Reflections & Predictions: A Look Back on 2018 & Ahead to 2019

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Looking Back

How quickly the year goes by! The past year has been yet another transformative year for WEtech Alliance. New team members (welcome Adam Castle), new board members (welcome Debbie Landers, Gokul Bhandari and Dave Cullen), new clients, and new programs (Libro ScaleUP Tech Accelerator and Innovation Catalyst). We’ve seen our clients achieve scale like never before, secure record investment, increase their footprint, and even prepare to travel across the globe to further grow their venture (thank you Canadian Digital Media Network). These milestones are what drives our team and what’s helping bring diversification and prosperity to the region.

The past year also included building on existing partnerships including that with the Chatham-Kent Economic Development Corporation. A special shout out to Stuart McFadden, Geoff Wright, Andrew Tompsett and Rosemarie Montgomery for your ongoing support. A big welcome to new Mayor Darrin Canniff and Councillors. With 3 TeCK Nights under our belts and over 10 companies engaged, we are looking forward to revealing our 2019 programming line-up to the CK tech community.

Another special memory is the second annual Tech Week YQG. With a little luck and a lot of hard work and partnerships, these 5 days engaged close to 2,000 entrepreneurs, students, tech lovers into the world of tech including mobility, coding and cross border discussions. This event not only brought together the local tech community but formed partnerships with national and global tech giants including Rock Ventures, Lime, Canada Learning Code and Michelin North America. Seeing over 200 students experience hands on tech skills makes its an easy win – and are memories that I will cherish from 2018. Planning is already underway to for Tech Week 2019.

Our team would be remise if we did not thank our board members for their leadership as well as commitment to WEtech Alliance since opening its doors in 2010. A special thank you to our 2018 outgoing Board Members Adam Davis, Brent McPhail, Michael Furtado and Saverio Rinaldi.

Last but definitely not least, 2018 would not have been as impactful without the efforts and dedication of the “small but mighty” WEtech team. This team knows no limits – and no caffeine limits. A special thank you to the Adams who have not only helped build out our first-ever tech accelerator program, Libro StartUP and War Rooms, but has been an instrumental part in growing our suite of business advisory programs and services and receiving outstanding client satisfaction quarter after quarter.

A special thank to John-Marc for bringing to life our first-ever Twitter Chats, engaging our provincial and municipal leaders and community in important conversations around technology and innovation. And how can I forget, his efforts in bringing a new face to WEtech with our new website.

Another thank you to Irek Kusmierczyk for deepening our partnerships on both sides of the border and for his continuous commitment on shinning the light on the importance of FIRST Robotics in the region. DYK we have 20 FRC high school teams and 47 FLL grade school teams in #YQG and #CKont? I’m still beaming from meeting Dean Kamen, Founder for FIRST, last year at World Championships in Detroit. Save the date, FIRST Championships are back in Detroit April 24-27, 2019.

Thank you Deborah Livneh for your dedication to coaching our medheath clients and growing the cross-border medhealth cluster. This past year saw some great outcomes including launching the Commercialization Pathfinder Tool and the Medhealth Summit in Detroit. Can’t wait for MedHealth Summit 2019 at Ford Field!

Last but not least, thank you Michelle Teno-Wachter for connecting us with the Windsor Essex Capital Angel Network (WECAN) as well as your efforts in building out our client and community communications pieces.

Looking Ahead

What do I anticipate for 2019? Collaboration and optimization. With 9 years under our belt, WEtech has grown its brand and footprint in our community. 2019 will bring increased efforts on regional collaboration including regional presence at the NAIAS – Automobili-D Showcase (come say hello at booth UC30), OCE Discovery and Communitech’s True North 2019, a regional program/event calendar that will assist local entrepreneurs and businesses to better connect and engage with the entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem, and increased regional efforts in securing strategic funding and investment for the region.

2018 was an instrumental year for our Venture Services department. Looking to 2019, our efforts will focus on optimizing our existing programs and services. My focusing and strengthening our existing offerings, we can continue to provide our clients with exceptional support, that is both tangible and timely. Additionally, keep an eye out for even more impact results from our team in 2019. Find out how we’re doing HERE.

A word that you will hear often in 2019 is the word – MOBILITY. You will see an increased focus on this sector thanks to efforts made by the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation. Expect the Windsor-Essex region to play a big role in the new mobility industry. With Michigan minutes away and being coined “Silicon Valley Of Mobility Tech”, a great opportunity presents itself to leverage this movement as it fits seamlessly with our regional capabilities in automotive and innovation. Building upon this movement, stay tuned for the 2019 Hacking Health Windsor-Detroit that will bring the world’s first Hacking Health with a mobility theme.

