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Metabridge retreat briefly turns Kelowna into tech hub

One conversation in the right place at the right time can turn a lowly start-up company into an industry leader.

And if all goes according to plan, some of those pivotal chats could be taking place in right now, say representatives of Metabridge, a locally based technology industry retreat taking place in Kelowna this week.

"The founder of Metabridge, Steve  Wandler, had his one conversation in a suite at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas in 2008, and that led to the acquisition of his company, YourTech Online."

Wandler was at a tech conference like Metabridge, talking to Richard Mandeberg, then the executive vice president of Support.com. In short order, the  leading provider of internet delivered services folded Wandler's growing company into the mix , raising it to a new level.

It's actually a common scenario in the industry, said Blonde.

"People in technology, especially Silicon Valley, are more willing to help entrepreneurs to succeed. Success breeds success and when you create a great company or technology, it can snowball."

It's a mindset that Metabridge organizers have capitalized on, allowing them to turn a conference that had just 30 attendees when it started four years ago into something more substantial.

This week 300 people from across Canada and the US will descend on Kelowna for a couple days of schmoozing, learning and building relationships that could last a lifetime—or at the least change a life.

"It's not a  traditional environment with stuffy workshops," said Blonde.

"We are aiming to build North America's premier retreat style tech events. And you'll see by the list of VIPs and start ups from across Canada, that we're well on our way."

That's another key element to making these events fly. There has to be the right mix of movers and shakers—and Metabridge organizers managed to make that happen as well.

Representatives from companies such as Lenovo, Google, Oracle, HootSuite, Club Penguin and Kodak are just a few who are coming this way to either hear business pitches or offer keynote addresses.

Then there are venture capital companies like Trinity Venture Partners and  Graylock Ventures who will be there to listen, too.

While there will be dozens of representatives from aspiring start ups in attendance to soak up wisdom and make informal connections more formal, the Metabridge group has vetted applications, leaving 15 to make their pitch to bigwigs.

That process will take place Friday morning.

Although most of the Metabridge event is closed to the public, keynote speeches are open to the public. Go to www.metabridge.ca to check out what's left.

The Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission is the organization that designs, delivers and executes metabridge.

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