Pearson College UWC’s first-ever Tech Panel featuring local entrepreneurs, innovators and visionaries was a resounding success.

The Student Common Room was filled to overflowing with Pearson community members of all ages interacting with and learning from five Victoria-based tech entrepreneurs whose achievements already span the digital spectrum from creating an online sales platform (a little idea called Shopify) to a solution to blurry travel selfies.

Former Pearson Board member and Pearson Patron Jim Hayhurst, CEO of Pretio Interactive, worked with Pearson’s in-house team to bring together online idea merchants Scott Lake, Nicole Sorochan, Rasool Rayani and, Nicole Smith to talk frankly about their digital hits and misses and to offer advice to budding student entrepreneurs who asked insightful questions and sought meaningful advice for their planned future start-ups.

Not surprisingly, the values of hard work and long hours were threads running through the discussion but so were the themes of the importance of talking out loud about your ideas to help make them real and the impact of meaningful social responsibility in developing digital products for the marketplace.

Nicole Sorochan, Principal and Creator of One Net Marketing, for example, used her expertise to tie together traditional visual storytelling with digital expertise to create the powerful film/motion comic/tour Amplify Her, a feature length production about empowered women energizing the electronic music scene.

Scott, co-founder of Shopify and a philanthropist focusing on social and public health causes, highlighted that Pearson students are well-positioned geographically to take advantage of the growing tech economy in the Victoria area – referring to this modest city as providing a “perfect storm for tech start-ups.” He and all panelists encouraged students to reach out to them at any time if they wanted to talk over ideas and approaches.

Rasool, a serial entrepreneur and angel investor, echoed the importance of community involvement as a way to give back, citing his current involvement with volunteer boards such as the Community Foundations of Canada/Victoria Foundation and the Victoria Advanced Technology Council (VIATEC).

Nicole Smith’s idea of connecting resident photographers in cities around the world with travelers resulted in Flytographer, a growing Victoria-based site. She, like every other panelist, was brimming with ideas and, just as importantly, encouragement for Pearson students with ideas to pursue in the digital realm.