OpenVC Guide: The Vancouver Venture Ecosystem

Posted by Shaun Gold | July 27, 2023

No matter where you go, each city has something to offer for founders and investors. But if you are a fresh arrival or just not an active member of the ecosystem, it can be difficult to navigate. This is precisely why we created the OpenVC Guides.

The OpenVC Guides are a collaborative work. Become a contributor, tell us about your city!

Today we cover Vancouver, British Columbia.

Table of Contents

Intro to the Vancouver Ecosystem

Compared to many other cities around the world, founders and investors can easily overlook Vancouver. There are 2,941 technology startups in Vancouver, which is small compared to places like Silicon Valley, Paris, or even Toronto (the #1 city in Canada for startups). However, this would be a major mistake. Vancouver is home to innovative companies, very strong government support, some major exits, and a tight knit community of founders helping one another. Here are some quick facts:

  • Ranked #40 globally, #17th in North America and #2 in Canada by Startup Blink.
  • Top verticals include energy & environment, Hardware & IoT, and marketing and sales.  
  • Top startups that call Vancouver home include Dapper Labs, Hootsuite, Sign In Enterprise, CryptoKitties,  and more.
  • Top exits include Galvanize, Canalyst, PlentyofFish, Creo, Club Penguin, and more.   

We asked our friends in Vancouver for their opinions. Here is what they had to say:

Best things about the Vancouver venture scene

  • One thing I like about the venture scene in Vancouver is the city's diversity and inclusivity. As a fast-growing city, Vancouver attracts entrepreneurs and investors from all over the world, creating a vibrant and diverse business community. Vancouver's location as a conduit for Asian investment and its proximity to major tech hubs like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle, makes it an ideal place for startups to connect with a wide range of potential partners and investors.
  • Another aspect is the government's support of the startup ecosystem. Both the provincial and federal governments invest heavily in startups, innovation, and tech, offering generous grants and tax incentives. This not only helps startups access the resources they need to succeed, but also fosters a positive environment for entrepreneurship and innovation.
  • Founders are willing to help fellow founders - Since Vancouver's startup ecosystem is quite smaller than US hubs, founders of startups often know each other and would help out and grow together.
  • The vibrant and supportive community. The city is home to a wide range of entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators who are passionate about helping each other succeed. There are many organizations, meetups, and events that bring people together to share ideas, build relationships, and collaborate on projects. Vancouver is also a melting pot for global tech giants and startups alike, which gives the city a unique edge when it comes to launching innovative products and services.
  • Overall, Vancouver's diversity, location, and government support make it an attractive place for entrepreneurs and investors looking to build.

Worst things about the Vancouver venture scene

  • One thing I dislike about the venture scene in Vancouver is the lack of a clear and centralized hub for startups and investors.
  • Lesser resources compared to major cities in the United States. This is largely due to the smaller population and available talent pool in Vancouver. To remain competitive, there could be more investment in the local venture scene to provide more resources and opportunities for entrepreneurs in the area. Additionally, more could be done to attract and retain talented individuals to the city, as this can help to create a vibrant and successful business environment.
  • The startup ecosystem is not taken as seriously as the other major ecosystems/hubs in the US or even Toronto. For example, Techstars never managed to have a dedicated local accelerator in Vancouver. Angel investors/VCs are not as generous or risk taking as their fellows in the US.
  • Despite being a beautiful city with a vibrant business community, it can be challenging to navigate and find the right connections within the venture scene. Vancouver can sometimes feel disconnected from the larger national and international venture capital landscape. In particular, the blending of the venture scene with the public capital markets, specifically the TSXV and CSE, can make it difficult for startups to access the resources and support they need to succeed.
  • Furthermore, the lack of presence of the leading venture capital firms in Vancouver, can make it difficult for startups to get the attention of the right investors.

Best spots in Vancouver to work from your laptop

Breka Bakery

Multiple locations

Breka Bakery has multiple locations throughout the city. The best part? Each location is open 24/7 and 365 days a year so you can work on your schedule.

Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel

1038 Canada Pl

The lobby at the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel offers a great ambience and environment to get work done.

La Forêt

6848 Jubilee Ave

A secret local favorite that is a bit outside the city is La Forêt cafe in Burnaby. Known for its forested cafe vibe, spacious interior, luxurious london fog latte, and creatives on their laptops.

