Ray Szabada, (right) CEO of tech hub XLRator, when he was interviewed at Startup Grind by Tim McAlpine of Currency Market. (Submitted)                                Ray Szabada, (right) CEO of tech hub XLRator, when he was interviewed at Startup Grind by Tim McAlpine of Currency Market. (Submitted)

Ray Szabada, (right) CEO of tech hub XLRator, when he was interviewed at Startup Grind by Tim McAlpine of Currency Market. (Submitted) Ray Szabada, (right) CEO of tech hub XLRator, when he was interviewed at Startup Grind by Tim McAlpine of Currency Market. (Submitted)

VIDEO: Chilliwack to become the epicentre of tech startup expertise in the Fraser Valley

Fraser Valley Tech Forum Nov. 7 in Chilliwack features startup leaders and award-winning companies

Chilliwack will be the epicentre of tech startup excitement on Nov. 7.

The 3rd annual Fraser Valley Tech Forum at the Coast Chilliwack Hotel by APA is bringing startup leaders together with government, educators, tech influencers and community stakeholders.

The daylong event, presented by tech hub XLRator in partnership with Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation, will focus on the twin themes of funding needs and workforce development strategies for new startups and tech companies across the region.

“XLRator aims to build the best tech ecosystem in B.C. by supporting the fast-growing tech sector and providing opportunities to engage, learn and network with the best in the industry,” said Raymond Szabada, president and CEO of XLRator.

The tech-focused event has grown and shifted over the years.

“I think the idea of the forum was originally to bring educators, government and businesses together, but we were so delighted to see so many tech startups show up,” Szabada said. “It’s always about networking, it’s always about ideas, it’s always about innovation, and I think what we saw and understood from last year was that there is so much innovation in the valley.”

Inspired panelists and speakers at this year’s forum include 20 successful entrepreneurs and leaders of fast-growing startups and award-winning companies.

There will be discussions about how to start, grow, and scale tech ventures, as well as what it will take to expand the nascent tech startup cluster in the Fraser Valley.

“This provides an opportunity to ignite young minds, foster innovation, and engage in conversations on building and scaling tech companies in the Fraser Valley,” Szabada said.

The Fraser Valley region in particular is well-positioned to see its tech sector continue to grow, Szabada pointed out. Its proximity to Vancouver as a tech hub, its lower cost of living and doing business, as well as its high quality of life as a region to attract a skilled workforce, are key factors, he said.

The second half of the forum is all about the all-important seed funding and securing venture capital, led by individuals well-versed on this type of financing. There will be Q&As, and insights on how to successfully raise funds as well as ways to invest in startups.

The active networking, panel discussions, and information sharing at the event could lead to mentorship of those working to launch tech startups, which is defined as a company bringing new or improved technology products or services to market.

Netty Tam, CEPCO’s manager of business development said working with startups in the tech sector fits in perfectly with their mandate to assist and facilitate economic growth.

“We’ve created the Chilliwack Innovation Network, which is working with the grassroots companies and organizations to really promote the technology sector,” Tam said. “It is a relatively new sector here in Chilliwack but there are great opportunities, and CEPCO sees its role as assisting and helping those entrepreneurs.”

The Fraser Valley Tech Forum is Nov. 7, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Coast Chilliwack Hotel by APA. Tickets at https://xlrator.ca/fvtechforum

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Raymond Szabada, president and CEO of XLRator, being interviewed at the CEPCO offices on Oct. 31, 2019. (Larry Krause/The Progress)

Raymond Szabada, president and CEO of XLRator, being interviewed at the CEPCO offices on Oct. 31, 2019. (Larry Krause/The Progress)