Community Collaboration

The #WeAreYQQ movement — working together and sharing success

“We really are better together.  That’s the most innovative thing about the #WeAreYQQ initiative--the collaboration, <a href=

Collaboration is defined as the act of working with someone to produce or create something. Sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it? But when it comes to business, the idea of sharing your ideas and asking for advice may not come easily. It seems that collaboration goes against the stereotype that many have of entrepreneurs—the lonesome individual, toiling [not trolling] in the home office, with nothing but ideas to keep him or her company. However, getting from inspiration to implementation all by one’s self is extremely rare. Simply put—we need each other to truly succeed.

Researchers and successful business leaders rank the ability to collaborate as just as important, if not more important, than other more obvious business skills like determination, discipline and opportunity recognition. When we collaborate we share our ideas, our connections, our knowledge, and our strengths. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Participants of the #WeAreYQQ community initiative already know the incredible value of collaboration, and they are enjoying the fruit of their collective labors, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

#WeAreYQQ took hold for Hans Peter Meyer, the organization’s founder, in early 2014. “I was working in Vancouver with a lot of entrepreneurs and tech start ups,” says Meyer. “I’d come into rooms where people were excited to be growing businesses, and to be helping each other. It was amazing to be a part of it. I asked myself, ‘How can I generate this kind of feeling in the Comox Valley?’”

Meyer came home to the Valley where that question continued to percolate. Initially, Meyer created the #WeAreYQQ hashtag for Twitter, to help promote the creatives who are such an important part of the culture of the Comox Valley. (In social media, hashtags allow you to find and create communities of people interested in the same topic by making it easier for them to find and share info related to that topic or hashtag.)

Later that year, Meyer expanded the idea into a workshop series and monthly business development workshops, with a focus on supporting a “talent-driven” economy. From there the #WeAreYQQ community was born.

Essentially #WeAreYQQ is a community project that aims to support entrepreneurs and creatives in the Comox Valley. “It’s a grassroots, private sector initiative all about getting people to think bigger, to collaborate and grow their business,” Meyer says.

Of course there are other organizations that do something similar, such as the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce. But this project is different. Meyer quotes one of the project sponsors, Sue Finneron, when he explains the difference. “Larger business development organizations work on the macro level. Our project works on the micro level—with individuals. We want to feed the grassroots and the local talent.”

The name of the initiative, The #WeAreYQQ Project, begs some explanation. “I borrowed this from the WeAreYVR initiative to brand and geo-locate Vancouver’s hustling tech startup sector. Airport indicators, YQQ and YVR, are a way to identify our community, not only to us but to others around the world,” explains Meyer.

“I mean, inside the Comox Valley we all know that ‘CV’ means Comox Valley, and that it’s the greatest place in the world to live. But the rest of the world knows ‘CV’ as ‘curriculum vitae’ or ‘Cowichan Valley’ or something else. They need to know about our entrepreneurs, what we are doing, and where they are doing it. We use the #WeAreYQQ tag as a way of branding what’s happening here. It’s a way of telling the world, ‘Hey, we are the creatives and the entrepreneurs who are making shift happen!’

“The #WeAreYQQ hashtag doesn’t belong to anyone,” Meyer says. “It is meant to expand our local vision for business, because for talent there really are no borders.  We really do need to think bigger.”

Meyer explains that one of his mentors challenged him: “If you are trying to reach more customers in the Comox Valley, maybe you should wonder about serving all of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, or the world even.” There are business owners who are already asking these questions, but they might not know what to do. “That’s where the collaboration comes in. There are many small things you can do to reach a bigger marketplace. In our workshops, you learn about this stuff.”

That’s the magic of the #WeAreYQQ Project—the sharing of information and knowledge. “We really are better together,” Meyer says. “That’s the most innovative thing about the #WeAreYQQ initiative—the collaboration. It’s about asking, ‘How can I pour gasoline over your entrepreneurial fire?’ and helping to make that shift happen for Comox Valley businesses.”

That shift happens at least twice a month during the business development workshops. “We call these BizOnDeck workshops because two businesses go on deck and pitch their ideas to a room of fellow entrepreneurs, asking for help and feedback,” Meyer says. “It’s a focused brainstorming session where everybody grows their business, either in what they learn or the connections they make. It’s like networking on steroids and it’s great fun.”

The #WeAreYQQ Project also offers monthly social media workshops, because so many Comox Valley businesses want to know more about how to reach new customers. Another new offering is the #WeAreYQQ Show & Tell luncheon series, hosted at the White Whale.

