Kevin’s Konnections
Kevin Lavigne - Jun 23 - Columnists

The pig’s on the barbie

Image: Contributed

Congratulations to Sharon and Andy of Mission Meats for 20 years of business.

They will be having specials all week, but Friday, June 30, they have invited all of us to enjoy a barbecue pig roast to help them celebrate.

The  barbecue is by donation and the proceeds will help the Central Okanagan Community Food Bank.

Go enjoy some food and win some prizes.

Dinner in the Vineyard Series starts this Wednesday at Quails’ Gate.

This is one of my favourite events of the summer. You receive a four-course farm-to-vineyard, long-table dinner from the Quails’ Gate culinary team, which is perfectly paired with their award winning wines. Don’t think this can be a last minute decision, book early.

I didn’t know Kelowna had a polo club. Why didn’t anyone tell me we have a polo club?

This Saturday, the Kelowna Polo Club is having another fundraiser for the Cyclepath Cyclotrons Ride to Conquer Cancer team.

This fundraiser will have a polo match, booze raffle, 50/50, toonie toss, music and lawn games.

The match begins at 4 p.m., but make sure to check out the event page to know what you need to bring.

Tonight is the summer kickoff party aboard Kelowna Cruises being hosted by Where It’s At Entertainment.

Where It’s At Entertainment has been in business since 2008 and has been staying ahead of the game by bringing us the best entertainment everyone can enjoy.

They are one of the top featured promoters in Vancouver. They have been nominated Best Urban Promoter five times and Event of the Year twice by Vancouver Nightlife Awards.

This cruise is like no other because the electric dance floor starts at 7:45 p.m. and there will be various hip hop performances all night long. If that’s boat’s a rockin’, start swimming. I don’t know something water related that rhymes with rockin’?

Happy birthday Kelowna Farmers and Crafters Market.

No one knows how old they are and I wonder how we know it’s really their birthday, but who cares, they have a great Saturday planned for us.

They will be celebrating with cupcakes, a kids maze, alpacas and live music. Bring the whole family and come have some fun.

Metro Community is hosting another Breakfast Club at MontREAL Food, Thursday, June 29.

This is a bunch of men getting together for breakfast, friendship, encouragement. There is always a thought for the day that requires so some discussion.

These have been extremely popular and it doesn’t matter where you come from or what you do they just want you there.

Go check it out.

This week in my video blog I talk about the three professionals you need in your life to reach your financial dreams. Have a watch and let us help you goals.

Make it a great week!

Kevin Lavigne is a local advisor with Reid & Associates Financial Solutions. In 2014 he was nominated for Kelowna’s Top 40 Under 40 and in 2016 sat as the President of Junior Chamber International. Kevin also works with multiple non profits and is a mentor for the Canadian Youth Business Foundation.

KTFast partners with Gigabyte
Accelerate Okanagan - Jun 19 - Columnists

Image: Contributed

During the Computex 2017 trade show held in Taipei last week, WTFast, a gamers private network based in Kelowna, announced a brand new partnership with Gigabyte Technology. A leading global brand in the IT industry, Gigabyte offers a broad product portfolio that includes motherboards, graphics cards and PC components.

Gigabyte’s partnership with WTFast focuses on motherboards.

In the coming months,Gigabyte’s AORUS X299 gaming motherboards will leverage the WTFast gamers private network (GPN), providing gamers around the globe the fastest and most stable gaming connection possible.

The GPN can optimize and improve connections from a gamer’s home PC to the game server and back again, no matter where they are in the world.

Over 800 latency-sensitive online games are supported by the GPN. X299 AORUS gaming motherboards are high-performance motherboards and with a WTFast subscription.

“Gamers can expect to see upwards of a 60% overall connection improvement, including a reduced ping and a much smoother connection,” says Rob Bartlett, the CEO of WTFast.

A Canadian tech company with strong innovation capabilities and the world’s leader in game connection optimization, WTFast is able to partner with a wide variety of companies, helping them to upsell their products and increase their average revenue per user.

