GSS 2018 – A Year in Review

Global Startup School 2018 – Year in Review

2018 was marked by success at Global Startup School, as GSS students turned entrepreneurship training into real world results in their own lives through a unique, hands-on approach to learning – tailored to the opportunities of the global market.

Students gain startup essentials in debut year for GSS

“2018 was a remarkable year,” says GSS Program Director Bruno Gomes, “The numbers really tell the story. 50 guest speakers, 26 events, and 20 field visits immersed our future entrepreneurs in the Vancouver startup ecosystem, with impressive results.”

GSS Program Director Bruno Gomes

In a year characterized by success, Gomes can’t pick a favourite. “We have 3 new business running – The Bike Cafe, PPL, Earth Paws. We were awarded 4 prizes during pitch nights and had a top 3 finisher in all the competitions where we had entrepreneurs presenting this year. GSS is especially proud that one of our GSS entrepreneurs, Weimar Pettengill, will earn Permanent Resident status in Canada, based on his successful entry into Spring’s  IMPACT StartUp Visa Program.

The deep dive into Vancouver’s startup world offered by GSS is guided by industry experts and successful entrepreneurs sharing their insights.

2018 Students Make Their Own Business Case with GSS Mindset

GSS Student Sarah Zabihi



GSS student Sarah Zabihi loves the way she moved toward entrepreneurial success according to her own goals and values.

”The fantastic connections you make in just a few months facilitate the execution of your business idea and illuminate the steps to succeed. At GSS we’re building something creative and we’re all a meaningful part of the enthusiastic entrepreneurship world.”

Sarah’s story shows how GSS students learn the right skills to succeed as a globally-focused entrepreneur. It’s a story echoed by her fellow GSS students, who ranked their top three learning outcomes for the year.

Top Three Takeaways According to 2018 Students

  • 1 – The entrepreneurial mindset
  • 2 – A hands-on business approach
  • 3 – Customer Oriented – Customer Journey

Making Great Ideas Market Ready

GSS Co-Founder Tamsin Plaxton

“We teach students to come up with an idea, and test that idea to validate it,” explains GSS co-founder Tamsin Plaxton. “We do this by engaging with experts in Vancouver’s startup world.”

Marketing instructor Mark Huvenaars also notes the real world experience GSS offers.

“We have weekly guest speakers and field trips. It’s about dynamic learning, building a business on the fly, developing an idea, and really being able to communicate and connect that to your customers, potential investors, and to your team.”

Be Your Own Business Case in 2019

In just over 50 weeks, GSS’s 2018 student cohort learned the latest strategies and tactics in marketing for business and startups, innovation and entrepreneurship, and management skills targeted to the entrepreneur in a startup environment.

As GSS student German Lopez notes, “It’s much more than I expected. It’s not like the typical business school, it’s practical, and we go out often to visit a startup, connect with entrepreneurs and attend an event.”

GSS is delivering the professional networks, skills, and experience to thrive in the modern economy. Make a New Year’s resolution to be your own business case in 2019. Sign up now for our next intake, and activate the potential to build an amazing, prosperous life for you and your family, without borders and limitations.

A worldwide shift is underway. New opportunities and new markets demand a new skill set. You can find it at Global Startup School.

2018’s Guest Speakers, Mentors, Instructors & Advisors

Charlyne Fothergill, Director of Career Services @ Lighthouse Labs & Mentor/Advisor @ Launch Academy

Charlyne is an integral part of Lighthouse Labs as the Director of Career Services and is also a well respected member of the Canadian Human Resources and Tech Startup industry. Perfectly combining her 13+ yrs experience in HR and Canada’s tech community, Charlyne oversees Lighthouse’s employment outcomes and ensures their grads are finding jobs post-bootcamp across Canada. She has helped hundreds of students secure employment as Junior Software Developers over the years and continues to strengthen Lighthouse Labs’ connection to each community they serve. When she’s not working (which is rare) she like fine wines, fast food and the occasional yoga class.

Chin Hing Chang, Head of Growth @ Spring Activator

Chin mentors employees looking to start a new venture and non-profit organizations looking to spin out a for-profit venture. At Spring, he has helped our 600+ entrepreneurs launch over 300 companies. As a speaker, Chin focuses on ACTIONABLE advice and processes, not just the motivational fluff, and has presented at various conferences and companies including Protohack, PVCC, RED Academy, and many more. Chin joined Spring to help other entrepreneurs avoid the same mistakes he made in his previous ventures and elevate them so that they can create the impact in the world that they envision. He loves to connect people to execute ideas and encourage personal development.

