VANCOUVER ENTERPRISE FORUM Celebrates 10 Years of Networking by Michael C Volker

Looking for money? Need to make connections? Want to learn something and have a good time? Then the Vancouver Enterprise Forum is for you!

In late 1987, a group of Vancouver technology leaders saw the need to address issues faced by emerging technology ventures, namely limited financial and human resources. The idea was to establish a business network to bring together the entrepreneur, the venture capitalist, and business supporters. Hence, the Vancouver Enterprise Forum (VEF) was born. Today, 10 years later, technology companies face the same issues and the VEF’s role as educator and matchmaker is even more germane.

Here’s the scene: it’s a Tuesday evening near the end of the month as technology entrepreneurs (young ones as well as those more seasoned and successful) make their way to Science World. Their motivation is to mingle with financiers, educators, students, and advisors and to be entertained and enlightened by another rousing VEF presentation.

From 5:30pm to 7:00pm, delicious hors d’oeuvres and a light dinner are served (included in the $20 admission!) as participants chat with each other about raising capital and finding talent to build their businesses. If you make just one new contact, it’s worth attending. Besides, what better opportunity is there to get to know some of the top names in business – not to mention those headline-making entrepreneurs that still take time out to support their peers.

Then at 7:00 pm the fun begins. Tonight, the founders of a local software company present their vision for success and profitability. A tenacious panel of experts present their analysis and challenges to the management team. Then, members in the audience get a chance to probe the presenters and panelists with their burning questions. By 8:30, it’s all over and hopefully everyone leaves with something more than just a full tummy and an entertaining evening.

The VEF operates as a volunteer organization. Corporate Sponsors (of which there are now 18) provide financial and personal support. A board of directors elected by the membership oversees general direction. An active operating committee, chaired by Rick Warner and supported by Derek Mather, VEF’s president, organizes the sessions.

In addition to the monthly events, the VEF encourages the on-going development of technology-based businesses by working with its sponsors and other organizations to provide information on the industry and on resources available to technology entrepreneurs. For example, the VEF maintains a comprehensive directory of financing sources.

VEF events are open to the public. Membership ($100 per year) includes attendance at all events. Do you want your company to present? Are you interested in being a panelist? Or, do you just want to become a regular member? Let us know. Since we’re a virtual organization, the best place to find us is online at http://www.vef.org.

Mike Volker is Chairman of the Vancouver Enterprise Forum. Mike is Director of Industry liaison at Simon Fraser University. He's been an active high tech entrepreneur for many years and is a quintessential networker.