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Coast Capital Savings Speaker Series

The Coast Capital Savings Speaker Series is designed to inspire you to consider an entrepreneurial path and learn how to navigate the winding startup journey. We invite founders of leading Vancouver startups to share their stories of success, struggles and industry quirks.

The events are free of charge and open to any Simon Fraser University student, any current post-secondary student, and recent SFU alumni. This is also an opportunity to network and mingle with speakers and fellow attendees after the main event.


Be INSPIRED by successful ventures

NETWORK with other student entrepreneurs

LEARN how to grow a business



Upcoming Events




Past Events


April 18th, 2019 - From Creators to Founders

Time: TBD
Location: TBD

As creative artsist, communicators, and designers - it's tough to navigate how to turn your personal vision into a business. Chat with marketing and communication experts who've built businesses out of their craft. 

Registration link to come. 

February 25th, 2019 - From Coder to Founder

Time: 3-5PM
Location: SFU Surrey, 5360

Programmers are often the behind-the-scenes superheroes of any major software platform. Yet, many brilliant programmers also transform their software into a real business. Larry Page, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg are all renowned programmers who turned their software into billion-dollar empires.

But how do you shift gears from coding to being a CEO? What does it mean to run a business, let alone a company?

Our speakers have an open discussion on how they took the leap and bridged the learning gap from programmer to business leader. Learn how to shine a light on that secret project and open a door to more opportunities.

Register here


October 29th, 2019 - Doug Fast, Fireside Chat: Business Failure

Time: 2-2:30PM
Location: Venture Connection lounge

Doug Fast shares his battle stories of building a startup, experiencing failure, and bouncing back from mistakes. 

Government Funding for R&D, Innovation and Growth
Part of the Coast Capital Savings Speaker Series

When it comes to Government Funding for start-ups, most entrepreneurs know about SR&ED and IRAP.

However, there are many other Government programs available to assist Canadian businesses with expenses related to R&D, new product development, manufacturing process improvements, tapping into international markets and workforce development.

Attend this Coast Capital Savings speaker event to learn about some of these programs and how they may fit in the difference phases of your corporate development.

About the presenter:

Jaap Siekman MSc, PEng, PMP

Jaap is the Regional Manager for NorthBridge Consultants. He educates start-ups and growing companies on Government Funding programs that support R&D and Innovation in Canada. NorthBridge is a national consultancy firm, with offices in BC, ON and QC. Jaap has ~28 years’ experience in Engineering, Manufacturing, Product Development and Management in a variety of industries.

(Food and beverages are provided.)


October 10th, 2017 - Why Big Data Matters (For Startups) 

Why Big Data Matters (For Startups)
Part of the Coast Capital Savings Speaker Series

DATE: Tuesday, October 10, 2017
TIME: 1:00pm – 2:00pm
LOCATION: SP 291 - Above the Brew Pub

What's so important about "big data" and why should you care? With the term gaining prominence in recent years, it's important to understand not only what big data is, but the models surrounding analysis for big data and how you can leverage data sets for your startup. At this Lunch and Learn, big data expert and SFU alumnus Chris Neumann will share lessons learned in Silicon Valley around how big data can be transformational for the world of entrepreneurship, no matter the stage of venture or industry. 

**Lunch (pizza and beverages) will be provided. **

About the Speaker:
Chris Neumann - 500 Startups 

After his completing his Computing Science undergraduate degree at Simon Fraser Uuniversity, Chris went to Stanford University for his MS in Computer Science.  He has been based in the Bay area since, but frequently visits Vancouver.  Chris was the first employee at Aster Data (acquired by Teradata in 2011) and subsequently CEO/Co-founder of DataHero (acquired by Cloudability in 2015).  Currently he sits on the Advisory Board for SFU's Master's in Big Data program and is a Venture Partner for "500 Startups" in San Francisco.



March 30th, 2016 - Tech and Science Commercialization


Tech and Science Commercialization
Part of the Coast Capital Savings Speaker Series and SFU Innovation Speaker Series 

DATE: Wednesday, March 30, 2016
TIME: 6:00pm – 7:30pm
LOCATION: SFU Segal Graduate School of Business - Room 4600

The ability to commercialize science and technology is highly challenging, but greatly needed and highly rewarding, if you do it right. Increasingly, these skills are sought after in researchers from science and tech. But how do you successfully take unproven science and tech to market? Learn how to get it right by engaging with successful entrepreneurs from science-based fields like energy, biotech, devices and more.

This session will also give an introduction to the Beedie School of Business’ Graduate Certificate in Science and Technology Commercialization and the material and high quality community behind it.