Trees Cheesecake & Organic Coffee

Multiple locations

Trees Cheesecake & Organic Coffee provides a quiet and and comfortable atmosphere that's perfect for getting work done.


595 Burrad Street.

Vancouver has multiple WeWorks available throughout the city, should you want the familiar co-working setting that reminds you of home. The WeWork that is recommended is on Burrard Street.

Regus coworking spaces

Multiple locations

Regus offers multiple locations but one of our contributors recommended snagging a spot in the business district area (West Georgia and Burrard area).

Best place in Vancouver for an investor meeting

JJ Bean Coffee Roasters

353 Burrard St

JJ Bean on Burrard is famous for being the first place to meet an investor or finance professional due to its central location and great spread of latte's and bakery goods. The coffee shop is great for networking and meeting with other entrepreneurs, which can be beneficial for business and personal connections. Great snacks and drinks, and free Wi-Fi as well. Can be a bit loud though.

Nero Waffles

1002 Seymour St

Nero Waffles offers excellent coffee, Belgian style waffles, and is perfect for an early morning meeting.

Reflections Terrace

801 W Georgia St 4th Floor

Located in the Rosewood Hotel Georgia, Reflections Terrace is an intimate and upscale spot to have an investor meeting.

Buro Coffee

Multiple locations

If you are looking for an intimate setting to have an investor meeting, Buro Coffee is your place.

Giovane Caffè

1049 W Cordova St

Located at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel, Giovane Caffè offers coffee, Italian cuisine and baked goods and a great atmosphere for a serious meeting.

That person in Vancouver every tech founder should know

This section is a little light. You can help us by recommending people we should feature by filling out our form here.

Anuj Pandya

Anuj Pandya is a partner at Vancouver-based River Sky Partners, an alternative investment firm working with private and public companies across various industries, leveraging access to international networks and deals. Highly connected in the local community, his insights and advice have helped many entrepreneurs and investors succeed.

Matthew B. Schmidt - Producer and entrepreneur

Matthew B. Schmidt is a well-known figure in the Vancouver venture and entrepreneurship scene.  Not only is he a film producer, but also an investor with a portfolio that includes several unicorns.

Casey Lau

Casey Lau. He is the Co-host of Web Summit & Collision & Rise conferences which are pretty much the largest startup events in the world. He knows the startup ecosystems in different countries and is connected to local leaders. 

Vancouver investors that truly add value

BDC Venture Capital 

BDC Venture Capital

BDC actively invests and contributes to the local ecosystem and should be on every founder’s radar.

Panache Ventures

Panache Ventures

Panache Ventures is Canada's most active seed stage venture capital fund, led by a team of experienced operators, with a strong angel investor track record, years of institutional VC experience and a strong network in Canada, in Silicon Valley and worldwide. The fund has a founders-first philosophy, a commitment to diversity and strategically coinvests with smart angel investors and seed stage funds. They are active with thought leadership and published content, attending/sponsoring local entrepreneurship and investor events, and consistently add value to the Vancouver ecosystem.

New Ventures BC

New Ventures BC

While not an investor or VC, New Ventures BC is a non-profit organization that has supported 3100+ entrepreneurs, created 9000+ jobs and raised over a $1 billion in financing via their New Ventures BC competition and venture accelerator program. Serious founders should be familiar with them.

NACO (National Angel Capital Organization) Canada

NACO Canada

NACO is a great place for founders to not only look for funding, but resources. NACO is partnered with the government of Canada and its national network includes 4,200 angel investors, 50 incubators and accelerators, and 45 angel groups.

The British Columbia Digital Supercluster

The British Columbia Digital Supercluster

The Supercluster accelerates the development and adoption of digital technologies across Canada that focus on economic productivity, combating climate change,and keeping Canadians healthy. If you are building in those verticals in Vancouver, check them out.

Top Vancouver incubators and accelerators

SFU Venture Labs 

SFU Venture Labs

SFU Venture Labs focuses on science and technology based companies who have product market fit. They provide mentorship, programs and additional beneficial services.



If you are building in the British Columbia region, make sure to check out Innovate BC. Their goal is to foster innovation not just in Vancouver, but across the entire province.

