The VentureLabs® Team




Virginia Balcom brings broad and deep marketing experience to SFU VentureLabs. For more than 20 years, Virginia has been introducing new products to enterprise customers and consumers. A strong collaborator and leader, she’s led marketing teams in many sectors, including retail, clean energy, wireless, biotech, telecom, supercomputing, and most recently, big data and healthcare. Virginia is adept at helping founders and their teams clarify and communicate their value to stakeholders, from customers to employees, influencers, and investors.

Virginia has established a successful track record at a variety of companies, from start-ups to industry heavyweights. She was a key member of Abatis Systems, the Vancouver startup that made IP consumable and was acquired by Redback. Following Abatis, Virginia successfully positioned OctigaBay’s products as accessible supercomputers. When OctigaBay was acquired by Cray, Virginia led rebranding of the supercomputing giant, bringing three new products to market that year. Virginia went on to lead brand-building at another industry leader, Sierra Wireless, after Sierra acquired Wavecom and brought Wavecom’s M2M products under the Sierra Wireless banner. She gained Strangeloop recognition for their web performance product and positioned LightHaus in retail analytics. Most recently, Virginia led Marketing at PHEMI Systems, positioning PHEMI as an innovator in big data management and gaining recognition from Gartner as a Cool Vendor in healthcare and from Forrester in their Big Data Warehouse Wave.

Virginia holds an Engineering Degree from the University of British Columbia.



Jim Derbyshire has international serial entrepreneurial experience including 18 years of CEO experience and a track record of growing innovative, leading-edge start-ups using bootstrap, Angel and Angel/VC backed business models. In the last 12 years, Jim has raised over $100M of funding and been involved in several acquisitions, three of which he managed. Jim has non-executive and chairman experience on boards of high tech start-ups as well as in business appraisal for venture capitalists, large companies and government development agencies.

This combines a broad understanding of IT, web, wireless and video technology markets and industries together with a strong knowledge of the organization of start-ups. Jim built a large number of successful business partnerships in Asia, Europe, and North America with major companies. Jim applies his industry knowledge to wireless, digital video, Internet, EDA and semiconductor businesses using experience gained from four successful exited start-ups. He is a Mentor In-Residence with SFU’s Venture Connection student entrepreneurship program and was named a top ten ‘Rockstar” mentor by Startup Canada.


Ian is the founding Executive Director of VentureLabs® and Simon Fraser University’s Business Acceleration and Innovation Networks Office, a cofounder of the Incubate Innovate Network of Canada (I-INC), a Director of  Zone Startups India, and CEO of SF Univentures Corporation. Ian is  a champion for innovation, entrepreneurship and business incubation in BC. As a repeat entrepreneur, investor, director and advisor to technology businesses, Ian has worked with technology firms around the world in the digital technology, communications, media & entertainment, health technologies, advanced materials and energy sectors.

He served as a managing partner at two private investment firms with responsibilities for investments, mergers and acquisitions, and divestitures, structuring more than $875 million in equity and debt financings. As a professor of industry and professional practice, Ian teaches entrepreneurship, corporate and applied finance and other topics at leading Universities across BC, Canada and internationally. He is a member of the Chartered Professional Accountants of BC, the Institute of Corporate Directors, the Canadian Association of Business Incubation and the National Business Incubator Association.


Danny Kam is a highly experienced engineering executive based in Vancouver, BC. He is currently Scale-up Expert-in-Residence at VentureLabs, and an advisor and director to several high technology companies.

Danny has built multiple, highly successful R&D organizations over the past 25 years. Working within the Avigilon’s executive team, he restructured, rebuilt then tripled the size of engineering while the company tripled annual revenue. Prior to Avigilon and for more than 10 years, Danny was the Head of R&D at Ericsson (formerly Redback Networks) overseeing all technical and operational aspects of the organization. Danny also worked in Nortel Networks, MPR Teltech and Bell-Northern Research.

Danny’s passion is in nurturing, growing and scaling-up companies, and he enjoys advising strong performing teams focusing on innovation, product delivery and customer satisfaction as ultimate goals.


John Seminerio is a serial entrepreneur and is currently the Managing Partner of Magellan Angel Partners,  an innovative “Mentor Capital” approach to Angel Investing in the high-tech community. He is a co-founding Limited Partner of Yaletown Venture Partners, an early stage Venture Capital group focused on high-tech companies in Western Canada. John has over 30 years of experience in the telecommunications, networking, and high-performance computing industries, and has held leadership roles in the sales, marketing, and business development aspects of several early phase companies.

In 2013, John co-founded his latest venture, PHEMI Systems Corporation, a big data platform company, where he is currently the Board Chair. John also co-founded OctigaBay Systems, where he held positions as the Chairman, President, and CEO; OctigaBay closed the largest seed financing in Canadian history of over $24 million CDN in December 2002. Only 14 months after financing, OctigaBay was acquired for over $155 million by Cray Canada Inc., the world leader in Supercomputer systems. Previous to OctigaBay, John was the President and CEO of Abatis Systems Corporation, a high-tech telecommunications vendor that was acquired by Redback Networks of San Jose, California for $1.3 billion; following the acquisition, John was VP of Business Development for Redback Networks.

John’s depth of professional experience is supplemented by a Masters degree in Business Administration from the University of Southern Mississippi and an honours Bachelor of Applied Science Degree in Systems Design Engineering from the University of Waterloo. In 2004, John was named “Person of the Year” by the British Columbia Technology Industries Association (BCTIA) for his continued entrepreneurial achievements.


Eunice Au-Yeung is the Program Administrator at VentureLabs. Her experience includes supporting innovation, knowledge mobilization projects, programs and services, as well as experience in the online and print media and communications sector. Her portfolio at VentureLabs includes program admission, operations, finance, and client services.

Eunice holds a Bachelor of Arts from Simon Fraser University.


Ragina is VentureLabs’ Program Assistant; she assists with the application in-take process and organizes special events such as learning sessions and workshops, delegation visits, and the C2CAN business development trip to China. With previous experience in accounting and and a Bachelor in Business Administration with a concentration in Management Information Systems from Simon Fraser University, her background gives her a balanced, strategic view of the startup ecosystem.

Ragina is currently in the Management of Technology MBA program at SFU.