13 thoughts on the intersection of tech and fatherhood

We’ve compiled a series of reflections in honour of Father’s Day.

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I spent Father’s Day the stereotypical way: playing a round of golf with my dad and grandfather. My worlds collided when I found out that the tee time behind us featured tech legends, Chris and David Hobbs: the co-founders of local digital consulting and software development company, TTT Studios. This got me thinking about the intersections of tech and fatherhood, and how members of the innovation community celebrated their fathers or children. Here are a baker’s dozen of takes on how the personal and professional merge for dads.

Andrew Reid. Photo supplied.

Andrew Reid, founder and CEO, Rival Technologies

In addition to helming Rival, a Vancouver-based market research operation, Reid is noteworthy for being the son of Angus Reid: the famous Canadian entrepreneur.

My father started his first company in 1979 on our kitchen table. That was called the Angus Reid group. He grew that to be the largest market research company in Canada, sort of known as Canada's pollster. He was always very into innovation and research. He was the first guy to do some pretty interesting things with telephone research and global research.

Charles Kishi, founder and CEO, ZaNiheza

Kishi’s traveltech company is a platform for African expedition providers and the site you’ll book your next trip through.

One of my greatest achievements to date is raising two wonderful humans. Many people said that I can’t be a startup founder and a good father. I can say respectfully that they were wrong. My kids are the most supportive of the journey. Since day zero, I explained what I was doing and why.

Chris Hobbs, president, TTT Studios

My fellow Father’s Day golfer runs a digital consulting and software development company.

I founded TTT Studios because of my kids. Before TTT, my family and I spent six months of the year travelling the world. The amazing Mrs. Hobbs works as a tour guide, so more often than not she was off and occupied in the summer months and I was the full-time parent (a job I love). When my daughter started kindergarten we needed a permanent base of living, and I needed some flexibility in my schedule so as not to disrupt my dad duties. Thus, one of the first rules that my wonderful co-founders Josephine Wong, David Hobbs, and I came up with is that our company culture would be family-first.

Diraj Goel. Photo credit: Goel on LinkedIn.

Diraj Goel, founder and managing partner, GetFresh Ventures

Goel’s investment firm counts SaaS-for-restaurants startup Dyne and birth support community Brood Care as part of its portfolio.

I didn't want to have a kid until I was in a place financially where I could always be there for the recital, game, or moment. Yet I wasn't when I left my career as a head of technology for growth startups. [With] my kid on the way, a bigger mortgage, and no job, I decided to make the most sensible move: become an entrepreneur. I'm a sucker for punishment I guess. That's cash anxiety wrapped in a nice box with a bow on it. I decided to start a business that had its own cash flow needs and mouths to feed. Since then, I've become a dad twice over. I believe I'm doing an okay job with them, and I believe deeply in the work we do at GetFresh Ventures, and our numbers show for it.

Greg Smith, co-founder and CEO, Thinkific

The creator platform was part of Vancouver’s 2021 unicorn surge when it, in April 2021, went public on the TSX and was valued at more than $1.2 billion at the day’s close.

As a parent, I try to encourage traits like curiosity and persistence. But something I realized is that it’s not so much that kids don’t innately have these traits or understand these lessons, it’s that we end up losing them as we grow up. It’s funny how sometimes we learn more from our kids than they do from us.

Garett Senez, partner, QuarkBaby

QuarkBaby develops innovative products for feeding, nursing, and play — and it’s a local parent-tech company worth checking out.

My wife and I celebrated the birth of our daughter, Hannah, in March 2021. From the moment we started shopping in the baby category, we were struck by how expensive and rather basic everything felt. We bought the essentials, and then after just a few uses, it became abundantly clear to us that things needed to be better.

Josh Nilson. Photo credit: Stanley Rashai for Vancouver Tech Journal

Josh Nilson, co-founder, East Side Games

He was also BC Tech’s 2022 Person of the Year and is contemplating how to shape the next generation of entrepreneurs.

It’s a lot easier to do the entrepreneurial grind when you don’t have kids. When you have kids and they get to a certain age, you want to be home more. The silver lining of the pandemic was I got to spend every day with my kid.

Kendal McArdle, principal, Pender Ventures

McArdle joined the firm after a career in professional hockey that included several seasons in the NHL.

I was preparing myself for the future after hockey, and I ended up getting a job offer after that internship. So, I told my team a week before. I very much wanted to play, but at the same time, had a young family. My daughter was just born that same spring and working at Pender hit everything I was looking for. It was an opportunity I couldn't pass up and I don’t have any regrets.

Kevin Huang, co-founder and CEO, GlüxKind

Huang co-founded the AI-powered smart stroller outfit with his wife, Anne Hunger.

As a parent, you’re always looking for ways to streamline your life and products that help you minimize the hassle and maximize quality time with your family.

Sam Wadsworth. Photo supplied.

Sam Wadsworth, co-founder and chief scientific officer, Aspect Biosystems

His local biotech outfit, which recently received an influx of cash from PacifiCan, develops bioengineered tissue therapeutics.

I have a little girl – she's three years old. So my day starts at any time between 2:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. — whenever she wants to climb into bed. It's actually brilliant. After some nice snuggles, I tend to get up, make breakfast, and then get ready for work.

Sean Elbe, regional director for British Columbia and the North, Invest in Canada.

While that title above still applies and Elbe’s professional life sees him promote local investment and economic development, he’s loving his newest role:

Being a dad is without question the best job I’ve ever had. Thank you to everyone in my professional network who has supported this amazing journey. We’re doing great.

Sean Herman, founder and CEO, Kinzoo

Kinzoo is at the front of the battle for screen time, building apps that give kids and parents the best of the digital world.

‘As a father and the founder of a tech company for kids, I always felt that platforms built on social validation, comparison, and FOMO weren’t appropriate for younger users,’ he wrote of the shelved Instagram Kids platform.

Nejeed Kassam, co-founder and CEO, Keela

Kassam’s company provides tech for small-and medium-sized nonprofit organizations, helping them optimize donor management, email marketing, and reporting.

It's been incredible. Everyone says that, but it’s true. Sometimes I tear up when my little boy has to go to sleep because I’m going to miss him. I’m back to work full-time. So the five minutes between meetings that I get with my son literally makes me well up. And it happens like five times a day, and I have to ask myself, ‘Who is this guy … crying all the time?’ Being a dad is amazing, but it’s a big change.

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