A few predictions and anticipations for 2019:

  1. Greater ecosystem collaboration
  2. Increased brand awareness of #YQG and #CKont as leaders of innovation
  3. Increased “strategic” investment in the region that builds upon our strengths
  4. Focus on STEM Talent – Attraction, retention and engagement
  5. Doubling down on the Mobility and MedHealth sectors
  6. A successful arrival and integration of Quicken Loans
  7. Arrival of Canada Leaning Code – Windsor Chapter
  8. A spring/summer LIME scooter ride along the riverfront… Just my prediction 😊
  9. Increased innovation programming for SMEs via WEtech’s Innovation Catalyst program
  10. 2019 TMT Predictions with Duncan Stewart of Deloitte in April 2019

In closing, having been WEtech’s first employee over 9 years ago, I can’t express enough how proud I am of the WEtech team and our region. We are working harder and better together than we ever have and I cannot wait to see the fruit of 2019. Mayor Drew Dilkens has set 2019 as the year of diversification and we forward to lending a helping hand in these efforts. We are stronger together!

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Looking Back

WEtech Alliance took three big steps forward this year.

First, the signing of Adam Castle really solidified the middle of the order on our Business Advisory Team and set the club up nicely for a deep playoff run.

The successful launch of Innovation Catalyst presents an opportunity for WEtech to engage larger companies and organizations to help empower their frontline staff to become internal engines of innovation.

And finally, Tech Week YQG solidified WEtech’s role as a connector and catalyst for cutting edge conversation and collaboration in the tech community.  The weeklong celebration of tech featured fifteen events and initiatives covering a breadth of topics including the tech talent pipeline, diversity and accessibility in tech, and the emerging mobility sector.  The week was punctuated by a world-class panel of speakers from Detroit that provided YQG with insights on the Motor City’s remarkable transformation into a world-class Mobility City and tech-talent magnet.  Not to be outdone – Tech Week YQG also handed out some hardware to our own community of tech leaders with the 2nd Annual Tech Awards.

Looking Ahead

The stylish conversion of the old Fish Market into the home of the new Quicken Loans tech office validates WEtech’s long-standing push for closer cross-border collaboration that started with Hacking Health Windsor-Detroit five years ago.  The opportunity for WEtech to expand the regional collaboration up-and-down the 401 to include a Detroit-Windsor-Waterloo corridor is worth exploring and aligns nicely with the messaging coming from City Hall about the need to boost our region’s economic recruitment and diversification effort.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fact our friends in Detroit are once again hosting the World Championships of FIRST Robotics at Cobo Hall, which will attract 40,000 participants and spectators from around the world.  It’s exciting to think about the elementary and high school teams from YQG that will qualify to take on the world – and also about the incredible opportunity for all of our young people to experience first-hand this inspiring and transformative global competition, which is open to the public, right across the river.  Hope to see you there!

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Looking Back

I am so energized to see our clients accelerating their businesses and products to market.  It is great to watch them acquire paying customers, hire their first employee, get awarded government funding, secure investment for growth, and expand their reach internationally. As their advisor, I am thrilled to be a part of their journey, and it is most gratifying to see them become successful!

2018 was an exciting year as we  continued with our focus on the life science sector.  WEtech in collaboration with community partners, promoted our region as a gateway to the USA and an attractive place to develop and adopt medical innovations.  We have become a strategic partner of MedHealth Cluster in Michigan. Together, we want to build up the medtech and health IT sectors in Southeast Michigan and Southwestern Ontario region.  In April, WEtech helped put together the largest cross border MedHealth Summit in Detroit. This was one of the largest cross border match-making event ever, with 131 pre-scheduled private meetings, bringing together 43 early-and-advanced stage companies with 22 investors and 16 hospitals and healthcare systems from both sides of the river.  Notably, 11 of WEtech clients such as Clinic Seeker, Infinit Nutrition Canada, True Phantom Solutions and RF Kinetics have participated in the summit.

Looking Ahead

I’m looking forward to continue to advise clients and enthusiastic about the opportunity to engage with new ventures and technologies.  Another focus will be on attracting angel investors and other funding resources to benefit our ventures who want to grow their business.  Also, we are excited to plan the 2019 MedHealth Summit.  The summit will connect our medtech innovative clients and American payers and big US VC investors.  Overall, it is wonderful to be a part of the dynamic and passionate WEtech team.  We will support our entrepreneurs in accelerating their businesses and help them making real headway into the market place in the coming year!

Happy 2019 to all!

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Looking Back

2018 can be summed up in one simple word, TANGIBLE. On the business Advisory side we were able to hire the rockstar that is Adam Castle, flush out our Systems of Scale (link to roadmap), run two cohorts of Libro ScaleUP, develop a Venture Success Team to offer tangible expert coaching, run over 100 War Rooms and Toolkit Sessions impacting over 250 businesses in our region.

