2018 Program Highlights

Want to know what’s on the horizon for #AVF2018? If you’re looking for an idea of what to expect, check out our program highlights below!


Click here to view the 2017 program complete with speakers and company listings.

Be the first to know: Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media for updates on the 2018 program.

Keynote Speakers

Build a Network Before You Need One, So It's There When You Do

John Hill

VP of Network, Techstars

John is the Network Catalyst for a company that dreams big, global and accelerates the growth of tech companies. Techstars is a mentorship driven seed stage investment program. To date, hundreds of companies have gone through the Techstars accelerator, and John is charged with supporting and growing a global network of tech entrepreneurs, mentors and investors who surround them and the Techstars team.

As a speaker, John often implores others to have the audacity to “Dream Big”!

Hill traded one passion for another which led him to leave Michigan State University to become the Higher Education Evangelist at LinkedIn. And, then one more time moving from LinkedIn to become the Network Catalyst for Techstars. Hill believes “changing the world” can be more than hyperbole. Building relationships and connecting people with opportunity are at his core, and he relies heavily on online and offline networks to facilitate each.

A $200 Million Exit Story

Josh Simair

Co-Founder, SkipTheDishes

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 is Canada’s leading and North America’s fastest-growing food delivery company. Now serving 90 North American cities and delivering millions of orders a month in partnership with 10,000+ restaurants, 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 Just Eat’s acquisition of SkipTheDishes, the company has revealed that its performance targets have been achieved nine months in advance. With that milestone met, Josh has recently announced his resignation as CEO and he will leave Skip in good hands to pursue new opportunities

Our Species & Technology at a Crossroads

Jim A. Gibson

Innovation Leader & Author, Tip of the Spear

With 30 years of experience at the forefront of technology and change, Jim Gibson is a passionate advocate for “paying attention” to what’s coming and providing concrete examples of how we can all be leaders and role models for change. As an active leader in the innovation community, his talk will take themes from his newly-released book, Tip of the Spear, and challenge the #AVF2018 audience to understand and respond to a new world that sees infinite possibilities meeting serious global problems head on.

Jim has an MBA from the Schulich School of Business at York University, a B.Comm from the University of Toronto, and holds his Certified Management Consulting Designation. Jim lives in Calgary, Canada with his family, and travels the world sharing his experience, business acumen, and start-up wisdom.

Tech Talk Speakers

No is an Acronym - "Not Ordinarily"

Bonnie Halper

Co-Founder, Ladies Who Lead

With over 24 years of experience, New York-based Bonnie Halper has worn many different hats in the technology startup world including, entrepreneur, talent recruiter, journalist and industry expert, to name a few! As the co-founder of Ladies Who Lead, an event that aims to provide premium mentorship to the next generation of women in business, Bonnie has built her career around mentoring, inspiring and educating those in the technology space in an effort to bridge the gap among industries. Columbia and Oxford University educated, as well as an avid writer and commentator, Bonnie has been quoted in notable publications including the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, MarketWatch, and Time Magazine. In addition to Ladies Who Lead, Bonnie also acts as an advisor to three top global accelerators and has founded StartUp OneStop, a platform designed for startup communities to network, exchange industry knowledge, and hear from Bonnie herself.

Don’t miss the opportunity to hear Bonnie’s story at #AVF2018 and learn about the importance of adaptability, community, and not taking “no” for an answer!

The Art of the Raise

David Brennan

CFO, ecobee

As a seasoned executive with over 30 years of experience within accounting, finance and investor relations, David Brennan is a force to be reckoned in the world of VC, M&A, and high growth business. David has spent his career making a name for himself as a leader with a knack for raising significant capital and attracting top talent while working in multiple industries including, SaaS, hardware and software, public accounting, and banking. As the current Chief Financial Officer at Ecobee, he has recently completed a capital raise of $50 Million, for a total of over $130 Million in financing. David is passionate about developing people and businesses as well as achieving innovative solutions with authority and integrity!

A proud PEI native, David is a graduate of the University of Prince Edward Island. With specialties in human capital, high growth businesses, and operational efficiency, there are more industries that he has impacted than not! Don’t miss the opportunity to hear David speak at #AVF2018 and hear how he is coming up with the best ways to develop and engage top businesses in the technology space!

Meet the Investors Panel

Hungry for capital to feed your growing venture? Listen in as this diverse group of bold venture capitalists reveals what types of investment opportunities they are looking for at the 2018 Atlantic Venture Forum.

Engaging the Corporate Strategics

Corporate industry leaders and major technology businesses have distinct strategic agendas for engaging and working with entrepreneurs. Listen in as our panel of key players discuss the current opportunity landscape and the full spectrum of entrepreneur involvement, from integration to acquisition.