“I remember taking a taxi towards Downtown Vancouver for the first time back in February and noticing the city’s architecture against the backdrop of the mountains. It was truly stunning and inspiring”
On a fresh, dazzling, late November morning, I met Daniel who was still very much in the land of jet lag. Daniel had reached out to me and wanted to be part of the ‘Brits’ project yet had a very different story from previous participants. I was intrigued. Before heading out on a photo-walk to Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada Place and Gastown, we chatted over coffee.
Love and Separation
I asked, “Yours if a very different story to other Brits I’ve met as part of the project. I’m curious to know what prompted you to participate?”
The scene was set “I had seen a couple of your previous interviews on the Facebook group: Brits in Vancouver and lots of people have said to me that I have a very interesting story and that I should start talking about it. Now that I have moved to Vancouver and starting totally from scratch, I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to get my story out there.” I was now really hooked and wanted far more detail. Daniel spoke about his Fiancé who lives in Seattle, not Vancouver. How did that come about? A long distance love story unfolded….
“This is very difficult for me go into but it’s important regarding where I am today.
I was going through the process of immigrating to Seattle, USA to be with my fiancé who I have been with now for nearly four years. During the process I was on an ESTA and wasn’t allowed to stay any longer than 90 days, so there was a lot of going to and from the U.K. and America to make the relationship work.
During 2018, my fiancé became ill and even hospitalized. I made the decision to stay and care for her and her young son. Because of this I overstayed on my ESTA whilst my immigration was being processed. This was queried and I was asked to leave. On doing so I received an email from the (US) State Department telling me that I was barred from entering the USA for three years. This was deeply distressing to the two of us and brought immense pressure to our relationship.
My fiancé can’t move away from Seattle due to her son’s parenting arrangement and her job, so I looked into options of appealing the decision to bar me from the USA, which I am still doing to this day. Whilst the appeal continues, we both knew we wanted to be closer to each other, so Vancouver seemed like a possible solution.”
Daniel had met his now Fiancé several years ago, the long distance relationship had blossomed and was now weathering exceptionally challenging times. I was listening to a very emotional story and love was determined to succeed. “It’s pretty simple: to keep going and see this through. She is the love of my life and I won’t stop fighting for us to be reunited.” Daniel had absolute clarity on his reason for being here, despite the jet lag.It’ll be another two years before Daniel can re-enter the USA if he sees out the prohibition.
On the Right Side
Aside from the love story, Daniel also had an intriguing background that included UK politics. Even though we wouldn’t class as political-bedfellows, I wanted to know more about his time in the political machine. He picked up the baton “I’ve always been interested in politics and started volunteering for my local party in 2014 in the run up to the 2015 General Election. We (the Conservative Party) won the General Election and I was asked by the new Member of Parliament to be his Constituency Support Manager. A great honour.
I’ve always been pretty opinionated about certain things, as I’m sure many of us are, but I would say it’s not until you are in a position where real people are coming to you with their concerns and problems that you start to understand how the political system works, and yet at the same time, doesn’t work. That’s when your opinions start to fade. I found in the end I was having a lot of disagreements with my own political party on certain things and this made me realize that I could probably better help people by stepping away from mainstream politics.” Describing his position as socially liberal and fiscally conservative, and giving him space to explain what that meant to him, I realised that even though I would disagree with elements of Daniel’s political philosophy, we had a shared understanding that politics should transcend the entrenched, polarized positions that lead to degraded civility and recognise that there are times when idealogical compromise can help create change.
I was pretty sure that Daniel would be using his skills and experience to good effect whilst in Vancouver and wanted to know what he intended to work on over the next couple of years. “I’ve learnt a lot of skills during my career in both retail and in politics; sales, management, public speaking and problem solving. All of these skills have played a part in this venture, I first came up with this venture whilst working for the Government. I saw charities within our constituency struggling to fundraise and felt there had to be a technical solution to better support them. I wasn’t technically minded enough to come with a solution on my own, so I had to convince people to get onboard with me. I felt doing this in America would be easier.
So, in October 2016 I resigned from working for the Government and started to visit America to see my then girlfriend (now fiancé) and to network with technically minded people that could make this idea a reality.
Fast forward to today and we have a product that works and is already helping selected charities within the U.K. to better fundraise. Our venture aims to support charities through innovative technology and help them raise money to support their missions. I think cities all over the world will benefit from what we have created and piloting this in Vancouver will give charities within the city a great opportunity to try something new before anyone else.”
It seems that Daniel has a valuable business opportunity to trial in Vancouver and if charitable organisations benefit, then I’m certainly for that. Of course contacts will be needed, so how was Daniels progressing there? “Only a couple from a business group based in Vancouver. I am hoping to grow my network as quickly as possible over the next few months. I have signed up to a couple of local tech and political groups on Meetup and will look to volunteer with a few charities over the Christmas period and join a local amateur football (soccer) team (if I can still remember how to play).” If you have non-profit and/or tech experience and Daniel's project intrigues you, contact him directly at email@example.com
Before heading out for the photo-session, I had a few more questions about his experience and advice to others moving to the area. I asked “What advice would you offer to other British entrepreneurs looking to relocate to the metro Vancouver region?”
“I would say first things first, look at the type of industry you are in and make sure it fits into what Vancouver could offer.
Next make friends. I have no doubt there will be tough times ahead for me, so having the ability to do something fun with someone else to take your mind off of the stresses and strains of business is critical. I would say to do this from scratch: join groups on Facebook and Meetup and if you can’t find a suitable group to join, then create one.
Finally, enjoy the journey. Yes, it’s stressful and I must admit I often find myself “winging” it. But I always remain positive, because I know what my team and I have created together. And even if it doesn’t work out for us, I can look back and still feel good about what we have learnt. You can’t put a price on that sort of experience.”
And what about Vancouver itself? “I remember taking a taxi towards Downtown Vancouver for the first time back in February and noticing the city’s architecture against the backdrop of the mountains. It was truly stunning and inspiring; I strongly believe that Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen.
Away from the niceties, I remember walking around certain areas of Downtown Vancouver and noticing a worrying number of vulnerable people on the streets. I remember a business partner who travelled to Vancouver with me in September stating the same thing, so there must be a real need for something different to happen in order to help.”
Finally, as with all my Brits in Vancouver conversations, what, other than family and friends, would Daniel like to have brought across the pond but couldn’t. “I really want to say my local Indian restaurant. But I will refrain… I don’t really know, there’s so much! I enjoy grassroots football and the traditions over in the U.K. I’m not sure if there is much of a cricket scene in Vancouver?” Fortunately for Daniel, he’ll still be able to enjoy the sports scene here and I’m pretty certain that he’ll be able to meet his gastronomic needs as Vancouver culinary diversity is surely second to none.
This was a very different Brits in Vancouver conversation and it’s inspired me to widen my search for more entrepreneurs living in the area. I want to add another layer to this project and I’m looking forward to developing this.
In the meantime, thank you Daniel for being vulnerable and for being human. Welcome to the TARDIS and I hope your life emerges from this challenging time with your optimism and determination intact.
You’ll find more images from Brits in Vancouver on my photography site.