Managing Director, Canada
As an ambassador for Canada’s startup, technology and innovation communities, Adam built Canada’s first FinTech startup and innovation national group at MaRS Discovery District, one of North America’s largest innovation hubs based in Toronto, Canada. Having worked in the startup and corporate innovation ecosystems for over 15 years at MaRS, MasterCard, BlackBerry, Zafin and presently at Microsoft, Adam combines his unique experience in scaling startups, venture capital, corporate technology integration and global technology partnerships. Adam is currently the Managing Director of Canada for Microsoft for Startups, board member of The Canadian Innovation Exchange, and a member of the management board of The Ismaili Centres Canada in Vancouver and Toronto helping bridge the gap between poverty alleviation, knowledge sharing and access to cutting-edge technology between different faith communities including the public and private sectors.
Executive Consultant, Investor, Speaker & Author
April Dunford is an executive consultant, speaker, and author, who helps technology companies make complicated products easy for customers to understand and love. She is a globally recognized expert in positioning and market strategy and has launched 16 products to market in her 25-year career as VP Marketing at a series of successful high-growth startups. April advises leadership, sales, and marketing teams through training, workshops, and keynote presentations. She is also a board member, investor, and adviser to dozens of high-growth businesses.
April acknowledges that we operate in markets that are insanely crowded, thus companies struggle to reach customers who are completely overwhelmed with choices. She believes that positioning has never been more important, yet most companies fail to strategically choose a market position for their products.
At #AVF2019, she is going to draw on her own experiences and teach you how to recognize the common signs of weak positioning and what to do about it. Don’t miss out on a chance to learn from an expert who knows how to leverage market trends and unlock rapid revenue growth through a strategic shift in positioning!
Navy Diver, Shark Attack Survivor, Author & Motivational Speaker
As an active adventure-seeker, Paul’s life has taken him down many different paths, from a substance-fueled stint working in the nightlife industry, to climbing his way to the upper echelons of the defence forces as an Army Paratrooper and a Navy Clearance Diver. In February of 2009, a brutal shark-attack in the Sydney Harbour left Paul without two of his limbs and clinging to life. With his daredevil career at stake, Paul took a traumatic experience and turned it into his greatest opportunity: a chance to leave a positive impact on humanity.
Nine years later, Paul has now traveled the world as a top motivational speaker, passionate environmentalist, author of the book, No Time for Fear, and co-host of nine documentaries for Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, as well as one for National Geographic! Don’t miss Paul’s exhilarating story about how he inspires others to Embrace The Power of Change, face every challenge head-on and why you should have no time for fear!
President & CEO
As a former Senior Battery Research Engineer with TESLA Motors, Co-founder and CEO of Novonix, Chris Burns, is no stranger to the world of renewable and sustainable power. Novonix was created to determine and test the lifespan of lithium batteries, something that was seemingly unknown. Since inception in 2013, Novonix has now grown to be a global manufacturer of the highest accuracy battery testing equipment worldwide and boasts clients that include leaders in automotive, electronics, and battery manufacturing!
A Dalhousie University doctorate alum, Chris will share his knowledge about the future of renewable power sources, and how he’s gone from a top research expert to an international technology entrepreneur! Learn more about Chris and Novonix here.
Don’t miss Chris on stage as he shares his inspiring exit story at #AVF2018 in Halifax!
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!
Chief Financial Officer
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!
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.
Tip of the Spear
Passionate, experienced, and an infinitely curious entrepreneur, Gibson shares his cautionary tale of innovation and disruption in a human world. Tip of the Spear is the product of his life’s work – spanning over 30 years at the forefront of technology and change. Tip of the Spear is a comprehensive study of the state of technology and its impact in the near term on the fate of our species. The three Laws of Disruption are at the center of the story which recognizes that:
It takes a look into the future through the eyes of two thirteen-year-old girls from very different parts of the world. And concludes with a message of hope that is focused on creating a new social contract with those around us and a new definition of innovation that speaks more to Innovation of Ways than to Innovation of Things.
Don’t miss Jim Gibson Keynote #AVF2018 – Register today!
Tip of the Spear is a comprehensive study of the state of technology and its impact in the near term on the fate of our species – Purchase online now
Startup Community Leader
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
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.