Partner products announced to date include ASUS gaming routers, MSI PCs, motherboards and graphics cards, and Gigabyte gaming motherboards.

“We are very excited with our strong existing partnerships and growing business ties in Southeast Asia. Based on our recent discussions, we anticipate the number of products featuring WTFast will double before the end of 2017”, said Bernard Slede, the senior vice president of business development for WTFast.

So you want to start an Airbnb?
Robbie Hoyte - Jun 16 - Columnists

Image: Airbnb

The rise in popularity of homestay companies like Airbnb and VBRO has made the vacation rental by owner an attractive option for many Okanagan residents looking to earn some extra income during the busy summer season. There are currently more than nearly 300 active rentals in Kamloops and 450 in Kelowna.

“Before you decide to offer up your basement suite, however, be aware that not being properly insured could leave you liable and potentially wipe out your savings if a claim is made,” says Robbie Hoyte, a Senior Commercial Insurance Advisor with Valley First Insurance, a division of First West Insurance Services Ltd.

While Airbnb does have consumer protection as part of its user agreement, called the Host Protection Insurance Policy, there are coverage gaps for shared areas and exclusions for libel/slander, invasion of privacy, misappropriation of adverting ideas and any damage that occurs outside the time of the rental agreement (a few hours after the time the contract expires, for example).

“The only way to ensure you are protected is to talk to your home insurance provider,” says Hoyte. “If you live in your home and are renting a room short term, you can negotiate with your insurance company to offer coverage as an addition to your existing home policy.”

Something else to keep in mind is replacement costs. The insurance payout from a claim might only cover the cash value, rather than the replacement cost, of damaged property. “That’s bad news if replacing your property or fixing your home costs considerably more than it’s worth at the moment,” says Hoyte.

In addition, a regular homeowner’s policy generally won’t cover anything beyond the very first time the policyholder rents out or shares their home – after that, most brokers treat it as a commercial enterprise once you start making money from it.

“A separate commercial insurance policy may well be worth the cost of the premiums, if the income derived from the rental suite is significant/warrants it and it will include advertisement injury coverage, which covers libel/slander, invasion of privacy, misappropriation of adverting ideas.”

At the very least, it’s always imperative to let your insurance carrier know about any rental activity in your property whether it’s a long-term tenant in your basement suite, renting a room to a student, or renting space short term with Airbnb. Even though liability arising during an Airbnb stay should be covered by Airbnb’s coverage, are you willing to risk your financial security on it?

Robbie Hoyte is a Senior Commercial Insurance Advisor serving the North Okanagan at Valley First Credit Union,

Kevin’s Konnections
Kevin Lavigne - Jun 16 - Columnists

Get wasted on conversation

Image: Contributed

Wasted – A Time to Start a Conversation is being presented by Unless Market and Zero Waste Okanagan next week.

This event will be featuring the documentary The Clean Bin Project.

This zero-waste event will be held Thursday, June 22, so make sure to bring your own mug and make it a good one as there will be a door prize for the most unique mug.

Visit their page to learn about the documentary and how you can participate in the conversation.

The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce Top 40 over 40 wrap-up party is Wednesday, June 21 from 5-7 p.m. at the Delta Grand by Marriot.

This is an evening to celebrate these remarkable nominees who have been featured in this year’s Top 40.

I encourage you to go out and meet these individuals while enjoying some wine and appetizers.

Your age doesn’t matter if you would like to attend.

If you’re interested in aviation and want to know more about flying, make your way to the Canadian Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) convention and trade show at the Kelowna International Airport next Saturday.

They are expecting over 400 people to bring their aircrafts to our airport.

If you can’t make it during the day, visit their webpage to see how you can participate in their first under the wing camping night.

Even though summer is not entirely here Kitchen Sync Catering Pop Up Dinners have started.

Owner Ben Pallett has done it the same as last year. You won’t know where you will be dining until a few days before the event.

But you do know you will enjoy a beautiful evening of live music and snacks before you are served a three-course meal of local cuisine.

