Whistler Tech: Competition or No Contest?

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Between fixing bugs and losing weekends to testing code, there’s something about having the certainty of a mountain right beside you, bungee cords a few miles away and the disposal of wicked terrains to your RTV.  Whistler’s tech scene may have a bit more of a one-up on Vancouver than we know what to do with, at least in terms of getting that heart rate on adrenaline rushing levels. “Generally you’ll find bigger companies gravitate towards the city,” Founder and Technical Director at Guestfolio, Mark Edmondson explained. “So when we’re hiring, we’re pitching for coding adventurers, and what we can promise is lifestyle.”

But is the geeketry Whistler developers get up to a cause for competition or are we missing out on partnering with a growing hub with out of the box ventures? “It’s something very small and quite disjointed, right now,” Mark described. “There’s not a great deal of communication between the companies here or as many events that take place as Vancouver. When it came to hiring we actually took on one a Lighthouse Labs’ first graduate in Vancouver and he’s been with us ever since.”

So when Lighthouse Labs, Vancouver’s premiere developer bootcamp, announced The HTML 500 would take place, Mark jumped on getting the future of Whistler’s tech hub on board. “We’re actually sending four highschool students to the event,” he beamed, furthering initiatives to getting youth involved to support both communities.

“People are starting to come to realization that a vast majority of people are on devices that use programming and coding,” Mark detailed. “I think increasing the exposure and awareness and understanding is what Whistler needs right now and we’re doing it with the help of Vancouver. Kids are interested, unfortunately schools move at a glacial pace.”

Lighthouse Labs’ Head Instructor, Khurram Virani, says it all starts at an early stage. “High school is basically where I got started to learn how to code,” he revealed. “I think given where we are right now in the technology age, just like you learn the fundamentals of math and chemistry, computer science is now just as important. What we need to do. I’m actually super excited to hear that student high schools are coming, I hope this inspires more students come to more events because of this.”

But as far as competition goes, Mark explains there’s more room for collaboration instead. “If Vancouver is Silicon Valley North then we’re a sort of a desert up here,” Mark laughed. “Whistler’s got a great draw in term of what it is and so we kind of have that leverage over Vancouver. But it’s tough to compete with a Vancouver crowd, especially in terms of hiring, so nurturing a homegrown crowd through Vancouver is what we’d like to do.”

For Khurram, generating students and pushing the quality level of developers to new heights through Lighthouse Labs a cool gig but Whistler is an extension of the same hub. “I feel that it’s great to have pockets and core areas, like Gastown, is what’s worked for a lot of software companies but what we’re moving towards is having our developers pretty much available anywhere in the world,” he stressed. “You could potentially have an office in Whistler and in Vancouver and that isn’t competition. I wouldn’t really call it competition as much as it is a branch.”

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Romila Barryman is a mad-scientist of sorts. She experiments with words, concocts diabolical phrases and explores tech like it is territory to be conquered. Her current lab experiments can be seen as founder of the Tech section for VancityBuzz, Lighthouse Labs Alumni and Full Stack Developer.
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