Master of Ceremonies:
Professor Elicia Maine, Academic Director, Science & Technology Commercialization at Simon Fraser University

Keynote Speaker: 
Andrew J. Rae, MBA, President and CEO, iCo Therapeutics. Inc. 
“Managing Science-Based Business: Reducing the Uncertainty”

Expert panelists also include:
Jeanette Jackson, Executive-In-Residence, Foresight Cleantech Accelerator 
Gabe Kalmar, Vice President Entrepreneurship and Commercialization, Genome BC 
and more!


Sign In - 5:30 PM 

Start Time - 6:00 PM 

Light snacks and refreshments will be provided.



November 3rd, 2015 - Science Startups


Science Startups
Part of the Coast Capital Savings Speaker Series

DATE: Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015
TIME: 12:30pm – 1:30pm
LOCATION: SFU Burnaby - West Mall Complex - WMC 3515

Presented by SFU Venture Connection

Are you curious about "Scientist-Entrepreneur" as a possible career? Wondering what it takes to start a successful company and commercialize scientific research? 

Science Startups is an informal conversation with a panel of experienced founders who will discuss how their interest in science led them to become entrepreneurs. 



Eric Atkinson
Industrial Technology Advisor

Karen Chiang
VP Business Development
Team Fit

Ernest McEachern
CEO and Co-Founder
Alectos Therapeutics

Eugene Suyu
CEO and Founder
Tinkerine Studios Ltd.

The event is 1 hour. Panel discussions last 30 - 40 minutes followed by an additional 10 minutes of audience Q&A.



November 24th, 2014 - Design, Innovation, and Technology


Presented by SFU Venture Connection & SFU Career Services 


Eugene Suyu (SFU SIAT Alumni)
Founder and CEO - Tinkerine Studios Ltd.

Jin Fan (SFU SIAT Alumni)
General Manager - GWS Design&Solutions Inc.

Joseph Rangel
Director of Business Development - Coast Capital Savings

Herb Bentz
Founding Partner - Form3 Design Inc.

Date: November 24th, 2014
Time: 12:00pm - 1:00 pm
Location: SFU Surrey – SUR 5080
Cost: FREE 

"To thrive in a world of ceaseless and rapid change, business people have to out-imagine the competition as well." (Roger Martin, Dean, Rotman School of Management).

Join our panel of engineering and design founders/CEOs for an informal, 1-hour session to discuss how design impacts technology innovation. Students and faculty welcome. Light refreshment will be provided.

October 2nd, 2014 - Entrepreneurship 101


Date: October 2nd, 2014
Time: 11:30am - 12:30 pm
Location: SFU Burnaby – T9204 (TASC1)
Cost: FREE 


Are you curious about entrepreneurship? Wondering what it takes to start and run a successful company? Entrepreneurship 101 is an informal conversation with a panel of experienced founders who will discuss what led them to become entrepreneurs and what it takes to succeed.


Kelly Graves
Serial Entrepreneur, Investor and Owner - Ideas First.

Roger Flowerdew
Principal, Compass Star Strategic Advisors

Heather Rayment
Senior Manager - Cash Management, Coast Capital Savings

Yan Hong 
CEO, Offerri
Venture Connection Incubator Client

The event is 1 hour. Panel discussions last 30 - 40 minutes followed by an additional 10 minutes of audience Q&A. Following the panel discussion, there will be a Venture Connection Mentor Meet session to allow interested students to discuss their ideas with an experienced entrepreneur. Visit the Mentor Meet page for more info:

Presented in partnership with SFU Career Services

March 20th, 2014 - Science Startups


March 20th, 2014 - Noon - 1:00 pm
SFU Burnaby – SSB 7172
FREE - Registration:

Are you curious about ‘Scientist-Entrepreneur’ as a possible career? Wondering what it takes to start a successful company and commercialize scientific research?

Entrepreneurship 101: Science Startups is an informal conversation with a panel of experienced founders who will discuss how their interest in science led them to become entrepreneurs.


Oliver Buck
Founder, ITM Isotope Technologies Munich GmbH

Christopher J. Campbell
Entrepreneur, Business Development Consultant

Austin Lee, SFU PhD candidate, est.2016

Chief Technology Officer, 
Shield Diagnostics

David Vocadlo, PhD 
Chief Scientific Officer, Co-founder, 
Alectos Therapeutics

Byron Thom
VP Systems/General Counsel, Co-Founder, Optigo Networks

Presented in partnership with the SFU Faculty of Science


October 7th, 2013 - Student Startups


October 7th, 2013 - 5:00-7:00 pm
SFU Burnaby – Halpern Centre - Room #126
FREE - Registration:

Hear the stories of four SFU alumni who managed to start and run successful companies while still finishing their degrees. Learn what it took for them to take on the challenge and become a success before finishing university.