Chris de Eyre,   Area Manager, Lodging Partner Services @ Expedia Inc.

Chris manages Expedia’s lodging partner services team for Western Canada, focusing on strategic consulting and revenue management for hotels. He has held diverse roles across Canada in the travel and tourism industry for companies such as GO International, Beach Travellers, and Merit Travel Group. Mr. de Eyre serves as a board member for the Nepali Children’s Education Projectand was previously Founder and Executive Director of The Mighty Pen, a charity that promotes and coordinates local-language literacy programs for underprivileged youth. He holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of British Columbia, an International and Global Studies degree from York University, and is a Certified Revenue Management Executive with the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International.

Chris Stairs, Financial Management Instructor & Senior Associate @ Canada Startup

Chris has 15+ years experience in strategic marketing and operational start-ups, and has helped organizations position for market entry, streamline execution, push through financial ceilings, and build foundations to become best-in-field. An associate of, Chris supports ventures across a broad range of sectors including construction management software, e-learning, workplace hygiene, therapeutic apparel, industrial automation, event technologies, and anti-counterfeit authentication platforms.

Christopher Moreno, Financial Management Instructor & VP Finance @ Portable Electric

Christopher Moreno’s (CPA, CMA) background is diverse and multi-disciplinary. His experience includes completing a Master’s degree in Business Ethics and creating and selling two companies – one of which grew into a multi-million-dollar, international entity. Having also served as a CFO, a Director of Investor & Regulatory Affairs for a NASDAQ listed Canadian company, a Director of AV Services at a major hotel, Manager of Guest Relations for the Vancouver Aquarium, and a designer of high tech LED installations, Christopher can draw upon many real-world cases to provide guidance and mentorship.

Clayton Racine Weir, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer @ FISPAN

Clayton is the Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at FI.SPAN, leading product strategy, partnerships with FinTechs and business development. He previously founded the BC Tech HyperGrowth Accelerator and FinTech Industry Cluster. Clayton sits on the NACHA API Standardization Group, taught Entrepreneurship at the University of British Columbia and is a board member of Canada’s largest independent car sharing organization.

Cody Dart P.Eng., PMP, MBA, Principal/Project Manager @ CoDart Enterprises Ltd & BC Hydro

CoDart Enterprises is a project management firm with a passion for bringing construction and renewable energy projects to market by effectively thinking outside the box to efficiently influence project outcomes through leadership, and analytics. Cody’s expertise includes project management, development, design, and construction of IPPs and utility projects with a focus in BC. Currently acting as a Project Manager for Generations Project Delivery at BC Hydro, Cody is managing a portfolio of projects each ranging in size between $1-50M.

Colin McWhinnie, Founder/CEO @ Canada Startup & Lead Facilitator @ BCIT School of Business

Colin has 20+ years of experience bringing expertise in leadership, strategic direction, and business development to companies across the globe. In 2000, he started SalesXperts, a consulting company which engineers and executes customized sales and marketing processes for clients in the Technology (Oracle, Netledger, Microsoft), Financial Services (Vancity, Pacific Blue Cross), Manufacturing and Professional Services (BDO) industries. In 2008, he founded Canada Startup to provide practical, results-oriented services to the growing entrepreneurial sector. Through their work with programs like BCIT Venture, MIT Venture, and several incubators, they have helped hundreds of entrepreneurs get started quickly and profitably. Since 2010, he has worked closely with the BCIT Corporate and Industry Training division as a lead facilitator, providing practical workshops in Leadership, Strategic Planning and Revenue growth to Private and Public Organizations.

Colin Weston, Co-Founder @ Startup Vancouver

Colin has been involved with Startup Canada at the national level for several years. In early 2017, he partnered with co-founder, Rob Foxall, to launch Startup Vancouver. His motivation stemmed from wanting to give back to the local startup community by providing the resources and support that he wished were available when he started his entrepreneurial journey back in 2011. Colin is a Vancouver entrepreneur and co-founder of REVIVER Sport Entertainment, where they create sport innovation experiences such as CitySurf Vancouver and RippedLinks. He is also the host and creator of The ModGolf Podcast. His previous endeavours include architecture, 3D visualization, and experience design.

