2019 Keynote Roster Coming Soon!

Thank you to our Keynote Speakers that joined us at #AVF2018! Stay tuned as we announce next year’s speaker lineup and sign-up for our newsletter to keep up-to-date on our latest programming announcements.

2018 Keynote Speakers

Tech Talk Speaker: Answering the Unanswerable Questions

Chris Burns, PhD

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 entrepreneurLearn more about Chris and Novonix here.

Don’t miss Chris on stage as he shares his inspiring exit story at #AVF2018 in Halifax!

Tech Talk Speaker: No is an Acronym - "Not Ordinarily"

Bonnie Halper

Co Founder

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!

Tech Talk Speaker: "The Art of the Raise"

David Brennan

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!

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.

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:

  • The slope of the technology curve is dramatically increasing;
  • The technology genies never go back into the bottle; and
  • Our linear systems of organization are not prepared.

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

A $200 Million Exit Story

Josh Simair

Co-Founder, SkipTheDishes

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

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.

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: thea100.org, thec100.org, democampcalgary.com, 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

whurley

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 Salesforce.com, 2012)

"Lean Analytics: Build a Better Startup Faster"