Vancouver Tech Journal | #82

In this week’s Sunday Briefing, let’s take a moment to consider how we can have an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health.

Friends, its Movember, the month when men and women across the globe join together to raise awareness and funds for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health. The mental health issues in the tech and startup space are no secret: researchers from the University of California found that 72% of entrepreneurs surveyed self-reported mental health concerns.

More broadly, 1 in 10 Canadian men will experience major depression in the course of their lives, and 75% of suicides are men. Unfortunately, these issues often only come into sharp focus after a tragedy—and there have been many in the tech space including the suicides of Austen Heinz, Jody Sherman, and Aaron Swartz, a co-founder of Reddit.

To learn about what you can do to stop men dying too soon, visit You could also support my campaign that I’m starting belatedly: (If you and the rest of my subscribers pitched in just $1.25, I’d easily beat my goal.). More importantly, you should check on your strong friend. Talk. Be a man (and woman) of more words.

Also, while you’re here, read this Vancouver investor’s Forbes piece titled How I Live With Diagnosed Anxiety As An Entrepreneur. Okay, now, here’s your Sunday Briefing...

Canada is denying travel visas to AI researchers headed to NeurIPS, the largest AI conference in the world that’s taking place in Vancouver next month.

Apparently this isn’t the first time this has happened. Google AI researcher Timnit Gebru said 15 of 44 attendees planning to join the event’s December 9 workshop were denied entry. Many cited immigration officials’ fears that they would not return home.

Vancouver executives Kelly Hall, Chief Customer Officer of Vision Critical, and Kristine Steuart, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Allocadia, named to The Software Report’s (TSR) Top 50 Women Leaders in SaaS of 2019 list.

Per TSR:

Today, more than ever, it is important that we recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of women in SaaS, software, and the broader technology field. By shining a light on these leaders we can help inspire and encourage today’s younger generation of women to aim high and achieve.

[The Software Report]

B.C. tech firms accounted for 20% (10) of the spots on Deloitte Technology Fast 50 list.

The highest-ranking company to represent B.C., Vancouver-founded Mojio, had 4,056% revenue growth from 2015-18 as it’s been partnering with global telecom companies to help connect cars to the internet.

The other companies are Left, Bananatag Systems Inc., Visier, Strawhouse Inc., Vanrx Pharmasystems, Foodee Inc., Pressboard, SendtoNews, and Pixieset. Four Metro Vancouver firms landed in Deloitte’s Enterprise Fast 15 category: Paladin Technologies. Broadband TV, Buyatab Online Inc., Canada Drives Ltd.
[Business in Vancouver]

Rogers Communications has turned on its first 5G-powered smart campus in the country in partnership with the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

The smart campus includes 5G towers spread across the university’s Point Grey campus and an edge computing enabled data centre, all of which is being used by university researchers to test 5G applications in a real-world setting. Edge computing can support faster response times by bringing computing power, content, and servers closer to IoT and consumer devices.

“Collaboration between universities and industry is critical to fully leverage the opportunities offered by 5G,” Dr. Gail Murphy, vice-president, research and innovation, UBC said in a press release.
[IT World Canada]

Vancouver startup featured in TechCrunch, announce $7.5 million seed round led by Slack Fund and Tiger Global. lets developers build and borrow DevOps shortcuts. These automate long series of steps they usually have to do manually, thanks to integrations with GitHub, AWS, Slack and more. claims it can turn a days-long process like setting up a Kubernetes cluster into a 15-minute task even sales people can handle. The startup offers both a platform for engineering and sharing shortcuts, and a service where it can custom build shortcuts for big customers.


Ryan Holmes, probably the most well-known tech CEO in Vancouver, will step down and become executive chairman of the company he founded.

In an emailed statement, Holmes wrote:

At Hootsuite, we routinely look at our entire leadership team – which includes me – to determine the best path for our future stages of growth and continued success. I am fortunate that I have an excellent board that I can have positive and candid conversations with to this end. It was through personal reflection and these candid conversations with my trusted board that I decided it was time to start looking ahead at new leadership.

[Globe and Mail]

B.C. benefits from being one of the last jurisdictions to approve ride-hailing because the province has been able to learn from mistakes made by others, says Kevin Desmond, the CEO of TransLink.

The regulatory framework the province has put in place is a wise framework. We benefit from going last because we are able to see what happened in other cities where it started without any kind of regulatory environment. It’s kind of a wild west atmosphere. You know, I don’t want to say optimistic or even cautiously optimistic. I think we’re wary.