Panelists include:
Matias Marquez (BBA) of Buyatab Media
Milun Tesovic (BBA) of Metrolyrics (Acquired by CBS in 2011)
Howie Wu (EMBA) of Layerboom (Acquired by Joyent in 2010)
Jordan Guiterrez (BA) of Libreria Leo

Moderated by:
Michael Tran (MBA and Current VC Client) of MLT Media

Presented in partnership with the Beedie School of Business

Need directions to Halpern Centre? Check out the map

July 18th, 2013 - Engineered at SFU


July 18, 2013 5-7pm
SFU Surrey – Sry 3310
FREE, but RSVP at

Have you ever thought your project was worth more then just a grade? Or what it takes to start a successful company? Engineered at SFU is an informal conversation with some of the top firms working with technology developed right here at SFU. 

Panelists include: 
Doug Wiggin (CEO - Switch Materials)
Max Donelan (Chief Science Officer - Bionic Power)

Moderated by:
Ali AbdulHussein (CEO - MobiSafe Systems - Venture Connection Client)

Presented in partnership with Mechatronics Systems Engineering Student Society (MSESS)

January 31st, 2013 - Digital Media Startups


DIGITAL MEDIA STARTUPS - An insider view into starting, running, and succeeding in Vancouver.

Date:      January 31st 2013
Time:      5-7pm

A panel of film, gaming and design founders sit down in an informal session to chat and share their war stories. Q&A and networking to follow.

Speakers include:
Keith Ippel (Invoke Media/Labs)
Warren Anthony (FCV)
Michael Fergusson (Ayogo Games)
J Joly (OverInterActive Media/CineCoup)
Mike Torillo (V7 Entertainment and SFU Alumnus)

Moderated by:
Angie Yoo (Iconic State, Venture Connection Client and SIAT Alumna).

Presented in partnership with Interactive Arts and Technology Student Union (IATSU) 


November 16, 2012 - Big Data, a Conversation with Chris Neumann 
(DataHero), interviewed by VC alum Arash Afrooze (HiretheWorld)

July 5, 2012 - Women in Technology (Plus one Guy) 
with Judi Hess (CopperLeaf Technologies), Shannon Susko (Subserveo), Arash Afrooze (HiretheWorld), interviewed by  Catherine Jacobs (McQuarrie Hunter)

March 29, 2012 - Success, One Tab at a Time 
with Matias Marquez ( and VC Alum)

January 21, 2012 - How to Validate your Technology in the Marketplace 
with Matt Ferguson (Progressive Health Innovations)


November 22, 2011 - Starting and Scaling your Creative Studio
with Leah Nelson (Giant Ant Media)

August 2, 2011 - Adding Business Value through Sustainability
With Lisa von Sturmer (Growing City)

July 5, 2011 - T is for Tea
How 8 Young Entrepreneurs Built an International Company. With Lana Sutherland 

June 21st, 2011 - Is Franchising Right for you?
with Jeff Cooley (Booster Juice)

April 5, 2011 - The LayerBoom Story
From Zero to Acquisition in 13 Months. with Howie Wu (LayerBoom and VC Alum)

March 1, 2011 - How Does a Visual Artist Get to be Running a Healthy Meal Delivery Service and Retail Company?
with Katie Rodgers (Licious Living Inc.)

February 1, 2011 - How Can a University-trained Software Guy Open a Successful Food Business?
With Brent Kyle (Indishpensable)

2010 Series

August 3, 2010 - Setting up Your Business and a Brief Look at Business Models
with Ross St. George (Buyatab)

July 6, 2010 - Solidifying Creative Ideas into a Business
with Gordon Manson of MAPT Media

June 15, 2010 - Landing your First Client
with Christie Anderson and Diana Kidd (NuXD)

March 30 2010 - Resources and Funding for Students Forum
with Hafeez Shaikh, Bob de Wit, Tess Menges, and Joshua Zoshi as Moderator 

March 16 2010 - Operating a Business as a Student
with Minna Van 

March 2 2010 - Building your Passion into a Business
with Graham Buksa 

February 2 2010 - Reaching your Target Market with Social Media
with Kemp Edmonds

2009 Series

November 19 2009 - Successful Ventures
with Joe Timlin (Growthworks)

November 5 2009 - Making $ from your Services
with Mayur Jobanputra (Full Motion Group)

October 22 2009 - Perfecting a Pitch
with Ed Levinson (Analusis Consulting Inc.)

October 8 2009 - Team Development
with Ryan Fetterly (EasyPlug)

October 1 2009 - Concept Evaluation
with Brad Palmer (Jostle Corporation)


Get the latest news on Venture Connection - from venture success stories to events and more!