30 Vancouver tech thought-leaders and influencers to follow right now

Oct 9 2019, 9:00 am

Without a doubt, this has been the most exciting month in the Vancouver tech scene since I moved here in 2015.

Over the past few weeks, four Vancouver companies announced financings totaling a whopping US$377 million. Clio announced it secured US$250 million; Trulioo revealed a US$70 million raise; Dapper Labs received US$11 million; and Terramera shared that it raised US$45 million in its latest round.

With companies like these, it’s no wonder Vancouver is regularly ranked as one of the top startup ecosystems in the world.

Now, great founders and companies are obviously the foundation for a thriving tech hub. But they can’t do what they do alone. Startup ecosystems need strong talent, investors, accelerators and incubators, government support, anchor companies, post-secondary institutions, and service providers. Vancouver has it all.

Still, there’s another critical group that deserves credit. They are what Malcolm Gladwell, back in 2000 in his bestselling book The Tipping Point, referred to as Mavens, Connectors, and Sales [people]. They are information specialists and human data banks. They are the people we rely on to connect us with new information and relationships. They are a kind of social glue. They are also the ones with the skills (or perceived expertise) to persuade us to believe and do things.

To use words more common in 21st century digital culture, they are the thought-leaders and influencers. And below, I’ve tried to identify Vancouver’s — the people you should be following online on Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, and so on.

To be sure, there are certain people you should keep an eye on purely based on their positions in the ecosystem. They include people like BC Tech’s Jill Tipping, the Digital Technology Supercluster’s Sue Paish, Innovate BC’s Raghwa Gopal, Vancouver Economic Commission’s Catherine Warren, Launch Academy’s Ray Walia, and Spring’s Keith Ippel, among other stalwarts of the local community.

However, the following list was not created based on organization prominence, position titles, or media exposure. This group has been selected based on their online engagement, digital accessibility, frequency of knowledge sharing and ongoing information exchange, and ultimately, the value I believe you would get by simply following their various social handles. It’s worth noting that this list intentionally does not include full-time tech reporters and writers (sorry Tyler, Rob, Hayley, etc!).

So with that background and context in mind, here’s who I believe, in no particular order, you should follow right now.

Katie Womersley

Katie Womersley / Twitter

Katie Womersley / Twitter

Known as: Vice President of Engineering, Buffer; Author
Hot handle: Follow her website and on Twitter for insights on remote work, building and leading distributed teams, and ideas on engineering leadership.

Oli Gardner

Oli Gardner / Linkedin

Known as: Co-Founder, Unbounce
Hot handle: Follow on Twitter for un-rivaled expertise on digital marketing and outspoken tweets on everything else.

Boris Wertz

Boris Wertz / versionone.vc

Boris Wertz / versionone.vc

Known as: Founder & General Partner, Version One Ventures
Hot handle: Follow on Twitter and LinkedIn for founder- and investor-friendly insights on scaling companies, global tech industry news, and updates on Version One’s portfolio companies.

Maninder Dhaliwal

Maninder Dhaliwal / Twitter

Maninder Dhaliwal / Twitter

Known as: President & Co-Founder, Lions Gate International; Founder, Tech Collective
Hot handle: Follow on Twitter for passionate business advice (hers and others) and updates on the tech events she’s organizing. (Protip: They always sell out).

Dan Burgar

Dan Burgar

Dan Burgar

Known as: Founder & President, VR/AR Association Vancouver; Partner, Shape Immersive
Hot handle: Follow on Twitter for the most reliable news and knowledge on Vancouver’s XR landscape.

Christine Duhaime

Christine Duhaime / Duhaimelaw.com

Christine Duhaime / Duhaimelaw.com

Known as: Lawyer, Duhaime Law; Founder, Digital Finance Institute
Hot handle: Follow on Twitter for commentary on the changing nature of financial crime and the impact of AI on financial and legal affairs.

Ryan Holmes

Known as: CEO, Hootsuite
Hot handle: Follow on Twitter for a consistent diet of social media and business building tips, and subscribe to his Tech Optimism Newsletter to see what he’s reading and writing on how tech is affecting our everyday lives.

Shafin Diamond Tejani

Shafin Diamond / Instagram

Shafin Diamond / Instagram

Known as: CEO, Victory Square Technologies; Philanthropist;  Person-of-the-Year, 2017 Technology Impact Awards
Hot handle: Follow on Twitter for links to his entrepreneurial advice in publications like BCBusiness and Venturebeat.

Brenda Irwin

Brenda Irwin / Linkedin

Brenda Irwin / Linkedin

Known as: General Partner, Relentless Venture Fund
Hot handle: Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn to read leadership advice and smart thinking on the ways digital technologies are fueling a transformation in healthcare.

Manny Padda

Manny Padda

Manny Padda

Known as: Founder, New Avenue Capital; Philanthropist
Hot handle: Follow on Twitter and LinkedIn for consistent entrepreneurial advice, links to his writing for Forbes, and general investment commentary.

Joy Johnson

Joy Johnson / SFU

Joy Johnson / SFU

Known as: Vice President, Research & International, Simon Fraser University
Hot handle: Follow on Twitter for thoughtful updates and articles on research, science policy, and innovation from a local and global perspective.

Olivia Lovenmark

Olivia Lovenmark

Olivia Lovenmark

Known as: Communications Strategist, Thesis; Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Writer
Hot handle: Follow on Twitter to read about blockchain projects improving society and the odd political retweet.

