SFU VentureLabs at Vancouver Startup Week 2021

Mark your calendars for May 21st – 28th for the 8th annual Vancouver Startup Week! 

#VSW2021 is a week-long program uniting the business community and celebrating excellent companies, innovative ideas, and passionate people. Attendance gives you access to high-quality sessions, workshops, presentations, panels, as well as job and exhibition fairs. 

SFU VentureLabs is happy to announce that we are sponsoring Vancouver Startup Week! Within these 7 jam-packed days, we will be hosting 3 events of our own! From learning how to acquire funding, to expanding internationally, or to succeed with your health startup, we are putting you in front of the experts who can help you with your success. 

For the opportunity to listen to tried and true strategies that have led to success stories, sign up for #VSW2021 and come find us at these events: 

Wednesday, May 26th 11:30AM – 12:30PM | Meet Vancouver’s Angels & VC Funds

Find out what Vancouver investors need to hear from you to get funded. Leading investors from VANTEC, BDC, Angel Forum, Yaletown Venture Partners, and OKR Financial discuss successful case studies and the best strategies to approach angel investors & VCs. 


Hans Knapp, Partner | Yaletown Venture Partners 

Hans co-founded Yaletown Partners in 2001 and, as a Partner operating out of Yaletown’s Vancouver office, he manages Yaletown’s investments in Circle Cardiovascular Imaging, Redlen Technologies, Equicare Health, ePACT Network and Cooledge Lighting. In addition, as Yaletown’s General Counsel, Hans also manages all of Yaletown’s investment and realization transactions.  He is currently the Vice-Chair of the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association, has been a member of the CVCA’s Executive Committee since 2018, and a member of the CVCA Board of Directors since 2016.

Before co-founding Yaletown Partners, Hans was VP of Investments and Corporate Counsel for Brigill Investments, a technology-focused investment firm where he managed a portfolio of early and emerging growth public and private tech company investments.  Earlier in his career, he practiced commercial litigation with Borden Ladner Gervais LLP after being admitted to the British Columbia Bar in 1996.​

Irene Dorsman, CEO | Angel Forum   

Irene is currently the Director and CEO of Angel Forum, Vancouver’s longest running angel network. She is an active investor and also a founding partner/investor of Women’s Equity Lab (WEL), Vancouver chapter. Irene has worked and consulted with many early stage companies in both the tech and resource sectors in Canada.   

Prior to coming to Vancouver, Irene was the Executive Director of the Dutch Business Association (now Dutch Chamber of Commerce) in Hong Kong. Before that, she held a senior marketing position with Dutch pharmaceutical group Gist-Brocades in Hong Kong and Jakarta. Irene graduated with a Master’s Degree in Industrial Relations from the London School of Economics prior to which she obtained a Master’s in Social and Economic History at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Kaylan Pepin, Senior Account Manager | BDC

Kaylan Pepin is a member of the Technology Industry Group with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) based in Vancouver.  He studied as a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CMA) and has several years of commercial banking experience. He writes a blog about financing technology startups at kaylanpepin.com.

Mike Volker, CEO | WUTIF & VANTEC

Michael Volker is an angel investor and entrepreneur. He is chairman of WUTIF Capital Inc – the Western Universities Technology Innovation Fund – an “angel” fund for start-ups. Mike manages the Vancouver Angel Network, VANTEC, and the Vancouver Chapter of the Keiretsu Forum. He is also a director and past-Chairman of New Ventures BC.

In 2009, Mike was named Canadian Angel Investor of the Year by the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) and B.C. Angel of the Year by the B.C. Angel Forum.

Thealzel Lee, Founder Director & President | eFund & VANTEC

Thealzel Lee is an entrepreneur, angel investor and business strategy advisor to
companies with a focus on strategy development and operational alignment. She
manages the monthly Vancouver Angel Technology Network (VANTEC) and the
Vancouver chapter of the Keiretsu Forum (Northwest Region) for the local startup
community of entrepreneurs and angel investors. She also serves on committees with
the National Angel Capital Organization (Canada) and the Angel Capital Association
(U.S.). Thealzel is co-founder and director of angel investment funds Nelsa Investment
(VCC) Inc., the VANTEC Entrepreneurs (VCC) Fund Inc. dba eFund, and the TIMIA
Capital Corporation (TSX.V:TCA) which provide equity and non-equity investments.

