idea, and the dream and the vision, you can do it right here in Vancouver, and more and more people are starting to recognize that globally.”
Walia said much of Vancouver’s newfound recognition and respect in the global tech community is due to its easy access and close links to tech hotbeds like Seattle and San Francisco, as well as its reputation as a gateway to Asia.
And while entrepreneurs need some sort of presence in the Silicon Valley, competition for talent is fierce in San Francisco.
That’s why it’s much more cost-effective to set up an office in Vancouver, where the team is likely to work for less and stay loyal to the company longer, according to Walia.
“Silicon Valley is Silicon Valley for a reason. I’m not in the camp of creating Silicon Valleys in different areas,” he said.
“What you have to do is find what each area excels at and build your Silicon Valley ecosystem or culture.”