Welcome to Vancouver, B.C. You want to get involved in the entrepreneurial technology startup “scene” here? That is wonderful. Here is my current list of activities and organisations that form good entry points into the entrepreneurship community in Vancouver. Check them out. Participate in what interests you. Ask at these events for further suggestions. Enjoy!

Note that I am not an authority on the totality of entrepreneurship in this area. I am just an ordinary participant. This is my worm’s-eye view. It’s probably incomplete. Perhaps others will post in the comments the wonderful events and orgs that I missed. But this at least will get you started.

Entrepreneurship gatherings

Our local tech entrepreneurship scene seems to like getting together to network over beer after work. So, attending meetups and social events is a good way to talk to people and ask what is happening.

Pixel Crafters is the name for an effort by a group of wonderful people to strengthen connections within the tech startup community here. I stay in touch with it primarily through a Meetup group named “Pixel Crafters” (oddly different URL: https://www.meetup.com/Vancouver-Tech-Co-Founders/). Joining this Meetup is good way to get invitations to lots of local events, a good mix of networking and learning opportunities. There was a vestigial web site, http://www.pixelcrafters.ca/, but it appears inactive.

Vancouver Startup Week (http://vanstartupweek.ca/) is a concentrated week of the community coming together to meet and strengthen each other, every autumn. Each day has multiple educational sessions by local experts, panel discussions, and receptions, all laced with networking opportunities. Keep your eyes on the volunteers producing and staffing the events — they are a backbone of the local scene, and good people to know about.

The Vancouver Enterprise Forum (VEF, http://www.vef.org/) presents talks or panel discussions on entrepreneurship-related topics. Events often begin with “lightning pitches” by startups. They get a good crowd, and the networking is interesting. Expect 1-2 events per month for the fall, winter, and spring.  Joining their email list is a good place to start.

New Ventures BC (http://www.newventuresbc.com/) organises the annual BCIC-New Ventures Competition, which aims to encourage new ventures by providing motivation, mentoring, and for the winners, visibility. They have other events during the year for networking and mentoring. It turns out I’ve never attended their events or their competition, but people I respect think highly of New Ventures BC.

The B.C. Tech Summit (http://bctechsummit.ca/) is a March conference produced by the government of British Columbia. It has a two-year track record, and I have missed it both years. The government has enough heft to interest substantial speakers in participating, but I don’t have a read on how it was for participants.  Worth investigating.

Internationalization Gatherings

This is my blog post, so I get to distract it with plugs for my particular special interest: internationalization (i18n), localization (l10n) and translation. That is, the work to make products useable in markets other than their home market.

VanGLUG (https://www.linkedin.com/groups/6805530, @VanGLUG on Twitter), the Vancouver Globalisation and Localisation Users Group, is a forum for Vancouver-area practitioners of GILT: Globalisation, Internationalization (i18n), Localization (l10n) and Translation. It is an opportunity for practitioners of our craft, normally a small minority in our own companies, to share ideas and support with practitioners in other organisations. We aim to recreate the magic of Silicon Valley’s IMUG here in the Lower Mainland.

GlobalMEET (https://www.globalme.net/tech-networking-vancouver-globalmeet) is a social gathering on Thursday nights every 4-6 weeks. The attendees are from the wider tech startup community, but with a higher concentration of GLIT practitioners. It is organised by GlobalMe (https://www.globalme.net), a localization service provider right here in the Lower Mainland. Sign up on their announcement list, or visit the link above, to find out when the next GlobalMEET happens.

Media

TechVibes (https://techvibes.com/) is a news website which covers the Vancouver tech startup scene, and carries other tech industry and startup news. It’s probably not fair to call them “Canada’s TechCrunch”, but they do in part fill that role.