Danilo Correia, Community Manager- VR/AR @ BC Tech

Danilo is an aspiring entrepreneur and active player in the Vancouver startup community with strong connections in the Canadian and Brazilian tech industry. He is an experienced professional with strong know-how in B2B and B2C sales, digital marketing consultant with proficiency in Analytics, CRM, email automation and event management. A photography enthusiast with deep interest in history and advances in technology, Danilo values creativity, integrity and gratitude.

Enoch Weng, Financial Security Advisor @ Freedom 55 Financial & Founder @ E-Note Academy

A Community Builder, Project Manager, and Financial Leader, Enoch has many years of experience working with various Non-Profit Organizations with a focus on the Tech and Startup sector. As a Financial Security Advisor, he helps his clients identify their financial security needs, and create and implement personalized plans to help them reach their goals. A musician at heart, Enoch is always down for a jam session and believes in the balance of both working hard and playing hard.

Eric Termuende, Co-Founder @ NoW Innovations

Eric Termuende is the co-founder of NoW Innovations, a bestselling author of Rethink Work, and an international speaker. His work has been featured in Forbes, Inc., Thrive Global, the Huffington Post, Globe and Mail, and elsewhere. Termuende was recognized as a Top 100 Emerging Innovator under 35 globally by American Express, is a TEDx speaker, and represented Canada at the G20 Summit. Eric is a thought leader on optimizing workplace culture, the future of work, and engagement in the workplace. He provides key actionable takeaways on how companies can drive engagement through connection and trust.

Ernest Daddey, Managing Director and CTO @ i-onCONNECT Technologies Inc.

Ernest Daddey is an experienced, award-winning senior executive who grows businesses to become blue-chip companies. For more than 25 years, Ernest has successfully nurtured business ideas from research to product development, filing patents, commercialization, manufacturing, and sales. He has done so through his core competencies in strategic marketing, collaboration, and innovation in technology and business thinking. Ernest has strategically targeted new markets, product applications, and growth opportunities with strong results. He has been employed as a CEO, Vice-President Technology Development, Scientific Advisor, Project Manager, Materials Scientist/Polymer Engineer, and Materials Chemist within the global high-tech sector. Ernest has also been a strategic advisor/mentor for high-tech start-ups. Ernest has a Bachelor of Science in Materials Science from the University of Greenwich in London, England.

Ernst Reinhard Schmied, P.Eng., Director Engineering @ i-onCONNECT Technologies Inc.

Ernst Schmied is an accomplished leader and mentor with a strong entrepreneurial spirit and passion for technical excellence. Ernst has held senior management positions, including CEO, VP Engineering, and Product Manager, at successful technology companies. Ernst has more than 35 years of engineering and consulting practice experience in industries such as process automation, semiconductor test equipment, engineering services, medical devices, automotive, and multirotor Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) platforms. Ernst drives productivity and develops top performing teams, empowering them to achieve organizational growth. Experience has taught him the value of cultivating team morale and leading individuals to peak performance through education and effective communication. Ernst is a Professional Engineer, registered with APEGBC, and holds a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Technical University of Munich (TUM), Germany.

Francesca McDowell, Consultant @ Digital Technology Supercluster

Francesa is a consultant at the Digital Technology Supercluster, working with a collection of organizations who collaborate to develop world leading technologies that will power the digital transformation of business and society while delivering economic growth across Canada. She is also an associate at Physical Science Innovations, providing strategic and tactical services to realize the impacts from investment in research and innovation.

Geoff Dittrich, Managing Partner @ Ink LLP

Geoff works with entrepreneurs, start-ups and high growth companies in the areas of business, corporate finance and technology. He actively represents clients as outside general counsel in the areas of e-commerce, fintech, blockchain, artificial intelligence, agritech, wearables and hardware, telecommunications, consumer goods and electronics, aerial robotics (drones), software (including SAAS), VR/AR, medical and digital health tech, life sciences and data management. With over a decade of experience in business and technology, beginning at BlackBerry, Geoff serves on the board of advisors for numerous emerging companies, is regularly engaged as a speaker in the areas of crowdfunding, corporate finance and technology law, and was a founding contributor to NACO’s Common Docs initiative aimed at establishing a national standard for startup financing.