On top of the amazing work helping businesses scale we were able to wrap our heads around the question, “How can we help larger companies in the WECK region?” Over the course of 2018 we built out our Innovation Catalyst Program, helping large companies in our region develop Innovation Frameworks that help them activate frontline employees to become internal engines of innovation. Right now we are working with the Public School Board, Enwin, and Schlegel Villages.

A big thanks to our stakeholders, the businesses we are so lucky to get to work with, and of course to the world’s greatest team! We are truly just getting started.

Looking Ahead

2019 is all about optimizing what we know to work now and expanding where we think we can have the greatest impact. Working alongside larger businesses in the region to grow prosperity and innovation, focusing on providing world class business services and up skilling, and defining who we are in the ecosystem are all incredible goals that I can’t wait to jump into solving.

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Looking Back

I came aboard WEtech in early February this year. I was excited about new challenges, new opportunities, and to learn new things.

As with any change, there was also the fear of “What if I can’t learn these new skill sets fast enough?”. Looking back, I realize that those thoughts were a massive underestimation of not only my abilities, but of the strength that this team has to make you feel not just like you belong, but like you’re home. In this kind of environment, it’s been easy to thrive in my first year here as a member of the WEteam. Our Business Advisory team has so much to be proud of this year. More specifically, we have 186 reasons to be proud, that’s the number of ventures we have in our active portfolio, and every single day they bring passion and innovation to their work. As an advisor, you have to match your clients in their efforts, the only way it works is if you’re as dedicated to seeing them succeed, as they are to seeing their business succeed. As you work together towards growing their business, their success starts to feel a lot like your success.

Looking back, we moved 73 enterprises from the efficiency stage to the Scale stage of their business, and 115 businesses from the idea stage, to the validation stage. What this means quite simply, is that ventures who work with us, and give it their all, can expect growth across the board with real certainty. From creating new product iterations to adding customers and growing revenue lines, our engine for building a business is running on all cylinders. That’s something to celebrate because it means a stronger economy for our region and ventures ready and willing to not only enter new markets but expand globally.

Looking Ahead

Looking forward, I’d like to take the core of what we’ve built and refine it to deliver the ultimate experience for our clients in 2019.

We’re lucky to have a team that has such a steady focus on what’s next and exploring how we can improve the quality of our services for our ventures. On a personal note, I also want to keep learning and expanding my knowledge as an advisor. With new frameworks, theories, and best practices coming out all the time it’s essential for me to carve out the time needed to expand my skills and grow my abilities.

I’ve decided that my word of the year is going to be “Simple.”

As our ventures continue to build more complex products and the global economy continues to get more complicated, there is no overstating how valuable adopting simple systems can be.

Working with our ventures to eliminate waste, scale fast and always err on the side of simple is what I believe to be the makings of a very prosperous new year.

If it sounds like WEtech’s advisory team is the business partner you’ve been looking for, Sign up to become a client HERE. It only takes a few minutes, and it’s a great way to put your best foot forward in 2019.

See you next year!

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Looking Back

2018 was an exciting year as we continued to focus on being a community leader in growing the TECH sector.

Our 3rd Nerd Olympics was another success introducing 6 new activities where companies networked with others in the IT sector. Some participants mingled with past teachers, catching up on where they’ve been and where they’re going. How exciting to reconnect!

Windsor was fortunate to have three companies work together creating three videos highlighting Windsor to share with the world. Thank you for doing what you did to shore up talent from outside the region; for believing in Windsor and for seeing the need to promote Windsor to maintain our growth. The news of Quicken Loans coming to Windsor,  also instilled the believe that Windsor is a place for growth!

It was a great year and 2019 will be even better!

Looking Ahead

Our WEtech Team has passion just like entrepreneurs and in 2019 we will show the world collectively that Windsor is ready to GROW with partnerships in changing the landscape of our Region.

Happy 2019 to all!

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Looking Back

Looking back on 2018, I reflect on some of our Annual events like our 7th Annual Community Chalk Tweet, 4th Annual Hacking Health Windsor+Detroit, our Nerd Olympics III and our 2nd Annual Tech Week YQG. But for me, 2018 was a year of growth for WEtech. Our team grew, with the addition of our Director of Venture Services, Adam Castle, who brought a tremendous amount of experience, passion and energy to the team. Our roster of programming grew, including a series of all-new of War Rooms, our Innovation Catalyst program, TeCK Nights in Chatham-Kent and our ScaleUP Tech Accelerator Program powered by Libro Credit Union.

Looking Ahead

What I’m most looking forward to in 2019 is continuing to strengthen our relationships with our ecosystem partners. My goal for 2019 is Sync Storytelling & synergistic programming. One Region. One Goal. One Voice.