Meet Victoria's latest Forbes 30 under 30
Plus, five Victoria Tech Journal exclusives.
Happy new year! Welcome to this week’s Thursday Feature. In this issue, meet the innovators of present and past who have built the Victoria tech community, read about the acquisition of a maritime tech company, and gain some insights into our local economy from local leaders.
By the way, if you're not already subscribed, you can sign up by clicking here.
From Colombia to Victoria: meet Juan Orrego, co-founder and CEO of Cuboh
At 17, Juan Orrego had a few apprehensions about moving to Victoria by himself. Orrego's earliest dreams of immigration actually took place in the United States — a place he was more familiar with — and he had never been to Canada. He was also born and raised in Colombia, so the cold and wet weather was mildly concerning. But he needed an affordable way to migrate out of the country, which is exactly what local education at Camosun College offered him. Perhaps 17-year-old Orrego would be surprised to know that Victoria would be his home base for years to follow — and that the city would be host to the startup that propelled him to Forbes' 30 under 30 list.
Orrego is the CEO and founder of Cuboh, a platform for the food and beverage industry that consolidates delivery orders into one place. Cuboh is a product of the two spaces he knew best at the time: restaurants (which he worked in to help fund his day-to-day life in the city) and tech (thanks to UVic's Gustavson School of Business co-op program, which he eventually transferred into after some time at Camosun).
Cuboh has raised a total of $4 million, but in its earliest days, Orrego started with only $10 to its name. "I didn't even have a bank account. So I would just PayPal [customers] a $10 invoice, and then they would pay me back the $10. And that's where we started."
Orrego's journey as an entrepreneur parallels his experiences as a new immigrant: notably, marked by resilience in navigating the local business world as a minority in the room. For example, in 2019, Cuboh was one of 11 Canadian startups accepted into Y Combinator (out of a total of 197 ventures). Although Y Combinator helped accelerate his company, the early days of fundraising were incredibly challenging, he told Victoria Tech Journal. "I think the [fundraising] community [...] isn't really built to support people that look like me: [...] for immigrants with an accent and don't have a network." For example, investors urged Orrego to raise a friends and family round. But that option didn't seem possible. "I was like — I don't know any friends and family that have money. So I can't do that."
So what does the title of Forbes 30 Under 30 mean to Orrego? He places its significance in context of the challenges he overcame to get onto the list. "When you're moving to a new country as a 17 year old, the odds are against you: more than likely, you're gonna get homesick and end up moving back. I think for [my family] to see that I stuck through it all and created a business, then it was successful, and now we're getting this recognition — it's really cool for them to see [...] It's not [only about] the recognition, but rather making my country and my community proud."
📰 More Victoria innovation news
📀: An ode to the early adopters: Technology in Victoria was catalyzed by the late Janet Baird, an educator and community organizer who served on the board of VIATEC. Read about her legacy in Victoria Tech Journal.
🚢 Safer boat seats: Local maritime safety company Allsalt Maritime has been acquired by United Safety, a global manufacturer of safety and survivability technology. Learn more.
🌊 Diving into the ocean economy: Julie Angus, CEO and co-founder of Open Ocean Robotics, reflects on the origins of her company and the future of the blue economy. Read more in Capital Daily News.
🧦 Thinking of starting a business? Read this first: Rob Fraser, CEO and founder of Outway, shares his top lessons from working in business. Read more on Twitter.
🏕️ Inspiration from the other coast: Dallas Gislason, COO of COAST, writes about Fogo Island in Newfoundland and Labrador to reflect on resilient community economies. Learn more on Medium.
🕴️ Tech jobs of the week
Find your next career:
Hiring in Victoria? Reply to this email and let us know!
📅 Upcoming events
January 11: Women Leading Change
January 18: Capital Daily Festival
February 23: Western Angel Investment Summit
Have an upcoming event? Reply to let us know.
Have something or someone we should know about?
Reply or email [email protected] so we can work together to spotlight the lesser-known stories of Victoria's tech ecosystem.