[NEWS 1130]

Read this Q&A with Duncan Blair, director of marketing, at Vancouver-based Article, Canada’s fastest growing company two years running.

How are they ensuring that their growth is sustainable? First, they didn’t “go out and raise a tremendous amount of capital in the pursuit of growth for growth’s sake.” And because they don’t have a massive war chest, Blair explains:

we have continued to invest heavily in developing our core product – which we see as the entire furniture shopping experience. If we can make it easy to create beautiful modern spaces, we are confident we can continue to win over customers and keep them coming back. Revenue growth just helps us measure how successful we are at doing that.

[DTC Daily]

Vancouver's chief licence inspector Kathryn Holm is recommending that Expedia, Bookings and TripAdvisor should join Airbnb in forcing hosts to get licences.

Vancouver is the only city in Canada to have an arrangement with a short-term rental provider (Airbnb) that blocks hosts from the site unless they provide a business licence number. The law came into effect on Sept. 1, 2018, a day after Airbnb delisted 2,482 Vancouver units because they didn’t have a licence.

Holm is also recommending the cost of a business licence roughly double from $51 to $99, which would generate an extra $200,000 a year for the city.
[Vancouver Sun]

Meng Wanzhou arrest caused UBC leaders concern over enrolment, fundraising, internal documents show.

In the days following the arrest last December of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, UBC administrators and faculty scrambled to assess the impact that rising Canada-China tensions could have on student enrolment, fundraising and research, internal records show. The vice-provost international told colleagues in an email a campus-wide meeting was needed “given our significant reliance on China for students/$.”

[National Post]

Dan Burgar and Kate Wilson write in TechCrunch about why and how corporate and public investments are spurring interest in ‘Cascadia’ and Pacific Northwest startups.

So what’s really happening in the region, which includes Vancouver, B.C., Washington and Oregon? Explains Challenge Seattle CEO and former Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire:

For many years, a number of international companies from Seattle have been putting Canadian headquarters in Vancouver. So without anybody deliberately thinking about how we could work together, it was already actually happening. These organizations have decided to capitalize on [what] was happening from the ground up, and build out a vision, and bring us all together so we can really magnify the success of what’s already happening on the ground.


MUST WATCH: Shahrzad Rafati, CEO of BroadbandTV (BBTV), joins BNN Bloomberg to discuss how her business manages and monetizes content, ultimately giving content owners (e.g. NBA and Sony Pictures) a boost. Love the Vancouver/Canada shout-out at 4:08.

A diverse team results in a more balanced perspective on different issues, says Ilya Brotzky, the founder and CEO of VanHack, in an interview with APOLLO Magazine.

Vancouver-based FinTech startup Grow Technologies, which develops software solutions in the loan management space, has been acquired by Alberta’s ATB Financial.

Life Sciences BC president and CEO Wendy Hurlburt told Business in Vancouver that the latest LSBC Investor Summit drew at record 200 attendees and 85 applications—of which 30 were selected—from companies wishing to present to investors.

The Ladders—a website that posts only $100k salary job postings—featured Vancouver’s Absolute Software—and estimates that the average salary for an employee is $123,425 per year.

Clir Renewables was announced as Start-up of the Year at the inaugural European Wind Investment Awards, which are hosted by A Word About Wind and celebrate best practice in the European wind industry.

Variational AI is a newly formed artificial intelligence (AI)-driven molecule discovery and drug design startup out of Vancouver led by Handol Kim.

Vancouvers’s Galvanize, a provider of SaaS governance, risk, and compliance software, has named Pascal Van Dooren—formerly of Sage, Epicor and CapitalStream—as chief revenue officer.

Olive, a new Vancouver startup, is streamlining technology applications

Vancouver-based cryptocurrency exchange, Einstein Exchange, shut down, taken over by B.C. Securities

Bitcoin phone scams rack up over $66,000 in losses from Metro Vancouver victims over three months

SEGA-owned Relic Entertainment unveils new 47,000-sq-ft Vancouver studio (PHOTOS)

What you missed at the VR/AR Global Summit in Vancouver (PHOTOS)

B.C. adds 15,300 jobs in October, reversing months of losses

An Indigenous developer ignored Vancouver’s zoning rules, and all sorts of good things happened

The culture shock of Western Canada

B.C. craft brewers’ sales boom as big beer’s sales slow

Give back to the community and consider mentoring future tech leaders through BCIT. Apply now before their November 30th deadline.