Hayley Woodin, Multimedia Journalist @ Business in Vancouver

Hayley Woodin is a multimedia reporter with Business in Vancouver, where she co-hosts and co-produces BIV on Roundhouse Radio 98.3FM – the only daily radio show in BC dedicated to covering business. She also co-hosts BIV’s podcast, appears weekly on Global News Morning and contributes regularly to BIV’s print and online publications. From March to April, Hayley will be reporting for BIV from Southeast Asia as one of three journalists in Canada selected as Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada media fellows for 2017–2018.

Humaira Hamid, Business Development Manager, BC @ Futurpreneur Canada

Humaira is the Business Development Manager for BC and the Yukon at Futurpreneur Canada (formerly CYBF). Futurpreneur is a national non-profit focused on fueling youth entrepreneurship via financing, mentorship and support tools to aspiring business owners aged 18-39. At Futurpreneur, Humaira works with start-up entrepreneurs to support them in the initial stages of their business, connects with mentors across sectors and collaborates with community partners to maintain a strong and connected entrepreneurial ecosystem in British Columbia.

Igor Faletski, CEO @ Mobify

As CEO and co-founder, Igor has successfully scaled Mobify from three people working in a downtown Vancouver apartment to the global leader in mobile commerce and engagement solutions for retailers. With a strong background in computer science and software engineering, Igor is a passionate spokesperson for the future of mobile and its positive impact on society. He is frequently quoted in media outlets such as Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Mashable and VentureBeat. In his spare time, Igor trains as an open water swimmer aspiring to one day cross English Bay from West Vancouver to Kitsilano.

Inayat Ur Rehman, Marketing Manager and Chief Heart Officer @ Your Edu Connect

Inayat Ur Rehman, has built a multi-Hyphenate career. He is a founder-CEO of Your Edu Connect where he connects students with professionals. Inayat was nominated for BC 30 Under 30 list. He is a digital marketing specialist with a focus on modern marketing and technology. Inayat worked at TRU World, where he closely worked with management to build connections throughout the community of 25,000 students across the globe through social media and other channels. Inayat’s mission is to bring students and professionals together, perhaps turning them into future leaders (for students) and get innovative ideas with new trends (for professionals). Inayat believes there is a power in collaboration with professionals and future leaders.

Jason Madar, Coordinator, Web and Mobile @ Langara College

Having worked on 24/7 mission-critical systems, including migrating databases without downtime, Jason has become a master of his domain. He has lead software development teams in enterprise environments and even created a platform for biological data analysis that lead to the discovery of a potential new flu treatment. In addition to his industry work Jason spent years teaching at the university level and now works at Langara College.

Jean Nairon – MBA, PMP, Co-Founder and Chief Outcomes Officer @ Valuize Consulting

Jean has extensive experience and expertise in strategizing and operationalizing B2B SaaS growth and customer strategy, processes, and technology. His career spans building and leading Customer Success strategy in B2B SaaS organizations including the operationalization of these strategies through the Gainsight and Salesforce platforms. As Chief Outcomes Officer at Valuize, Jean is in charge of expanding the consulting practice and enabling new outcomes and value to be realized by Valuize clients.

Katty Wang, P.Eng., Operations Manager @ Granted Consulting & Co-Chair @ Vancouver Startup Week

Katty is an entrepreneur and an Engineer who understands how to help other STEM professionals with business development, marketing, and operations. With her unique experiences with both startup companies and the engineering industry, Katty thrives when coaching technical entrepreneurs how to share and communicate their innovations effectively with the general public. Katty is a Professional Engineer with Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia (EGBC) and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Science (Civil Engineering). Katty is the co-chair of Vancouver Startup Week, a volunteer position she has held since 2016. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Organizational Psychology.

Keith Ippel, Co-Founder and CEO @ Spring Activator

Keith is passionate about helping entrepreneurs change the world by connecting their ideas with the right tools, resources, technology, and funding. He is also passionate about Vancouver finding its unique and important place in the global startup stage. He co-founded Spring to focus on early stage entrepreneurs with high growth potential who want to make the world a better place. Whether you call it social good, impact, conscious capitalism, do good, or social entrepreneurship, Spring is the place to transform your ideas into impact. Spring runs a comprehensive set of entrepreneur, incubator, accelerator, and funding programs for aspiring and early stage entrepreneurs. It’s the only global entrepreneurship program based in Vancouver (and Canada). Our programs run in over 30 cities on 5 continents, with over 650 entrepreneurs launching 300+ businesses, creating 300+ jobs, and raising over $12.5M in early stage capital in Vancouver alone.

