Silicon Valley ecosystem-builder Plug and Play hosts first event in Vancouver
The afternoon of pitches and panels marks the organization’s launch into the city’s tech community.
The icy streets of downtown didn’t stop the tech ecosystems of Silicon Valley and Metro Vancouver from coming together last Friday afternoon. Plug and Play Tech Center, the global innovation platform first started in Silicon Valley, inaugurated its presence in Vancouver at the TELUS garden with its Vancouver Innovation Day.
Ismail Khalil, investor at Plug and Play, welcomes the audience to Vancouver Innovation Day.
Plug and Play was first started by Saeed Amidi, a Silicon Valley real estate entrepreneur who was an early investor in Google and Paypal, thanks to hosting the two companies in the same office building. Recognizing the power of bringing tech entrepreneurs together in a common space, Amidi launched Plug and Play to build local innovation ecosystems that infuse both capital and corporate partnerships. In 16 years, the organization has expanded to over 40 offices in 20 countries, with recent presence in Toronto, Edmonton, and Calgary.
The afternoon opened with remarks from Tanis Jorge, co-founder of Vancouver unicorn Trulioo, who recounted how the initial days of her startup were marked by support from Plug and Play. The organization offered office space in Silicon Valley to the early-stage venture, kickstarting an impressive fundraising journey thanks to the spirit of the community. “I think that L.A. has an actor scene. Washington and New York, it's all about power and all that,” said Jorge of other notable U.S. cities. “But in Silicon Valley, you feel the vibes of dreamers, the vibes of people who are on a mission and want to get something done. And when you're there, you feel that energy. You are bolstered by it.”
Jorge recounted when Trulioo had one last payroll left and simultaneously landed its very first cheque, thanks to pitching over 100 ventures for 18 months. “We got our money, and we brought it here,” she said to the audience gathered in Vancouver. “The synergy between both [cities] was incredible. We were able to bring that panache of being a Silicon Valley-funded company and bring it here to Vancouver [...] I can honestly say that now, 10 years after starting Trulioo, last year, we raised $427 million at a valuation of $1.75 billion — a lot of that is attributed to the early start at Plug and Play.”
Left, the afternoon's crowd gathers prior to the event. Right, Soushiant Zanganehpour, founder and CEO of Swae, pitches the audience.
Swiftly followed were pitches from invited tech companies. Despite some technical hiccups, each startup spent five minutes vying for early-stage support from the Plug and Play-curated community. Learn about the Vancouver-based startups below:
Aires is an AI-based platform transforming the pre-sale real estate market. The venture aims to reduce the cost of sales and marketing for the industry through its centralized platform, developing a global marketplace for pre-sale real estate.
Dyne is a SaaS venture in the restaurant industry. The company helps eateries scale operations and revenues using machine learning-based processes, alongside a B2C social application that connects foodies to local restaurants with rewards. Dyne currently operates in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, and Seattle.
Indrotek is a drone and robotics company serving a broad range of industries. For example, Indrotek offers aerial technology to support utilities, birds-eye views for search and rescue, and counter-drone technology for security. The company has global buyers in the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe, and Central America.
Moment Energy offers energy storage through repurposed EV batteries. Founded by a team of SFU graduates, the startup builds a circular economy by capitalizing on retired EV batteries to store clean, affordable energy, often in remote locations.
Sentire augments small robots and drones in agriculture and forestry through AI-as-a-service. Sentire offers pre-trained machine learning models optimized for field applications such as crop management, forecasting, and predictive modeling. The venture is led by female founder Mahsoo Salimi, an SFU-based PhD graduate and lecturer on machine learning and robotics.
Swae is a Web3 platform for decentralized decision-making. Swae meets the needs of DAOs in one place, in contrast to the array of tools often used to enable governance — such as Discord, Telegram, and Twitter.