Banff Venture Forum

Take a look at our 2018 Keynote roster! Be the first to know about new speaker announcements as they are made available, sign up for our newsletter today.

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

Paul Bernard

Director of Worldwide Corporate Development, Alexa Fund

As the leader of Amazon’s first-ever venturing initiative, the $200 Million Alexa Fund, Paul’s goal is to develop the voice technology ecosystem around Alexa-enabled devices. He is also leading inorganic growth initiatives for Kindle and Amazon’s Digital Services. Prior to Amazon, Paul spent 10 years as Vice President of Business Development at Nokia.

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”!

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 native 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.