I had my faith in a resurgence of the entrepreneurial spirit renewed in a very huge fashion at the inaugural Okanagan Entrepreneurship Conference held in Kelowna last week.
On Nov. 22 and 23 at the Ramada Hotel and Conference Centre, after six months of organization, the conference became a reality, designed to bring together a variety of people in some way aligned with the entrepreneurial spirit to encourage new thinking, new ideas and prompt advancement in innovation and creativity throughout our regional landscape.
We commenced the two-day event with an evening networking reception on Nov.22, with wine and appies provided so registrants and guests could meet, mingle and experience the 15 exhibit displays set up.
As well, the keynote address was given by Miles Laing, a partner with Mackay Chartered Accountants.
I was overwhelmed by the warmth and congenial presence everyone seemed to exhibit sprinkled with a willingness to share of themselves to others.
The following morning at 8:45 a.m., the schedule of conference speakers for the day began with a presentation by Barry Lapointe, president of Kelowna Flightcraft.
Lapointe talked about the joy and wonderment of his Canadian aviation through his own entrepreneurial story, one that still had us shaking our heads in disbelief by the end of the day.
Folks, the Kelowna Flightcraft story today— 1,000 employees over a 43-year aviation entrepreneurial highway and no sign of slowing down the jet engines.
Among other conference highlights, local lawyer Tony Edwards, who specializes in intellectual property law, gave the audience a powerful high speed presentation with wonderful anecdotes that kept all of us aghast that he could do so with no apparent notes in sight.
Jennifer Molgat, president of The View Winery, left us with the message, that permeated loudly repeatedly as well from the speakers: “If you choose to explore the entrepreneurial world, prepare yourself effectively and then just do it.”
Renee Wasylyk, president of Troika Land Development, an awarded entrepreneurial creator from an entrepreneurial family, dazzled us with her directness and imagery of her traveled road to excellence.
From Jason Neale, formerly of Accelerate Okanagan and Vericorder, to our bankers from Scotiabank, RoyNatFinancial, BDC Okanagan and the Okanagan Angel Investment Network, to the Doak Shirreff law firm with Valeo Health Clinic, conference participants were offered professional insights into the various speakers’ own personal business journeys.
We were kept intently riveted to our seats, running swiftly to the display room between breaks in the program and a need for a coffee refill along the way.
Based on the response from this inaugural conference, the 2013 event will be even bigger come next November.
At the end of the day, the conference helped remind ourselves that successful entrepreneurship depend on the ability of all of us to innovate, to create new knowledge and new technologies and to process and apply these innovations into new Okanagan entrepreneurial ventures that will stimulate our economy, create new jobs and change our world forever.
Thank you to the Okanagan for believing in our dream of stimulating the entrepreneurial spirit among us, to our conference organizing team; to Rae Stonehouse, our entrepreneur society chair who cracked the whip when needed to move
everything; our speakers, displayers and sponsors, who made it happen for all of us.
Stay tuned Okanagan, entrepreneurship is alive and well in our valley, with more to come very soon. Stay tuned.