Change Agent

Why Version One founder Boris Wertz tells Canadian entrepreneurs to look abroad

The Vancouver VC says all markets are now worldwide

header for Canadian Business series Change Agents
Boris Wertz, founder of Version One Ventures, rubbing his eye and wearing a pink Oxford shirt and jeans, pictured against a blue background

“The entrepreneurs who succeed always have a unique perspective as to what is world-class.” (Pooya Nabei)

Boris Wertz, the former COO of, 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.

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“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.

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“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.”