News: GROW Conference (2013)

Attending the wrap-up party for the three day 2013 @GROW Conference in Vancouver ( was an exciting event indeed.  The Conference, now in it’s third year, attracted over 1,000 attendees representing industries ranging from industrial energy monitoring to mobile gaming applications. Although disparate in their service offerings, the companies highlighted allowed one the opportunity to imagine that these companies were actually improving the lot of human beings - encouraging a more robust, fun, interactive and productive life experience.
Held at the Vancouver Convention Centre, the conference was themed around the intersection of design and entrepreneurial thinking, it hosted more than two dozen speakers (, an accelerator symposium, a start-up smack down, VIP roundtables, and the popular House Party @GROW - where attendees and the public were able to “house hop” between local bars and restaurants to meet and speak with successful local tech entrepreneurs.
As an overall Sustainability and Technology enthusiast I was truly impressed by the number of Companies building their business around aspects of psycho-social, financial, and environmental well being and took the opportunity to speak with a number of attendees including Joan Elangovan, A/CEO of the Vancouver Economic Commission.
“The innovation and thought leadership coming out of companies [here in Vancouver] is definitely awe-inspiring,” said Joan. Speaking with Joan it was easy to see her excitement at being a title sponsor partner as she added “our mandate is to showcase the successes of Vancouver businesses, help local companies to grow and problem solve, attract new companies and investment into Vancouver - and its just wonderful to see many of those things happening with the successful companies showcased here this evening”.
Company representatives in attendance included:
Sprout –  a company inspiring employees to get fit and empowering employers with the tools to manage and measure is wellness.  According to the company’s website, the platform allows employees to “set goals, track activities, join events, challenge others, and find groups with similar interests. Sprout makes business healthier, happier, and more productive while boosting your bottom line”. Sprout has been working with such clients Invoke Labs, TechStars and the Nike+ Accelerator.
Sosido Networks –  a web app that allows HMO’s and their members to share and exchange published health care knowledge to facilitate better health care delivery. Sosido was recently acquired by another Vancouver company LX Ventures.          
Farm At Hand – a cloud based, multi-­‐platform, farm management software program that enables advanced management of agricultural assets; allowing producers to manage their production activities and Agribusinesses to exchange real time information with customers.
Co-Founder of the company Kim Keller described the key to program being to “increase efficiency & productivity on the farm, enabling access to information and open communication lines with everyone on the farm, and as the information is stored in the cloud - it allows anyone who accesses [to the platform] immediate access to real time information”.
Looking forward Himanshu Singh (co-founder) sees being able to offer an open source platform for farmers who wish to share some of their information for the benefit of the broader farming community.  Singh articulated the importance of historic record keeping and being able to look back at activities, weather conditions, and performance yields, to be able to replicate and improve overall farm performance.
Perch – as described on its website Perch is an always-on video connection that allows you to easily stay in contact with the people in your life (either at home or in the office).  Because Perch is “always-on video” it has been designed to be natural, unobtrusive, and more straightforward than other communication solutions. “By default the mic is turned off when you’re not having a conversation and when you want to be heard, the portal automatically detects when you look at the app” – amazing!  (this would come in handy for anyone in a long distance relationship)
Plenty of Fish – one of the most successful online dating sites with revenues in excess of 10M/yr. this Vancouver startup is example of what sustainable global business operations of the future may look like. Company representatives said “we’re actually quite sustainable in that if you think about it we have more than 60 Million users worldwide (3 Million logging in daily) and deliver those services out of a single office here in Vancouver manned by 74 employees.”  The company stated that “approximately 70% of its traffic is from mobile devices” (including pads, phones, and other non-stationary devices) and like other internet based operations they have large numbers of messages transmitted daily with next to no environmental footprint as compared to other means of communications.
Avigilon –  a company well known for its surveillance systems Avigilon “designs, manufactures, and markets award-winning HD surveillance solutions” According to the company website “In 2012 Avigilon was named the Fastest Growing Technology Company in Canada, the Fastest Growing Software Company in North America for the second year in a row, and the 'Company of the Year' by the BC Technology Industry Association”
Awsense – identifies inefficiencies and losses in the electrical grid from equipment failures as well as power diversion (theft).  According to the Awsense website energy utility fraud is second only to credit card fraud and amounts to $85 Billion worldwide.  
Recon Instruments –  makers of the totally incredible recon jet; a heads up display (read augmented reality eyewear): (  This technology reminds the writer of a version of Pranav Mistry’s 6th Sense device (, only in perhaps a more user friendly package.
It seems likely that some variant of this type of device will be something everyone will be using 10 years from now – augmenting our memory, our daily experience, and ultimately shaping our world view and the world we create based on the information we receive.
A Thinking Ape – builders of “technology that changes how people play and socialize on mobile” A Thinking Ape is currently one of the highest grossing mobile developers worldwide.
Change Heroes – is a fundraising platform designed to assist in the building of schools in developing countries. See change hero Mark Ameerali: or visit for more information.