Incubators and Training

Launch Academy (http://www.launchacademy.ca/) is a prominent incubator, with training, events, flexible work space, and access to goodies like cloud computing credits. It’s worth subscribing to their events announcement list. I’ve been to numerous of their events. They produce the annual Traction Conference (https://www.tractionconf.io/), which brings big names from tech startups in Silicon Valley and elsewhere to speak. I have not attended Traction, but I hear a lot about it.Boris Mann is a good person to follow. When I first arrived in B.C. and wanted to get to know the tech startup scene, it was remarkable how often people said, “you should talk to Boris”.  Frontier Foundry (https://www.frontierfoundry.co/) is his current project: a company which builds companies. (I don’t know anything about Frontier Foundry, but Boris’s blog, What is the Foundry Model?, is an interesting read.) Based on his track record of setting up local startup community gathering places, I’m confident you’ll come across him sooner rather than later. As soon as he meets you, he will likely take an interest in what you are doing, and his next action will be to try to help you. I admire Boris.

Spring Activator (http://spring.is/) is an incubator which specialises in business which have social benefit as part of their mandate. Mostly this means for-profit businesses which put a high priority on social benefit as well as profit, but it can mean co-op or nonprofit business models. They offer training, support, and mentoring as other incubators do. However, the social benefit twist makes their seminars and talks an interesting complement to the for-profit-only orientation of practically everyone else. A good first step is to subscribe to their event announcement list.

The Network Hub (https://www.thenetworkhub.ca/) is in principle a shared-office work space, with meeting rooms and coffee and mail receiving and the like. Their generosity with their meeting spaces for evening tech meetups make them truly a hub. I’ve never once shared an office there, but I’ve been there so many times for events and gatherings.

The Hive (http://www.hivevancouver.com/) is a coworking space and startup incubator. Like the Network Hub, they are generous with their meeting space, and host many meetups and seminars. So you will go there sooner rather than later. I don’t see that they have an event announcement list, however.

There are other traning outfits (”bootcamps”), such as Lighthouse Labs and CodeCore Bootcamp. They have events like “demo days” and lunchtime seminars on tech issues open to the public. Some of those event announcements go out through Pixel Crafters (above), but each has their own announcement list as well. Consider subscribing to those lists if you want an early peek at the entrepreneurs doing the demos.

Angel Investor Meetings

There are several groups setting up meetings which bring together vetted early-stage companies seeking angel funding with accredited investors seeking to make angel investments. They generally meet in downtown Vancouver. They have slightly different formats and selection filters, but they attract overlapping participation from angel investors at least. Our angel investment capacity gets better year by year, but we don’t yet match the capital or sophistication of Seattle investors, let alone Silicon Valley. They have little interest in spectators, and service providers who aren’t investing can sometimes negotiate their way in.

Angel Forum Vancouver (http://www.angelforum.org/). They hold all-day meetings twice a year. They also hold workshops for investors and companies from time to time, on topics like “determining valuation” and “preparing for an exit”. Led by Bob Chaworth-Musters (Bob at AngelForum.org), one of the people who has been encouraging the local tech entrepreneurship scene for decades.

VANTECH Angel Network (http://www.vantec.ca/). They hold two-hour early-morning meetings once a month in downtown Vancouver. Long-time leader Mike Volker also has connections to TIMIA Capital and the Vancouver chapter of the Keiretsu Forum, and is another long-time foundation of the local tech entrepreneurship scene.

Keiretsu Forum, Vancouver BC Chapter (http://www.k4northwest.com/). They have a monthly afternoon-long “chapter meeting” for pitches, and usually a training session or so each month. Their calendar is thick with events in their various cities. The Keiretsu Forum has been part of the scene for years, not decades. Their core is in Seattle, with chapters in Victoria, Portland, Boise, and elsewhere in Washington, as well as Vancouver. They connect our local little economy with funders elsewhere. Also, the Keiretsu model has planted independent but like-minded groups across North America, Europe, East Asia, South Asia, and elsewhere. That scope and know-how of that model is a welcome addition to our local angel community.

Go from there

There are many other events and groups that I didn’t get to, or I don’t know about. There is more to discover! Start with these leads, and ask about what interests to you. You will likely soon find your niche.

When I lived in Silicon Valley, there was a common saying, “it’s a small valley”. That is, you would likely cross paths again with the people you interacted with now. Coworkers might turn into competitors. Subordinates at one company might become bosses at another. The Vancouver tech scene is like that, only more so.

And of course, this list is only face-to-face forums and groups. You should of course be curating a presence on your blog, your website, your social media feeds, as suits you.

Good luck, and I look forward to seeing you around!