Laura Aveledo, Business Planning and International Trade Advisor @ Small Business BC

Laura is the Business Planning and International Trade Advisor. She takes her clients on a “business planning journey” which includes research, evaluation and development of business strategies and defining actions to encourage business growth. Laura is a Biologist with an MBA as well as a Masters in International Marketing. She brings to her role over 15 years of international experience developed in a broad range of businesses from international corporations to financial services and not-for-profits; she has also developed her own business. Laura has advised over 300 entrepreneurs from varied industry backgrounds and has been an instructor in Entrepreneurship, marketing and Management. Laura is a mentor for multiple organizations including Futurpreneur, UBC MBA students, and Forum of Women Entrepreneurs. Laura speaks 3 languages – English, Spanish and French.

Lyndsey LaBontee, Talent Partner @ Relic Entertainment

Lyndsey’s mission is to help build rad workplaces, one organization at a time. Having spent 4 years working at Bench watching the company grow from six to 250+ people, she learned a lot about human systems and how they grow, break, and need to be nurtured. Looking to move out of the tech company echo-chamber, she transplanted herself into the games industry and has spent the majority of the last year coaching and advising the team of managers at Relic Entertainment. With a professional background in accounting, Lyndsey made her way into the people & talent realm and hasn’t turned back since.

Mark Huvenaars, Marketing for Startups Instructor & Founder and Marketing Strategist @ Railtown Media Inc.

Mark’s expertise lies in developing an integrated brand experience for healthcare, financial services and retail consumers in digital environments. With an MBA from Sauder School of Business, he possesses a broad foundation in business strategy and analysis. Mark combines tactical experience with a results-driven, ROI-optimized approach.

Maryam Mobini, Execution and Management Instructor and Co-Founder and CEO @ to:Resonate

Maryam Mobini is the Co-Founder & CEO of the transformative technology company, to: Resonate. Maryam is a curator of immersive multi-sensory therapeutic experiences focused on anxiety reduction and pain management for patients suffering from chronic pain. Maryam is a serial entrepreneur, behavior designer and Tiny Habits®Certified Coach focused on helping you build tiny practices to breakthrough your automatic negative thoughts that prevent you from bringing your ideas to life.

Matt Corker, CEO/People Consultant @ The Corker Co.

As the CEO of The Corker Co, a human capital consulting firm, and creator of The Manager Start Line, an online training program designed to take leaders’ people management skills to the next level, Matt gets to further the future of human potential every day. He trains individuals and their teams 1:1, in workshops, and in retreats to help define and refine their personal and collective leadership. With his extensive knowledge of best practices and forward-thinking people development theory, Matt creates custom leadership and culture development programs that live on far beyond his interactions with clients. Matt holds a BCOM in Human Resources and a MBA from the Copenhagen Business School. He is a committed mentor to aspiring entrepreneurs, a published author, a futuristic trend watcher, and a lover of impromptu dance parties. Cause life is meant to be lived fully expressed.

Melanie Ewan, Managing Partner, Operations @ Volition Advisors

Melanie is an exceptional writer and project manager with ten years of experience in the federal public service, as well as a strong background in research, community engagement and communications. With a critical and creative eye, Melanie excels at assessing content and translating your vision into an accessible and impactful narrative.

Mervyn Mabini, MBA, Manager, Venture Programs @ BC Tech

Growing up as an immigrant in Canada and having faced many challenges while settling in the Canadian society, Mervyn Mabini believes that resilient communities are needed platforms to support marginalized communities. He has worked with migrant groups in Toronto, organizing conferences that provided education about workers and migrants’ rights.  He also co-founded EdHackersTO, a community that fostered the innovation, growth, and adoption of education technologies within the K-12 space. He is an MBA Graduate from the Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University.