Get your tickets right away as these are always a sell out.

Landmark Centre is getting some great tenants and seems like a great working community to be part of.

Go and see for yourself Saturday afternoon and take part in the grand opening of QB Gelato.

Kevin Bojda and Victor Laderoute are offering free scoops of their hand-crafted gelato 1-10 p.m.

They will be offering 16 flavours, so I am sure everyone in your family will be happy.

“Walker” or “roll” your way to greater awareness and support of our mobility and health challenged community members this Saturday at Stuart Park.

You can challenge yourself using a walker, wheelchair or one of the other mobility aids we provide.

Again this year, they will have the Toilet Brush Race, so go and cheer on your team and see who gets their toilet sparkling clean first.

This week in my video blog, I give away some free retirement tax savings strategies as well as show you why I am the king of the grill.

Kevin Lavigne is a local advisor with Reid & Associates Financial Solutions. In 2014 he was nominated for Kelowna’s Top 40 Under 40 and in 2016 sat as the President of Junior Chamber International. Kevin also works with multiple non profits and is a mentor for the Canadian Youth Business Foundation.


‘We are selling a psychology’
Accelerate Okanagan - Jun 15 - Columnists

Image: yodelMe.
A Kelowna startup is looking to change safety practices in the oil and gas industries.

Local startup yodelME (previously JA2 Applications) appears poised for huge success in the oil industry, and many other sectors to follow.

The company’s product, which allows staff working in remote areas to communicate via satellite signals, has come to the minimal viable product stage, and the founders are taking it to national organizations with serious interest.

When yodelME founder Aaron Kilback was working in the oil fields several years ago, he realized that the technology used for safety check-ins needed to change.

“Out in the oil field, the nearest cell service was 45 minutes away,” he said. “So every two hours I had to check in with a person, and I worried what would happen if I died. I would drive to the location, check in, and drive like crazy to the next well. It was super stressful.”

Kilback explains the HF radios they had could only do so much, and the cell service was so oversubscribed it was almost impossible to get a signal. So he decided to come up with a better way.

He describes the product like having your home wifi network available in remote areas, where anyone can connect. yodelME also allows companies to digitize paperwork, optimize systems and watch over their staff to ensure they are safe.

But for Kilback, it’s more than just a product.

“We aren’t just selling a router, we are selling a psychology,” he said. “There is a social responsibility for employees to be diligent for the company. We can motivate employees and give them simple tools.”

The company’s MVP consists of a safety check in system, mapping and messaging, and they’ve been told by prospective clients and government agencies that it’s the most simple solution.

Kilback and his team are actively selling the product, so far with impressive results. Before incorporating the company in 2014, he went out and interviewed 75 different companies for market research and within a year many wanted to invest in his company.

In fact, they raised $1 million in 2014 and have been working hard on developing the product since.

The nine-person company is attracting significant interest in its product, and has already had meetings with with the largest oil company in the world, the largest gas producers in Canada and B.C.

yodelME is also in talks to collaborate with another successful Accelerate Okanagan program client, Piscine Energetics.

Karen Olsson, COO of yodelME, says that Piscine’s President Nuri Fisher is on board with what the company is doing, and finds they are a fit for his compliance requirements.

“He is going to do a pilot for it on his boats,” she said. “It’s a great story of two AO clients that are working together. We have marine with Piscine, and also the forestry and even trucking industry. We have potential for more than just oil. We’ve even got a few vineyards and agriculture applications.”

Olsson joined the company because it met her personal mandate for something that changes the world and does good. “I think that a product that keeps that people who are potentially in jeopardy connected and becomes a lifeline in a number of ways is important,” she said. “When I look at what it could do, like if there’s a forest fire in the field, we can be the ones that get help there sooner.”

She also sees a bigger, broader perspective for regions like Africa and developing regions that may not be as connected, and where worker safety isn’t as regulated. “This can become a standard where the product can change how people in those countries work and keep safe,” Olsson said. “There’s an environmental stewardship component here where if we can make safety and compliance more effective we are more likely to prevent the next oil spill.”

