2013 GROW Conference links design thinking and entrepreneurship

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Yeah I don't think that's exactly what I said but what I did say was I'm finding that the venture community, the investors here are interested. That's different from saying “everybody.” (laughs)

The quote here is "After our first event, I learned that everyone in the Valley is very interested in Canadian entrepreneurs."

Hmm... Do you believe everything that you read? (laughs)

I'm just asking the questions to see if they're accurate or not. You can correct them if you wish but that's what I've got reference to so...

Well actually I have to admit, these days when you mention the name Canada and they get really excited. I find that just awesome. I say I do a conference in Vancouver and every single person I've ever said it to goes, "Ah! I love Vancouver!"

Why do you think that is?

Well you must not see it because you live there but my god, are you kidding me? Vancouver's amazing. I guess that's like saying why would you ever go to New York or Paris… "Why would you come to Paris?" (Landa says in a faux French accent)

Of course I think Vancouver is beautiful. Everyone who lives in Vancouver thinks it’s beautiful. I'm curious as to what actually piques the Valley's interest in Canadian startups and what makes Vancouver so interesting to them, apart from the physical beauty.

Well I actually think that's one of the biggest attractions is the physical beauty. The TED conference moved there. Why? Because the founder of TED spends a lot of time in Whistler and loves it up there because it's beautiful. That has a factor. It really does. When you go to a place that's amazing and you get such a great feeling when you're there, it influences your perspective, doesn't it? So that is one of the best things about Vancouver. It's beautiful there. And every time you go there, you feel good. Who doesn't want to go to a place where you feel good every time you go? It's awesome.

I think that what the investors especially like more and more is the Canadian talent because it is as good as anywhere else in the world. The opportunities to build companies in Canada are amazing because there's an insane amount of fantastic tax credits, R&D credits and every kind of credit you can think of that allows people to want to build in Canada. So if you have the talent to hire, and you have the incentives to make it financially viable—these are all great factors that a lot of people can't do here (in Silicon Valley). And they're starting to realize, you don't actually have to be in Silicon Valley. You don't have to have your entire company in Silicon Valley to be successful. What you need is some biz dev (business developers) and marketers who have either been down here or understand how it works here to be able to communicate with people you need to be with if that's what you need to be doing.

There are a lot of people who don't need to be doing business in Silicon Valley. Not every web company needs to work with Silicon Valley companies so they don't need to be here.  Maybe you're in the advertising industry; maybe you're in fashion; maybe you're in oil and gas; maybe you're in financial services... you don't need to be here.

On that note, there’s a lot of talk about how Vancouver is poised to be the Valley’s counterpart in Canada. What are your thoughts on this?

I think that with Vancouver's proximity to Silicon Valley and the startup visa that just happened, I think that Vancouver has as good a chance as Montreal or Toronto. You have the money; you have the proximity, which in my opinion, matters a lot more; and the growing interest in being in Vancouver. It does matter to be in the same time zone as the Valley. It's really helpful. With under a two-hour flight to the Valley, you could do day trips. Being in the same time zone makes life so much easier to hire and have communication with any type of second offices. Vancouver’s connection to Asia is highly valuable. There are more things that point to why it should be Vancouver than anything else.

So what do you think we should do more of in order to cultivate the Vancouver tech sector?

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