Michael Damiani, Lawyer and Patent Agent @ Borden Ladner Gervais LLP & Co-Founder @ BLG Startup&Grow Initiative

Michael Damiani is a lawyer and patent agent in our Intellectual Property Group in our Vancouver office. Michael specializes in: (1) drafting and prosecuting patent applications in fields related to biotechnology, life sciences, pharmaceuticals, therapeutics, medical devices, chemistry, and oil and gas; (2) advising on patentability, validity, infringement and freedom-to-operate issues; (3) advising on international patent strategies and portfolio management; and (4) assisting startup companies grow. Michael co-founded StartUp & Grow™, a BLG initiative that offers practical, efficient legal solutions tailored to meet the needs of entrepreneurs, start-ups, early-stage, and growth-stage companies, and also includes flexible fee arrangements. In addition to legal service offerings, we host a wide range of networking and panel discussion events in our offices, and support the community through partnerships with numerous organizations that help propel innovative startups and entrepreneurs to the next level. Before joining BLG as an articling student, Michael conducted doctoral research in chemistry and biochemistry at Simon Fraser University.

Nicola Jones-Crossley, Business Development Manager @ Futurpreneur Canada

A dynamic leader, innovator and people person, Nicola creates opportunities, invests time in relationships, manages multiple projects and has a love of travel. Her international adventures have provided her with an understanding of cultural diversity and opened her mind to a variety of world views. This understanding has given her skills to actively engage in many fields such as business development, non-profit management, marketing and PR, education and event management.

Oscar Malpica, Innovation & Business Ideation Instructor & Founder/CEO @ Envisioning Labs

Oscar is an innovation and change management professional with multi-industry experience in business strategy, innovation management, technology envisioning, R&D, and digital storytelling. Passionate about technology trends and exploratory innovation, he is a multilingual public speaker with international experience in North America and Asia. Oscar is currently the President of Red Global MX, British Columbia chapter, a network of global Mexican talent that seeks to strengthen bilateral relationships between Mexico and British Columbia.

Paul Brassard, Business Communication Instructor & Managing Partner and Lead Advisor @ Volition Advisors

An entrepreneur and innovator from a young age, Paul has extensive experience in fundraising, investor relations, and working with startups. With a knack for systems analysis and an ability to leverage his knowledge, networks and business acumen, Paul is a respected consultant and mentor in the Vancouver startup community.

Peter Wright, MBA, Business Development Manager @ Vancouver Economic Commission

Peter has over ten years of experience in strategic & operational planning, business development, project management, and client success & relationship management. Through working with CEOs, politicians and clients, he has honed his exceptional communication & leadership skills. Peter is recognized in his field for his outstanding organizational, analytical, and logistical abilities.

Philip Gray, Director of Operations @ Procurify

Prior to joining the Procurify team, Philip was the VP Operations at FreshTap and Direct Tap, providing logistics and specialized services for the craft beverage industry. Following years in the biotech industry at Stemcell Technologies, Peter completed his MBA from the University of British Columbia and eventually joined the Vancouver startup community.

Philipp Postrehovsky, SVP Marketing @ Progressa

Philipp is a product visionary, brand builder and an award-winning marketer who has been involved in the Vancouver tech scene for over 15 years. In 2013 he co-founded RentMoola, which continues to be one of North America’s leading fintech companies with the mission to eliminate the rent cheque and modernize rent collection for the enterprise. Before that, he was a brand leader for Mogo Technologies and Wonga Canada and began his career at Electronic Arts. He is the founder of Grind For Kids, a program that raised over $1 million for BC Children’s Hospital Foundation and sits on the Board of one of BC’s top independent schools.

Qaid Jivan, CEO and Co-Founder @ TalentMarketplace

Qaid is passionate about communities and leadership. He is heavily involved in the project management community in BC, having served two wonderful years on the board of the Project Management Institute for the Canadian West Coast. Previous to TalentMarketplace, he was a Sr. Project Analyst in large IT PMOs, covering multi-year projects and portfolios above $800M. He founded to connect high-quality project delivery professionals directly with the employers who need them with greater speed and transparency – something which was sorely needed in the industry.

Reid Hemsing, President and CEO @ Two-Wheel Gear

Reid grew up working blue collar field positions while pursuing various creative endeavors. He went from starting a small landscape and irrigation business to working in the commercial sector for one of Canada’s largest corporations. In 2014, he left the corporate world to follow his passion for Entrepreneurship. As the President and founder of Two Wheel Gear, Reid is best known for creating the first wrinkle-free bike suit bag and have won multiple awards for their creative style of marketing. Reid was crowned “Best Marketer” by Small Business BC in 2018 and was a Canadian Delegate for the 2018 G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In January 2018, the TWG team was awarded the Business Mastery award at the Tony Robbins Business Mastery conference in Florida.