As we become a more connected society, yodelME hopes they can be the linchpin that can hold it together.

-Written by Mark Stone

The experience economy
James Grieve - Jun 12 - Columnists

Image: Contributed

In our last column, we outlined the importance of touchpoints as a vital first dimension of Customer Experience. However, to be effective these touchpoints must seamlessly transition customers from one touchpoint to the next.

We call these transitions “pathways,” and they form the second dimension of Customer Experience.

Pathways, like touchpoints, can take many forms. Some the most obvious examples of pathways are:

-Instructions of what to do next;

-Directional signage;

-Website or app navigation;

-Digital shopping cart instructions (step 1, step 2, etc.);

-Flow charts.

Some less obvious examples of pathways are:

-Labelling of navigation buttons, information or products;

-Categorization of content;

-Customer journey maps;

-Communication plans;

-The first paragraph of this article.

Pathways are often the second-most overlooked dimension of Customer Experience. Businesses tend to focus their energy and resources exclusively on their touchpoints, but they rarely consider how to best transition their customers from one touchpoint to the next.

Pathways are like the hand-off in a 4 x 100 metre relay race; they sustain momentum and keep the journey going smoothly. Executed properly, pathways connect one touchpoint to another effortlessly to contribute to victory in the customer’s journey.

Conversely, poorly transitioned pathways complicate the journey, turning the relay into a complicated, obstacle-filled steeplechase that decreases the likelihood of completing the sale, or can even result in disqualification and a lost customer.

Well-designed pathways consider the expectations that the previous touchpoint(s) have created for the customer. Pathways must be careful not to contradict or undermine these expectations in any way, must be very clear and easy to navigate, and require little effort to follow.

If your pathways fail in any of these areas–if they contradict customer expectations, if they are difficult to understand, or if they require a lot of time and effort to follow–you lose your customers, no matter how good your touchpoints are.

To design pathways that are consistent and seamless, you must involve stakeholders from all areas of your business and from all levels. Together, you must understand how your touchpoints work together, ensure that the language and labelling of each touchpoint is consistent, and determine if directions are clear and easy to follow between each touchpoint.

When you design effective pathways, you will be rewarded with increased sales, less complaints, reduced stress on your employees, and more loyal customers. In sum, great rewards for paying attention to something most businesses overlook.

In two weeks, we will look at the third dimension of Customer Experience–delivery–and examine the importance of communication and alignment between the various business units in providing exceptional experiences for your customers (both internal and external).

James Grieve is a certified management consultant and partner in Nucleus Strategies, a Kelowna-based consulting firm that specializes in working with businesses in a variety of industries to design great service experiences that delight customers and improve business performance. He can be reached at 778.214.6010, or [email protected]

Kevin’s Konnections
Trevor Nichols - Jun 09 - Columnists

Flood of talent needed

Image: Contributed

One of the fastest growing financial tech companies in the country is Refresh Financial and they are located right here in our own backyard.

Their goal is simple: to help you build better credit, safely, and reach your financial goals. Your success is so important to them that they offer a free money education course to get a head for good.

Since they’re growing fast, they need to have a hiring fair. It is being held on June 15 at Refresh Financial in the Landmark Buildings from 5-7 p.m.

Go in and meet the staff, play a game of ping pong and hear about the awesome benefits that come with being an employee of Refresh.

One of the first lines on their event talks about their core values of respect and being the champions of time, talent and treasure.

Watch out for this company as they will make one of the top companies to work for in Canada and if I am right Michael Wendland will become one of the biggest philanthropists this world has ever seen.
Talking about talented champions, Wilbur’s Piano Bar at Wine & Art is stepping it up once again by offering Jazz Alive @ 5. Every Friday from 5-7 p.m.

You can wine down your week in style with live jazz on their baby grand piano while you enjoy a selection of happy hour wines, beers and half price feature tapas.

Wilbur’s Piano Bar has always been the place to be but even more so now after work. Reservations recommended.
I am constantly amazed at Kelowna’s art scene.

