Posts in Technology

Enter the Third Annual Jump:Start:Challenge


The Jump:Start:Challenge is a competition for tech start-ups and entrepreneurs that provides concentrated help in cracking one of the most persistent business challenges: raising capital.

Are you a technology start-up, entrepreneur, or company ready to go to the next level? This competition is for you!

Run by Accelerate Okanagan (AO), the Jump:Start:Challenge is a pitch competition supporting tech entrepreneurs seeking investment to finance their growth. This competition provides participants with hands-on training on how to get “investor ready”.

Through the 8 weeks of workshops, coaching, training and mentorship, the pool of candidates will be whittled down to 5 finalists who will go on to pitch to a room full of preselected BC investors. Besides offering the possibility for investment, our panel of judges will award a cash prize to the winning company.

Jeff Keen, CEO of AO said, “We’ve seen remarkable successes from previous Jump:Start:Challenge participants, and we’re excited to see what the next group of Okanagan technology companies have to offer. The top 10 companies that earn access to the program, will receive 8 weeks of coaching and mentorship that will dramatically improve their chances of raising capital.”

How to Enter

Email a short description of your business concept (1 page max) to or tweet it to @accelerateok by December 13th, 2013. Successful applicants will be invited to pitch to a panel of judges in Kelowna, BC on January 10th, 2014.
For more information, click here:


  • The top 10 entrants will receive eight weeks of expert training, coaching and mentorship to improve their pitches and increase their chances of raising capital.
  • Five finalists will get to present their business ideas to pre-selected members of the BC investment community.
  • The winner will receive a cash prize.

Meet The Past Winners

Rob Bartlett, CEO of WTFast, won first place in the Jump:Start:Challenge in 2011. For WTFast, the Jump:Start:Challenge was the perfect platform to springboard growth. “I found the Jump:Start:Challenge invaluable – it’s like a boot camp for companies looking for investment. You will learn what investors are looking for and how to present. Along the way you will learn more about your company and ways to improve it.

Thanks to AO and this program, I have gone from never pitching before in my life to now pitching to investors in Vancouver, California and Seattle. These pitches led to $150k in investment for WTFast in 2012, which helped drive company revenues in 2013, leading to an additional $424k in debt and grant funding in 4th quarter 2013.”

Alison Yesilcimen, Co-founder and CEO of Media Cooler Innovations, won first place in 2012. She said, “The Jump:Start:Challenge greatly benefits every company that participates. The mentorship that you get is incredible, as it allows you to continuously improve how you pitch your company’s idea. As an entrepreneur, you are going to need these skills anywhere, whether it’s in a boardroom selling your product or presenting to investors and so having those skills, and always refining those skills, is very important.

Winning the Jump:Start:Challenge created a lot of great exposure for our company throughout British Columbia. I would strongly encourage any startup to join the Jump:Start:Challenge!”

For further information, contact Accelerate Okanagan at (250) 870-9028.

Tweet it up at #AOJumpStart and @accelerateok.

Said the Whale Interview


Said the Whale arrive in Kelowna Wednesday, April 3rd as they open for Canadian indie pop royalty STARS. Tickets are available online.

Random Tip: Did you know they have an app that was developed right here in Kelowna? Here is an interview I did with Tyler Bancroft from Said the Whale.

You’re coming off a huge couple of years with the Juno Award for New Group of the Year in 2011, your own documentary, Winning America, the Rockstar Weekly nod in the “Top 12 RockStarts to Watch in 2012” list, and the release of Little Mountain. As we hit the spring of 2013, where are you looking go? Any particular resolutions or goals for this year?
In short, we’re working on a new record, so definitely hoping to put that out this year. We’re about half way done recording. I can’t tell you a lot about it at this point as it hasn’t been decided but after this tour, we’ll head back into studio and hopefully get it done.

You’re playing with Stars at the Kelowna Community Theatre for this concert and must naturally see a synergy between your music and theres. How do you relate to this band and how do you pick the bands you tour with?
We have a choice? We really wanted to get on the tour and we were lucky enough to get it. We’re fans of Stars. We played with them a couple of years ago and Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell watched our entire set that first time. We kept in touch loosely, saw them at parties and stuff like that, and here we are playing with them. So, we’re very honoured.