Featured Events…

  • November 19: I will see you TechVancouver—The Top Skill in Business (and Life): Sales featuring Jane Van Sickle, Sr. Director of Sales & Onboarding at Unbounce, and Kris Hartvigsen, Founder & CEO of Dooly.

  • November 26: Fireside Chat with Boris Wertz, founding partner of Version One Ventures.

  • November 28: BrainStation hosts top designers and researchers for a panel discussion: The Story Behind the Design.

Should your colleagues be reading this too? Forward it to them.     

Follow along on Twitter: @vantechjournal and @notionport.

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Donate to Movember.

Vancouver Tech Journal | #81

“I’ve never seen such an architecturally significant building in Vancouver."

In this week’s Sunday Briefing, read about Vancouver real estate and tech growth in the New York Times; how Vancouver small businesses are struggling to find cybersecurity talent; Lyft’s very Vancouver-themed advertising campaign; and 20 other business stories you may have missed. Enjoy.

The New York Times covers Vancouver’s real estate market, focusing in on the “spread of luxury housing and a tech-fueled office boom.”

A record 3.96 million square feet of office space is under construction downtown, said Jason Kiselbach, senior vice president for CBRE British Columbia. Sixty-five percent of the buildings that are planned to open in 2022 and 2023 are already leased, and nearly three-quarters of those have been taken by technology companies.

“Tech is the No. 1 driver of the office market,” Mr. Kiselbach said.
[New York Times]

Small business owners say cyber security issues keeps them up at night—but they’re also struggling to secure quality talent to fill this functional gap.

Explains Alex Dow, chief technology officer at Vancouver’s Mirai Security Inc., a cybersecurity consultancy:

There are a lot of smart people out there, but they’re being hired by the big companies. Companies in the small- to medium-sized space really struggle to find talent that’s willing to work in that space. Even my company struggles to win talent over from the Amazons and the Microsofts in Vancouver.

Dow adds that most “most SMEs can’t afford to spend the time necessary to train these new digital defenders.” However, he says not acting would be even more costlier:

They might be able to survive without doing security until a ransomware attack happens. But if they want to be competitive and sell to the Fortune 1,000 or Fortune 2,000 [companies], they need to start demonstrating that they know what they’re doing when it comes to cybersecurity.

[Globe and Mail]

‘Vancouver your face off’: Lyft advertising campaign “leans into local references to build awareness and get a leg up on the competition ahead of its launch.”

Lyft highlights locals’ points of pride and references barriers residents have faced when getting a ride. In one ad, it uses the 60s novelty hit “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows” to draw ironic attention to the city’s often miserable weather, while another features Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom. Another urge viewers to “Vancouver your face off,” while ex-Dragons’ Den panelist and celebrity chef Vikram Vij looks on, a message that’s repeated in a spot where a local goes to various restaurants in town, tasting the spiciest food the city has to offer. 


But who knows if ride-haling will ever launch! The province’s Passenger Transportation Board is delaying things even further.

Shocking but also not shocking: While some companies expected to receive an operating licence by mid-November, the province’s Passenger Transportation Board (PTB) is now cautioning that applications could face additional processing delays of 21 days. Warns BC Liberal MLA Jas Johal:

It’s going to be very difficult to have ride-hailing up and running in a legitimate way by Christmastime. We’ve added Class 4 licensing already, now we’ve added another hurdle companies have to jump over to start ride-hailing. It’s not necessary. This is to placate entrenched interests in the taxi industry. Nothing more, nothing less.

[Business in Vancouver]

Poparide, Canada’s leading carpooling platform, has announced a partnership with TransLink to expand carpooling services across Metro Vancouver.

Poparide, which has 200,000 members across the country, connects people who need rides with people that own cars and are traveling on the same routes. TransLink selected the Vancouver-based technology company out of 90 organizations that were competing as part of TransLink’s Open Call for Innovation on Seamless Mobility. Explains Poparide CEO and founder Flo Devellennes:

During an average morning commute, there are up to two million empty seats in vehicles travelling throughout the region. Our goal is to fill these empty seats and make it easier for Metro Vancouver residents to travel in a way that is more efficient, affordable and sustainable.

Launched in 2015, Poparide’s most popular B.C. routes include Vancouver to Squamish ($10 a seat) and Vancouver to Kelowna ($40 a seat).
[Vancouver is Awesome]

CBRE Group’s annual Tech-30 report analyzes the 30 US and Canadian leading tech markets, and recently, Vancouver shot up 27 spots to take the number one position in high-tech job growth.

