Founders Collective Hits Home with Vancouver’s Female Innovators

Founders Collective | BCBusiness

The sold-out Founders Collective event made good on its commitment to connect and inspire Vancouver’s female founders and entrepreneurs

On Saturday, April 20th, 120 of Vancouver’s most forward-thinking women CEOs, VPs and tech founders gathered at Launch Academy and GrowLab’s spacious digs on West Hastings to take their seat at the table for the sold-out inaugural Founders Collective speaker series event.

Inspiration for Founders Collective was born from my own 13-year experience attending the top conferences and tradeshows in the world. This initiative was an ode to the inspiring women in my life who are ambitious and brave, generous and funny, honest and inclusive. Businesswomen are reading Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and asking themselves “What is having it all? And how do I accomplish that?” I felt compelled to create a unique environment that was less interested in providing all the answers and more about sparking valuable conversations between innovators.

And when their welcome packages included complimentary wine tastings at the Vancouver Urban Winery, samples from Kiehls, gluten-free baked goods from Calhoun’s and fresh juicing by Spud in a modern open-concept kitchen, attendees realized this was not going to be a typical conference.

The day quickly moved on to a mix of moderated speaker panels, one-on-one conversations and solo talks featuring B.C. thought-leaders from diverse industries, including the co-founder of YYoga, executive director from the Clinton Giustra Initiative, founder of, senior vice presidents of people potential from lululemon and HootSuite and a principal from Vanedge Capital investment group.

Topics ranged from the hilarious to the profound. Caroline MacGillivray offered a touching personal story about an experience one night with a battered woman on the Downtown East Side that prompted her to start Beauty Nights. Joni McKervey, self-described “Cheese Executive Officer” of The Amazing Grilled Cheese Give-Away was the most quoted panellist of the day when she drew big laughs from the crowd with her reasoning behind co-founding the new CAN I LIVE dance party events: “We’re not 22, but we’re not dead!”

The din in Wildebeest’s wine bar over post-event cocktails, canapés and business card swapping made evident our goal of creating authentic and genuine dialogue between Vancouver’s women business and thought leaders was achieved (side note, #FoundersVan trended across Canada Saturday as participants flooded social media to share insights and express gratitude).
Is there another event in the future? I can say this series was a resounding success—I could only have dreamed we would sell out so quickly. Our waitlist was eight pages long.

We’re filling a need for fresh ways to inspire entrepreneurs and to grow business in the city. Since Saturday, I’ve heard from attendees that they’ve been offered new business opportunities from people they met at the event, agency owners have booked new clients, startups have connected to venture capital and many new friendships have been forged.

An entrepreneur wrote me this morning saying one of the speakers gave her the extra push she needed to finally take the leap on launching a new startup project. Even our fabulous photographer was asked to shoot an upcoming conference. The relationships we’re creating are real and they’re resulting in positive growth.

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 Meredith J. Powell, is a serial entrepreneur and current Founder of UCANTBUYCOOL and the Founders Collective event series. A UBC grad, Meredith splits her time between Vancouver, New York and Los Angeles.