Entrepreneurship@UBC (UBC faculty, students, alumni, staff)


Entrepreneurship@UBC focused on the UBC community. Since their launch, they have raised $1.52 billion in capital, created 1579 jobs and supported 650 ventures. If that isn’t a reason to attend university there, we don’t know what is.

League of Innovators

League of Innovators

The League of Innovators accelerator helps entrepreneurs under 25 which encourages youngsters to be more risk taking.

CDL (Creative Destruction Lab) Vancouver

CDL (Creative Destruction Lab) Vancouver

CDL-Vancouver is an excellent incubator located at UBC’s Sauder School of Business. Vancouver is a fast-growing tech hub on the West Coast, combining a Silicon Valley time zone with an Asia-facing outlook. CDL-Vancouver hosts Biomedical Engineering, Compute, Climate, and Advanced Therapies, focusing on the convergence of technologies that improve human health and wellness and advance solutions to preserve our natural world. Their program is comprehensive, well-organized and provides companies with excellent resources and networks to achieve their growth objectives.

One of our contributors mentions that although there are many accelerators, you should try and apply to the SFU Venture Labs, InnovateBC, Entrepreneur @UBC and New Ventures BC as they are backed by an institution and have plentiful resources. They can also plug you into Canada's governmental and institutional resources. Furthermore, with the exception of the League of Innovators accelerator and CDL, the previous four listed tend to attract the best companies in the city.

Favorite Vancouver meetups and events to attend

Vancouver Entrepreneurs Forum Events

Vancouver Entrepreneurs Forum

VEF hosts eight events per calendar year and includes everything from fireside chats to AMAs.

Vancouver Startup Week

Vancouver Startup Week

Vancouver Startup Week brings together founders, investors, and leaders from the Vancouver community and is a can’t miss event. It has been going strong for 8 years and has everything from workshops to talks.

SFU Venturelabs Events

SFU Venturelabs Events

From demo days to pitch workshops, SFU Venturelabs has a variety of events both in person and online.

Entrepreneurship@UBC Events

Entrepreneurship@UBC Events

Entrepreneurship@UBC hosts events regularly through the year. This includes high quality events, such as workshops, presentations, networking and more.

Van Tech Journal Events

Van Tech Journal Events

Van Tech Journal is owned by Overstory Media Group, a portfolio company of Tiny Ventures, owned by tech entrepreneur Andrew Wilkinson. The website has an up to date event list of everything happening for the next several months.

Any final tips for a founder who wants to build in your city?

Lean on the institutional resources from the government, local accelerators, investor groups, and entrepreneurs. Vancouver can seem like a quiet city, but there are some incredible people running very unique and profitable businesses. Vancouver is an "everyone knows everyone" city, so be sure to make a good impression, be kind, have integrity, and your reputation will carry you far.

For B2C businesses, I would say think thoroughly/twice about your market size and offerings if you build in Canada and specifically Vancouver.

Make sure you have a solid understanding of the local market and its potential.

Find the right partners and mentors who can provide you with valuable advice on how to build and grow your business in Vancouver.

Make sure you have a strong network of support and resources to help you succeed. Leverage local events and networks to make connections and build relationships that can help you succeed.


A big thank you to our contributors for taking the time to share their knowledge and expertise. If you want to contribute to your city, click here.

Andrew Tan

Andrew Tan is a partner at Vancouver-based River Sky Partners, an alternative investment firm that works with private (venture, growth, pre-IPO) and public companies across various industries. The firm leverages its access to international networks and deals in media, technology, real estate, and more. Andrew can be reached at [email protected]

Arsalan Noroozzadeh

Arsalan is co-founder of Symposify. He is a first time founder located in Vancouver, BC. His background is in Computer Software. He has been fortunate that during his past jobs he learned how to work with big data and get hands-on on building scalable data products. He can be reached at [email protected]

Anuj Pandya

Anuj Pandya is the founder, investor, and advisor for various companies in the fintech, technology, and media space. He is also a partner at Vancouver-based River Sky Partners, an alternative investment firm that works with private (venture, growth, pre-IPO) and public companies across various industries. The firm leverages its access to international networks and deals in media, technology, real estate, and more. Deals and investors can reach Anuj at [email protected] 

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