Forum for Women Entrepreneurs (FWE) educates, energizes and empowers all women, encouraging them to become wildly successful entrepreneurs.


The Odlum Brown FWE Gala:
Pitch for the Purse

Thank you to everyone who came out to the Odlum Brown FWE Gala – Pitch for the Purse Finale! It was a magical evening and our most successful fundraiser to date. With 650+ guests, a gospel choir, a whole lot of Veuve, our two Celebrity Judges - Candice Faktor and Anthony Lacavera - and 3 amazing pitches by 3 incredible women with the help of 3 supportive mentors, we raised over $750,000!

Whether you were in the room or there in spirit, take a moment to watch this video of the highlights of the Odlum Brown FWE Gala – Pitch for the Purse Finale!

Each of our three Finalists did an incredible job. It was not an easy task for our guests to decide between Squiggle Park, Flytographer and AVA Technologies.

Congratulations to Nicole Smith of Flytographer for taking home the $25,000 prize!

Finalists and Mentors


Nicole SMITHFlytographer | @Flytographer

Founded by Nicole, Flytographer is an online marketplace that connects travellers with local photographers in 200 cities worldwide. Their community of 400 carefully-chosen photographers not only takes stunning photos, but also shares insider tips on things to eat, see, and do and takes travellers to unique parts of the city they may not discover otherwise.

Mentored by

Tracey McVICAR Managing Partner | CAI Private Equity

Ms. McVicar is the Managing Partner at CAI, a mid-market private equity firm. She is a former investment banker (RBC Capital Markets and Raymond James Ltd.) and a graduate of the Sauder School of Business. Ms. McVicar is a Chartered Financial Analyst and has received the ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors. She is currently Chair of Feeney Brothers Excavation LLC, GSI Inc. and White House Design Co. Inc., and a director at Canadian Heating Products Ltd. – all CAI portfolio companies. She is also a director and Audit Committee Chair at Teck Resources Limited and a former director of BC Hydro Corporation, where she chaired the Audit & Finance Committee.


Valerie SONG AVA Technologies Inc. | @AVASmartGarden

Valerie is the CEO + Co-Founder of AVA. AVA unlocks the green thumb in anyone by making gardening as easy as hitting download. AVA Byte is a smart garden that uses seed pods and software to grow plants!

Mentored by

Ali PEJMAN Partner | Fort Capital Partners

Mr. Pejman is a Partner at Fort Capital Partners, a boutique investment bank headquartered in Vancouver, BC. Mr. Pejman is a veteran investment banker who has advised on over $3.5billion in M&A and $2billion financings transactions over the course of his career. Prior to Fort, Mr. Pejman served as Managing Director, Mining and Head of Public Venture Capital at Canada’s largest independent investment dealer. Mr. Pejman is a Fellow of the Chartered Accountants of British Columbia and was awarded the “Canada’s Top 40 Under 40” in 2010. Mr. Pejman is an active member of the community and sits on several boards including the Metro Vancouver Transit Police Board, Science World and TSX Venture advisory.


Julia DEXTERSquiggle Park | @SquiggleParkEDU

Julia is a co-founder of Squiggle Park; the world’s most fun reading platform for PreK-2 kids. Combining music, poetry, gaming technology, and phonics, Squiggle Park teaches children foundational reading skills. What’s amazing is that learners with no prior English knowledge can start learning and become confident, successful individuals through play.

Mentored by

John MONTALBANOCFA Principal | Tower Beach Capital Ltd.

Mr. Montalbano recently served as Vice Chairman of RBC Wealth Management and Head of RBC Global Asset Management during the period of 2008 to 2016. RBC Global Asset Management ranked among the largest 50 asset managers in the world, with more than $375 billion in assets under management. John is a Trustee of the Killam Trusts, and is a director on many community boards, including the foundations of St. Paul’s Hospital, The Vancouver Police, Take a Hike Youth at Risk, Junior Achievement of BC and also chairs the capital campaign for The Vancouver Public Library. Recently appointed to the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and the Asia Pacific Foundation, John holds a finance degree from the University of British Columbia and an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Emily Carr University of Art & Design.

Announcing our Two Celebrity Judges!

Candice Faktor

Former GM of Wattpad, a $75MM venture capitalist backed platform, helping scale it to 50MM users, a co-creator of Torstar Digital, launching +20 businesses in 7yrs, and recently Founder of Faktory Ventures, investing in globally ambitious startups that leverage exponential technologies.

Anthony Lacavera

Former Founder and CEO of Wind Mobile (sold to Shaw Communications for $1.6B), raised almost $2B CAD in private capital with Globalive & is now an active global venture capitalist with investments in 45 early stage technology companies.

Gala Committee

Thank you to our wonderful Gala Committee Members for all their dedication and passion:

  • Christina Anthony (Co-Chair) | Odlum Brown Limited
  • Lara Dauphinee (Co-Chair) | Fiore Group
  • Monique Badun | Sotheby’s International Realty Canada
  • Kristy Brinkley | Redfish Kids
  • Christina Brown | Committee Member
  • Dave Bustos | Fort Capital Partners
  • Amy Carruthers | Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP
  • Soha Lavin | CountDown Events
  • Gabrielle Malette | Odlum Brown Limited
  • Jennifer McCarron | Atomic Cartoons, a Thunderbird Company
  • Susannah Pierce | Shell LNG Canada
  • Corina Reynolds | Committee Member
  • Annabel St.John | PaperQueen | Queen & Grace

GALA Sponsors

Pitch For The Purse Program Sponsors

Event partners

  • Aerocar
  • A&B Rentals
  • Amar and Natallie Doman
  • ARC Document Solutions
  • Art of the Party
  • Cocoa West Chocolatier Inc.
  • CountDown Events
  • Eclat Decor
  • Fairmont Hotel Vancouver
  • Flower Factory
  • Givergy
  • Greenscape Design & Décor
  • Imprint Plus
  • Innovation Lighting
  • Life & Times Productions
  • Pederson’s Rentals
  • ProShow Audio Visual
  • Square
  • TalkShop Media
  • Veuve Clicquot