Nicole Verkindt

Founder, OMX | "Dragon", Next Gen Den | Panellist, CBC News, The Exchange

An entrepreneur from the beginning of her career, Nicole believes that skills required to be successful in entrepreneurship are no different if you are a farmer, an owner of manufacturing facilities, a technology, entrepreneur, or anything in between. 

In this inspirational and information-packed talk, Nicole shows entrepreneurs how to turn ideas into success. 

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Hamed Shahbazi

Founder & CEO at TIO Networks

Hamed is a passionate advocate of impact entrepreneurship where new companies aim to doing well by doing good, which he promotes as the role of an “Impactreneur”.  He regularly mentors founders and entrepreneurs of early stage companies. 

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Nejeed Kassam

Founder & CEO at Keela.com

From a lawyer to an entrepreneur, Nejeed has a passion for social entrepreneurship. Nejeed is a global innovator with experience working for the United Nations and the Senate of Canada.

2016 speakers

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Ryan Holmes

Founder & CEO of Hootsuite

A Canadian computer programmer and internet entrepreneur. He is best known as the founder and CEO of Hootsuite, a social media management tool for businesses. Holmes began developing Hootsuite in 2008 through his agency Invoke Media.

Holmes is a contributor to the LinkedIn Influencers Program, where he writes about entrepreneurship and technology. Holmes also contributes regularly to news publications including Forbes, Fast Company and Inc.com.



Boriz wertz

Founding Partner of Version One

Boris Wertz is one of the top tech early-stage investors in North America and the founding partner of Version One. He is also a board partner with Andreessen Horowitz. 

Before becoming an investor, Boris was the Chief Operating Officer of AbeBooks.com which sold to Amazon in 2008. This deep operational experience helps him guide other entrepreneurs to start, build and scale companies. In 2005, he was named the Pacific Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year.


Sean clark

Founder & CEO of ShoeMe.ca

At the ripe age of 30, Sean left his position at Coastal Contacts Inc. in order to create ShoeMe.ca, Canada’s first premium shoe retailer to operate exclusively online. He made his decision to branch into footwear after recognizing that Canada is the only advanced economy without a mature online shoe retailer

In just one year, ShoeMe.ca has seen rapid growth, with monthly sales increasing from 32K to 550K. Not only that, but this up-and-coming company recently saw its Cyber Monday sales increase 350 per cent compared with 2012 figures. 

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Kevin Sandhu

After acquiring a degree in Finance, Kevin pursued a career in Investment Banking with RBC Capital Markets, but always had an itch to return to his entrepreneurial roots. The passion he had for entrepreneurship and with his experience in banking inevitably collided to form Grow

He saw a massive opportunity to use technology and data-driven systems to reinvent the idea of a traditional bank - to completely alter what people think as financial services today in Canada.

Starting from scratch, with the technology that is now available, Grow is able to deliver better value for customers in so many ways. Grow has eliminated much of the costly overhead that plagues banks today by using the internet to replace the traditional branch system. They are able to deliver an always on, personalized experience that’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Their algorithms and technology don’t take vacation and they don’t need sick days. His blank sheet of paper approach has resulted in banking finally becoming a pleasant experience instead of an inconvenient means to an end. 


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Fraser hall

Co-Founder of Recon Instruments

Fraser Hall co-founded and chaired the Vancouver-based smart eyewear company, Recon Instruments, in 2008. The technology company's innovations includes smart-glasses products that deliver GPS, activity metrics, and notifications straight to the user's eye. Their current products are geared towards winter sports, cycling, and running activities.

Since Recon's inception in 2008, it has raised over $17 million dollars through both venture capital firms and tech companies. Additionally, this past summer, Recon Instruments was sold to the Intel Corporation for $175 million dollars. Recon continues to evolve the smart eyewear market while being located right here in Vancouver. 

In additional to the above, Fraser, a graduate of UBC's Sauder School of Business is a prolific entrepreneur. He also co-founded Bright, a rapidly growing online furniture brand and has recently launched Vancouver Founder Fund, an entrepreneur-friendly, Vancouver-focused seed fund. 

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Richard GLickman

Co-Founder of Aspreva

Richard Glickman co-founded Aspreva, which went public in 2005 with an $80 million initial public offering, the largest in Canadian biotech history. Richard is one of Canada's most successful healthcare entrepreneurs as he has raised record amounts of capital for various bio-pharmaceutical companies. Before that, his entrepreneurial background includes being co-founder and CEO of StressGen Biotechnologies in the 1980' and founder of the Ontario Molecular Diagnostic, one of the largest diagnostic laboratories in Canada.

Since then, Aspreva was  acquired by Galenica Holding SA for $915 million, the record breaking deal and thus taking the lead as the largest corporate takeover in the history of this region. Richard now leads Aurinia, Aspreva's spinoff, as Chairman. He is also involved with Lumira Capital, one of our notable sponsors and serves as a Venture Partner. 

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Co-Founder of Food.ee

Ryan Spong co-founded Food.ee, a Vancouver-based food-tech startup, in 2013 after graduating from the University of British Columbia as well as acquiring his MBA from the Rotman School of Management. The fast growth company is changing the corporate lunch hour by bringing the city's best restaurants to corporate offices in several North American cities.

