Francois, can you tell us a bit about your background before you started 2VancouverBC.com?
I was born and raised in France but I have been living overseas for the past six years now. I completed my Engineering degree at the University of British Columbia (Vancouver) in 2004 as a student on exchange. I then spent a couple of years in the US and Australia before returning to the Canadian West Coast in 2008.
What prompted you to start 2VancouverBC.com?It all really started with a blog I developed a few years ago when I first came to Vancouver as a student. At the time I was just playing with web technology to figure how I could best share content with Vancouver visitors around the globe.
Connecting people online was also something I looked at through the development of rudimentary applications. 2VancouverBC.com was born a few years later after I returned to Vancouver from Sydney.
What were the main challenges you faced initially?
Raising capital and finding smart people to work with you are among the biggest challenges we have always faced.
On a personal level, keeping a balanced life also remains on top of the list!
How did you overcome them?
For the fundraising part, we have been able to secure close to $100K through credit lines, personal savings, friends and family. When it comes to people we have made some mistakes but it has been great for the most part. As we become more experienced we have been able to refine our selection process which helps with making better decisions.
Regarding the third challenge, I have not figured that out!
If you had to give some advice to our members to help them with expat life in Vancouver (or moving to Canada) what would it be?
I would strongly recommend that they follow what I would call the 33% rule when it comes to their social life and connections abroad. By that I mean that you should try to connect with local people as well as other expats and people from back home. I personally believe that the ideal formula is a third of each.
Connecting with local people will give you a sense for what the local culture is and how you can adjust to it. Being friends with other expats is also important as you will be able to share some common challenges. Regular contact with your mates from back home will help keep your heritage and long-standing friendships alive.
What are your plans for the future?
The long term plan for 2VancouverBC.com is to become the largest multilingual platform for tourists and newcomers in Vancouver. We are expecting to reach over a 1,000,000 visitors a year by 2012.