• Vancouver Tech Journal
  • Posts
  • Founder spotlight: Why Jeff Angus built a marketing agency for early-stage tech companies

Founder spotlight: Why Jeff Angus built a marketing agency for early-stage tech companies

A seasoned marketing exec, Jeff shares what differentiates Three Horizons Group from other agencies and how its work has helped clients raise north of $100 million over the past decade

Like many founders, Jeff Angus had an unusual start to his career.

As a teen, he bought and sold DVDs on eBay. Then, he became a personal trainer while reporting on sports.

Wearing multiple hats eventually led Angus to work in tech as a marketing executive, helping startups scale, raise capital, and exit. 

While successful in his role, Angus often felt a nudge toward a different path: returning to his early entrepreneurial roots. 

Fast forward to a few years later, Angus followed his instincts and started an agency for early-stage tech companies: Three Horizons Group.

To date, the company has helped clients become award-winning, category-leading brands and raise north of $100 million. Notable companies he has and is working with include:

  • Springbok Analytics, a US-based health tech company that was recently named to Fast Company’s 2024 ‘Most Innovative’ list;

  • Movr, a Vancouver-based movement health tech company that’s attracted investment from Lululemon; and

  • Inspiretek, an Australian health tech company that provides mental health tools for young athletes and is backed by the Queensland government.

Photo: Three Horizons Group

Where were you born?

I was born right here in Vancouver.

How old are you?


Do you have kids?

Yes, two. A boy who's four years old and a girl who’s three. 

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

Sports agent. 

I wasn’t inspired by Jerry Maguire, but absolutely loved, and still love, any and all sports. But I wasn’t good enough at any of them to dream about anything else than a career on the business side of things. 

I was always interested in business, stats, contracts, negotiating, and endorsements, so being an agent seemed like a logical step. 

Thankfully, I had several lawyer friends and mentors in my 20s who talked me out of law school and the agent world.  I do still think about it though.

Favourite class in school?

It wasn’t until graduate school that I stumbled into some advertising classes and fell in love with the creative process of building brands. 

It was a total ‘aha’ moment for me. I had a chance to combine the art and science of marketing and writing into something that advanced both creative and commercial goals. 

Previous job before Three Horizons?

I have held a few senior-level marketing roles here in Vancouver and during my time in the U.S., including CMO at PlaySight, an AI sports tech company. 

Photo: Jeff Angus with US Open champions, Bob and Mike Bryan

I had a bit of an unusual start to my professional career, working as an eBay entrepreneur in my teens buying and selling DVDs — something I later learned was called ‘arbitrage.’ 

Then, I worked as a personal trainer in my early 20s. At the same time, I dabbled in sports journalism — which included a paid writing gig with the Vancouver Canucks

Over the past nine years, it’s been entirely in early-stage ventures: marketing leadership, advisory, consulting, and a bit of investing. 

How do you commute?

I worked from home for about five years until my kids' toys overtook my office. 

I now have a five-minute walk to a nearby space — which has been a great way to separate work and home life.

What time do you normally wake up?

Sometime between 6 and 6:30 a.m. 

With many East Coast and international clients, my days often start earlier, so there’s the odd 5 or 5:30 a.m. wake-up for work.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

Make and drink coffee. 

I need that first one into my system almost immediately. 

I have tried and failed Andrew Huberman’s 90-minute caffeine delay health hack. 

Afterward, I sit on the couch and watch a few minutes of the news — Global loyalist here — before my kids get up.

What time do you normally sleep?

Sometime between 9 and 10 p.m. 

Now that the Canucks are good again, their schedule usually dictates my later evening plans. 

And, as I mentioned, we have a global presence, so there’s the odd evening conference call or team meeting.

What’s the last thing you do before bed?

Read a few pages of whatever book is on my nightstand.

What are you reading right now or listening to?

I usually have a few books on the go — ideally, one fiction and one non-fiction. 

Right now, I’m reading a novel called North Woods for my book club. 

On the business side of things, I just finished Sales Pitch by April Dunford. Her first book, Obviously Awesome, is one of the best marketing books I’ve read, and I would recommend them both.

Where do you normally work from?

I have an office on the North Shore for me, myself and I.

Elevator pitch — what does Three Horizons do?

We provide marketing leadership to early-stage technology companies. 

Our expertise is building award-winning, category-leading brands through effective marketing strategy, PR, content, and communications. We’ve secured earned coverage in Fast Company, Wired, NY Times, Bloomberg, and most of the best media outlets. 