If you could pick any festival in the world to play what would it be?

You’ve had a number of band members come and go since you started in 2007. How has that helped or hindered the band?
The way I want to answer that question isn’t very nice to the people who have left the band, but I can say every personnel change we’ve had has been an improvement. With that in mind, they’ve also all helped (the band).

When you start a band and your tours really suck, and it’s even more of a struggle than it is now, it’s really easy for someone to figure out if they want to be in a touring band and, in all of those cases, it just wasn’t something those people were into doing…

It’s really easy for you to figure out if you really love it when you’re touring around in a van with ten people or if it’s something you just don’t want to do. Touring is an arduous task; it requires a lot of energy. There’s no hard feelings. They moved on and did what was right for them.

Is there a place the band really likes to go to drum up new songs?
Not normally, but it’s funny you say that because we just did a writing trip to Banff, three of us. It was amazing and it was so productive, and I’m hoping that we can do it again really soon.

You’re well on your way to making it into the big leagues. One day, when Coldplay is opening for you and Madonna is waiting backstage for an autograph, what will you demand in the rider as dressing room nosh?
Hmmm. What do we need? Every time we get our rider fulfilled I’m just so grateful that we have a rider, so to think of what’s missing from that… I wish I was more creative. Maybe an old school Nintendo with some Duck Hunt.

What other artists are on the top of your playlists at the moment?
Digging Chvrches right now; Braids from Montreal; and We are the City from Kelowna. Their new album is finished. I do have a copy of it and it is going to blow people out of the water.

Part of what’s made your career what it is today is your PEAK Performance Project showing. Would it have changed the trajectory of the band if Said the Whale had finished on top instead of second place to Kyprios?
I think we would have had an extra $25,0000 to play with and it might have made things a little less stressful for a few months, but otherwise no.

Anything you want to say to the fans in Kelowna who are coming out to hear you play?
We love Kelowna so much and can’t wait to play there.

Startup Weekend Okanagan, March 8-10


Ever wondered what it takes to be an entrepreneur? The professional and personal challenges, the high and lows, the failures and the success?

Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. It is the largest community of passionate entrepreneurs with over 400 past events in 100 countries around the world in 2011.

The non-profit organization is headquartered in Seattle, Washington but Startup Weekend organizers and facilitators can be found in over 200 cities around the world. From Mongolia to South Africa to London to Brazil, people around the globe are coming together for weekend long workshops to pitch ideas, form teams, and start companies.

All Startup Weekend events follow the same basic model: anyone is welcome to pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers. Teams organically form around the top ideas (as determined by popular vote) and then it’s a 54 hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation. The weekends culminate with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders with another opportunity for critical feedback.


Whether entrepreneurs found companies, find a cofounder, meet someone new, or learn a skill far outside their usual 9-to-5, everyone is guaranteed to leave the event better prepared to navigate the chaotic but fun world of startups. If you want to put yourself in the shoes of an entrepreneur, register now for the best weekend of your life!

Whats in it for me?

  • Meet other startup enthusiasts such as designers, developers, marketing gurus & product developers
  • Build a startup or product in less than 54 hours
  • 6-7 meals and drinks (did somebody say beer?) provided
  • Prizes, swag, give-aways, oh my!
  • Fun, fun, fun! Just ask any of the attendees from last year’s event!

But I’m not a programmer, am I still welcome?

Startup Weekend isn’t just for developers! Teams, just like businesses need a diverse skill-set to succeed.  On average, half of Startup Weekend participants have technical backgrounds, while the other possess a business mindset. Whether you’re primarily software developers, graphics designers or business people such as marketers – if you have great ideas you’re dying to share with the world, love learning and meeting new people, it’s not too late to sign up for Startup Weekend Okanagan and gain a real hands-on startup experience unlike any other.

For more information and a schedule of events, visit

Fashionate: Saying Farewell to 2012 – Top 10 Trends

The world of fashion does not end at shoes and the clothes we wear on our backs. Fashion spills over into hair trends, technology trends and even lifestyle trends. As the year comes to a close I have narrowed down my favourite trends of 2012.

2012 was a great year for fashion evolution from the hair we wear to the gadgets we love to carry. As we ring in 2013 we take a look back at the memorable looks and styles that defined our year.