As a former associate at Barclays, Ryan leveraged his experiences in finance along with his passion for entrepreneurship to form Mainstream Advisors, a boutique financing firm that has raised several millions of dollars for public companies, some of which Ryan has served as CEO and CFO for.

Now Food.ee has operations in Vancouver, Toronto, Austin, Denver and Philadelphia. Throughout his career, Ryan has started, grown and sold innovative businesses. To him, the definition of entrepreneurship is initiating calculated risks to take advantage of opportunities through innovation or improvement. 



VIKram Vij

Co-Owner of Vij's Restaurant and Rangoli Restaurant

Vikram Vij is an Indian-born Canadian chef, cookbook author, and television personality. He is co-owner, with his wife Meeru Dhalwala, of the Indian cuisine restaurants Vij's Restaurant and Rangoli Restaurant in Vancouver, British Columbia.

He also owns My Shanti, a restaurant in South Surrey, BC. In 2014, Vij was announced as a new "dragon" investor on the Canadian reality show Dragons' Den for its ninth season. My Shanti was listed as number one in the Globe and Mail's Top 10 New Vancouver Restaurants of 2014 and one of the Vancouver Sun's Best New Restaurants for 2014. 

Within weeks of opening, My Shanti received a nomination from Air Canada's enRoute Magazine as one of Canada's Best New Restaurants. It is the second year in a row a Vij's establishment has been nominated, having won the People's Choice award in 2013 with Vij's Railway Express.

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OMAD scheybani

New Business Manager of Google

Born in Germany to Iranian parents, Omid is a California resident and in charge of Google's strategic cloud computing partnerships throughout Latin America. Having joined Google in 2009 right after obtaining his Bachelor degree from the European Business School (EBS), Omid has gained a reputation for his inspirational attitude towards life.

He is the co-founder of the lifestyle portal MOSAIC as well as a frequent traveler who has pioneered the art of "World Culture Storytelling" through social media. On his blogs "ThePositude.com" and "Moonstorming.com", he regularly publishes thought-provoking essays, helping people to become happier, more productive and more successful in life. 

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Ray Cao

Founder of Loose Button

Ray is a Canadian serial entrepreneur based in New York. He is the Co-Founder of Loose Button, a coveted curator of subscription based beauty products known as Luxe Box. Ray is a receiver of the Top 40 Under 40 award and a strong supporter of entrepreneurship initiatives; he serves as a board member of organizations including New York’s Entrepreneur Week.

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Co-Founder of The Plastic Bank

After years of playing in a rock band, a near death car accident revealed Shaun’s calling as a systems and strategy guy. Guided by his core values to Strategize the S#!t out of it, Create Opportunities, Give Value, and Inspire Change, Shaun has made a career out of creating unique strategies that generate results.

Shaun created the PR and marketing engines to introduce Social Plastic® to the world, resulting in features in Forbes, Time, Fast Company, Huffington Post and over 200 other articles from over 25 countries in 15 different languages. Before the first piece of plastic was even exchanged The Plastic Bank had over 600,000 Facebook fans and over 150,000 twitter supporters, all contributing towards an immediate demand and movement for The Plastic Bank’s Social Plastic®. Shaun is also proud to be helping create a social good problem solvers movement as an advisor to HeroX, the official spin-off of XPRIZE.


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Marc van der chijs

Managing Partner at CrossPacific Capital Partners

Marc Van der Chijs is a Managing Partner at CrossPacific Capital Partners, based in Vancouver. Mr Van der Chijs has more than 17 years of professional experience working with multinational companies, Venture Capital, and venture backed Start-up companies in Europe, North America and China. 

Mr. Van der Chijs was the co-founder of Tudou.com, a leading online video site, listed on the NASDAQ in 2011, and merged with Youku into Youku Tudou Inc. In 2012. He also founded and invested in UnitedStyles, an online customized fashion platform, launched at Techcrunch Disrupt Beijing, and chosen as one of the top 10 most innovative global fashion companies by FastCompany.



Brian Wong

Co-Founder & CEO of Kiip

Brian Wong is the co-founder and CEO of Kiip (pronounced "keep"), a category-creating mobile rewards network that is redefining mobile advertising through an innovative platform that leverages "moments of achievement" in games and apps to simultaneously benefit users, developers, and advertisers.

Backed by Relay Ventures, Interpublic Group, Hummer Winblad, True Ventures, Digital Garage, Amex, and others, the company has raised $15.4 million in funding to date. Kiip has been named one of the world's 50 Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company, listed by Forbes as one of the Four Hot Online Ad Companies to Put on Your Watch List, and included on the Dow Jones FasTech50 list. 


Dean drysdale

Chairman and Chief Financial Officer of BankCheck Information Corporation

Dean Drysdale serves as the Chairman and Chief Financial Officer of BackCheck Information Corporation, Chairman of Medeo Corporation, and Director on the Working Opportunity Fund. He has 10 years experience in corporate finance specializing in raising funds for high growth companies.

He has extensive work experience in government at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels including 2 years in the Prime Minister's office. He holds an MBA from INSEAD and a PhD from Cass Business School at a City University, London. Mr. Drysdale is a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute (UK).