innovation learning on the coast

Success.  Entrepreneurs who attended the innovation workshops this past week came away with some practical framework and resource references for working on their business (rather than in their business).

During the workshops people had a chance to apply startup inspired frameworks to their own business – ranging from digital services, agricultural, housing, and environmental tech – across all stages of growth.  Lots of good local connections formed.  And lots of time for 1:1 Q&A and feedback tapping into the experience of our workshop leader.

A valuable 1.5 days of local entrepreneur support and learning led by Graham Truax / Innovation Island.     Thanks to SCREDO for funding the series,  Community Futures for connecting the pieces, Capilano University kálax-ay the Sunshine Coast Campus for the venue, and Harbour Air for being our transportation partner.

The next workshops in the entrepreneurship and innovation series are March 6/7 focusing on financing and whether to pivot or persevere.    Registration is open now.  You can always reach out to Community Futures by phone or email with any questions on if/how attending can be valuable for starting, growing, or pivoting your business.

Here are the links to the presentation decks, with a ton of really useful external links that cover everything from the soups to nuts of starting and growing a business (literally!).

Startup 101  |  Lean Canvas Part 1  |  Lean Canvas Part 2

As we all learned, Graham is an avid reader and audit book listener.  His summaries are epic and expected amongst the VAP clients.

Good news!  Many of the books that Graham references are or will soon be available through our local library in print and/or digital formats.

Originals, Adam Grant  (one of top reads for 2017 where the author shows how research blows apart the myths about successful entrepreneurs).  “To become original, you have to try something new, which means accepting some measure of risk. But the most successful originals are not the daredevils who leap before they look. They are the ones who reluctantly tiptoe to the edge of a cliff, calculate the rate of descent, triple-check their parachutes, and set up a safety net at the bottom just in case.  Available in print and e-book formats locally.

The Art of the Start (the original, not the 2.0 yet) available in print and e-book formats locally.

Value proposition design : how to create products and services customers want / Alexander Osterwalder  available in print format locally.

The Lean Startup (the classic reference) available in e-book format locally.

And the ones that I have pitched our libraries to add to their print collections:

Any other great books that you recommend to entrepreneurs?  Let me know! 


Facilitator, @SCtechhub

It’s important to just start; with some learning (local!)

A series of 3 local entrepreneur workshops are happening on the Sunshine Coast over the next 3 months.  Jan 23/24, March 6/7, April 17/18.   Registration and details here.

The format is an early evening session followed with a full day session the next day.

A local opportunity for early stage and growth oriented entrepreneurs to connect with other local like-minded folks, learn from some of the best thinkers in this space, and connect into provincial and federal programs.  Designed to support local entrepreneur success.

Curious if these workshops are right for you?   Here are some Q&A’s to help get you a sense of what to expect.

Q: I’m a small going-concern business that uses “tech” but doesn’t build it, how can these workshops help me.

A: While there are some fascinating businesses and developers who are building core technology in our region most entrepreneurs are using “tech” simply in more creative or unexpected ways.  The biggest challenge, regardless of technology, is coming up with an innovative and sustainable business model.  The biggest challenge most entrepreneurs face with their business model is executing on it and/or almost constantly adjusting it.  Jeff Bezos considers Amazon to be a “Startup at day 1” — forever!

Q: I’m a small going-concern business in a very non-tech industry, how can these workshops help me.

A: Technology has changed (or will change) virtually every business on the planet.  The founders of Airbnb did not come from the Bed & Breakfast or Hotel industry, nor did the founders of Uber come from the Taxi industry.  Some of the biggest opportunities still yet to be had are “adding” technology to non-tech business and industry.  In most cases this starts with understanding core tech-based business development methodologies.

Q: I’m a LEAP Graduate and have had decent success (or challenges) with my business and I think I know this stuff so why should I RETHINK what I’ve already learned?

A: If we take a page from Jeff Bezos [reference above] and consider that our business is in a constant state of learning and progressing, then re-thinking the how and why of what we do will become a core habit that can help us to achieve our goals.  Read books, attend workshops, experiment, fit it in, make it happen, repeat.

Q: I’m nearing positive cash-flow with my business and I’m unsure if I should push harder with investment or other growth strategies, how will these workshops help my situation?

A: Most businesses, and certainly most founders and CEO’s are in a never-ending cycle of decision making.  However, some decisions are more important than others and knowing how to properly consider the variables and possible outcomes is both an art (that comes from experience) and science (that comes from data).  There are best practices, and there are tools to help!

Q: I’ve been kicking around several business ideas but I have yet to start anything, how can I decide what is best?

A: SWOT it!  An old but powerful Strengths, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat assessment can help more than you may realize.  Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs don’t do this type of work and just go with their gut feel or with what “they” want rather than what “customers” or markets want.  It’s important not to do too much too soon, or too little too late, but more than that it’s important to just start; after doing some homework!

Q: Who is leading the workshops? 

A: Innovation Island is our regional partner for accessing BC Innovation Council support and Federal IRAP/NRC programming.  Graham Truax, resident EiR, comes over to the Coast to lead the sessions.  Interactive.  Fast moving.  Come away with a stack of resources that will help you get started / scale/ pivot in a smart way.

Q: Wait.  I have more questions.  Who can I speak with? 

A: Feel free to call or drop by the Community Futures office in Sechelt.  Or connect with the @SCtechhub who have members who have attended and are part of the ongoing BC Venture Acceleration Program.

