Business

Metabridge conference should help Silicon Vineyard concept bloom

Success stories the likes of Club Penguin and QHR have raised the profile of Kelowna's tech sector, but more companies need to break into the global marketplace for the Silicon Vineyard concept to really bloom.

Luckily, said a group convened Friday to promote the upcoming Metabridge conference, conditions are continually improving and a growing number of startups are making breakthroughs.

"Success breeds success, and this is good fertile ground for a tech industry," said Bernard Slede, Hewlett Packard's managing director of startup ecosystem programs.

As the lead up to next month's conference Slede was in town, prepping a few Kelowna start-up companies on how to forward their products or services.

Moving from the startup stage to success is something he described as a roller coaster ride from any vantage point, but admits being far from the buzz of an established tech region could be viewed as more challenging — by some, anyway.

"Now, in 2011, where you are is less critical," he said. "The most stellar example of that is Groupon, which started in Chigago, which is not a tech centre."

Their launch of the online group buying model, however, was a global hit that broke past geographic boundaries, and they went from zero to 4,000 employees in under three years and there's rarely a city, where Groupon doesn't have an online presence.

"With the right ingredients, and the right approach, you can build a successful company anywhere," he said, pointing to Club Penguin again, as well as Vineyard Networks.

The latter example is a Kelowna company that delivers application intelligence technology solutions to networking and telecom vendors around the world in nearly every country, on every continent. And, as CEO Jason Richards pointed out, they've even started working with HP in recent months.

The company has been on an upward trajectory for the last year, winning awards and contracts on a regular basis, and Richards said that key to their success is building partnerships and mentoring relationships.

"It's not what we know so much as who we know and the people we get to do business," he said.

Metabridge goes a long way to allowing startup companies to forge those bonds.

The two day event consists of interactive presentations, round table discussions, and multiple VIP networking occasions for technology start-ups across British Columbia.

CEOs and founders of BC’s technology community will have exclusive access to the VIPs over the two day period to pitch and seek advice from some of  biggest success stories in the industry.

Their ranks include over 20 senior technology leaders from California’s Silicon Valley and abroad, including high profile companies such as Trinity Ventures, British Sky Broadcasting and PCMAG.

Also included are Sam Odio from Facebook, Jeremy Geiger from Tomorrow Ventures (Google CEO Venture Capital Fund), and Owen Matthews from Wesley Clover.

Although going to the event should provide  plenty of name-dropping opportunities, it will also offer valuable lessons on the industry.

Event tickets for the two day event as well as single tickets to our industry wide reception on June 11  are also available. Tickets and event information can be

found at www.metabridge.ca. For information about start up opportunities at Hewlett Packard go to www.hp.com/go/startups

Metabridge is the brainchild of Steve Wandler, a successful technology entrepreneur who returned to Kelowna, British Columbia after having his company acquired by support.com  in the Silicon Valley. The Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission continues to lead metabridge in 2011 with support coming from a number of private and public sector organizations.

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