Tobyn Sowden, CEO of Redbrick, gets candid

Plus, a local healthtech startup faces bureaucratic challenges, and TELUS invests $34.5 million in Victoria.


Welcome to this week’s Sunday Briefing, brought to you by COAST. In this issue, catch up on the highlights from Scale YYJ, learn about the recent barrier a local healthtech company has encountered, and find a new seaweed product for farmers near you.

-Allison, @allisongacad

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Scale YYJ has come and gone, but here are our highlights

Panelists of Feel the Burn, Not the Burnout, pictured at Whistle Buoy Brewing.

We’ve been winding down from Scale YYJ, Victoria’s first-ever week of tech events. The five days of activities brought something for everyone — from a PhD in Sales from the School of Hard Knocks to a Non-Cocktail Networking spin class hosted by Panache Ventures. Here are a few events that stood out to us.

Feel the Burn, Not the Burnout: Over beers and bites at Whistle Buoy Brewing, panelists reflected on the all-too-common symptoms of fatigue, helplessness, and detachment — A.K.A burnout. Speakers Chris McGuire, CTO of Thinkific; Rebecca Kirstein Resch, co-founder and CEO of Inqli; Nicole Smith, founder and CEO of Flytographer; Patricia Galaczy, founder of The Art of Dialogue and associate faculty at Royal Roads University; and moderator Nadia Tatlow, CEO of Shift, all agreed: you don’t have to burn out to build a successful company. The panelists cited key practices for healing from those periods of prolonged stress and exhaustion. This included finding mindfulness in a range of activities, be it yoga or golf; exercising leadership in one’s company by setting boundaries to spend time recharging; and demonstrating how teams can still perform at a high level, even when they have freedom to work remotely or pursue a four-day work week.

ProductTank Victoria Fireside Chat with Tobyn Sowden, CEO of Redbrick: The monthly ProductTank Victoria series organized by Steph Thiel, senior mobile product manager at Workday, and Mike Foucher, vice president of product and technology at Shift, welcomed a candid conversation with Victoria tech leader Tobyn Sowden, CEO of Redbrick. While he did discuss his love of product and his talent for scope-cutting, Sowden was largely frank about his journey as an entrepreneur. From his early days of flipping garage sale finds to paying off his student loans through affiliate marketing, the founder has spent a lifetime building businesses. Perhaps most candid was his sharing of his biggest failure as an entrepreneur — a story you’ll have to ask Sowden for the next time you see him.

Victoria Tech Journal Presents: We first had the opportunity to dive into Victoria’s Blue Economy at Discover Tectoria, where audience members gathered to learn about one of Victoria’s most valuable assets — the ocean. Panelists Callum Campbell, founder and CEO of Greenline Marine; Jason Goldsworthy, executive director at COAST; and Kate Moran, president of Ocean Networks Canada spoke about topics such as the future of electric ferries across the Strait of Georgia and decarbonizing our oceans. The panel was swiftly followed by familiar faces of Victoria’s women in tech: Elizabeth Dutton, founding partner of Women’s Equity Lab; Kate Fagan Taylor, board member at iWIST; and Nancy Norris, senior director at the ministry of energy, mines, and low carbon innovation.


Shoring up our marine environment

COAST, Pacific Canada’s hub for the sustainable blue economy, has released the first of its new podcast series. The episode features Coastal Zone Canada’s event chair Phil Osborne, who shares with COAST Executive Director Jason Goldsworthy the challenges and opportunities inherent in coastal management ahead of their conference in Victoria next week. Learn how humans impact our shorelines and what’s being done to mitigate damage and promote a healthy, biodiverse marine environment.

For more information on COAST’s work driving B.C. innovation in the ocean technology and marine industries, visit Sign up for their monthly newsletter, watch the COAST Talks panel series, and get notified of new podcast episodes.

🏙️ Community catchup, powered by VIATEC

Health Tech Nights is back for another evening of networking and great company. This month VIATEC is excited to bring you a talk titled "Adventures in the BC Public Health Sector”, with speaker Kepmen Lee. Kepmen will be able to provide real-life examples of working to innovate in the public health system, and provide insights and advice on how companies can work collaboratively in the environment.

Kepmen is the vice-president responsible for CGI’s operations in the B.C. health and education sectors. Having joined CGI in 2003, Kepmen has over 15 years of experience in the information technology industry and has worked with numerous clients in both the public and private sectors. In 2010 Kepmen began to focus his attention on the health sector, working closely with the B.C. region’s largest client, the BC Ministry of Health.

📰 More Victoria innovation news

🩺 Challenges in healthtech: Care2Talk, a healthtech startup supporting seniors with communications, recently had its approval from the Ministry of Health taken away, according to founder Jordan Schley.

📞 Telecommunications investment TELUS is investing $34.5 million in Victoria as well as $7 million in Saanich for network infrastructure, operations, and spectrum, now through 2027.

🌱 Agtech meets the blue economy: Cascadia Seaweed is distributing its first commercialized agricultural product in partnership with ReFeed Canada.

Last week, we asked if you attended Discover Tectoria. Forty-six percent of you didn’t, but you wish you did!

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