PVCC 2018 a Success!

Last week McMillan was proud to once again act as platinum sponsor to the Pacific Venture Capital Conference and Competition (PVCC), held on March 22, 2018.

PVCC is a unique, student run event that combines keynote speakers, hands-on workshops/seminars, and a competition which brings together teams of student entrepreneurs, as well as teams of aspiring venture capitalists, in a pitch-based format.

Morgan McDonald and I were on hand during the afternoon workshops to deliver our seminar “Starting Up on the Right Foot: Five Tips for Early Stage Entrepreneurs” to a lively crowd of engaged attendees.

The Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital pitches which took place in the evening represented the final round for each stream of the competition.

From the Entrepreneurship stream, we heard from three very talented and innovative teams, with widely varying business pitches, from a new piece of innovative restaurant equipment, to consumer level IOT-enabled mold detection, to an on-demand vehicle diagnostic and repair service.

The Venture Capital stream is a bit different, and involves teams picking one of the Entrepreneurship teams to evaluate, as if they were VCs being asked to invest.  An impressive amount of research and analysis stood behind the impressive presentations, as each team did a lot more than just kick the tires.

In the end, the VC team  calling themselves “Warrior Capital” (not to be confused with various actual firms using that name) won the day in the valuation stream.

On the Entrepreneurship side, Team Kitau emerged victorious, walking away with prize money and a bank of legal services courtesy of Startups @ McMillan, for their business plans to automate the labour-intensive (and labour-expensive) kitchen task of polishing and sorting silverware.



Innovation is live and well in Vancouver!

This week, Startups @ McMillan joined an energized crowd for the Vancouver Entrepreneur Forum‘s next installation in its series on the Cycle of a Startup.  After discussing growth in the cannabis space last month, VEF dove into the question of what large enterprise corporations are doing to disrupt and innovate from within. And it turns out, they are doing a lot!

The discussion was moderated by Lauren Robinson, who has seen the likes of many successful ventures, Eric Hopkins (Chief Strategic Venture Officer at BCAA), Justin MacCarthy (Dir. New Ventures – Strategy at Lululemon Athletica), and Jennifer Hamilton (Sr. Dir. New Ventures, Johnson & Johnson). Each panelist spoke of their focus on innovation within and from outside their respective companies, in each case to a much broader array of verticals then one would assume. You don’t need to be a textile startup to attract the attention of Lululemon’s strategic arm, nor an online insurance platform disruptor for BCAA, so get your thinking caps on to step out of those boxes.

The panelists discussed what they are looking for from entrepreneurs looking to partner or sell their innovation to enterprise corporations.  Since all of these companies (and many others) have teams dedicated to reviewing the market, one suggestion was to focus less on selling what the problem is and more on proactively proving what your product or service can do to alleviate that pain point. Another hint is to keep on pushing. If the product is not a fit for that company’s here and now, they may know of other places is may work out or have other visions as to where your product or service could make an impact. As always it seems, hard work and timing are an entrepreneur’s playbook.

Aside from the panel, we had some great conversations with new and promising startups like Calendher and look forward to seeing them grow.  The last two VEF events of the year are focussed on talent acquisition and exits. We will post more on those closer to the events but hope to see you there!

Ready to Rocket Announces its 2018 Winners!

This morning Rocket Builders announced its 2018 Ready to Rocket Winners. For 16 years, this list has provided an accurate forecast of compelling BC technology companies that are positioned for investment and exponential growth and this year was no different.

New entrants to each of the Emerging Rocket and Ready to Rocket lists prove that tech in B.C. is at an exciting place right now.  In all four categories, fast moving startups are attracting capital and more established companies are successfully working to increase their consumer base.  Interestingly, Rocket Builders saw so many promising candidates in the food and agri-tech space this year that they intend to expand the categories for next year to showcase these newcomers to the tech scene.

We were excited to see a few familiar faces recognized on the list, including Tantalus Labs, Rainforest Automation, Inc., and Brewhound, which was a successful candidate in the Beta version of our Amplify program (stay tuned for more).

The announcement also came with a discussion of the landscape for growth for this and last year. 2017 saw companies on the list earning revenue at a higher rate and increasing job growth as a result. As expected, the areas most likely to disrupt technology in 2018 include AI, IoT, bots, AR/VR, blockchain, drones, cloud computing and fintech.


McMillan is proud to sponsor the Ready to Rocket recognition program, as part of BC’s vibrant and growing technology sector. We, at Startups @ McMillan, look forward to learning more about these companies and the opportunity to support them achieving their missions.