How Vancouver Startup Week aims to tackle tech talent turbulence

Credit: Destination BC

What happened: The annual Vancouver Startup Week returns September 16

Why it matters: Startups are facing additional challenges locking down workers as tech giants move into Vancouver in greater numbers

The flood of tech companies spilling into Vancouver poses somewhat of a conundrum for local startups trying to land talent, according to Vivian Chan.

“It’s both a pro and a con. When you hear these big names coming into town — if they’re coming here that means the talent is here,” said the co-chairwoman of Vancouver Startup Week (VSW), which kicks off seven days of events and programs on September 16.

“But for an early-stage entrepreneur it is going to be a little bit harder because you’re going to have to bust your butt to get your name out there.”

VSW is seeking to alleviate at least some of those pressure points with 100 events aimed at connecting entrepreneurs with everyone from potential employees to potential investors, and offering educational panels to help early-stage companies navigate business challenges such as funding or talent acquisition.

“The people that attend and the topics that they’re looking for and the stage of the companies that are engaged are different every year,” Chan said.

VSW has developed different tracks to help attendees determine which topics best resonate with them, including tracks geared towards founders, funding, technology and networking.

And this year VSW has added a growth track for entrepreneurs looking to move out of the startup stage and bring their companies to the next level.

Events range from learning how to create a zero-waste startups to figuring out how to create a workplace that will attract employees.

“It’s nice to be put on the map that we are going to be a bigger tech hub. We’ve got the Facebooks, the Microsofts, the Amazons all setting up here,” Chan said.

“As an early-stage entrepreneur it does gets a little scary because how do you fight for that talent? And as a city and a country it’s: how does that talent stay here?”

Charlyne Fothergill, the director of career services at Lighthouse Labs, joins the BIV Today podcast below for a conversation on how the sector recruits and retains talent.