Banff Venture Forum

Stay tuned for our 2019 Keynote roster! Be the first to know about new speaker announcements as they are made available, sign up for our newsletter today. Check out some of our past Keynote speakers below!


Why Artists Make Great Founders

Raine Maida

Entrepreneur & Lead Vocalist of Our Lady Peace

Raine is an artist, entrepreneur and humanitarian. He is the founder and lead vocalist of Juno award-winning, Canadian alternative rock band, Our Lady Peace and with over 25 years of experience in the music industry, Raine is shifting his career towards his new venture, MolotovProjects. MolotovProjects is in essence is a virtual incubator whereby Raine and his team develop innovative ideas, both within and outside of the music industry, and work with fellow entrepreneurs and their group of tech experts to make these visions a reality. From a technology that revolutionizes music therapy, to the first direct-to-consumer solution for craft breweries, the ventures within MolotovProjects’ portfolio are sure to make waves.  Raine has always considered a band as somewhat of a start-up and as someone who has endured a dynamic paradigm shift within the industry, it is no surprise he is well-equipped to take on this newest venture!

Why Artists Make Great Founders

Brent Holliday

Founder & CEO

Brent has been in the technology finance industry for 24 years and is the co-founder and CEO of Canada’s first technology-focused boutique M&A advisory firm, Garibaldi Capital Advisors. Founded in 2013, Garibaldi helps private technology companies across Canada grow by planning and executing on their capital strategy needs and assisting them through M&A transactions. With offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Saint John, Garibaldi has completed 20 transactions in 5 years in technology centers across Canada.

Brent spent five years prior to founding Garibaldi doing technology transactions for Capital West Partners in Vancouver. Before that, Brent was a technology focused venture capitalist, raising over $40 million with two other partners in 1999 to invest in 15 early stage companies. In the Internet 1.0 days of the mid-90’s Brent helped found an Internet Software company, later known as Maximizer Technologies and worked for BDC’s venture capital group before founding his own fund.

Reaching the Peak: Assessing Risk & Navigating the Grey Area

Craig McGee

ACMG Mountain Guide & Area-Manager – Nomads, CMH Heli-Skiing

Craig McGee is a professional, fully certified International Mountain Guide (IFMGA), who has been guiding for 20 years, 17 of which have been with CMH Heli-Skiing, the world’s first and largest Heli-Ski company. Craig grew up with a passion for skiing and has always striven to challenge himself and push his limits. Similar to building and growing a business, guiding the outdoors is never black and white, especially when faced with unpredictable terrain and external pressures. Understanding how to navigate the grey area and assess risk accurately is how Craig has gotten to where he is today.

Craig will take the #BVF2018 stage and share his experience in becoming a top Mountain Guide and how a strong knowledge of risk-assessment can help guide you through the grey area of business and reach your own peak! Learn more about Craig and CHM Heli-Skiing.

Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.

Paul de Gelder

Navy Diver, Shark Attack Survivor, Author & Motivational Speaker

This mantra is something that Australian Navy Clearance Diver, author, and speaker, Paul de Gelder, has lived by since his early Army days. As an active adventure-seeker, Paul’s life has taken him down many different paths, from a substance-fueled stint working in the nightlife industry, to climbing his way to the upper echelons of the defence forces as an Army Paratrooper and then a Navy Clearance Diver.

In February of 2009, a brutal shark-attack in the Sydney Harbour left Paul without two of his limbs and clinging to life. With his daredevil career at stake, Paul took this traumatic experience and turned it into his greatest opportunity to leave a positive impact. Nine years later, Paul has now traveled the world as a top motivational speaker, passionate environmentalist, author of the book, No Time for Fear, and co-host of nine documentaries for Discovery Channel’s Shark Week and one for National Geographic!

Don’t miss Paul’s exhilarating story about how he inspires others to face every challenge head-on and why you should have no time for fear!


