I have been meaning to post about Saskatoon and the tech sector for some time but Ginger Koolick beat me too it with this great post aptly titled “Tech Community in Saskaboom, SK” . I have been involved in the tech community in Saskatoon for some time. I founded Delron in 1989, CompuSmart in 1995, moved on to Point2 in 2000 and now in 2008 am a founder of VendAsta and MyFrontSteps.
At Point2 over 90% of our customers and almost all of our business development work was done south of the border. Having traveled extensively on business in the United States, I can tell you first hand that Saskatoon has a lot going for it. Saskatoon is a great place to live. It is a place you can afford (and want) to raise a family. Most of us can drive to work in the span of one or two songs. You can’t really even call that a commute. I have been to San Fransisco, New York, Atlanta, Phoenix and the like, and I can tell you that I appreciate the two extra hours a day I can spend with my family rather than strangers on a train or a jammed freeway.
However, the greatest thing Saskatoon has going for it, plain and simple, is it’s great people. Intelligent hard working people. It is true that a lot of young people leave Saskatoon but those that remain are here for a reason. From the perspective of a business owner this is great news. Like the priest in California Dreaming you know they are going to stay. That said, their personal motivation for staying need not be a ball and chain that prevents them from enjoying the same benefits of those living in the Valley.
What do I mean by that you might ask? Well, I find it surprising how large a factor physical location plays in business development given how “connected’ the world has become. When visiting other tech meccas it always amazes me how exciting and symbiotic their ecosystems are. Having a nucleus of companies and people sharing common work, interests and goals makes for an exciting ecosystem. The energy from the individual entities is stored by the ecosystem and resonates within; truly making the whole greater than the sum of its parts. This is just starting to happen in Saskatoon . We have only just begun to feel and understand the value this ecosystem can bring to all involved. How fast and far we advance with this idea is up to us. If you are in the the industry don’t be afraid to share and interact with others. Guys like my Neighbour, Ryan Lejbak a founder and owner of Zu have it got it right – you get by giving. He is making a great start by driving things like the Saskatoon Bar Camp. If we work together we can build a thriving tech community right here in Saskatoon.