Boris Mann

Boris Mann / Linkedin

Boris Mann / Linkedin

Known as: Co-Founder, FISSION; Open Source Evangelist
Hot handle: Follow on Twitter and his blog for commentary on decentralized web technologies and their impact on society.

Kendall Titchener

Kendall Titchener / Linkedin

Kendall Titchener / Linkedin

Known as: Corporate Communications Consultant, Pixelated Pinto
Hot handle: Follow on Twitter for social media news and advice on creating digital strategies for brands.

Joel Hansen

Joel Hansen / Linkedin

Joel Hansen / Linkedin

Known as: Youth Editor, LinkedIn; Business Development Manager, Skidmore Group; TEDx Speaker
Hot handle: Follow on LinkedIn to catch his live interviews with executives like Hootsuite CMO Penny Wilson, BCIT president Kathy Kinloch, and A&W CEO Susan Senecal.

Linda Bustos

Linda Bustos / Linkedin

Linda Bustos / Linkedin

Known as: Founder, Edjacent; Author; Contributor, Get Elastic
Hot handle: Follow on Twitter for a prolific look at emerging ecommerce trends and technologies.

Sean Elbe

Sean Elbe / Linkedin

Sean Elbe / Linkedin

Known as: Regional Director (Investor Services), Invest in Canada
Hot handle: Follow on LinkedIn for what honestly seems like special access to Canadian tech leaders and business newsmakers.

Jill Earthy

Jill Earthy / Linkedin

Jill Earthy / Linkedin

Known as: Head of Female Funders; Serial Entrepreneur, Co-Chair, We For She
Hot handle: Follow on Twitter to read inspiring stories of women who are championing gender equity in tech investment.

Wal Van Lierop

Wal Van Lierop / Flickr

Wal Van Lierop / Flickr

Known as: Founding Partner & Executive Chairman, Chrysalix Venture Capital
Hot handle: Follow on LinkedIn if you want regular business news and insights filtered through a sustainability and clean technology perspective.

Vivian Chan

Vivian chan vancouver

Vivan Chan / Vancouver Startup Week

Known as: Founder & CEO, Vivian Chan Consulting; Founding Partner, Amplitude Consulting; Co-Chair, Vancouver Startup Week
Hot handle: Follow on Twitter for high-energy dispatches from Vancouver’s startup community.

Hussein Hallak

Hussein Hallak / Linkedin

Hussein Hallak / Linkedin

Known as: Founder & CEO, Next Decentrum; Founder, Vest in Canada
Hot handle: Follow on LinkedIn for a curated look at emerging tech-focused news and a huge archive of articles on startups and leadership.

Lauren Robinson

Lauren Robinson

Lauren Robinson

Known as: General Partner, Highline Beta; Executive Director, Female Funders
Hot handle: Follow on Twitter for insights on unlocking capital, tips for stimulating corporate innovation, and frequent examples of women leading the way.

Jonathon Narvey

Jonathon narvey

Jonathon Narvey/Twitter

Known as: CEO, Mind Meld PR
Hot handle: Follow his personal and corporate blog for tech PR advice and for conversations between him and experts like Mentionmapp CEO John Gray and Vanedge Capital associate Annika Lewis.

Paulina Cameron

Paulina Cameron / FWE

Paulina Cameron / FWE

Known as: CEO, Forum for Women Entrepreneurs; Author
Hot handle: Follow on Twitter for tweets celebrating and showcasing opportunities for women entrepreneurs.

Ilya Brotzky

Ilya Brotzky / Linkedin

Ilya Brotzky / Linkedin

Known as: Founder & CEO, VanHack; Mentor, Spring Activator
Hot handle: Follow on LinkedIn for closely watched advice on hiring top talent and examples of how his company is addressing Canada’s talent gap.

Shahrzad Rafati

Shahrzad Rafati

Shahrzad Rafati with Justin Trudeau / Twitter

Known as: Founder & CEO, BroadbandTV
Hot handle: Follow on Twitter for BBTV corporate news and regular links to social, political, and environmental news.

Gary C. Bizzo

Gary C. Bizzo / Linkedin

Gary C. Bizzo / Linkedin

Known as: CEO, Bizzo Integrated Marketing Corp.; Adjunct Professor, Social Media Marketing, New York Institute of Technology
Hot handle: Follow on LinkedIn and Twitter for prolific business management and social media advice.

Annalea Krebs

Annalea Krebs / Linkedin

Annalea Krebs / Linkedin

Known as: Founder & CEO, Social Nature
Hot handle: Follow on Twitter to watch her adventures cultivating an online community that’s empowering people to make greener shopping choices.

Cecilia Lu

Cecilia Lu / Facebook

Cecilia Lu / Facebook

Known as: BC Partnerships Manager, Venture For Canada
Hot handle: Follow on Twitter for a steady stream of relevant local tech news, as well as valuable articles focused global business and culture.

Jesse Miller

Jesse miller vancouver

Jesse Miller/YouTube screencap

Known as: Founder, Mediated Reality
Hot handle: Follow on Twitter for an enlightening take on the internet, technology, and society—their convergence and what it means for us all.

Obviously, I will have missed some people that you believe you should be on this list. And that’s what the comment section is for. Who is your go-to online information source?