Tonight we held the first ever STIRR Canada event here in Edmonton. About sixty of the city’s entrepreneurs, investors, and other tech professionals came together at The Hat downtown to chat with one another, and to meet and learn from Greg Zeschuk, one of the founders of BioWare.
I think “STIRR” was new to most people, so near the beginning of the event Patrick Lor from the STIRR Canada team explained how he got introduced to the organization and brought it to Canada.
STIRR Canada is a networking community for high-tech startup founders, founding teams, former founders, angel and VC funders, and technology journalists. Our events are designed for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs.
The idea is to bring new and experienced entrepreneurs together. We do a bit of that at DemoCamp of course, but the audience tonight was a bit different. There were definitely more guys wearing suits! I think it all comes down to access – busy guys like Greg simply can’t make it out to every DemoCamp, so to be able to have him present tonight was pretty cool.
Founded in 1995, BioWare is a major Edmonton success story. Greg and his colleagues Ray Muzyka and Augustine Yip realized early on that, in Greg’s words, “no one likes a creative doctor.” They decided to put their creativity into video games, and BioWare was the result. After a string of hits, BioWare became an acquisition target and was eventually scooped up by Electronic Arts in late 2007. Today the company continues to produce popular games, and has grown to about 500 employees.
Here are some of the highlights from Greg’s talk:
- Early on, BioWare didn’t see the need for a board of directors or advisors. Looking back, they wouldn’t recommend that strategy to anyone!
- Greg figures that the cost of making their first game was less than the cost of a single month of development at the company today. It’s become a much more expensive industry.
- Greg says to be prepared for the long haul. He pointed to Google as an example: most people think about their success in recent years, but the reality is that they’ve been running in some form or another for more than a decade (since 1996).
- Another piece of advice from Greg: don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. And if something doesn’t make sense, be suspicious!
Greg’s presentation was really interesting, and seemed to be well-received by everyone in attendance. Of course, the major focus of an event like this is the networking that followed. There were lots of interesting discussions taking place all evening long!
Thanks to The Hat for running a wonderful service this evening, and to Cam, Pat and the other organizers for bringing this event to Edmonton. I’m glad I was able to help. Most importantly, thanks to everyone for coming out!
You can see the rest of my photos from the evening at Flickr.