10. Chelsea Boots: Every single girl I know has a variation of the Chelsea boot. Whether they are new and fresh, suede, or worn in for years these  boots are the ultimate wardrobe staple this year.


9. Boyfriend blouse: Another must have item. Over-sized with leggings, tucked in, or studded out. This was an ultimate trend setter by the celebrities this year!

8. Ombre Hair: A slow start for this trend in Kelowna but Ombre hair has ended 2012 strong. Dramatic or subtle this is a great technique for our long haired bellas, easily transformed into 2013.


7. Top Knot: The most effortless, yet stylish hair-do of the year. Girls with long or medium hair have been rocking this style out all year whether you are hitting the best new years party in town with a perfectly coiffed top bun, or you are running errands with a pile on top of your head this is one of my absolute favourite looks this year!

6. Colored Denim: This denim trend has quickly become a wardrobe staple. Dress your jeans up or down with your favourite chelsea boots, or studded pumps these have joined the legging family and won’t be leaving our closets for years to come, for both men AND women!

colored denim

5. Men’s Sleek Haircuts: Undercut and slicked back has made a comeback in a very modern way. We LOVE these cuts on men. Each and every guy can pull this cut off in different variations. This is a cut that will spill over into 2013 for sure!

4. Studs/Spikes: This was a slightly more bold trend this year that didn’t catch on in a big way in Kelowna. I love the studded accents on a structured boyfriend blazer or spiked leather heels.

3. Skulls: Happy skulls, angry skulls, big or small, anything skull goes this year!


2. Instagram: Since it’s purchase by social networking giant Facebook, Instagram really exploded this year. Individuals can express themselves through snapshots of their lives. This social tool has shaped the world of fashion, technology, food and entertainment! (@NikkiMPid and @awesomeokanagan just in case you were wondering!)

1. Oxblood Red: This is the new black. Love this colour on anybody!!

See you all in 2013, Stay tuned for my trend report early January!! Xo- Nikki

Okanagan Technology Community New Year Kick Off Party

Accelerate Okanagan invites you to the Okanagan Technology Community New Year Kick Off Party at the Laurel Packinghouse in downtown Kelowna!

Last year over 300 community members enjoyed an evening of great local food, drink and entertainment. Please be sure to register so you don’t miss out on what is sure to be the technology community event of the year.

AO Party
Photo by AccelerateOK

Join us for mouth watering local fare and drinks:

  • Themed cocktails from Okanagan Spirits
  • Wines from Calona Vineyards
  • Local brews from Tree Brewing
  • Free non-alcoholic options
  • Awesome appies

AO Party
Photo by AccelerateOK

To keep you entertained:

  • The Blue Room brought to you by KPMG
  • Poker, Blackjack & Roulette
  • Games, meetups and a few surprises brought to you by Digital Okanagan
  • Tunes from DJ Flyin’ Hawaiian

Ticket price: $30 per person (Premium Members: $20) including a free taxi ride home sponsored by Capri Insurance. This is a ticket-only event. Tickets MUST be bought by 5pm, January 9th. Last year was a complete sell out so sign up quickly to avoid disappointment.

Thank you to our Platinum Event Sponsor: KPMG
Thank you to our Core Funding Partner and Event Sponsor BCIC.

Tweet it up at #AOKickOff

Register Here
View the Photos from last year

Where: Laurel Packinghouse (1304 Ellis Street, Kelowna)
When: Friday, January 11th, 2013 – 7 PM
How Much: $30 per person / $20 Premium Members (includes a free taxi ride home sponsored by Capri Insurance)
For: 19+

ignITE Speaker Series

Article Submitted by Ashley Ramsay / Submit Your Own Article

Accelerate Okanagan is proud to announce their very own new speaker series ignITE: Inspire. Transform. Educate. as a part of the educational cornerstone in our offerings for our Members, Companies, Entrepreneurs, Businesses and the Community at large.

The ignITE Speaker Series is targeted at companies from across the Valley, with the underlying purpose of inspiring our community through thought provoking talks given by world renowned authors and visionaries. Kind of like having our own little TEDx, but more often. And if you attended TEDx Kelowna, you know the experience: incredibly inspiring topics, relevant to entrepreneurship, leadership and change.