Jason Neale, Managing Partner | OKR Financial

Fund Managing Partner, Serial Entrepreneur, Turnaround Expert, M&A, and Angel Investor.

Jason has a real love for starting new ventures, turning around struggling companies, developing novel technology, and managing fast growing opportunities. He has direct experience with raising government funding and equity, buying and selling ventures (9), turnarounds (7), winning major contracts, exits (5) and the other side of the entrepreneurship coin (1). He’s interested in investing in high growth opportunities.

Thursday, May 27th 11:30AM – 12:30PM | Startups Going Global with International Expansion, Targeting new Customers

Hear successful stories about revenue growth and customer acquisition in international markets. Learn how companies have worked with international trade commissioners to successfully expand into international target markets.


Eric Enno Tamm, CEO | ThisFish
Darian Kovacs, Founding Partner | Jelly Marketing
Amir Hayeri, CEO | Bio Conscious Technologies
Robert Fiddick, Trade Commissioner | Global Affairs Canada
Serban Georgescu, Trade Commissioner | Global Affairs Canada
Ramneet Sran, Trade Commissioner | Global Affairs Canada
Karl Pringle, CEO | GenXys

Friday, May 28th 11:30AM | Set up Your Health Startup for Success: Learn from experts in the health and life sciences start-up ecosystem

Healthcare is one of the most challenging markets for startup success. Products have more risk and the timeframes can be long. In this session, leading investors and entrepreneurs will share their insight into the top things you need to figure out early – from who is the real buyer, to finding investors who bring more than money. Whether you’re already on this path or just embarking, this session will help you successfully navigate the challenges of building a successful venture in the realm of health and life science.


Michael Fergusson, CEO | Ayogo

I’m the CEO and Founder of Ayogo and I’m immensely proud to be part of a company acknowledged as one of the 100 most innovative mHealth companies in the world and that is widely recognized for making a real difference in the lives of patients. Over the past few years, I’ve won a few kudos: I was Ernst & Young’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year, and named to the PharmaVOICE 100, a peer-nominated list of the 100 most inspiring people in Life Sciences. What I’m most proud of, though, is my work in creating an environment where I and my colleagues can live the Ayogo motto: to do our best work, to change the world, and to laugh every day. To that end, the Ayogo team has identified values that we feel are core to our mission: leadership, innovation, passion, teamwork, diligence, and kindness. As the CEO, I am the steward of those values, and it is a job I am grateful for every day. In my spare time (ha!) I write music and poetry, I’ve been a multi-gold medalist and grand champion at the Western Canadian Martial Arts Championships, and I live in Vancouver with my beautiful, amazing family. I’m very happy to be alive at this particular time in history.

Kellin Zona, Global Head of Acquisition | Natural Cycles

Kellin is the Head of Acquisition at Natural Cycles, where he works towards driving sustainable growth on a global scale. He has worked in a variety of industries, from entertainment to health & wellness, with a proven track record of building and influencing digital strategy in support of acquisition and retention goals.

Natalie Dakers, Mentor | VentureLabs

Natalie Dakers is a leading figure in the Canadian health sciences sector. She has been the founding CEO of several high-impact and first-of-its-kind organizations including Accel-Rx Health Sciences Accelerator, the Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) now Admare BioInnovations, and the commercial arm of CDRD, CDRD Ventures. She co-founded Neuromed Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company in the neurological space developing drugs for chronic pain and epilepsy. 

Courtney Zhu, Senior Manager, Venture Acceleration | MATTER

Courtney Zhu is Senior Manager of Venture Acceleration at MATTER, a global healthcare startup incubator & corporate innovation accelerator in Chicago.  MATTER has partnered with the TCS/Trade Commissioner Service at the Consulate General of Canada in Chicago for the past 7 years to run C2MP, the Canada-Chicago Mentoring Program, and has excellent insight re: challenges & opportunities that Canadian healthcare startups face in the US market.  

Last year, VSW 2020 brought more than 2,000 people together for over 80 digital events and 2021 promises the same success. For access to VentureLab’s 3 events as well as a plethora of other events, networking opportunities, a recruitment fair, and 2 hackathons click here to get signed up

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