From operating out of a basement in 2009, to employing over 30 people today, WTFast Gamers Private Network has come a long way. As the recent winner of the Kelowna Chamber’s Technology and Innovation award, and soon to be Okanagan Innovation Centre tenant, WTFast’s future is bright. We sat down to chat with the CEO and co-founder Rob Bartlett to find out exactly what their plan is and what makes Kelowna the perfect landscape for it.
In his own words, Rob describes WTFast as “a rapidly growing technology company that optimizes online game connections. If you enjoy online gaming, you already know that having a fast and smooth online connection can make or break your game. Gamers can go to WTFast’s website and try out the software for free. Gamers can then see connection stats that highlight how WTFast can improve their game speed and benefit their overall connection for a better gaming experience (yes, WTFast will help you land those penta-kills)! If gamers like what they see, they can pay a small monthly fee to receive benefits of the WTFast Global Production Network”.
Rob avidly believes that the Okanagan lifestyle makes for healthier, happier, and more productive team members and that being based in Kelowna has had a direct impact on their corporate culture. The location allows WTFast to employ people who live and breathe the motto “work hard, play hard.” Team members are quick to cite their affinity for water skiing on Okanagan Lake and snowboarding up at Big White is a huge perk and incentive to make the Okanagan home.
When asked if it’s been difficult to attract or retain team talent, Rob states that they haven’t had any issues. “Having a great work-life balance in the Okanagan is a great hiring incentive. If you have the choice to live in multiple locations, why not live in Kelowna, one of the nicest places in Canada and work at the coolest place in the city - the Okanagan Centre for Innovation”
The 4 seasons playground and the close proximity of potential activities situated in the Okanagan made the decision for Rob to run the company out of Kelowna, and specifically the Okanagan Centre for Innovation, an easy one to make. The quick drive to the office and the affordable housing market (in comparison to larger cities like Vancouver) more than makes up for the occasional need to fly to larger cities for work. The opportunity to work in the heart of the Kelowna cultural district makes it even better. Rob states, “staff are thrilled that we’re moving, yet staying within the downtown core. We’re looking forward to having larger common areas where staff can work and play; our living room set up and games room are going to be popular hangouts. Being in the OCI is going to allow us to feel more like a family in so many ways”.
The opportunity to work with other like-minded companies is another aspect that appeals to WTFast and contributed to their decision to move into the OCI. With the numerous events and innovation encouraging spaces the OCI offers, tenants will naturally come together and have the ability to collaborate on projects. Rob highlights another key benefit of being a tenant in the OCI as the opportunity to further develop pre-existing relationships, saying “we’ve been involved with Accelerate Okanagan since before they even became AO. They’ve helped us from inception to the fast growing company we are today. Being neighbours in the OCI will allow our relationship to continue to grow.”
It’s clear that the Okanagan Centre for Innovation will be the perfect new home for WTFast with their shared importance placed on collaboration within the tech community, and their dedication to creating and maintaining an ideal work-life balance. WTFast is once again leading the way by laying the groundwork for what an Okanagan based company should look like, one quality (game) connection at a time.