The report found that from 2017 – 2018, tech jobs in the city grew by 30%, with 13,600 new jobs added. “We’ve seen the growth, but something like this [ranking] solidifies it in real terms,” explained Raghwa Gopal, President and CEO of Innovate BC to Daily Hive. Gopal expanded on that sentiment to BetaKit, saying:

We have a strong provincial tech sector that’s growing year-over-year and Vancouver is at the heart of that. Simply put, our tech companies are among the best in the world. Recent funding raises from companies like ClioTrulioo, and Terramera contributed to one of the most successful quarters in BC tech history. We have companies like Acuva, Aspect Biosystems, and Saltworks Technologies that are solving real global challenges. Then, you add in the fact that Vancouver pays some of the highest rates in the country for high demand tech jobs, and it becomes quite clear why we’re sitting at the top of this list.

[Daily Hive / BetaKit]

PwC’s Cameron Burke says that, “It’s time to stop calling BC’s tech talent situation a “crisis”

“I’m calling BS,” he writes on LinkedIn.

We have the building blocks we need to solve this challenge sooner than we think…

BC needs to think outside the box—or rather, outside the tech industry— for how to identify, develop and retain top talent. If we can learn to look for talent beyond the traditional tech-centric pathways, implement new ways to develop our current employees, and combine those efforts with Canada’s inviting immigration policies, we may find that the “talent crisis” is overblown at best.

I think my favourite part about this piece is his point that we can look to other sectors to find executives who have successfully scaled companies. “…all we need to do is facilitate greater cross-pollination between tech and other industries,” he writes.

Bits and bytes…

Vancouver’s East Side Games, which specializes in mobile games and employs roughly 150 people in B.C., says Alberta's decision to eliminate Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit and the Scientific Research and Experimental Development Tax Credit makes the province a much less attractive place for tech investment.

Vancouver-based Curatio Networks won a $250,000 investment from Connecticut Innovations at a VentureClash pitch event at Yale University.

BC Tech Association welcomed its fifth HyperGrowth cohort, feating five companies “wanting to grow annual revenues from $1M+ to $10M+s.”

Hussein Hallak, CEO of Vest in Canada, talks to CBC about innovation in Vancouver and British Columbia.

The BBC's weekly The Boss series profiled Vancouver’s Tara Bosch, founder and CEO of Smart Sweets, which is on track to see its 2019 revenues exceed CA$50m.

This year’s annual #MadeBySFU entrepreneurship competition attracted twice as many competitors as last year and, for the first time, all of them were women.

This month, blogger Rebecca Bollwitt, better known as Vancouver’s “Miss 604,” is celebrating the 15th anniversary of her eponymous blog that began like so many others did back in the early 2000’s.

Vancouver’s WELL Health Technologies Corp picked by The Motley Fool as a top growth stock for 2020.

Tea Nicola, co-founder of Vancouver-based WealthBar, is profiled by Gail Johnson in the Globe and Mail.

More headlines you may have missed…

Vancouver company taking the 'sting' out of vaccines using virtual reality
Forestry crisis shows up with deepening decline in B.C.'s trade figures
Vancouver-based Westbank gets green light for $450-million Seattle luxury tower
UBC researcher maps brain activity in patients with mood disorders
B.C.'s foreign-buyer tax not discriminatory: court
Vancouver-based TRIUMF says it has produced the 'rarest drug on earth' for cancer treatment
Venture Debt Attractive Now, Riskier Later, Panelists (including Vistara Capital’s Randy Garg) Say

Featured Events

  • November 6: BrainStation hosts Karm Sumal, Co-founder and CEO of Daily Hive, for a fireside chat with BrainStation VP and GM, Kyle Treleaven.

  • November 7: TechPong, Vancouver’s most epic charity ping pong tournament is back. Use VanTech10 for a 10% discount.

  • November 19: TechVancouver—The Top Skill in Business (and Life): Sales

  • November 26: Fireside Chat with Boris Wertz, founding partner of Version One Ventures.

  • November 28: BrainStation hosts top designers and researchers for a panel discussion: The Story Behind the Design.

Should your colleagues be reading this too? Forward it to them.    

Follow along on Twitter: @vantechjournal and @notionport.

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Vancouver Tech Journal | #80

"We left no stone unturned in getting the regulation right."