Who thought an Art Battle would ever be a big thing. If you have never heard of this or been to an art battle, you need to check out the OK Corral on June 16 for Art Battle Kelowna.

This is a night of live competitive painting and connecting with others through art. Painters have 20 minutes to take their canvasses from blank to beautiful and then the audience picks the winner.

You’re allowed to watch the painters work, and move around the easels to examine the creative process.

You need to check out their event page to learn what tools are allowed and learn how you might be able to take your favorite painting home with you.
Another creative new event is merlot and munchies.

This is being held at the Fixx Cafe, which is one of the best restaurants in Kelowna. Chef Jeremy has teamed up with Rollingdale wine maker Brendan Smith to create a five-course, paired dinner.

Seats are filling fast for this June 11 event, so cross your fingers while you dial their number in hopes that you can get a seat.
Next week is just full of unique events.

Big West Wrestling presents Bowl A Rama 3 next Friday, June 16.

With the champion, Shreddz, on vacation after vanquishing five challengers in less than 72 hours at Rutland May Days, a new No. 1 contender needs to be crowned.

So, two former champions, a living legend, and an up-and-coming rookie will battle that night in hopes of becoming the contender to battle the champ in July for the television title.

You can come and bowl with the wrestlers or just come watch the wresting. OHHHH, YEAH!
About $750 billion will be transferred from Canadian parents to their kids in the next decade, so my video blog gives you options if you’re worried your kids might not do well with their new money.

Make it a great week!

Innovation Fund breakdown
Accelerate Okanagan - Jun 09 - Columnists

Image: Contributed

On March 22nd as part of the 2017 federal budget, the Government of Canada announced funding support for innovation. Grant Thornton, an Accelerate Okanagan partner and Canadian accounting and business advisory firm, highlights the fund and how it will help innovation in Canada.

The Canadian economy

Experience shows that investment in innovative, high-growth sectors helps to drive global competitiveness and sustainable economic growth. Canada’s 2017 federal budget aims to encourage further research and development, with the government attempting to make Canada a centre for global innovation.

Canadian businesses invest over $15 billion annually on the research and development of new products and processes. The latest budget hopes to boost that investment by introducing measures to fund superclusters, develop the Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative and create a Strategic Innovation Fund designed to increase access to various sector and segment-specific innovation programs by consolidating them into one all-encompassing fund.

Strategic Innovation Fund

The Strategic Innovation Fund announced in the 2017 federal budget is part of the government’s Innovation and Skills Plan which aims to create high paying Canadian jobs by investing in high-growth sectors. The government hopes the changes will entice and sustain new high-quality business investment into our economy.

The budget introduces the $1.26 billion, five-year Strategic Innovation Fund to consolidate and simplify existing innovation programming for various areas.

To sustain the fund’s expansion, starting in 2017, it will provide a further $200 million over three years to supplement existing funding. Of this amount, $100 million is new funding and $100 million will be drawn from funding announced in the 2016 budget.

Changes are being made to streamline the application process to access these funds. Further details about the program are expected to be unveiled over the coming months.

How to maximize funding and leverage the Strategic Innovation Fund

The underlying goal of the Strategic Innovation Fund is to encourage growth-minded companies to invest in research and development of new products and processes. Companies applying for the programs covered by the Strategic Innovation Fund may also be able to leverage the Scientific Research and Experimental Development tax credit.

The Scientific Research and Experimental Development program is the largest source of research and development funding in Canada, which rewards claimants for innovation.

Scientific Research and Experimental Development is not limited to traditional lab research; claimants from various industries can reap benefits of the program.

In the coming months, the federal government is expected to further consolidate and streamline access to the myriad of programs currently available to support research and development in Canada.

Should the Innovation in Canada platform be created, it will undoubtedly help entrepreneurs access much-needed growth capital.

Market best it’s ever been
Bill Hubbard - Jun 06 - Columnists

Photo: Jonathan Hayward – The Canadian Press

Just how good is the Real Estate market in the Okanagan-Shuswap?

