Okanagan start ups increase in number during pandemic

FILE PHOTO – Brea Lake is the CEO of Accelerate Okanagan.
January 24, 2021 – 2:39 PM

More tech entrepreneurs have been starting up businesses in the Okanagan and the head of Accelerate Okanagan thinks it stems from people wanting to try something new.

Brie Lake, CEO of the organization that supports tech entrepreneurs with mentorship programs and resources, said 2020 offered an increase in start-ups in compared to the previous year.

“At first I thought maybe people would be more conservative, not wanting to take the risk and jump into entrepreneurship and wait and see what happens, but we definitely saw an uptick,” she said.

READ MORE: Okanagan tech companies eye up working from home permanently

The first few months, in April and May were a little slower than the previous year, but when Lake compared the number of companies in Accelerate Okanagan’s start-up program to 2019, there was a 40% increase and “that’s just on the early-stage startups where people have ideas,” Lake said.

“When looking at the data of all the companies involved with Accelerate Okanagan from start-ups to established companies, there’s been a 38% increase, so we’ve definitely seen people starting up more and (more people are)  willing to ask for help and support even more,” she said.

Lake said because of the pandemic, more people may be pausing, reflecting and making that choice to try something different by jumping into entrepreneurship.


Kelowna resident Matt Canzer launched his own private law practice Matt Canzer Law and legal technology company BTRFLY Legal Innovation amid the pandemic.

Kelowna resident Matt Canzer launched his own private law practice Matt Canzer Law and legal technology company BTRFLY Legal Innovation amid the pandemic.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Matt Canzer


This is exactly what lawyer and Kelowna resident Matt Canzer decided to do.

Canzer launched his private law practice Matt Canzer Law and legal technology company BTRFLY Legal Innovation in June 2020 and aims to have a platform for virtual legal services launched by April 2021.

A litigator in Kelowna, he specializes in personal injury and criminal law and it was a few months into the pandemic when he decided to shift gears.

“I saw what was going in the world generally and in the professional services industry specifically and I thought if there was ever a time to do something different, this was it,” he said.

He aims to use technology to bring legal services online where both lawyers and clients can collaborate and get work done in a new way and well as cut some administrative costs for clients.

Canzer had the idea long before the pandemic, he said, when he had to tell clients the cost of their services was not going to be worth what they needed.

“For a lot of clients, it’s a very simple legal problem they have; it’s a will, or they have a small claims action and they need some advice on how to get started and the cost of legal services doesn’t make sense for some of those legal problems,” Canzer said.

During the pandemic, businesses were quick to adapt to video conferences and it made him decide now was the time to innovate.

The demand for virtual legal services has been around for a long time, but now with the pandemic, more lawyers are set up in a decentralized way. There are more lawyers willing to offer services to clients that aren’t physically in the same town as them, he said.

Canzer is a part of the Accelerate Okanagan’s startup program and is currently working out of his home office, which he said he prefers.


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