The #WeAreYQQ Project is also about fueling the emergence of a new kind of economy in the Comox Valley. “One of our biggest assets is our talent pool,” Meyer says. “Over decades we’ve been attracting talented people to our beautiful Valley. Since talent is what drives an entrepreneurial economy, talent is what we need to be investing in. Our 3R’s economy (retail, retirement, recreation) isn’t generating the real jobs and real incomes we need to attract and sustain young families. And young families are the lifeblood of our communities.”

Matthew Black is an entrepreneur and a Grade 12 student at Mark Isfeld Senior Secondary who has teamed up with The #WeAreYQQ Project to grow his tech start-up business.

Black’s business idea is Anotiv—short for announcements and notifications. Black and three other students, Jacob Fussell, Michelle Ko and Leanne Thieu, came up with their brainchild when they were participating in the Destination Imagination program. “The Destination Imagination program is a volunteer-led, educational, non-profit organization that teaches 21st century skills and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) principles to Kindergarten through university level students through creative and collaborative problem solving challenges, which encourages entrepreneurship and out of box thinking,” explains Black.

During a Destination Imagination brainstorming session the team of four realized a big problem was that students don’t listen to school announcements—instead they pay more attention to their phones. “Anotiv is an app and online platform that connects parents, teachers and students together, and replaces announcements,” Black says. “It was created to address a major problem at schools, where students didn’t listen to the announcements. With this app, students are more engaged and informed about their school.”

Black knew he was onto something, but how could he make the idea into something significant? He knew he needed help. “I came to Hans and asked him if he could help me grow my business,” Black says. “Since then Hans and others at #WeAreYQQ have been amazing, getting us tons of publicity and organizing us to present at #WeAreYQQ events. Being a part of the #WeAreYQQ community has been a phenomenal experience.”

Becoming involved with the #WeAreYQQ Project was a way for Black to make valuable connections and learn many of the skills needed to grow his business. “Hans invited me to the Interzone IO 2016 tech conference. He taught me a ton about social media presence, which also helped me grow my network, and ended up getting me a selfie with Bruce Croxon from Dragons’ Den!” says Black.

Meyer and the #WeAreYQQ team were pleased to help. “Matthew and the Anotiv Team are an example of the kind of young talent we need to grow a knowledge-based, talent economy in our region,” says Meyer.

One problem Black was struggling with was raising money for the Anotiv Team to represent Canada and the Comox Valley in the Destination Imagination Global Finals in Knoxville, Tennessee.

“Because of the connections I made via #WeAreYQQ we were able to raise enough funds to attend the competition,” he says. “The Global Finals is the world’s largest celebration of creativity. Each May, more than 8,000 of the world’s most innovative minds compete in teams to showcase their Challenge solutions and celebrate creativity. If teams are successful at the Regional and Provincial tournaments, then they have the opportunity to move on to the Global Finals Tournament in Knoxville, Tennessee. This is a truly amazing opportunity to represent Canada and #WeAreYQQ.” (The competition was held from May 25 to May 28, just before this issue went to print.)

“The #WeAreYQQ Project has given me the opportunity to network with some amazing business owners and entrepreneurs in the Valley, and given me the opportunity to not only receive great advice, but also give back to those businesses with my technical knowledge,” Black adds. “This is truly what #WeAreYQQ is all about, which is all based on building a stronger business and entrepreneur community, to make shift happen in the Comox Valley, and encourage innovation.”
The #WeAreYQQ Project is all about helping people just like Matthew Black become successful—and that supports everyone.

“The project strives to grow economic activity based on the people who are already here,” Meyer says. “It’s not about importing a solution. Those who are here already understand the community, its values. When we support our existing talent we can grow something that actually has roots. And we believe we’re building the kind of collaborative, community-based economy and culture that will keep the Comox Valley a rich and beautiful place to live.”

The #WeAreYQQ community is open to anyone who owns or is just thinking about building a business. It’s for big businesses, small businesses, new or established businesses. If you are an entrepreneur, or even just an entrepreneur wannabe, the #WeAreYQQ Project is something worth checking out. Tickets to their events are available to everyone, or you can choose to become a monthly subscriber, which makes you eligible for free workshops, business development services, as well as other nice community perks.

“The #WeAreYQQ Project receives no taxpayer dollars or charitable funding. Monthly subscription for services is one of the best ways you can support the #WeAreYQQ Project on an ongoing basis. You’ll save time and money. You’ll have access to discounts from other community businesses and you’ll be actively investing in the economic future of the Comox Valley,” says Meyer. “We’re having fun. We’re sharing what’s good. We’re helping each other out.”

To learn more visit the #WeAreYQQ Project go to 

To get the Anotiv app go to