MBA-turned-Venture Capitalist fuels Vancouver’s growing tech sector

By broadening and deepening their business acumen, UBC Sauder’s rigourous Full-Time MBA program equips professionals like Jay Rhind with the skills and expertise to chart new courses in their demanding careers.

Meet Jay

Jay Rhind

Jay Rhind was thriving in the competitive world of finance in Toronto – but when he couldn’t quiet his innate entrepreneurial drive, he turned to the UBC MBA program.

Jay is an entrepreneur at heart. Even as early as grade four, he was capitalizing on gaps in the market by going to the corner store at recess, buying a case of Cherry Coke for $4, then returning to school where he would sell each can for $1.

“I’d net eight bucks, and I’d hit refresh on that all the time,” he says, laughing.

Jay followed up that early foray into entrepreneurship with a venture that capitalized on his passion for the outdoors: he started a scuba diving business in Ontario’s cottage country.

“Part of it was a desire to arbitrage, and to capitalize on inefficiencies, which I find really exciting. And then part of it is just not limiting your ambition, which I think is a big part of entrepreneurship,” Jay says.

“You’re only limited by how hard you work and the vision you set out for yourself.”

A few years later, the ambitious Toronto native was working for a clean tech start-up when he was approached by a Bay Street investment firm to assist with the sale of an ethanol business. It seemed like a perfect pairing; but Jay soon found that transaction-focused finance wasn’t the right fit for him.

That’s when he applied to the MBA program at UBC Sauder’s Robert H. Lee Graduate School.

Technology Entrepreneurship

“When going into an MBA some people think, ‘I want an investment banking job’ or ‘I want a consulting gig,’” he says. “For me, it was about grounding myself back in entrepreneurship and giving myself the opportunity to take time for self-exploration.

“You essentially have a year and a half of dedicated personal development.”

While pursuing his MBA, Jay took Technology Entrepreneurship, a class that pairs MBAs with graduate engineering students to develop new tech-based start-ups, and changed the course of his career. #1 in Canada

“Over two terms you go through the process of problem identification, solution design and iteration using a process called the business model canvas, where you identify the core components of building a solid business,” Jay says.

Partnering with Industry-changers

After graduating, Jay was hired by two fellow UBC MBA alumni, Fraser Hall and Dan Eisenhardt, who, when still MBA candidates themselves, began the wearable tech company Recon Instruments that recently sold to Intel for $175 million. The seasoned entrepreneurs brought Jay on board to help launch the Vancouver Founder Fund, a venture capital fund focused on tech investments that raised roughly $15 million in under two years.

Jay Rhind VFF “Vancouver Founder Fund is, in many ways, like a start-up. We’ve identified a problem in the way capital has been deployed in early stage start-ups and have designed our approach to fit that unmet need,” Jay says.

“It’s a cliché, but it doesn't feel like a job when you genuinely love what you do,” says Jay, who is now a partner at the company. “We meet industry-changing entrepreneurs every day who challenge us and broaden our perspectives. There's always something exciting walking through the door."