The only way one can answer that question is to compare this year to other years.

The most notable statistic to compare is the absorption rate, which is the percentage of residential inventory that sells on a monthly basis.. We calculate it by dividing the average number of sales per month by the total number of available homes.

For instance, if there are 1,000 houses on the market in May in the North Okanagan, and 100 of them sell that month, the absorption in the North Okanagan for May is 10 per cent.

The absorption rate is the statistic that tells us the most about where the market is going in the near future. It’s a stat based solely on supply and demand, which are the two driving forces of the Real Estate market.

In May of this year both the North Okanagan and the Central Okanagan have absorption rates over 40 per cent. That means that the entire inventory of residential homes is turning over in a little over two months.

When we look at the first five months of this year and compare them to the same periods in previous years, the Central Okanagan has not seen numbers like this since 2004 and the North Okanagan has not since 2005.

The Shuswap has never seen numbers like this.

Statistics don’t lie. This is arguably the best overall market our area has ever seen and it does not look like a change in government is going to dent it.

Just thought I would toss that one in there, however, that’s just the world according to Bill.

Bill Hubbard is a real estate broker and the owner and broker of a four-office real estate firm in the Okanagan-Shuswap. He has been in real estate for 28 years and has been an owner and broker in Vernon for 20 years. At almost 60 years old he is just as passionate about real estate as the day he started.

Kevin’s Konnections
Kevin Lavigne - Jun 02 - Columnists

Lottery shakes things up

Photo: Contributed

BCLC is shaking things up in regards to gambling. They have announced a new online competition to focus on new games for new customers in the Fun with Friends category.

The British Columbia Lottery Commission is inviting game developers, start-ups and entrepreneurs to register and submit their ideas for the next innovative game. The games can be physical, virtual reality, augmented reality, digital, social, online, or off.

You can read Heidi Mann’s AO blog for all the details and how to submit your ideas.
Congratulations to Gasoline Alley Harley Davidson for an incredibly successful first year.

They will be celebrating in true Gasoline Alley fashion this Saturday from 10 a.m. To 6 p.m. There will be music, barbecue and a burnout pit.
I am not a movie guy, but I can be talked into driving to Enderby to watch a movie outdoors if you bring the bug spray.

Now, I don’t need to worry about all of that any more because Eric Thorsteinson has started

Outdoor movies are meant to bring friends, family and community together.

On their web page, he has a variety of events that his outdoor screen could be used for. My favourite would be to hold the world’s largest Mario Kart competition at my next pool party.

How cool would that be?

It’s also a great idea for businesses, schools and festivals to consider making part of their events.

Contact Eric and let’s help support another new local business.
If McKinley Beach is having a grand opening of their beach house, then summer has to be here.

Everyone is welcome to join them this Saturday noon to 3 p.m. and discover what beach life is all about.

There will be a barbecue, stand-up paddling and kayak rentals, dinner cruise give aways all while Country FM keeps you grooving.

Does grooving and country music go together? I don’t know, but it’s always a great time when your down there.
Sunday you need to grab your friends and make your way over to the Westside for the White Wine Adventure.

This is the fifth year for the Westside Wine Trail’s Sip into Summer event.

Each winery will be showcasing their summer whites, holding blind tasting challenges all while you enjoy scenic views and great music.

Visit their page to see all the winery details.
TEDxKelowna is happening next Saturday at Quail’s Gate Winery.

Today is the best day to begin. Today is the best day to quit. Today is the best day to make that change, whatever that change may be.

There are very few tickets left, so today is the best day to get them also.
In my video blog this week I talk about a higher risk idea that may not be for everybody but you should watch it to know what options are out there.

Make it a great week.

Kevin Lavigne is a local advisor with Reid & Associates Financial Solutions. In 2014 he was nominated for Kelowna’s Top 40 Under 40 and in 2016 sat as the President of Junior Chamber International. Kevin also works with multiple non profits and is a mentor for the Canadian Youth Business Foundation.

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