Boris Wertz, the former COO of Abebooks.com, sold the used-bookseller to Amazon in 2008. He has since founded Vancouver’s Version One, a venture capital fund, and incubator GrowLab — since merged with fellow incubator Extreme Startups to create Highline.
“After eight years as an entrepreneur, I felt like I wanted a new career, but I also wanted to give back by sharing entrepreneurial skills. I’d been investing since 2007 as an angel, so I’ve been investing full-time for seven years, only now it’s in a different way. Version One is two and a half years old, and I think we’ve done a good job of helping companies scale up and helping entrepreneurs.
“The biggest challenge for any startup in a smaller ecosystem—and Vancouver is a smaller ecosystem than Silicon Valley or even compared to Seattle—is that even if you’re successful at home, you still eventually have to compete with the big boys for top-notch venture capital out of the Valley. You might be king of the town, but that’s still the real prize.
“The entrepreneurs who succeed always have a unique perspective as to what is world-class—they don’t limit their perspective to what is best in Canada. It’s a super-important benchmark to always have in mind. Today you have a worldwide market. There are no national barriers any more.”