Entrepreneur Returns from Silicon Valley After 14 Years: ‘Vancouver Has Phenomenal Talent for Startups’

Yen Lee has worked in Silicon Valley since 1996. But after 14 years in the Valley—working for a variety of companies, include City Search and Yahoo—the Vancouverite is returning home.

Yen eventually ended his menial jobs to found Uptake, a startup that offers travel advice to users base on friend recommendations. His company was acquired by Groupon earlier this year. Even though he was a co-founder, Yen isn’t sticking around for Uptake’s integration into the group buying giant. He’s moving back to Vancouver.

Despite coming from the Valley—famous for its world-class startup ecosystem—Yen is looking at Vancouver for its startup potential. He believes the West Coast city remains an untapped pool of top-notch talent.

“When I start my next startup, I’m going to make sure I create a product and engineering team in Vancouver,” Yen told Russ Martin, the technology editor of Canada.com. “I can bring assets like business development, marketing and investment capital from [Silicon Valley] and marry that with product and engineering.”

Yen calls Silicon Valley “incredibly competitive” in the sense that it’s too tough to hire and retain enough good people. Meanwhile, Vancouver is an “oustanding opportunity” in the Canadian entrepreneur’s eyes.

Yen says that Vancouver is home to “phenomenal talent.” In general, he says, “the quality of talent is very, very good. The passion is there.”

And on top of that, he believes that the laidback attitude of Vancouverites fosters a “much more balanced environment.” In the Valley, he suggests, the chatter is always about work.

Vancouver was recently ranked by the Startup Compass as the second-best startup ecosystem in Canada and 16th best in the world. Toronto ranked first in Canada and fourth in the world.

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