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North Okanagan Hackathon Explores the Future of Talent

The strength of our community lies in our ability to collaborate, our willingness to think differently and even try something new. If we want to solve the complex problems our communities are facing, we will need innovative solutions—and that means not just thinking big but thinking BOLD! 

With the recent opening of The Vernon Innovation & Entrepreneur Workspace (The VIEW), we have been eager to bring the North Okanagan community together in a meaningful way. On Thursday, October 29, we hosted the first-ever North Okanagan Talent Hackathon, which brought together people who were excited to tackle an issue currently faced by local businesses and create pragmatic solutions.

During this jam-packed half-day of hacking community connections were fostered, ideas were generated, and we were blown away by what the hackers created in only a few short hours. 

In case you missed it, here is a look at what happened at the North Okanagan’s Talent Hackathon.

THE PEOPLE

It’s important to note, it doesn’t matter who you are, everyone brings value when attending a hackathon. If you’re willing, you’re welcome. 

The North Okanagan Talent Hackathon was attended by an incredible group of community members from the North Okanagan, Central Okanagan, and even a few from the lower mainland. They came from various industries including technology, academia and non-profits.  A diverse group of participants like this makes for endless possibilities when it comes to building solutions. 

THE PROBLEM

During hackathons, teams are brought together to build multiple solutions around solving a single challenge statement. For this hackathon, the challenge these hackers were addressing was “how might we better leverage the diversity in our community?”.

Finding and retaining top talent and skilled knowledge workers continues to be a key issue for business owners not just in the Okanagan but across the country. Knowing this, we believed that the members of the community would be eager to tackle this challenge. 

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 THE HACKING

Hackathons are rooted in the concept of Design Thinking, a human-centered approach to problem-solving. When using the design thinking process there are 5 important steps to consider: empathizing with your user, defining their needs, ideating solutions, prototyping those ideas, and testing the prototypes. When working through these steps, you’re constantly reminded of who your solution is for, and that it needs to satisfy their challenge——that’s what makes design-thinking so powerful. 

At the North Okanagan Talent Hackathon, each team worked through these steps to generate ideas and build a concept that could be brought to life by the end of the day. The wildest part: all of this happened in just under 2 hours. Sound crazy? It was. The benefit of working with a time constraint is that all team members are forced to brainstorm and share any and all ideas, there is no time to second guess yourself. Nothing is off the table when hacking. 

THE KEYNOTE

Before jumping into all of the hacker’s incredible ideas, our keynote speaker, Adam Smiley Poswolosky, joined us virtually from San Francisco, to share lessons learned through his experiences and techniques we can bring back to our own workplaces. Smiley helps companies attract, retain, and empower millennial talent—inspiring thousands of professionals to be more engaged at work. Adam emphasized the power of finding believers in your community who will support you in achieving your goals. 

THE PITCHES

After a fast-paced day of hacking, each of the participating teams consolidated their ideas into a 5-minute pitch. The hackers then presented their business concepts to a panel of expert judges from various disciplines: 

  • Kierstin Enemark, Government Relations Director with Shaw Communication

  • Kevin Poole, Manager of Economic Development and Tourism at the City of Vernon

  • Murray Smith, Audit Partner with KPMG 

THE PRIZES

Two prizes were awarded at the end of the day, the Best Idea and Peoples Choice. The Best Idea went to Team One and Done, whose concept was Workabilities, a safe, filterable job board, that can help both recruiters and job seekers. They walked away with a gift basket full of treats from KPMG, Arlene Dickenson’s new book Reinvention, and gift cards to Marten Brewing.

The People's Choice award went to Team Awesome, who created a concept called Jump Start DEI, a program that helps employers not only attract a diverse workforce but also retain them. Team Awesome was awarded gift cards to Ratio Coffee & Pastry as well as Build the Fort by Chris Heivly.

THE SPONSORS

Nothing brings people together like supporting one another. Accelerate Okanagan is a non-profit organization and we couldn’t be successful without the support of our incredible sponsors. They play a key role in ensuring our community continues to thrive and we can’t thank them enough. 

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Is there a specific challenge you’re passionate about?

Let us know what challenge we should tackle at our next hackathon >>

Looking to connect with the North Okanagan Community?

Sign up for Startup Coffee on December 1 >>

Looking for workspaces, events, or training?

Book a Tour of The VIEW >>

 


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