Voice-Enabled Technology: The Next Digital Disruption

Zain A. Gulamali

Director of Worldwide Corporate Development, Alexa Fund

Zain A. Gulamali manages the Amazon Alexa Fund, Amazon’s $200 Million venture capital fund investing in artificial intelligence, enterprise, healthcare, IoT and connected devices, robotics, voice technology, and more.  Zain has led the Alexa Fund’s investments in Tact, Greenlight Financial Technology, June Oven, Owlet Baby Care, Mojio, Embodied, Rachio, and TrackR.  He was also responsible for establishing the Alexa Accelerator in partnership with Techstars, now running its 2nd class.  Zain is also part of the broader Corporate Development team at Amazon.  Prior to Amazon, he worked in mobile gaming (Pocket Gems), private equity (Warburg Pincus and Monitor Clipper Partners), and investment banking (Goldman Sachs).  Zain is a graduate of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Voice-Enabled Technology: The Next Digital Disruption

John Albright

Co-Founder & Managing Partner

John is a Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Relay Ventures. John has over 20 years of experience helping entrepreneurs shape their vision and capital plans for long-term, sustainable growth. John’s tenure in finance spans both venture capital and private equity, where he has assisted entrepreneurs through all stages of the startup lifecycle, from seed financing to IPO and M&A. His ability to work alongside company management teams and offer guidance around hiring, governance, and scaling has been vital to the success of Relay’s investments.

Finding The Startup "Magic"

Jonathan Ehrlich

VC, Serial Entrepreneur, Tech Evangelist & Corporate Trailblazer

Former Head of Marketing at Facebook and EVP, Online at Indigo Books and Music, Jonathan Ehrlich, has discovered his startup “magic”, having founded several successful companies and ultimately building a +$100 Million revenue business. Learn about his transition within the tech world from founder, to tech evangelist, to corporate trailblazer, to VC and how he has realized a new passion for helping other entrepreneurs find their own magic!

Jonathan is currently a Partner at Foundation Capital, a VC firm based out of San Francisco, with portfolio companies including Netflix and Uber, the fund invests across a broad range of tech sectors from fintech, SaaS, consumer tech, and energy tech. Don’t miss the opportunity to hear Jonathan’s story at #BVF2018 and gain insight on finding your own “magic”!

Finding The Startup "Magic"

Salim Teja

Salim Teja is the President, Venture Services for MaRS, where he leads the overall strategic direction of MaRS’ venture services areas: Energy & Environment (Cleantech), Finance & Commerce (FinTech), Health and Work & Learning. He is an experienced entrepreneur and active early-stage technology investor, with deep industry expertise in software and digital media. Salim joined MaRS in May 2013, providing strategic direction and leadership for MaRS’ ICT venture services group, leading corporate and venture capital engagement, and overseeing MaRS’ expanding international collaborations in the ICT sector. In this role, he has also provided direction to MaRS’ JOLT accelerator, overseen entrepreneurship initiatives with academic partners in the ICT arena, and has been responsible for the MaRS Commons, an 8,500-square-foot co-working space for entrepreneurs in the ICT sector.

Alumni Keynote Speakers

Better is Not Always the Answer: The Entrepreneur Reality

Marc Gagné

Senior Technical Evangelist

As the worldwide leader in software, services, and solutions, Microsoft is in the business of helping people realize their full potential – and that’s exactly what Marc wants you to do at #BVF2017. As a problem fixer and seizer of opportunities, Marc dives into his own experiences and shares what he’s learned from the frontline and the sideline within the startup community. From the perfect pitch, to knowing your market, to how to on-board with Microsoft, this presentation will highlight valuable tips and tricks that every entrepreneur needs to know.

Before embarking on this chapter of his career with Microsoft, Marc worked at a startup in his hometown of Ottawa, Ontario trying to solve the big data and analytics problem. Marc describes himself as a gadget geek, coffee addict and has a love for travelling and photography.

On the Edge: Managing Risk and Reaching the Summit

Caroline Gleich

Pro Skier, Mountaineer & Adventurer

Mountaineering and entrepreneurship both involve a strategy of calculated risk and venturing out on your own, both in the backcountry and the business world, is not for the faint of heart. Join us at #BVF2017 as Caroline Gleich shares her perspective about managing risk and the parallels of finding the edge in both the mountains and the entrepreneurial arena. Known as the Queen of the Wasatch Range, Caroline’s experiences both on and off the mountain have made her an inspiration to outdoor enthusiasts and entrepreneurs alike.

