I’ve had the benefit of exposure to real life entrepreneurship through the two businesses I founded, built and sold. I’ve also been exposed to entrepreneurship in an academic environment through my role in helping form entrepreneurship@UBC.

This Wall Street Journal piece asking whether entrepreneurship can be taught is an interesting one and is worth a read: http://tinyurl.com/7rh63om. Thanks to the C100 for tweeting it.

I think both points of view are correct.

There is no better way to learn how to be an entrepreneur than to just go out and do it. But I believe that universities can teach people how to be better entrepreneurs. They can also serve a very important function by weeding out those people who are romanced by the excitement of entrepreneurship but really crave the security of a regular paycheck.

The best investor pitches I’ve seen are the ones that are straight forward, concise and, most importantly, answer the questions that matter to a prospective investor.


In my experience the questions that matter include:

(1) What is the market problem that needs solving?

(2) What is your company’s solution?

(3) Who are you and why are you the best team to execute?

(4) How much money do you need and how is the company going to make money?

Business Insider recently posted Airbnb’s first investor pitch. You can find it here:http://www.businessinsider.com/airbnb-a-13-billion-dollar-startups-first-ever-pitch-deck-2011-9#-1

It’s ten slides long, is short on words (you want the audience focused on you and not reading the slides), long on facts and gets to the point quickly. This would have been a ten or fifteen minute presentation allowing for a good discussion (wanted) afterward.

If you’re an entrepreneur looking for that first tranche of cash then take a look through this pitch.

UBC Student Entrepreneurs

October 25, 2011

As many of you know I was part of the team that formed entrepreneurship@UBC, an incubator, accelerator and start up venture fund owned and operated by the University of British Columbia.

I am very pleased to see that the entrepreneurship@UBC Fund has announced its first investment: Aeos Biomedical.

Colin O’Neill and Nick Seto co-founded Aeos to commercialize their “Target Tape” invention. Target tape is a disposable, adhesive sticker that assists surgeons to better target their incisions. This idea is something that surgeons immediately understand and appreciate. I think this company has great potential.

Colin and Nick are terrific examples of what can happen when engineering students are partnered with commerce students. They play to their strengths, complement one another and are already on a successful track.

I am very happy for them and for entrepreneurship@UBC for helping foster some great student entrepreneurs.

Elected office

October 18, 2011

Over time politicians have come to be poorly respected alongside less ethical used car salesman (I know an impeccably ethical used car salesman). So when I consider who I’m voting for one of the key considerations is whether I think they are straight shooters.

Jack Layton, Ronald Reagan, Tommy Douglas, Ralph Klein and George W. Bush were all straight shooting politicians. Whether you liked them or hated them, you knew where they stood.

The other criterion I use is whether I think they can execute. Being a successful elected politician requires a lot of different skill sets, but chief amongst them is the ability to get things done. Barack Obama and Gregor Robertson would be two examples of leaders that can’t execute.

My friend Christopher Gorman is running for elected office in Kelowna, British Columbia. I have served with Chris on the UBC Alumni Association board and have seen him in action. I have also been a colleague of his at UBC when I was forming UBC’s entrepreneurship@UBC initiative.

Chris is a professional, honest and capable executive. He is a community minded person and does a great job at whatever I have seen him do. If I lived in Kelowna I would vote for him in a second.

If you will be voting in the forthcoming Kelowna civic elections I highly recommend Chris for School Board.


Path to success

September 25, 2011

Ideas, ideas, ideas

February 14, 2011

I’ve heard various forms of this, but fundamentally ideas aren’t really worth anything unless they can be executed on.  Most entrepreneurs understand this.  In fact, as much as an entrepreneur may think their idea is unique, it’s almost assured that many (perhaps thousands) of other people are thinking of a near identical idea.  The difference between success and ill-success is execution.

Notwithstanding this, if you’re an entrepreneur looking for an idea to pursue, visit this link: http://angel.co/markets/list

Venturehacks describes it as the closest thing to an index of what investors are looking to support.  Good luck!


I have been helping UBC with the formation and launch of an exciting new program called entrepreneurship@UBC.

Along with the Sauder School of Business, the Faculty of Applied Science and the Faculty of Science, UBC’s UILO has been an integral part of the thinking behind what student entrepreneurs might need.

Enter a new and innovative program launching out of the UILO called “Start-up Services Voucher”.  If you’re a student, faculty, staff or a recent alumn (three years or less) you can receive up to $5000 worth of in-kind services including:

  • market assessments
  • IP assessments
  • business planning
  • grant writing, and;
  • company in a box resources.

Visit http://www.entrepreneurship.ubc.ca/2011/uilo-start-up-services-voucher to learn more!