All about our venue

As you’ve no doubt heard, BarCamp Saskatoon 2011 will take place at VendAsta’s spankin’ new world headquarters downtown. Located in the historic Avenue building, kitty-corner from Birks and handily across the street from Winston’s, the office has been custom renovated to fit the software development company’s needs and personality. They posted a great blog entry about it here. I sat down* with** VP of Operations Allan Wolinski to find out a little more about the place and about VendAsta’s involvement in BarCamp Saskatoon.

BarCampYXE: So, VendAsta is moving? Has moved?

Allan: Yes, we moved at the end of September as planned. However, there is still a lot of work to be done to make this place comfortable. For example, office doors and glass are coming in this week.

B: Sounds … like a typical reno. Can you tell us any historical or otherwise interesting tidbits about the building?

A:The building dates back to 1912. It was built to be home to the largest-at-the-time department store, named after its owner MacMillan. In 1927 the building was converted to an office space and was renamed the Avenue Building. The building definitely has its character and you can discover many historical elements. For example, in the basement there are two massive (the size of a locomotive) riveted boilers, which used to heat the entire building. The building has been very nicely renovated and it shows that current owner, Mitch Yurchak, deeply cares about the historical nature of this place.

B: How does VendAsta fit in this setting?

A: Retro Future! This is the theme for our new office decor and it could not be any better. If you Google images “Retro Future” you get this wonderful collection of wild imagination from the era of our building. Even though this alternate future is supposed to be here now, I think instead we face an era of technological revolution. I would like us to have the same wild imagination for where we are going next. After all, the Star Trek flip-phone style communicator was probably a prototype for our mobile devices.

B: What made you decide to open your offices up to hosting Barcamp?

A: Our culture fits right in with BarCamp’s (or vice versa). We love the idea of openly sharing knowledge amongst all of us here. In fact we already host “mini Barcamps” which we call Demos, or an Open House, every Friday at 3:00pm. The idea is that during this time we share what we all accomplished or learned during the week with colleagues, families and friends. And yes, beer is highly coupled with this event. 🙂

B: Have you been to BarCamp before? What did you like about it?

A: Definitely. We have been part of Saskatoon BarCamp right from the beginning. VendAsta gets involved with BarCamp every year not only by sponsoring the event, but also by trying to add value to a Saskatoon tech community. This year especially is going to be a great opportunity for us to do that.

B: Can you describe how the local tech industry benefits from BarCamp?

A: Networking. BarCamp is a great setting for exchanging ideas, seeking inspiration, or just talking about your day job or evening projects. The companies that get involved don’t really need to look any further for local talent. You get all of them under the same roof.

B: I know that VendAstans have done talks at BarCamp in years past. I sure hope someone’s planning to bring the gold again this year. Thanks for your time, and for opening up your new home to BarCamp.

A: You’re welcome. It’s our pleasure.

* I was sitting down at my desk when I wrote the questions; I assume he was sitting down when he replied via email.
** Any implied time/space with-ness is entirely faked for my own amusement.

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