Last week I spoke and participated in MoSo, Canada’s Mobile and Social Media Conference in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. I presented on social media marketing, its relationship to Internet search and how the metrics available from this can provide invaluable insight and direction for business. Leading up to the event the media asked over and over again, “Why Saskatoon?” And while the answer was often a biased “Because it’s the best city in Canada,” this matured into the idea that in many ways Saskatoon is Canada’s Silicon Valley. It made me think about and appreciate even more the relocation of our head office from the west coast to the prairies. It’s an exciting time to be in this city and province, in the early days of what seems to be extraordinary opportunity. It’s one I plan to make the most of by sharing my knowledge, expertise and passion for this often underestimated part of the country. Here are five reasons why…
Reason #1: Saskatoon IS the Silicon Valley of the North
Silicon Valley began at Stanford when the university leased land to companies to encourage research and technological innovation after WW2. Since 1980 the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon has been the home to a very successful high tech research park called Innovation Place. Both university-related communities have had a strong regional focus and mandate to fuel local invention and economic growth. The U of S Department of Computer Science has also been associated with cutting edge education programs, such as the first course in Canada (third in North America) on iPhone application development which has resulted in new products like iUsask, one of the first comprehensive mobile apps for students at a North American university.
Reason #2: Saskatchewan is Booming
Many brilliant minds have benefitted from the world class training offered in Saskatoon but in the past these young people would leave the province for greener pastures. However, the pastures are looking pretty green around here these days. While the rest of the country (and the world) is still reeling and recovering from the international financial crisis, the Conference Board of Canada continues to forecast amazing economic growth for Saskatchewan for the foreseeable future. This can only benefit all industries and sectors including high tech.
Reason #3: Amazing Homegrown Talent
There were a lot of great presenters at MoSo, including some technology rock stars who were originally from Saskatoon, such as Twitter personality Khayyam Wakil (who I had the pleasure of presenting with), Michael Scissons, the founder and CEO of Syncapse, a highly successful enterprise social media management solution, and Aerin Guy, mobile learning guru with MySpark Technologies. These success stories of local kids making good were inspiring to the room of young, primarily Saskatchewan tech talent that filled the room. SaskTel, one of the event sponsors, pointed out “because of high demand, the opportunity right now is huge for nurturing mobile and social app development. Developers can live in Saskatchewan, but their apps can go anywhere in the world [and] there’s a lot of talent in the province.” And from what I saw at MoSo that talent pool openly shares knowledge and feedback and is very supportive. It’s the kind of community that is the perfect jumping off place for the next great idea(s).
Reason #4: Low Cost, Full Access
One of the main reasons I moved my head office from Vancouver to Saskatoon is that it’s expensive to live in Vancouver (or Toronto or any big city). Some days it’s all you can do to keep your head above water financially and that’s no way to live or run a business. Saskatchewan is a much more affordable place to live. I can keep my overhead low, travel for work if necessary (I’ve made seven such trips in the past year), and it is still cheaper than if I had stayed on the west coast. And as stated above, it doesn’t really matter where you are physically located any more, the Internet allows you to reach anywhere, any time. It’s why what I do (online marketing) is so powerful and important to any business.
Reason #5: The Snowball Effect
Ok, so we’re in Saskatoon, a technological hotbed of training and innovation, with a healthy economy, a strong talent pool, low overhead and international access. To me that sounds like the perfect recipe for success, one that can only increase exponentially with each accomplishment. To quote the founder of McDonalds, “the two most important requirements for major success are: first, being in the right place at the right time, and second, doing something about it.”
The fact that MoSo sold out so quickly (three weeks) and that the buzz has been so positive, leads me to expect wider attendance from across the country at MoSo 2012 and that some very interesting projects will have been developed in the meantime. I also believe the film and telelvison community I often serve can benefit significantly from a relationship with this developer community. I feel I am in the right place at the right time and I am very excited about being a part of whatever comes next.
Or Revisit Last Week: Film vs. TV vs. Web Video: Different Online Marketing Challenges – Part 3
Submit suggestions, questions or tips of your own via email to annelise(at)veria.ca or Twitter @veriatweet