Join us tonight at the Vancouver Entrepreneur Forum’s panel on Exits!

Throughout the year, VEF has held events on the life cycle of a startup. Tonight’s panel showcases the ultimate goal for many entrepreneurs: Exits! Our own Morgan McDonald will be moderating a panel discussion with Andy Creech, David Shore and David Raffa, as organized by Paul Koros to gain insight on whether to go public, stay private, and the reality of how, when, and what to prepare. Tickets are available here. We’re looking forward to seeing you!


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.




Lunch and Learn at WeWork Vancouver- Burrard Station

Today, Startups @ McMillan gave a lunch and learn presentation to members of the Vancouver WeWork office. The presentation, “CEMs, CRTC and CASL – a plain English chat on how to stay compliant with CASL”, was- as you could guess- an information session and Q&A period about real-world compliance with Canada’s Anti-Spam legislation.  In case you’re interested in learning more about this topic, check out our posts, and our top 5 tips (below) for CASL compliance!

Top Tips to stay CASL Compliant:

  1. Be honest and transparent in all communications.
  2. Before you send a message with a commercial purpose, have consent, disclose sender information, and provide an unsubscribe function.
  3. Train staff and contractors and audit them. Implement penalties and enforce the policies for failure to comply.
  4. Fines are hefty, so set company-wide policies carefully to be tailored to what you are actually doing to comply with CASL and what you’re doing to fix situations where you may fall out of compliance.
  5. Keep an up-to-date record of consents and of emails sent (or forms sent for any mass mailings). Try to keep mass mailings down. Recipients don’t appreciate filling their inbox without a value-add anyways.

we work

Crowdfunding in BC? Your pool of potential investors has grown!

In response to a funding gap for early stage businesses, Canadian securities regulators opened up regulations to allow crowdfunding in 2015. Within this framework, many companies have sourced equity from everyday investors through registered dealers or exempt market dealers. Since then the commission has actively sought recommendations from businesses and stakeholders in BC’s tech industry on how to make this exemption more beneficial to participants. Results from these discussions have now materialized into updates to the legislation. (It does pay to respond to surveys!)

Last week the BC Securities Commission announced that it has amended the crowdfunding rules (BCI 45-535 Start-up Crowdfunding Registration and Prospectus Exemptions) to allow issuers based in BC to extend the reach of their crowdfunding campaigns. BC based issuers may now access investors in Alberta as well. This change aims to increase the number of potential sources from which the issuer may seek to raise funds and offer additional opportunities for investors in Alberta.

The BCSC’s amendments also raise the individual investment limit from $1,500 to $5,000, provided the investor has obtained suitability advice from a registered dealer.

With the rise of fintech and a quickly evolving landscape from traditional sources of fundraising, we are happy to see the BCSC’s agility and attention to these fast paced updates.  For more information, check out the BCSC’s crowdfunding page or reach out to us!

Startups @ McMillan: TechCrunch Disrupt 2017

We’ve just returned from TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco with a habit in flavoured sparkling water and an update on the buzz worthy topics from the valley.

We heard from the founder of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin, who mused on the possibilities of new applications for decentralized ledgers. Though the rise in Initial Coin Offerings is clearly here, Vitalik explained his vision for the wider application of blockchain technology beyond creating new currencies to areas like healthcare and social networks. While companies will undoubtedly migrate towards applying blockchain technology to their features, Vitalik advised that it does not make sense for every company but rather that “a good block chain application is something that needs decentralization and some kind of shared memory.” We look forward to seeing how entrepreneurs come up with new and useful applications.

There was a considerable amount of discussion on the merits of Artificial Intelligence as supporting human capacity or humans supporting AI. For example, in issues of discrimination and bias, could AI assist humans by enabling hiring based on metrics and not biases? Alternatively, although AI could assist a doctor with running through thousands of known symptoms, it cannot replace a doctor’s intuition or feeling of “surprise”… yet. Kevin Durant made clear that he would prefer if AI slowed down a little bit, at least in terms of AI-powered referees.

In terms of growth, Yuri Milner told the crowd that he believes that the consumer internet is still on track for the same amount of growth in the next ten years as we have seen in the past ten years. He foresees healthcare and transportation related industries as being the biggest movers. Flying cars here we come.

The startup competition found finalists from varying sectors: Oneva, which enables employers to offer a wider range of benefits including child and elder care; Matic, which aims to simplify the process of finding homeowners insurance; futurefamily, working to simplify affordable female fertility testing on a wide scale and now offering male fertility testing; Colormass, which offers a B2B platform for companies to create online photo shoots to merchandize their products; and Augmedics, which creates AR headsets for surgeons. Pi, the winner of the competition, has created technology for a much stronger wireless charger.

Now it’s time to see what Vancouver has to offer. Check out our event for Vancouver Startup Week.

Capital Cafe Event @ McMillan – June 28th

Startups@McMillan is excited to host a gathering with FrontFundr in our Vancouver office on Wednesday, June 28, 2017.

Capital Cafe Image_June 28

Join us to learn about becoming a changemaker by hearing the stories of three social media impact funds currently raising funds on FrontFundr.  The visionaries of Pique Fund, World Tree COP and Deetken will be sharing their stories with the group.

Details:  Wednesday, June 28th  – McMillan LLP, Suite 1500, 1055 West Georgia Street, Vancouver
7:45 am – Doors Open
8:00 am – Presentation begins
A light breakfast and coffee will be served.

Register here for the event.

We hope to see you there!