As a pro skier and mountaineer, Caroline has carved out a career doing what she loves and is backed by some of the biggest outdoor brands including Patagonia, REI, Clif Bar and Specialized, just to name a few. She recently received acclaim for becoming the first woman and fourth person to ski all 90 lines in “The Chuting Gallery,” a back-country skiing guide to the Wasatch. She has also been praised by Outside for her activism on social and environmental justice.

Caroline’s goal is to inspire people to get outside, live a healthy, active lifestyle and protect the places they love to play. When she isn’t on the snow, she loves trail running, alpine climbing, ridge scrambling, biking and dreaming about her next human-powered adventure.

Reinventing Vehicles & Leaving the Limits in the Rearview

Jay Rogers

CEO & Co-Founder

As CEO and Co-Founder of Local Motors, Jay is set on changing the way we think about the manufacturing community. Known as the “wild child” in automotive circles, his disruptive high technology company is focused on driving the commercialization of high tech products using co-creation and micro manufacturing. From the world’s first 3-D printed car to self-driving electric vehicles, you won’t want to miss how Local Motors is changing the auto industry as we know it!

Rogers founded Local Motors after serving for seven years in the United States Marine Corps, where he was an Infantry Company Commander. He has worked as a consultant for McKinsey & Co., as an investment analyst at Ewing & Partners, and at a startup medical device company in the People’s Republic of China. He serves as the Chief Investment Officer and Director of the RBR Foundation, a philanthropic foundation focused on education and healthcare. A graduate of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Rogers holds a Masters in Business Administration from Harvard Business School (Baker Scholar).


Warren Macdonald

Environmentalist, Explorer, Mountain Climber, Motivational Speaker, and Writer

Warren Macdonald Keynotes #BVF2016 as he shares his terrifying true story and inspirational resilience. One catastrophic moment redefined Warren’s life in April 1997 with a freak rock fall on a remote Australian island that left him pinned under a one-ton boulder. For two days he lay trapped and alone, surviving the ordeal only to lose both legs at mid thigh.

Doctors told him he would never walk again. Warren’s response: “I don’t recall them saying anything about cycling, kayaking, or climbing mountains…” Only 10 months later he scaled Cradle Mountain, and in February 2003 Warren became the first double above-knee amputee to reach the summit of Africa’s tallest peak, Mt Kilimanjaro.

This Canmore, Alberta resident is set to motivate and inspire at #BVF2016 as he reminds us of the “Challenge of Change” and the opportunities for innovation that lie within adversity!

Robotics Revolution: The Next Digital Transformation

Mike Sherman

Managing Partner

Mike is a founding member of the Chrysalix team with over 15 years of experience in clean energy venture capital investing, marketing, finance and strategic business planning. His exit track record includes the successful sale of Epyon Power to the ABB Group, at the time the largest electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure deal to date. Mike is a Director on the Boards of Chrysalix portfolio companies GaN Systems and General Fusion, and an observer on the Boards of MineSense and Brammo.

Robotics Revolution: The Next Digital Transformation

Raoul Oostenbrink

Manager, Funding

Netherlands based RoboValley, in partnership with TU Delft Robotics Institute, has more than 170 robotics researchers from a multitude of fields collaborating with other experts, entrepreneurs and decision makers in both the public and private sectors. In RoboValley, all the key players in robotics are connected to each other, which accelerates the growth of the industry. Raoul`s primary focus is to make financing easily accessible for start-ups and companies located in RoboValley by identifying, positioning, and aligning funding sources.

Invention ≠ Innovation

Harry Singh


Harry Singh, Director at Intel Capital, will take the stage at BVF 2016 to quash any notion that invention and innovation implicitly go hand-in-hand. In reality, says Harry, people often confuse one with the other and that the empirical relationship between the two is in fact quite weak. Tune in to here Harry explore the connection between invention and innovation, and start thinking differently at #BVF2016!

Intel Capital is one of the most active venture funds with investments of over $11 Billion US. As a key player in the industry, Singh has over 12+ experience with the fund, playing a variety of roles and focusing on investments from Education Technology to Location Based Services/Commerce and Compute Continuum. Although a Canadian native, Singh has since been submersed in the Silicon Valley for over 15 years and has an abundance of knowledge in the area that will be sure to make this talk worthwhile.