Start-Up Community Leader & SkipTheDishes Co-Founder, Josh Simair Keynotes #AVF2018

Josh Simair

Co-Founder & CEO

After leaving a career in banking, Josh Simair went on to co-found the largest restaurant delivery network in Canada, SkipTheDishes. Founded in 2012, SkipTheDishes has made a huge name for itself, ranking 5th on the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 list in 2017 and reporting 10,969.6% revenue growth from 2013-2016. Now in over 30 markets across Canada and the U.S., the on-demand food delivery network was recently acquired by Just-Eat in 2016 in a deal worth over $200 million, marking one of Western Canada’s largest tech exits to date.

With a passion for creating value for his customers, his employees and shareholders, Josh has become a poster child for the virtues of doing business in  the Prairies and was recently named one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40.

With SkipTheDishes, the vision was to address the service gap for popular Winnipeg restaurants and eateries that were in high-demand, but didn’t offer home delivery. He needed to create a way to facilitate a relationship between the customer with a need, and the vendor with a product.

Since it’s inception, the company has grown to almost 800 employees and over 10,000 restaurant partnerships in 50+ cities.

Alumni Speakers

AVF 2017

Sunny Lenarduzzi - Video Marketing Maven, Social Media Rockstar & Branding Expert

Social Media Strategist & Consultant

Award winning social media strategist and consultant Sunny Lenarduzzi has made a huge name for herself as an social media expert. Working with hundreds of clients from tech start-ups to companies like Hootsuite and Applebees, her mission is to turn your purpose into profit and #monetizeYOURmessage.

As a broadcaster and online entrepreneur, with a background in journalism, Sunny knows that the key to connecting with your audience is Authentic Communication. Sunny has a deep understanding of video strategy, and a track record of successful online business strategy working with authors, entrepreneurs, and brands.Her educational background is in Broadcasting from the British Columbia Institute of Technology.

Patrick Lor - Zealous Entrepreneur, Exit Maker, Investor & Tech Evangelist

Partner, 500 Startups Canada

An active investor, mentor and entrepreneur in the Canadian technology startup ecosystem, Patrick believes that Canada’s culture of cooperation and knowledge sharing are key elements for success in the startup community. As co-founder of iStockphoto, he helped pioneer the microstock industry – the world’s first crowdsourced stock photography community – disrupting the stock imagery marketplace. Upon his departure in 2006, the company was selling over 12 million images annually, and was sold to Getty Images for $50 million. Afterwards, he was head of North American operations for Fotolia, a stock photography community acquired by Adobe for $800 million in 2014.

Currently, Patrick is Managing Partner at 500 Startups Canada, a $30M venture fund that seeks to become Canada’s most active seed stage investor in Canada. Overall, 500 Startups is headquartered in Silicon Valley with $330M in committed capital and 1,800 companies across 50+ countries. Other organizations he contributes to include:,,, University of Calgary, Mount Royal University, and Creative Destruction Labs West.

J. Kelly Hoey - Networking Guru, Writer, Investor & Connector

Author, Build Your Dream Network

Kelly has been lauded from Forbes (“1 of 5 Women Changing the World of VC/Entrepreneurship”) to Fast Company (“1 of the 25 Smartest Women On Twitter”) to Business Insider (“1 of the 100 Most Influential Tech Women On Twitter”) and Inc. (“1 of the 10 Most Well-Connected People in New York City’s Startup Scene”). EBW 2020 included her on their list of the “100 Most Influential Global Leaders Empowering Women Worldwide”. She has appeared on CNBC’s Power Pitch, contributes to publications such as Fast Company and Inc., and works with inclusive companies including Comcast, Capital One and Turnstone.

Kelly’s career story is one transformation, and can only be explained by her unique ability to tap into networks and make valuable connections. Her career started in corporate law, eventually transitioning to the management side of Big Law. A chance opportunity in 2009 to work with a visionary leader sparked her transition from earning a paycheck to seeking equity. Co-founding a startup accelerator then an interim CMO role with an emerging tech company are just part of her journey of reinvention as an author, influencer and investor. In addition to her portfolio of angel investments, she is a limited partner in two venture capital funds and an advisor to New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. On top of her professional pursuits, Kelly is the Chief Tech Ambassador for the YWCA of NYC’s Girls Geek Club.

AVF 2016

Michael Katchen

Founder & CEO, Wealthsimple Financial Inc.