In this week’s Sunday Briefing, read about Vancouver’s massive plans for zero emissions buildings; how an investor leverages experience in Toronto and NYC to benefit Vancouver; TransLink’s pilot that will enable Compass Cards to pay for carshares and bike; what a People magazine editor thinks about Vancouver’s Article (Canada’s fasted growing company); and 20 other business stories you may have missed. Enjoy.

Sean Pander, the green building manager for the city of Vancouver, writes in Fast Company about the city’s plans for zero emissions buildings.

The city is trying to reduce carbon emissions from new buildings by 60% and is taking five key steps to get there. Key to their plan is first the acknowledgement that, “Nearly 60% of Vancouver’s carbon pollution comes from the natural gas used for heating in our buildings.” Pander also writes, “If we were to make a dent in carbon emissions quickly, we needed to fundamentally shift building practice in under 10 years.”

With support from the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance’s Innovation Fund, we collaborated closely with the building industry and its partners, and, in 2016, Vancouver’s City Council approved a Zero Emissions Building (ZEB) plan. That plan launched a bold commitment to make near-zero emissions homes and buildings the new normal in Vancouver by 2030. Few cities had yet gone that far.

Read what it means and how the city is making it all happen.
[Fast Company]

BCBusiness writer Nathan Caddell covers how Vanedge Capital associate Annika Lewis leverages her past corporate experience in Toronto and New York to support Vancouver’s tech scene.

Having earned a BComm at McGill University, the Vancouver native shipped out to Toronto for the Canadian headquarters of U.S. banking giant Capital One. After more than four years plying her trade in the firm’s credit card division, she moved to New York City to help with corporate strategy for the commercial banking group, which led to working with startups and assessing venture capital deals. 

“One day it’s health care, one day it’s virtual reality, one day it’s financial services,” Lewis said to Caddell, when asked what attracted her to the VC life. “For someone who gets bored easily like me, it keeps things interesting.”

Writing on the Salesforce AppExchange blog, Karen Glanzberg, a content marketer at Traction on Demand, makes the case for why organizations need pro bono programs.

Pro bono initiatives, within wider corporate social integration (CSI) models, were once pushed to the side of people’s desks. But no longer. Doing good is not a trend — it’s good for business, and it’s here to stay.

For her company, the phrase, “Give what you’re good at.” guides their work.

“What we’re good at is Salesforce,” says Michelle Malpass, VP of Community. “We believe building capacity in the nonprofit sector through the use of technology will allow nonprofits to scale, be more efficient, raise more funds and, ultimately, impact more people in a positive way.”

Glanzberg also shares questions that companies should consider when starting a pro bono program including What does your community? What are you good at? and How will you measure impact?
[Medium / Salesforce AppExchange]

Compass Cards may soon be able to pay for more than just transit as TransLink is testing a pilot with car and bike share companies.

Honestly, pretty forward-thinking:

Starting Thursday, about 200 employees from 14 organizations will test out a new Compass Card system that allows users to pay for travel with Modo, Evo and Mobi by Shaw Go. They'll also be able to view their expenses for each mode of transportation through a single expense report.

Explains TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond:

The shared mobility pilot program is ultimately about providing more choices and more convenience for customers. Those participating can take transit on their morning commute, cycle to meeting locations throughout the day and unlock car share services for the journey back home.

The trial runs until next May, and is not open to the public yet. 

Vaclav Vincalek, CEO of Vancouver-based PCIS, argues in Forbes that Netflix can compete in the streaming wars by opening up it’s ‘audience pipeline to a world of content producers.’

Today, Netflix has its own content distribution network with a presence on every possible device. This doesn’t mean it needs to keep producing its own content. It can sell off access to its pipeline to allow other content providers to monetize their content.

It can become the new cable company. It could have channels like Netflix Sport, Netflix News, Netflix Music and so on. Each channel can become a profit center in the "Netflix Universe."


Vancouver International Airport will be Canada’s first airport to use new NEXUS kiosks that utilize facial verification technology.

NEXUS members will need their passport the first time they use one of the new facial biometric kiosks, says CBSA. Users will be prompted to upload their passport photo for storage and identification purposes.

CBSA says the biometric verification upgrades at airports will provide travellers with a simplified way to be identified — without a reduction in security.

“This initiative aligns the NEXUS program with international trends on traveller processing, and supports the CBSA’s goal to increase efficiencies without compromising security,” CBSA said in a statement.
[Daily Hive]

People magazine’s associate food editor (“a reluctant online shopper”) ordered and reviewed Article’s Sven Tan Sectional Sofa, the Vancouver e-commerce startups most popular sofa.