I’ve found the sweet spot with companies that don’t have a senior marketer on the founding team and have either tried some marketing with little success or are looking for some help in setting up the foundational brand work and the entire marketing function properly early on. We’re very pragmatic in our approach and align marketing with fundraising and commercial goals. No limited fluff.

We also have web development, digital marketing, and design services to provide more of a full-service agency experience.

Why did you start Three Horizons?

It was many years in the making and, like most things, was accelerated by the pandemic. 

I was working in sports technology, which obviously came to a full stop in 2020. I had the extra time, so I started consulting. It grew very organically over the years.

I eventually got to the point last year where I realized that if I didn’t do it myself — get the agency set up — it was never going to happen. The companies I work with don’t care if it’s me or a different name that they work with, but I’ve always wanted to build something beyond myself. I had already incorporated and set up a separate business for the work, so it was more about establishing an outward-facing agency brand and presence. 

I also noticed that the startup downturn forced most companies to more critically evaluate marketing and figure out how to do it more effectively and affordably. Early-stage companies often don’t have the resources for a full-time C-level marketing leader just yet. This is where we fit in.

I’ve been inspired by several Vancouver-based agencies, including Victory Creative123w, and Thrive Digital, that have built world-class local teams to serve U.S. and global startups and companies. There’s so much talent in Vancouver, and one of the few positives of the pandemic is the ability to have greater work location flexibility. 

The name itself comes with some meaning, too.

Three Horizons is a framework developed by McKinsey — don't judge me, please — a few decades ago. The essence of it really resonated with me when I learned about it, and I saw over the years how it applied in an early-stage marketing setting. In a nutshell, it’s about developing and maintaining separate but integrated strategies for the near-term, medium-term, and long-term. Think today, six months from now, and 10 years into the future — the three horizons. 

The logo is a nod to the local mountains here: Cypress, Grouse, and Seymour.


Photo: Three Horizons Group

Have you raised any money?

Directly for Three Horizons, not yet. 

But raising capital is a big part of my role with many of the companies that I work with. I’ve found that fundraising at the early stage — seed and series A — is almost always very marketing and narrative-driven. Of course, there needs to be some product-market fit, traction, and metrics to back up the words, but marketing has an outsized role to play. We often get involved in this aspect of things. 

We’re certainly not a venture or investment firm but have helped several companies raise north of $100 million over the past decade, usually at the series A stage, but have been involved in a few growth and later-stage rounds.

What’s one of the biggest challenges you’re facing right now?

A lot of the same things I’ve seen firsthand working with founders for so many years. I’m now facing myself.

Balancing working in the business: helping the companies we work with achieve their goals.

Working on the business: positioning Three Horizons in the agency space in Vancouver and internationally.

At the same time, figuring out how to scale output, and continuing to automate and delegate things that aren’t completely in our wheelhouse.

What’s the most memorable milestone in your career so far?

Having the opportunity to build PlaySight from series A through two large funding rounds and an eventual exit was an equal parts challenging and rewarding experience. 

I wasn’t a co-founder but was close to the sun, getting a lot of hands-on reps well above what my experience dictated. 

This included managing athlete ambassadors, negotiating large commercial partnerships, helping secure investment capital from the likes of Softbank and Verizon Ventures.

I also learned the ins and outs of PR and media, including an interview with the New York Times.

Photo: SoftBank Ventures and CE Ventures invest in PlaySight announcement

Do you have any mentors?

I’ve been lucky enough to have several incredible mentors over the years.

I’ve also found an equal amount of value in a network of founders and people at a similar stage in their careers as me.

I haven’t done anything formal in terms of mentor networks or peer groups, but I have collected great teachers, bosses, colleagues, and friends over the years.

What’s a recent habit you’ve picked up that’s made a difference in your life?

I’ve meditated off and on for about a decade. I’m not sure how successful it has been, but I don’t think that’s the point.

As a new-ish parent, I’m doing my best to be present and focused with my kids, so the habit of hiding my phone in a corner of the house at night and before work is something I’m working on.

I’m glued to work e-mail and the usual distractions otherwise.

Where do you see yourself in 3, 6, and 9 years?

I have some short and long-term goals. 

Short term: I want to continue to attract world-class early-stage tech companies led by great people who are experts in their industry and need guidance with marketing and branding. This comes from doing a great job with the companies I’m working with now. I wake up every day motivated and inspired to help these companies succeed.

