Building a Successful Startup in CaliforniaExport this event to calendar

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 — 7:00 PM to 9:30 PM PDT

Event advertisement with headshots of guest speakers and Golden Gate Bridge background

Are you at a startup in California and planning to…
recruit talent from Canada?
build a remote team in Canada?
hire co-op students from Canada?

or do you have…
a vision for a startup and want to network/get advice from other entrepreneurs?

If so, join University of Waterloo President and Vice-Chancellor, Feridun Hamdullahpur at the new offices of Embark (the world’s leading developer of self-driving trucks) as we bring together experienced entrepreneurs for a panel discussion on the challenges of “Building a Canadian Startup in California.”


  • Jay Shah, BASc ’11, Director Velocity, University of Waterloo - Moderator 
  • Marcelo Cortes, former Math/Computer Science student @ UW, CTO & Co-Founder, Faire
  • Rosco Hill, BASc ’03, CEO, Perpetua Labs and Founder, Blend Labs
  • Alex Rodrigues, former UW Student, CEO & Co-Founder, Embark
  • Daryna Kulya, Co-Founder and COO, OpenPhone, 2018 YCombinator Alumna


7:00 - 7:30 Registration
7:30 - 8:30 Remarks & Panel Discussion
8:30 - 9:30 Networking (beverages & hors d'oeuvres will be served)

Space is limited so register early!

In partnership with:

Embark logo Alumni logo

About the panel speakers:

Jay ShahJay Shah
BASC '11

Director, Velocity

As the Director of Velocity, Jay Shah (BASc '11) advocates for entrepreneurship and provides guidance to startups to help them build successful businesses. Jay is passionate about enabling all contributors to the Kitchener-Waterloo startup ecosystem to punch above the region’s collective weight. Jay began his entrepreneurship journey twelve years ago at the University of Waterloo while pursuing a degree in Mechatronics Engineering. During his studies, he co-founded BufferBox, which was ultimately acquired by Google, where Jay worked for 3.5 years before joining Velocity. What Jay finds most interesting about working in the startup world is the lack of a rule book and the fact that early-stage companies can do things in a way that larger companies can’t. When he is not mentoring companies, you can find Jay tinkering with hardware, playing squash, or teaching his parrot new tricks.

Alex RodriguesAlex Rodrigues
CEO & Co-Founder, Embark

Alex Rodrigues is the Co-founder and CEO of Embark. He raised $47M from top Silicon Valley investors - including YCombinator and Sequoia - to fund Embark's ambitious effort to develop the first self-driving trucks in the world. Embark's trucks have driven hundreds of thousands of self-driving miles and are already moving customer's freight in the southwest United States. Alex has had a passion for robotics his whole life, at 13 he won his first robotics world championship and returned to international level robotics competitions another half dozen times in high school and university. Alex studied Mechatronics engineering at the University of Waterloo, where he and his co-founder Brandon developed the first self-driving vehicle in Canada. At 19 Alex became the youngest person to win UWaterloo's $25K Velocity Fund Finals startup competition. Alex has also received the prestigious Thiel Fellowship and in 2018 he was named to Forbes 30 Under 30 list.

Rosco Hill at the microphoneRosco Hill
BASc '03
CEO, Perpetua Labs
Founder, Blend Labs

Rosco Hill is a serial entrepreneur. His is the CEO of Perpetua Labs, a growthtech company, chairman of Draper AI, an AI R&D company, and the founder of Blend, a category defining fintech company that transformed the US mortgage industry. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Rosco served as intrapreneur at Palantir, a company focused on analyzing, integrating, and visualizing data, where he launched new $100M revenue verticals including global banking, regulation and oversight, and the product which evolved into Foundry. Earlier in his career, Rosco worked with Joe Lonsdale and Peter Thiel to start Clarium Labs to help scale Clarium from $1B to $8B. Rosco is an active supporter of entrepreneurship through various angel and venture partnerships. He has a BASc in Computer Engineering from the University of Waterloo and a MASc in Computer Science from the University of Toronto.

Marcelo CortesMarcelo Cortes
CTO & Co-Founder, Faire

Marcelo Cortes is co-founder and chief technology officer (CTO) of Faire, which he co-founded with friends and colleagues from Square. As CTO, Marcelo leads Faire’s team of engineers in Kitchener-Waterloo. Prior to Faire, Marcelo was a staff software engineer at Square, where he built Square Cash from a prototype to a large scale product that’s been downloaded more than 30 million times and has millions of monthly active users. Prior to Square, Marcelo was a senior software engineer at Google, where he worked on Hangouts, Google+, and other big projects. He has spent nearly two decades writing code and managing engineering teams and is a proud alumnus of the University of Waterloo, where he majored in computer science.

Daryna KulyaDaryna Kulya
Co-Founder & COO, OpenPhone

Daryna Kulya is a Co-Founder and COO at OpenPhone, which gives entrepreneurs and professionals a supercharged business phone number in an app. Prior to OpenPhone, she was a Product Manager at Vidyard. She founded Product Hunt Toronto, the first and largest Product Hunt community in the world. Daryna started her career at Deloitte - first in Consulting and later in Innovation. 

$15 (CAD) per person

424 Townsend Street

San Francisco,
United States

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