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ianbell.jpgApparently I’m one of the “People to Watch” on the Vancouver tech scene for 2008. As if it’s not easy enough to look into my townhouse from the street already, you people have to watch me working as well?

Kidding aside, it’s great to be listed among such folks as the RainCity crew, Danny Robinson, and Mozilla’s David Ascher. Missing from the list are folks like David Gratton, Boris Wertz, and Dick Hardt. Their enterprises are I think poised for big things this year, and success on their part will do much to bolster the tech scene in Vancouver in general.

“Me” really means the investors, board members, employees, contractors, and advisors that make up the company we call Something Simpler.

Paul Graham said that:

“you only need two kinds of people to create a technology hub: rich people and nerds”

This is a dramatic oversimplification. It literally takes an army. Or, at least, a squad. And building a good squad is becoming an increasingly problematic issue for startups in our city.

I advise one of the local University Colleges on technology directions for their curriculum and there has lately been a disturbing drop-off in newly-registering students in computing-related studies. It’s also becoming quite difficult to recruit employees in Vancouver, and we’ve actually imported a couple of key team members from outside the community. The operating theory is that a lot of kids’ parents were late investors in the tech economy at the end of the 1990s, and are fearful of sending their children into an unstable business where they’ll be worked to death in dot com sweat shops.

This image, though inaccurate, has some basis in fact. Fortunately, though, there are now a number of people working actively to raise Vancouver’s profile as a credible tech community. If we can, collectively, achieve some success while promoting a balanced lifestyle for workers, and demonstrate that technology is not all work and no play, then we’ll go a long way toward building a sustaining technology economy here.

As I personally experienced, the “Brain Drain” which drags so many of our smarter and more visionary thinkers south-of-the-border is hugely damaging to the local economy. Right now is an incredible opportunity, as that magnetic force is weakened by a declining US dollar and economy, to start to assert ourselves as leaders and build a new Silicon Valley.

The basis of that community will have less to do with Silicon and more to do with Software, however… and much of that software is open-source. There is a cluster of smart open-source people in this city that is just now starting to get rolling.

In general I am bullish on Vancouver’s prospects for technology in 2008. Investors now need to step up and properly fund these ideas so that they can blossom. Speaking of which, I’ll be speaking at the Canadian Financing Forum on January 16th. Bring your wallets, VCs. 🙂