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Highlights from the Second Annual Tech Summit in BC

Highlights from the Second Annual Tech Summit in BC

Posted by PanamericanWorld on March 21, 2017

Several speakers, ranging from Premier Christy Clark to senior Microsoft executives to local entrepreneurs, delivered a message at last week’s summit that the male-dominated sector represents an opportunity to create both gender and ethnic diversity.

During her keynote address, Clark reiterated the province’s plan to teach coding in B.C. schools, and noted the presence of two female industry executives as evidence of Lower Mainland’s evolving tech demographic.

“We want to make it a lot easier for tech companies — in the world and in this country — to be able to hire and make sure that your companies are entirely gender equal,” she said while highlighting the achievements of both 82-year-old UBC mechanical engineering professor emerita Martha Salcudean and a 16-year-old coder who developed the summit’s SnapChat filter.

“Let’s make sure every child in B.C. speaks (the coding language) when they graduate from high school … every boy will be a coder, and every girl will be a coder,” Clark said.

Constructing smarter cities

Imagine technology that tells you when your garbage has been picked up, when the the snow is removed on your street, or when the busiest time of day at your local park or playground is. Some of this either already exists in cities across North America, or is part of the pioneering thinking driving so-called “smart city” initiatives from coast to coast.

A city is considered “smart” when it combines information and communication technology (ICT) and the Internet of things (IoT) to help run its assets. More municipalities, big and small, are using ICT and the IoT to not only offer better, more efficient services, but also as a way to bring equality to their citizens.

On startups and the enterprise

Working with big companies can be daunting for startups. Traction on Demand founder Greg Malpass offered six lessons he’s learned as a small business selling to much larger enterprises.

“Every single interaction you have with the organizations that you are hoping to sell to are representations that are positive or negative,” he says. “Either you are demonstrating that you will follow through and meet every commitment that you have with that organization—or you will demonstrate exactly the opposite.”

The payoff of optimism (and luck)

Allen Lau and Ivan Yven bootstrapped their online storytelling company, Wattpad, for over three years before raising seed money. Lau wanted to validate the Wattpad platform first, “using my own money, basically, my sweat equity,” before bringing in outside investors. It turned out to be a wise move.

A fellow panelist made a quip about optimistic enterpreneurs. “This is the quality you must have an as entrepreneur,” Lau replied.

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