Rowena Rizzotti, VP Healthcare & Innovation @ Health and Technology District

Rowena Rizzotti is a highly successful healthcare leader with more than 30 years experience in executive-level leadership roles across multi-site, complex health and business environments. Rowena served as VP of Operations for BC’s largest private seniors’ care operator and also served as a Chief Operating Officer for BC’s Northern Health Authority among many other healthcare leadership roles. Rowena is a founder of Innovation Boulevard, is responsible for having developed the research and innovation strategy in 2012, and developed an innovation centre for healthy aging which won a 2015 Innovator of the Year Award in BC. Rowena currently serves as the Vice President of Healthcare and Innovations for two private health sector companies, is a member of the Conference Board of Canada Council for Innovation and Commercialization and is a Mentor for SFU Beedie School of Business as well as Founder and Chief Executive for the Institute for Healthcare Innovations.

Sam Thiara, Chief Motivating Officer @Ignite  the Dream Coaching and Consulting & Advisor @ League of Innovators

Sam Thiara is a professional who has created a personal journey as a coach, speaker, author, workshop facilitator, educator and entrepreneur.  His goal is to support others in their personal brand awareness and professional development and was recognized by the Governor General of Canada with the Canadian Sovereign’s Volunteer Medal and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. Presently, Sam is a lecturer at the Beedie School of Business and Fraser International College. He bring various industry experiences in community relations and work with 45+ non-profits.

Sanjay Behal, Recruiting Consultant @ Sivaya Consulting Ltd.

Sanjay is a humble and outgoing business development rock star looking to make a positive impact throughout his journey. He built his business development experience in the recruitment industry through developing strong relationships across verticals in both public and private sectors (Healthcare, Technology, Oil & Gas, Finance, Construction, Insurance and more). He has placed professionals in IT, Accounting & Finance, Marketing & Sales and Human Resource positions. Sanjay is passionate about helping others achieve both their professional and personal goals. He works closely with his clients to understand their core needs and helps deliver the most effective solutions. He has a keen ability to put people at ease, and develop rapport quickly; at the end of the day, the relationships that stay strong are those where everyone truly benefits.

Sara McCabe, Co-Founder @ Bakit

Sara is a high energy, organized, no BS professional. At her core she believes in setting clear visions, strong foundations and above all else prioritizing people. Sara helps business owners create sustainable growth. By identifying gaps within the business and tailoring systems she has seen companies reach their potential, from store openings to management training seminars.

Scott Armstrong, Business Advisor, Keynote Speaker, and author of Start Me Up – An Entrepreneur’s Guidebook.

Scott began his entrepreneurial journey by leaving a career in corporate banking and starting an exotic wildlife rehabilitation sanctuary – growing it into one of Canada’s premier environmental education centers. Growing that passion for teaching and becoming Director of Entrepreneurship and Corporate Training at The British Columbia Institute of Technology allowed Scott to help guide over 2000 startup and growing businesses over a 10-year period. With degrees in business and education Scott has written for several business publications, appeared on many television and radio programs and is the author of Start Me Up – An Entrepreneur’s Guidebook. He is the creator the CFLPA Business Training Academy instructing CFL players to start up businesses after retiring from football and is the senior entrepreneur-in-residence for the Canadian Military helping veterans create their own enterprises.

Scott Ellis, Western Canada Territory Manager – Cloud Service Providers, IBM Canada

Scott covers the technology sector for IBM in Western Canada. He has have specific interests in the Video Game, M&E, and SaaS sectors and is highly involved with the startup ecosystem in Vancouver. His focus is to help technology companies solve their business problems by leveraging innovative technologies. IBM’s Cloud Partner Program enables businesses to tap into the vast network of resources, capabilities, and business contacts developed by IBM.

Scott Hirsch, Co-Founder @ TalentMarketplace

With work experience combining business administration and computer science, Scott’s passions lie in enabling business processes through the innovative use of technology. He is currently automating project management recruitment with TalentMarketplace, a platform which offers a direct connection between great project managers, analysts, and coordinators and businesses looking for local project management talent.