The editor, Ana Calderone, passed on ordering from Wayfair and AllModern, before choosing Article (Canada’s fastest growing company, two years running). “Honestly, taking out my credit card to pull the trigger on such a large purchase was the hardest part of the whole ordering process,” she wrote. And her verdict? “Now that we’ve had nearly two months to settle in with our couch, I’ve grown to love it even more than expected,” she wrote. The insane growth is warranted, it seems.

Farhan Mohamed profiles Pressboard co-founder Jerrid Grimm, as part of Daily Hive’s “Something or Nothing” series on entrepreneurs.

Grimm was born in Alberta, but now calls Vancouver home. His company makes it easy for brands to get their stories published in top publications worldwide. In his line of work, being in Vancouver is a big disadvantage he says. However, “…it forces you to be really creative because you’re at such a disadvantage that you try out new business muscles.” And:

People also just love it here, so you have happy employees, which is a massive advantage. People can’t get enough of the oceans here, the mountains here — so you hire people and they’re enjoying their life, and as long as you can build a business that works here, the hiring and the culture is second to none.

[Daily Hive]

Bits and bytes…

Startup Canada hosted the sixth annual national Startup Canada Awards at MaRS Discovery District in Toronto, handing Vancouver’s Colin Weston the Startup Canada Community Leader of the Year Award.

Business in Vancouver spotlights five B.C. entrepreneurs and executives leading the way in medical services breakthroughs.

B.C.’s Lyft boss says licence to operate could arrive in two to three weeks, but that constraints imposed by local governments will limit driver supply.

Snap Projections, a financial planning software startup, has been acquired by Vancouver-based wealth management company WealthBar Financial Services.

Coquitlam mayor Richard Stewart says local governments throughout Metro Vancouver need to come together and establish a region-wide ridesharing licence for drivers.

Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes shares 13 guerrilla networking hacks ‘that actually work’

Other headlines you may have missed…

Lighthouse Labs’ 21-Day Coding Challenge Kicks off November 1st

Microsoft to host Seattle summit on high-speed rail connecting Pacific Northwest cities

Taiwan e-bikes’ road to new markets runs through B.C.

$60m Vancouver-Seattle fibre optic initiative pushed

Rival Technologies Named Outstanding Disruptive Startup

Strategists, technologists, and engaged residents are invited to take part in Vancouver’s DeCode Congestion Hackathon

Opinion: Invaluable lessons I learned in the service industry — and why I never left

New rules will help fight money laundering, B.C. finance minister says

Seattle software firm NetMotion opens new Victoria office

TIL: Timbits don’t keep SkyTrain doors open

Featured Events

  • November 1-2: Meet Google, Facebook, and other giants at the VR/AR Global Summit in Vancouver this weekend.

  • November 6: BrainStation hosts Karm Sumal, Co-founder and CEO of Daily Hive, for a fireside chat with BrainStation VP and GM, Kyle Treleaven. 

  • November 7: TechPong, Vancouver’s most epic charity ping pong tournament is back. Use VanTech10 for a 10% discount.

  • November 19: TechVancouver—The Top Skill in Business (and Life): Sales

  • November 26: Fireside Chat with Boris Wertz, founding partner of Version One Ventures.

Now, watch this from BrainStation: Women in Tech: Advice from Five Female Leaders

Should your colleagues be reading this too? Forward it to them.    

Follow along on Twitter: @vantechjournal and @notionport.

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Meet Google, Facebook, and other giants at the VR/AR Global Summit in Vancouver

"The best knowledge and networking for enterprise, hardware, software and content providers."

The facts are clear: With over 230 companies active in VR/AR, Vancouver is the 2nd largest immersive ecosystem in the world. And this Friday and Saturday (Nov 1-2), this massive community of technologists and artists will be on full display at the VR/AR Global Summit at Parq Vancouver.

This is the 4th time the international event is taking place in Vancouver, and organizers say the event will have a strong focus on AR and immersive interaction design. Get your tickets now.

Vancouver Tech Journal is a proud media partner of the event, and in typical Journal fashion, we’re highlighting two of the top stories we’ve read on the Summit below.

In the Vancouver Sun, Harrison Mooney emphasizes the growth of venture capital spending in XR, using Sandbox VR as an example, which just opened a Metro Vancouver office and is attracting investment from celebrities:

Three years ago, Vancouver was home to around 15 immersive technology companies. Now there are more than 230, from major publishers like Electronic Arts (EA), Microsoft and Nintendo, to startups like Etro Construction, which aims to implement new technologies in the construction industry and has been growing rapidly since its inception in 2015.