Q: Who is supporting and organizing the events?

A:  Super pleased to have SCREDO, our regional economic development organization backing the workshops.  The workshops are being held with support from the Dean and staff at kálax-ay the Sunshine Coast Campus of Capilano UniversityCommunity Futures are championing the organization with support from @SCtechhub.

Refine, refresh, reboot your business in 2018. Venture workshops starting Jan 23.

FYI entrepreneurs and those aspiring to grow their business idea in 2018.  Local workshop series is starting Jan 23/24.

Organized by Community Futures Sunshine Coast, supported by @SCtechhub and Capilano University, and led by Innovation Island.

Come learn from some of the best thinkers in this space. Meet other local entrepreneurs.   Take away great tools and resources.  Increase the chances of your business taking the right first steps, avoiding the landmines, and positioning for success.

Registration and information

Fall 2017 meetup is November 17

Friday November 17 at the new 101 distillery and brew house in Gibsons.  Anytime 5:00 onwards.  We have a few tables reserved for the group.  No formal agenda – just a chance to connect with others who work in the tech space and share similar / complementary sets of skills and interests.  After 7pm if 101 gets too crowded we will move across the street to the Blackfish pub.  Future meetups you ask?  Always open to members initiating events!

Girls Learning Code – resources + lessons learned

We just wrapped another successful Girls Learning Code (and parallel Parents Learning Code) workshops.  7 mentors came out to support the learning for 24 girls (sell out) and 12 parents.  Thanks to Capilano University Sechelt Campus for hosting the event, and the Sunshine Coast Community Resource Center for helping with the organizational details.  Lisa Bains developed the curriculum and Richard Hoath was the event lead.

When can we do this again?

Check out the Girls Learning Code (Sunshine Coast) Facebook pageSubscribe to the GLC newsletter list.

Keep the learning happening and are amazing resources for kids (self paced learning), parents (try not to get hooked into coding!), and teachers (full age and curriculum specific materials with ready to go lesson plans).


Here are links to the course materials.  Please use/ share/ re-purpose freely.

Girls Learning Code Lesson Plan

Parents Learning Code Lesson Plan

and a handout with resource links

Here are some of the lessons we learned that may be useful for future workshops.

Girls Learn Code Workshop Saturday April 29 @CapU

Calling all girls ages 8-12!

Join us for this hands-on coding workshop led by women from the Sunshine Coast who work in the tech sector.

This workshop is designed for girls ages 8-12 who have some basic knowledge of the Scratch programming language.  You can learn enough Scratch to participate in this workshop by working through the exercises in Stages 1 to 8 here:

Parents – are you interested in learning more about coding and technology?  You are invited to a parents learn to code and tech Q&A session happening at the same time.  Parents – if possible, please bring your own laptop or tablet device to follow along.  Computers will be provided for the girls.

Question? Contact us at

Registration is limited to 24

@SCtechhub spring meetup

The @SCtechhub community spring meetup will be on Sunday April 23, 3-5pm.   Details are being posted on our Slack channel.

Do you work in the tech sector and live on the Sunshine Coast – but have not yet joined the community on #Slack?  Drop us an email to get an invitation to our #Slack community forum –   connect  @  with the answer to our ‘I am not a robot’ question, “what is your favourite Sunshine Coast (BC) beach?”

super awesome STEM & digital literacy links for kids of all sizes is an amazing organization dedicated to giving every kid an opportunity to learn code.  fun for adults too.  Their sandbox environment has self-paced online courses for every age range.  Super fun for kids and parents to explore together – and then kids can keep going on their own.   Angry birds, gaming, design, …

scratch is an open source coding language for kids.  MIT has created a great online studio for kids to learn code.  tons of how to videos, sample projects, etc.  This is the site we used at the first girls learning code day in November 2016.

Here is the link for exploring the new BC Curriculum for STEM learning.

Here are some connected devices that you can program to do things in the physical world

electronic prototyping / IoT/ sensors / robotics

raspberry Pi – so many project ideas on this site

Arduino is another open source electronic prototyping platform



scratch mentioned above is a great environment for coding basic games



Have you found some great resources?   Please share with the group by sending us an email.

The sound of 24 girls learning to code

Here is a quick recap of the girls learning code workshop held Saturday November 12.  This 20 second video sums it up.


First thanks to the organizations who stepped up in practical ways to help make the event happen – Capilano University, Community Resource Center,  Connecting Self Employed Women for Success (CSEWS) project of the Community Resource Centre, and the Sunshine Coast Film Society .

The coding workshop sold out in 6 days with a waiting list.  24 girls & their adult co-learner came out for 3 hours of learning to code using Scratch, a free online visual coding environment.  7 women from the @SCtechhub community led and mentored the session.

Aha moment for us was when we were struggling with how to create a shared portfolio in Scratch.  One of the girls confidently came up to the front and showed us how to do it.  Nice.

Here are the course notes.

Download (PDF, 67KB)

Here is a great first exercise in Scratch.

The evening film CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap was a hard hitting look at gender and minority participation in the tech sector.  The film provoked a good post discussion around what we can do locally to support girls being exposed and welcomed in the STEM subjects.   Look forward to hearing more from SD46 about STEM curriculum that we hear is coming.

Here are discussion notes from the film

Download (PDF, 46KB)

Definite interest to keep the learning going.  We are doing a survey of the workshop participants to gather their ideas.  Interested in the idea?  Lets connect   connect <at>