Long-term, I’d love to expand the agency to provide investment as well. I’ve made a few angel investments over the years. With a Vancouver area mortgage and two kids, my investments are going to the bank and the grocery store.

How do you prevent burnout?

I did the usual startup grind for many years and quickly learned that more work just leads to more work. 

Having small kids helps in terms of not being able to work around the clock or on weekends, so that has been great as a balance and perspective check when needed. 

Otherwise, the usual stuff is to get outside and exercise — both of which are very easy living in North Vancouver.

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?

I’ve worked with so many incredible entrepreneurs over the years, and I’m just beginning to look at myself as one — even though my first “job” was buying and selling DVDs on eBay as a teenager. I didn’t make the entrepreneurship connection for another decade. 

I realize at 36 that I’m still in the early stages of my career. But whenever I meet with someone in their 20s who has some confidence, conviction, and an idea, I tell them to go for it and make a run. 

On the investment side of things, one thing I was told early on and have seen play out over and over again: a dollar is not a dollar.

Early on, who invests with you is often much more important than how much they invest. It’s a tough market out there right now for fundraising, but it’s starting to come back. Make sure you like, trust, respect, and believe in your investors, and that they’re committed to you as a founder and your company. Do your homework and due diligence on them as well.

One more piece of practical advice that came from the world of PR: try to find three or four macro trends, cultural shifts, or big things happening in society that can act as tailwinds for your idea, product or company. 

Examples include global warming, changing dietary and consumer consumption habits, and new platforms unlocking growth. They can be smaller and more niche to your industry as well. A good company may have one or two of them, but a great one has three or four, and figures out how to ride their waves and pick up speed.

What’s your favourite coffee shop in Vancouver?

I’m going to give a few. The best coffee overall is 49th Parallel. My go-to everyday coffee is from Moja, and my favourite coffee place to work at is Nomad in North Vancouver.

What’s your favourite restaurant in Vancouver?

I’ll go one step further with my favourite dish: the chicken wings from Anh and Chi. Otherwise, the usual great sushi spots like Miku. We’re spoiled here.

What’s your favourite vacation spot?

Maui. Nothing compares.

What website or app do you visit the most?

For better or worse, I spend a fair bit of time each day on LinkedIn.

It’s a valuable channel for the type of work I do and the companies I work with.

My goal in life is to eventually be able to completely remove myself from it, but for now, I remain deep within the beast's belly.

What’s your favourite show to binge watch?

My wife and I recently finished the latest season of Slow Horses.

I loathe binge-watching shows – just ask her — but this one was the rare exception that we would watch a few in a row.

Otherwise, it’s a steady drip of The Office reruns.

Who’s one person or brand everyone should follow on social?

I have a lengthy list of brands I follow, respect, and admire for different reasons, and the same goes for people. 

From a marketing standpoint, I have learned, and continue to learn, a lot from April Dunford, Emily Kramer, and Lenny Ratchisky

From a company standpoint, YETI is the best brand marketing company in the world right now. 

I’ve found it very useful to reverse-engineer the growth and marketing at successful companies to see what worked for them early on: both industry-specific leaders and general brands and companies that have scaled effectively.

Do you support any charities? If so, which ones and why?

Definitely BC Children’s Hospital. Both of my kids were born premature. so we have spent a fair bit of time in the NICU. It’s an incredible place with equally incredible nurses and doctors.

As a parent, I feel extra lucky to live in Vancouver with our world-class healthcare resources.

What does Vancouver’s tech ecosystem need the most?

As someone who lived away from Vancouver for the better part of the 2010s, I was pleasantly surprised to see so much growth and development in the tech ecosystem upon moving home in 2018. 

I can’t think of anything it’s missing. But a general observation I’ve made working with Canadian, U.S., and international startups is that Canadian founders and companies often lack the outward-facing confidence and conviction that really helps to survive, grow, and scale in the startup world. 

What kind of support can you offer the community?

I’m looking to grow my team this year and am always open to chat with up-and-coming young marketers looking to get hands-on experience and many reps with high-growth, interesting tech startups.

Otherwise, I’m always open to grab a coffee or a call if anybody wants to talk through anything related to early-stage marketing.

How can people connect with you?

LinkedIn or e-mail. I’m responsive.

I also write a brand marketing newsletter for early-stage tech companies on Substack: Angus Certified.

Don't miss out on what’s happening in your backyard. Subscribe or become a member of Vancouver Tech Journal.

Join the conversation

or to participate.