Even celebrities see a can’t-miss moneymaking opportunity. Virtual reality gaming company Sandbox VR, which just expanded to Canada by opening a location Richmond, announced $11 million in funding from some big names in Silicon Valley and the entertainment industry, including Justin Timberlake and Katy Perry, actors Will Smith and Orlando Bloom, and former Disney President Michael Ovitz.

Sandbox works with VR and full-body, motion-capture technology for customers to become superheroes, space cowboys, and physics-defying fighters. The company describes the experience as the closest thing to the “holodeck” that exists.

In Forbes, Charlie Fink delves into what conference delegates can expect from a content perspective:

In addition to VRARA chapters, and members from all over the globe, some of the world’s largest companies are now implementing XR solutions. We’ll hear from many of them, including MasterCard, Verizon, Boeing, Raytheon, Siemens, Viacom, Walmart and Lockheed Martin.

This year, the lineup is purposefully split almost equally between men and women. Undeterred by stats that state only 16% of women have tried VR as opposed to 30% of men, the VRARA is trying to keep this industry not only inclusive but a leader in celebrating and furthering the progress of women in tech. To mark this commitment, Co-Chairs, conference organizer Anne-Marie Enns and Sophia Moshasha, head of the VRARA’s DC Chapter and Director at Brightline Interactive, will launch the VRARA Women’s Committee at this year's summit.

Keynotes include: Travis May, Director of Learning Technology & Development at Mastercard, who will be speaking about the future of workplace training;  Heidi Buck, US Navy, founder and director of the Battlespace Exploitation of Mixed Reality Lab at SPAWAR Systems Center, Pacific.

Read all event coverage on the VR/AR Global Summit blog—and we’ll see you there.

VR/AR Global Summit 2019

Vancouver Tech Journal | #79

“This is a very exciting day for the Board of Trade, and we look forward to working with Bridgitte as she builds on our 132-year-old institution’s history and begins writing its next chapter.”

After a Thanksgiving break, the Vancouver Tech Journal is back. In this week’s Sunday Briefing, read about the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade’s new CEO; BBTV’s CEO ideas for empowering female entrepreneurs; which former Canadian PM joined a Vancouver startup’s advisory board; where to find Microsoft and Slack’s new Vancouver offices; and 27 other business stories you may have missed. Enjoy.

Bridgitte Anderson, the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade’s new CEO, is the first woman in charge in its 132-year history.

She will take up the new role November 12. She was previously head of Edelman Vancouver for four years, and per BIV:

Anderson is a former journalist and was press secretary to former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell. She has served as chair of the board’s Women’s Leadership Circle and has been a board director since 2018. She is co-chair of the Jack Webster Foundation and in 2017 obtained her Institute of Corporate Directors designation as a director.

Per GVBOT’s release, Anderson said of the news:

I look forward to building upon that momentum and working on behalf of our organization’s 5,800-plus members to ensure that our region’s business community has a voice at all levels of government, and our local economy continues to prosper.

[Business in Vancouver]

My latest for Daily Hive: 30 Vancouver tech thought-leaders and influencers to follow right now

As I wrote a few weeks ago, the following list was not created based on organization prominence, position titles, or media exposure. This group has been selected based on their online engagement, digital accessibility, frequency of knowledge sharing and ongoing information exchange, and ultimately, the value I believe you would get by simply following their various social handles. Tell me who your go-to online information sources are in the comments section.
[Daily Hive]

Business Council of B.C. CEO Greg D’Avignon believes politicians are out of touch with the concerns of B.C.’s business community, while also writing in the Vancouver Sun that:

Innovating and diversifying the economy, improving the business environment for Canadian firms and entrepreneurs and applying new technologies to help traditional industries succeed in a carbon-constrained world should be at the heart of the economic agenda of the government that takes office after Oct. 21. As election day approaches, voters should pause to reflect on Canada’s place in an unforgiving world that neither owes us a living nor cares much about our internal preoccupations. As a small, trade-oriented economy, Canada should strive to be a top-tier jurisdiction for capital, talent and innovation. Today our performance is mediocre at best. We can and must do better.
[Vancouver Sun]

What BroadbandTV CEO Shahrzad Rafati believes needs to be done to drive gender equity and empower female entrepreneurs in Canada:

one opportunity to leverage is to develop public and private sector collaborations, specifically with institutions and companies that have been successful in championing best practices for gender equity. If Canadian leaders can collaborate with entrepreneurs to enhance and instill best practices and policies, and get from point A to point B around leadership, accountability, education, childcare, financing and harassment, it will accelerate gender equity across Canada.

