Vancouver’s booming tech industry

Tech employee
Vancouver, Washington has been slowly building its tech base over the years. The city is now home to several startups that continue to build on the success of the sector and expand their workforces. Photo: Pixnio

While some may consider Vancouver a more rural city, the community in recent years has embraced tech culture, allowing it to grow into a hub for tech enthusiasts. The city offers a close-knit community for the tech businesses that have located there, along with a strong talent pool and tax incentives not available in neighboring Portland.

Hosted by the Technology Association of Oregon (TAO), the 2nd Annual Vancouver Tech Tour featured an overview of the sector and the appeal of jobs in the industry, along with 14 Clark County tech companies that show what job openings are available. Participating companies included DiscoverOrg, ACH Marketing, CoLab, Formos, SmartRG and Webfor.

Henry Schuck, Co-founder and CEO of DiscoverOrg told Lens: “The tour is exciting because it gives Vancouver an opportunity to showcase its technology companies, and I think for a long time we’ve been sort of a quiet story growing in Vancouver. We are now 500 employees, and we want the people coming through here to realize there is a big, booming tech community….”

The business-to-business marketing and sales intelligence solutions company was founded in 2007 in Columbus, Ohio and the team relocated to Vancouver in 2009 with three employees. Today, the company has 500 employees and is accommodating more growth.

The business identified Vancouver as a potential location for the move because of its tax advantages. Since the company had no outside capital, Discover Org leadership decided to find an inexpensive lease and use the extra money to reinvest in their employees and the business.

The company is currently hiring in each of its departments in positions ranging from developers to database administrators, as well as jobs within product development and management, sales, finance and marketing, and Schuck said he sees tech continuing to expand its relevance in the business world.

“The big growth spurt for us is our customers who are sales and marketing professional at some of the fastest growing technology, consulting and staffing firms around the world have a real need for high-quality data to run their sales and marketing programs…” which DiscoverOrg provides.

“Every company is a software company,” he continued. “Every company that you see out there has some need for a developer, for a dev ops person, for someone who is working in technology…” which means companies ranging anywhere from 7-11 to Facebook will need more technology-focused jobs.

The company’s story is shared by several others who decided to move into the city.

Eric Preisz, Operating Partner at Graham Software Investment Firm, told Lens that the city has many benefits to offer potential companies including a strong local talent pool and welcoming community. His firm invests in small tech companies across the U.S.

Preisz  moved to Vancouver four years ago and ended up heading the “Vantechy” Meetup after asking for information on tech scene events and not hearing many responses. The group offers a community space for discussing up-and-coming developments within tech, along withnetworking and educational opportunities.

The group spun the derogatory term “Vantucky” – which is used to describe the city as a rural space – on its head to take back the nickname in a positive way, welcoming people who wanted to move in to launch the startups.

According to Preisz , Vancouver is a prime location for tech for several reasons. It has more “elbow room” to start a company, as opposed to the lack of space in Portland, along with a plentiful pool of senior talent that businesses draw from – due in no small part to the great schools nearby.

“It’s still got this small community feel, which I think is really nice…you get to know the other companies…that lends to a really nice environment to bring a company here,” he said, also mentioning the good rental rates in the area.

When Preisz’ previous business looked at the move, he ran two exact job descriptions for positions at the company in the downtowns of both Portland and Vancouver.

“I actually got better candidates in Vancouver,” Preisz said. “I think there are so many people commuting…when they see an opportunity opening up in Vancouver they jump on it.”

Looking to the future, it is hard to predict if the tech boom will continue, added Preisz . Operations that once took 30 people to complete now take four people, and the future depends on how companies respond to consumer needs.

“It’s a matter of what resonate with people to kind of take it to the next level. The companies that do well are the companies that listen to their customers and keep iterating that they will give them what they are looking for.”

The industry is a great one to investigate for potential careers, he added, as there are several resources available to help learn. Surprisingly enough, work within the sector isn’t necessarily hard so much as it is time-consuming to put the effort in and learn.

“Companies are fairly objective when hiring, and they can measure your skillset pretty easily, so it is appealing for people who want to be evaluated based on the merit of what they are doing and the time they’ve taken to do it.”

 

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