They will kick it all off with an interactive SKYPE presentation by the very inspiring, Geoffrey Moore, the best selling author of books such as, Crossing the Chasm as well as Escape Velocity: Free Your Company’s Future from the Pull of the PastGeoffrey is also a Silicon Valley based high technology consultant and venture partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures. Geoffrey will discuss how to overcome the pull of the past and reorient your organization to meet a new era of competition. The world’s leading high-tech business strategist, Moore connects the dots between bold strategies and effective execution, with an action plan that elucidates the link between senior executives and every other branch of a company.

We will then shift focus to Douglas Rushkoff, author of Program or Be Programmed: 10 Commands for a Digital Age. World-renowned media theorist and counterculture figure Douglas is the originator of ideas such as “viral media,” “social currency” and “screenagers.” He has been at the forefront of digital society from its beginning, correctly predicting the rise of the net, the dotcom boom and bust, as well as the current financial crisis. He is a familiar voice on NPR, face on PBS, and writer in publications from Discover Magazine to the New York Times. Douglas will raise the question: ”Do we direct technology, or do we let ourselves be directed by it and those who have mastered it?” – a wide reaching thought to both those creating technologies for people and for those using them everyday.

And then to top it all off, we’ll all get happy with a talk from Jonathan Wolske, Culture Evangelist at the Zappos Insights Inc..

Scaling the Startup Culture – Keeping Happiness as a focus through growth

Start-ups are known to be a little different from established brands. In many cases, the culture of a startup is one of adventure, passion and happiness, with everyone working as hard as they can to make the most out of the new opportunity. As a company grows, the pressure to crack the whip and ‘get real’ can really build up. As companies become successful, they tend to become more ‘corporate’, too. Imagine keeping the fun (and a little weird) culture of a startup going as you continue to grow! Company culture is what you make it, and you can make it THE place to work and have a passionate, dedicated and HAPPY team.

Where: Rotary Centre for the Arts, Mary Irwin Theater, Kelowna
With: Yes Bear and City of Sparks
When: Friday, July 27th – 12:30 PM—2:00 PM
How Much: Members $15 / Non-Members $20
For: Everyone (spaces limited to 250)

Details and to Register

Startup Weekend is coming to Kelowna March 2-4

The first ever Startup Weekend Okanagan is less than two weeks away!

For those that don’t know about Startup Weekend,  it’s an intense 54 hour event which focuses on building a web or mobile application which could form the basis of a credible business over the course of a weekend. To date more than 450 events have been held around the globe and now it’s Kelowna’s time to shine.

The weekend brings together individuals with different skill sets – marketing maestros, design gurus, business development wizards, legal geniuses, and startup specialists – to work together in teams to build applications and develop a commercial case around them.

Beginning with open-mic pitches on Friday, March 2nd, attendees bring their best ideas and inspire others to join their team.  Over the Saturday and Sunday, teams focus on customer development, validating their ideas, and building a minimal viable product. On the Sunday evening, the teams will pitch and be judged by a panel of distinguished judges, followed by a prize-giving and wrap-up event.

The aim of the weekend is to bring together the knowledge of local entrepreneurs, and help those in need to find their feet in the world of startups.

Each ticket includes the opportunity to walk away with thousands of dollars in prizes & swag from companies such as Accelerate Okanagan, DropBox, and Github. In addition, attendees will be provided with swag, food, & drink all weekend as well as everything they need to bring their idea to fruition.

Please sign up here if you are interested in getting involved, it’s going to be awesome!

Accepting Applications for entrepreneurship@AO

Accelerate Okanagan is accepting applications for entrepreneurship@AO, a comprehensive 12-month program designed to support and nurture early-stage technology companies from product concept to market entry, created in partnership with BCIC. In its first year, the program will provide support for up to 15 successful applicants. Each company accepted into the program will receive:

  • One-year’s enrolment in Accelerate Okanagan’s flagship Venture Acceleration Program
  • Free access to shared office space at Accelerate okanagan’s Innovation Centres in Kelowna and Penticton.
  • Participation in the BCIC Mentor Program

The application deadline for entrepreneurship@AO is Wednesday, February 15, 2012. Companies will be able to pitch to a panel of judges in either Kelowna or Vancouver. The selected applicants will be announced on February 23, 2012, with the Program set to launch March 1, 2012.

Please visit for more details.