“How To Build Your Minimum Viable Product”

Michael Katchen is the founder and CEO of Wealthsimple, Canada’s fastest growing online investment manager. His vision is to make smart, simple investing accessible to every Canadian, regardless of age or net worth. He was recently listed as an “Industry Mover” by the Financial Post, a Change Agent by Canadian Business Magazine and one of the 500 people that will define the next 12 months by Askmen.

“His firm Wealthsimple raised its first seed round of $2 Million in under 2 weeks… and soon followed it with a $30 Million round from Power Financial Corp!”


Russell Tencer

Co-Founder & CEO, United Wind

“Wind in the Sails: Writing a New Chapter in Alternative Energy”

Since he believes consumer-scale wind could be an important part of the country’s energy mix, Russell is focused on guiding his team to develop optimal strategies and implementation plans to best achieve this vision. Additionally, he is responsible for leading the company’s efforts to raise project finance capital for the company’s nationwide portfolio of wind energy projects. United Wind raised over $220M in project finance capital in 2015.  Russell is Co-Founder and CEO of United Wind. Based in Brooklyn, United Wind is the United States’ only provider of small wind turbine leases. The company’s WindLease program allows rural agricultural, commercial and residential consumers to install a wind turbine on their property with little to no upfront cost. Russell’s goal is to make it easy for consumers to make the switch to renewable energy.

Prior to founding United Wind, Russell founded and served as CEO of Wind Analytics, the leading wind and financial data provider for the distributed wind energy industry. Wind Analytics merged with a distributor of small wind turbines to become United Wind. Russell studied design and architecture at FIT in NY and has been a frequent guest lecturer at Columbia University, Cooper Union, and NYU Stern on various subject matters including entrepreneurship and renewable energy.

“Russell Tencer and his firm United Wind raised $200 Million from Toronto-based Forum Equity Partners to scale its small wind turbine leasing business!”

Ted Graham

Innovation Leader, PwC Canada

“The 5 Things I Learned About Disruptive Innovation as an UberX Driver”

Ted Graham is the Innovation leader at PwC Canada where he helps to turn ideas into invoices. He is also founder of the South Core Innovation Hub, a collaborative group of innovation leaders from Toronto’s unique waterfront area. Member organizations include large banks, start-ups, public transportation – all of whom are looking to make a substantial impact on their companies and communities. Prior to PwC, Ted was a McKinsey strategy consultant with a focus on understanding and leveraging people networks to influence the spread of ideas.

Ted often speaks to audiences about The 5 things I learned about disruptive innovation as an UberX driver and how to apply some of these lessons across a multitude of industries on the cusp of disruption. His first hand account was initially released as a widely read LinkedIn influencer post, then a CBC Metro Morning interview and is now part of his forthcoming book called “The Uber of Everything” to be released later this year. Over the years Ted has enjoyed diverse pursuits in his spare time: scrabble champion, world ranked Rock Paper Scissors competitor and volleyball magazine publisher.

AVF 2015


CEO, Honest Dollar

Co-Founder, Chaotic Moon Studios, 2008 Best Evil Genius; Apple Design Award Winner; IBM Master Inventor; 2012 International Genius Grant Recipient

Leonard Brody

Co-Founder, HIGHLINE

Investor, Entrepreneur, and Author

Warren Macdonald

World Renowned Entrepreneur, Adventurer, Motivational Speaker & Survivor

"Return on Resilience”

AVF 2014

Howard Bornstein

Principal, Bain Capital

"SaaS: Why we're not in a bubble, why that's not entirely true and how to fundraise through it

Dan Park

Vice President, Azure Capital Partners

"It's Azure Thing: Silicon Valley VC Keynotes at AVF"

AVF 2013

Charley Lax

Co-Founder & Managing Partner

"Driving Your Company into the Pathway of Liquidity"

Yona Shtern

Co-Founder & CEO Beyond the Rack

"From the Corner Coffee Shop to a Venture Backed E-Commerce Juggernaut"

Paul Singh

Partner & Master of the Hustle 500 Startups

"Blowing up Startups with Design, Data and Distribution "The Rise of the Angels"

Brian Underdown

Managing Director Lumira Capital

"Trends in Venture Capital and Big Themes in Life Sciences"

Ben Yoskovitz

Author of: Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster CEO – Standout Jobs & Founding Partner at Year One Labs VP Product – GoInstant (Acquired by, 2012)

"Lean Analytics: Build a Better Startup Faster"