From an in depth interview that covers her thoughts on federal policy, funding and STEM, among other topics.
[The Future Economy]

Vancouver blockchain startup Beatdapp added Stephen Harper to its advisory board.

Per Josh O’Kane:

The company was co-founded by Andrew Batey, who has directed growth initiatives at other startups, and Morgan Hayduk, who helped lobby Ottawa earlier this decade on behalf of the record industry to extend the copyright term on sound recordings to 70 years from 50.

Hayduk connected with Harper during his lobbying days. They company is hoping to tap into Harper’s contacts and global-trade expertise.
[Globe and Mail]

Spring Activator launched the Technology for Good Program: Incubator for Entrepreneurs with ASD

The Incubator for Entrepreneurs with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) is a comprehensive 13-week, mostly-virtual program that helps you develop, test and refine your business idea.
[Spring Activator]

Worth sharing…

Bits and bytes…

Clio raises $250 million, but what does it mean?

Innovate BC communications manager Jamil Karim talks to RW Digital about the future of content marketing.

VanHack CEO Ilya Brotzky writes about the top Canadian tech hubs you don’t know about in Betakit.

Unbounce social impact manager Erik Finlay writes about how her company showcased their commitment to diversity and inclusion at their recent Call to Action Conference.

Mirai Security CTO Alex Dow writes some thoughtful perspectives on phishing and cyber attacks in ‘Breaking Business.

Canadian tech sector posts biggest quarter for financing since the dot-com bubble, reports Sean Silcoff in the Globe and Mail.

Chris Hobbs, head of Vancouver-based TTT Studios, makes the case for using facial recognition with a few interesting case studies.

Spliqs, a Vancouver-based company that uses AI to let any user create music, is one of ten startups headed to the Techstars Montreal AI accelerator.

Vancouver startup Tradle bills itself as a zero-waste solution to dressing fast-growing babies and toddlers.

West Coast Technology Foundation, the not-for-profit division of the Vancouver-based The Network Hub co-working office company, is partnering with CodeCast and to deliver a new, free tech-focused job training opportunity for youth, students, and career changers.

Read about A Day in the Life of an Account Executive at Thinkific from Brian Kingston.

Other headlines you may have missed…

Slack is opening a new office in downtown Vancouver

Microsoft is opening another major office in downtown Vancouver

Vancouver’s Engineering Hackathon Returns and Aims to Decode Congestion

UBC student builds AI voice-controller for brother's wheelchair

Factory Workers Making Lululemon Leggings Say They're Beaten and Underpaid

Four out of five small businesses broadcast music illegally: survey

Eight-store limit frustrates B.C. cannabis entrepreneurs

Vancouver hotel strike disrupting corporate events

Legal edibles could seed investment boom in B.C. cannabis sector

Canada’s VC market hit record heights in Q3, KPMG reports

Abbotsford considering new high-tech city with 29,000 residents and 18,000 jobs

Home exercise tech company Peloton opening a Vancouver store

Fitbit ranks unhappy Vancouver as 25th most livable of 77 cities surveyed

Musings from Interface Summit 2019 in Vancouver

Jay-Z bets on Kelowna company and its compostable phone cases with multimillion-dollar investment

Featured Events

  • October 22: This month Tech Vancouver tackles the The Founder-VC Relationship with a panel that includes Patrick Lor, Managing Partner at Panache Ventures, Andrew McLeod, Co-Founder and CEO of Certn, and Katherine Berry, Co-Founder & CPO at Allocadia.

  • October 24: Tech Collective will host Brooke Wade, founder of Methanex, in conversation with Hayley Woodin of Business in Vancouver. If you are interested in a comp ticket, please email

  • October 24: The Tech Talent Vancouver Job Fair is a unique recruiting event that connects Vancouver's fastest growing companies with the top tech talent in the city. Click for a 50% discount.

  • November 6: BrainStation hosts Karm Sumal, Co-founder and CEO of Daily Hive, for a fireside chat with BrainStation VP and GM, Kyle Treleaven. 

  • November 7: TechPong, Vancouver’s most epic charity ping pong tournament is back. Use VanTech10 for a 10% discount.

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