Sint Moe, Product Manager @ Keela

Sint is an energetic and ambitious communicator who is passionate about helping people connect the dots on all things digital. The time she has spent in all stages of the software production pipeline has given her a unique insight into project analysis and resource management, all important techniques in ensuring the prompt delivery of high-quality user experiences and using all things digital to help people find solutions faster and communicate better in today’s fast-paced digital world.

Steven Sal Debus, Creative Director @ Saldebus Design Inc.

Steven grew up in a small town in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. With little opportunity for employment as a designer he created a clothing company that became a multi million dollar fashion brand before he was 30 years old. But the west and new challenges called him so he moved to Vancouver BC to explore the snow and surf. After a few near death experiences, he settled back into the business world. As a hired design and marketing gun, he has helped numerous fashion companies create groundbreaking product lines and marketing campaigns that created explosive sales growth. Steven is now designing unique apparel and creating successful marketing strategies with partners around the globe. He is always eager to take on the challenge of launching a breakthrough product line or exploding sales growth for existing brands.

Tania Lo, Co-Founder and Managing Director/Contract CFO @ Tandem Innovation Group

An entrepreneur and management consultant with 15 years in various roles in operations and finance in digital media, digital marketing, publishing and manufacturing industries. Tania worked with the vibrant startup community in Vancouver to create Tamwood Careers exciting new Diploma and Certificate program in Entrepreneurship & Innovation. Tania leads the Tandem Innovation Group Network as Managing Director and also works as a CFO for hire on passion projects.  She also volunteers as mentor with the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs and Futurpreneur. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Electric Company Theatre.  Tania continues to work with amazing startups including:  Vancouver Bike Share Inc. Momentum Mag, Alinker Inventions, Two Wheel Gear, Nada Groceries, Pique Ventures

Thealzel Lee, Founder, Director and President at E-Fund (VANTEC Entrepreneurs Fund VCC Inc)

Thealzel Lee has over 30 years of experience in leadership, organizational and entrepreneurial roles as a business and marketing strategist, and as a retail franchise owner. She has coached entrepreneurs, developed and implemented strategic plans and secured financing for small businesses and large organizations. Thealzel successfully managed operations for the World Food Program as Head of Refugee Feeding Program in Malawi in the early 1990’s, and worked with women-led sustainable businesses with the United Nations Development Program in Zimbabwe. Since Thealzel’s return from Africa, she has continued her work with Small and Medium Enterprises through the Investment Banking Division of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, and as an independent management consultant financing and managing strategic partnerships. Her current role as a Senior Partner with the management consulting firm Rocket Builders focuses on commercialization strategy and operational alignment for early-stage technology companies. Thealzel manages the monthly Vancouver Angel Technology Network (VANTEC) and the Vancouver chapter of the Keiretsu Forum (Northwest Region) for the local startup community of entrepreneurs and angel investors, as well as serving on committees with the National Angel Capital Organization (Canada) and the Angel Capital Association (U.S.). She is a founder of two angel seed funds: Nelsa Investment (VCC) Inc. and VANTEC Entrepreneurs Fund (VCC) Inc., which has 40 percent of its portfolio invested in “green technology” companies based in British Columbia.

Tiffany Shen – Program Manager @ Spring Activator

Tiffany Shen is an entrepreneur, consultant and creative strategist. Her professional interests include consulting, teaching, networking and helping startups. Coming from a background of grassroots business journeys, Tiffany uses creative strategy and solutions to start and grow businesses. At Spring, she helps entrepreneurs start and grow their social impact businesses. Outside of Spring, she can be found roaming in the mountains, growing KAPOW NOW!, a Vancouver based health food company, or diving into projects around wellness, AI and outdoors lifestyle.

Vivian Chan, Community Manager @ Devhub & Co-Chair @ Vancouver Startup Week

Vivian is an exceptional community and relationship builder in the Vancouver startup ecosystem. Over the last few years she has proven her ability to run incubation and acceleration programs, provide superior support to starts-ups and early growth companies, and liaise with partners of all types and at all levels. A lady of logistics, she builds bridges in the community, and is a cornerstone of the Vancouver startup and entrepreneurship scene.




Spring Activator

Futurpreneur Canada

Small Business BC

Envisioning Labs

Startup Canada | Canada’s Entrepreneurship Organization

Vancouver Startup Week

Volition Advisors

Health and Technology District

Tandem Innovation Group

Written by : Marianna Cherniuk

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