#BCTech Summit 2017 from a startup’s perspective!

We had the pleasure of attending the BCIC’s BC Tech Summit 2017. As a fast-growing startup (FreshWorks Studio), we couldn’t wait to mix and mingle with fellow entrepreneurs in the industry and tech stalwarts from the ministries. I should mention in the beginning that Ian Bailey has been a phenomenal supporter of us (a local Victoria startup) and has always guided us in the right direction. He is our mentor and we would like to thank him for all the support so far. He suggested that we attend the Tech Summit and participate in B2B meetings this year.

Below is the short video summary of #BCTech Summit 2017 from our eyes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpWQPj5kF5M

The BCIC has hosted this event for the last four years, but this was our first attendance. This year was particularly important for us to head over, for two main reasons.

  • The first is that we’re in the middle of an exciting growth phase, and forging new (and rediscovering old!) connections in industries we’ve already got a foothold offers an excellent business opportunity.
  • The second is that this year, BCIC has added a new feature to the conference — the B2B meetings! Companies like FreshWorks created a profile in advance highlighting our strengths and skills, and allowed us to request meetings with high-profile organizations like Telus or the Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens; who had also created profiles and posted challenges they were facing.

B2B Meetings — The Application

We could apply to ten challenges we felt we could help with, which we reviewed carefully before submitting. Once the requests were approved, we received a schedule of whom and where we’d meet our potential new clients.

Day 0 — Ferry & AirBnB

With our schedule in hand, I, along with a fellow executive James Degreef and our Customer Success Manager Hazen Fowler, were ready to set off. With our main office in Victoria, the province’s island-based capital, we had to catch a ferry over to the mainland. Seeing the coastline never gets old!

Once we got to Vancouver, we checked into our Airbnb, which was lovely. We love Airbnb because it offers smaller companies like ours a great alternative to hotels, and we get to support a fellow technology innovator. We loved the suite, which was nice and close to the Vancouver Convention Center.

Day 1 — Major Announcements & B2B Meetings

Premier Christy Clark opened the event with an engaging presentation of the province’s technological initiatives.

Capitalizing on the booming technology sector, the province has dedicated itself to maintaining that momentum: promises include 1,000 more graduates added to the industry by 2022, doubling the number of tech co-ops approved, and increasing MITACS placements by two-thirds.

This was news to our ears! Startups rely on programs like these to sustain business during their growth phase, so it’s exciting to know the government is serious about their continued support. We also got to learn more about the new Startup in Residence (STIR) program, which is also a public-sponsored initiative.

Startup in Residence Program (STIR)

Ministries from the provincial government come up with 5 to 10 challenges they face technologically, which startups can propose solutions for. They have sixteen weeks to submit a project, at which time the Ministry will opt to either move forward with a paid contract, or to discontinue the relationship.

Tesla Talk!

This was followed by a talk from the CTO of Tesla, which was one of the highlights of the trip. JB Straubel spoke about Tesla’s mission of sustainable future and spoke about their journey so far. We are awed by the impact Tesla has already made and their team is definitely an inspiration to us!

B2B Meetings — MTICS

Next, we had the first of our B2B meetings. Here we are with the MTICS supply team, Spencer Tickner and Dawson Brenner. It was great to chat and learn more about what challenges they face and how we could potentially help. We will be following up with them in Victoria and engage for collaboration.

Reunion with my MBA colleague

Reunion was always on the cards as these tech summits attract a lot of people. I had a chance to connect with Wency Lum. Wency is an old friend of mine, having been in the same MBA cohort at the University of Victoria. It was great to connect with her at the Tech Summit and reminisce some old memories. Thank you Wency for your kind words. Hope to work with you on some project soon.

Day Two — Networking & Meetings

We started the day off with breakfast in the company of Reg Bawa, ADM from the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD). They have posted a challenge through the Startup in Residence program that we found really interesting — there’s definitely an opportunity to build a great relationship there!

B2B Meeting — Marcin Zaranski

We were glad that Marcin Zaranski (Executive Lead, Transformation Portfolio Office) accepted our B2B meeting request. With the complexity and cost of maintaining multiple systems, the (NRTS) is evaluating options of moving to a Paas/SaaS model. We hope to engage and provide a solution.

EAO Inspections App — Our Big Reveal

We caught up with Rumon Carter from the Environmental Assessment Office. FreshWorks is currently sub-contracted by EAO to develop an app for conducting on-site inspections for environmental assessment. We can’t thank Kevin Jardine and Rumon Carter enough for engaging us in this project and we will definitely put our best foot forward to make it successful.

Wrapping up

Meeting with Minister Amrik S. Virk of MTICS was another highlight for us. A fellow immigrant to this beautiful province, he’s a shining example of how much can be accomplished here in Canada if you dedicate yourself to hard work and excellence. I was amazed to know that he recognized me and my startup. He has been an avid supporter of immigrant entrepreneurs and it certainly was a good experience chatting with him about startups and growth. I showed him the EAO app and BCHighways app.

Background Information — FreshWorks Studio (AirSenze)

FreshWorks Studio is an award winning Victoria based firm that specializes in designing & developing mobile & web apps. By following agile methodology and planning principals, FreshWorks has an impressive record of delivering exceptional mobile apps on time and within budget.

We have had tremendous success in delivering projects and have been placed as a top ten mobile development firms in Canada. We have seen our innovative model translated into positive press highlighting the development capabilities and the incredible story of the founders. We have been featured in

We had a great time, and couldn’t be more humbled by the presence of such successful and inspiring people! Thanks to BCIC for having us, we can’t wait to come back next year!