Whistler has long been a haven for the tech-minded — now a new group wants to strengthen the connections between them.
The goal of the Sea to Sky Startup Society is threefold, said tech entrepreneur and society president Michelle Martin: creating a community, providing a support network and showing entrepreneurs that a healthy work/life balance is possible.
"I've been, for so many years, immersed in this startup culture that's all about how hard you can hustle, how fast you can win, how you can be more and more efficient and optimize everything about your personal life and your product at the same time, and that culture is causing a lot of issues among (people who) feel that pressure," Martin said. "It's very common among founders to feel like to be successful they have to work 16-hour days, six days a week, and I've come to a point where I'm understanding that the ability to have the greatest impact is really when you're relaxed enough to think, and relaxed enough to make real connections.
"The whole Sea to Sky region is incredible in that there is some of the smartest, most successful, interesting tech entrepreneurs and projects living up here. They have that balanced lifestyle, (but) they're not necessarily talking to each other, I've discovered, so that's kind of where I come in."
The startup society is hosting its first Sea to Sky Summit on Friday, Sept. 22 at the Maury Young Arts Centre — for more information and to purchase tickets head to www.picatic.com/seatoskysummit.
Scholarships for the Summit are available for early-stage entrepreneurs and those with financial constraints. For more info email Martin at Michelle.Anita.Martin@gmail.com.
"The summit is for people who care about making their community and world better, and having a global impact through entrepreneurship and technology," Martin said.
"So I hope they'll walk away with connections that will be truly valuable towards advising a next step in their business, or potentially even investing in their business so that they can build it.
"Whatever level of entrepreneurship you're at, there's going to be something for you that you're going to take away."
Whistler's latest tech success story is Fast Track VC — an equity-based crowdfunding platform that allows any investor anywhere in the world to contribute to startups (and get a return of their own if the startups are acquired by larger companies).
In early August, Fast Track completed its first successful campaign, raising $1.9 million for a Swiss biomedical company that makes a biodegradable membrane out of shellfish that's used in pancreatic cancer surgery.
The company followed that up with a successful campaign for a Norwegian company building the world's largest "fortress for data," located in the Arctic and powered by wind and hydro.
Fast Track was founded by a "serial entrepreneur" from Portugal who moved his family to Whistler in search of the elusive work/life balance, said investment manager Rob Boardman.
Boardman, who also sits on the board of the Sea to Sky Startup Society, said he "absolutely" sees the tech scene growing in Whistler.
"Housing isn't exactly affordable, but the office space is," he said. "Developing that tech community in Whistler is really valuable and exciting, and it's great to have more network and more connections, more ideas, new companies coming up here."
Find the Sea to Sky Startup Society on Facebook at www.facebook.com/s2sstartup.