What Today's Successful Startups Know

Veteran Vancouver entrepreneur and venture capitalist Boris Wertz reveals what sets the winners apart from the also-rans

Written by As told to Michael McCullough

Boris Wertz, the former COO of, sold the used-book seller to Amazon in 2008. He has since founded Vancouver’s Version One, a venture capital fund, and incubator GrowLab. Here, he talks to Michael McCullough of Canadian Business about what Canadian startups need today—and why they should think bigger than our nation’s borders:

“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.

Read: Financing Strategies for Your Startup

The entrepreneurs who succeed… don’t limit their perspective to what is best in Canada.

“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.”

This article is from the September 2014 issue of Canadian Business. Subscribe now!

Read: How a Global Strategy from Day One Helped Canada’s Fastest-Growing Company

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