Pioneering Tech. Executive, Managing Partner at Staircase Ventures

Janet Bannister

Business. Change Management. Innovation. Leadership.

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Janet Bannister

Speaker Bio

Janet is the Founder and General Partner of Staircase Ventures, which invests in Canada’s most promising early-stage technology companies. Staircase recognizes that founders are the bedrock upon which companies are built, and therefore provides unparalleled support to accelerating founders’ development and performance.

Prior to launching Staircase Ventures, Janet was Managing Partner at Real Ventures, one of Canada’s largest and most active early-stage investors. Janet is also a graduate of the prestigious Kauffman Fellows program, a global network of the world’s top 1% of venture investors and innovation leaders.

In addition, Janet is very active in the Canadian tech ecosystem; she is the Co-Chair of C100 and on the Boards of the Ivey Business School and LEAP, a social venture accelerator. She is also a mentor at Creative Destruction Lab. In addition, Janet was Honorary Co-Chair of the Princess Margaret Ride to Conquer Cancer in 2023, the largest single fundraising event in Canada.

Janet has won numerous awards and recognition including Toronto Region Builder of the Year Award for 2023, Insider’s 2023 “Seed 30: The Best Women Early-Stage Investors in North America”, Venture Capital Journal’s 2021 “Women of Influence in Private Markets”, Pitchbook’s 2021 “Female Founders & Investors to Know”, and American Bankers’ 2019 “Most Influential Women in Payments”.

In 2004, Janet launched and grew it to become one of the most visited websites in Canada. Subsequently, she led the Kijiji Global business, launching the website in new countries and accelerating growth in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Janet also spent four years at eBay in Silicon Valley where she helped transform eBay from a collectibles to a mainstream marketplace, growing the business 400% year-over-year for four years. She started her career as a Brand Manager at Procter & Gamble and then joined McKinsey & Co. where she was an Engagement Manager. She also founded and built a successful consulting business and was CEO at a venture-backed start-up prior to joining Real Ventures.

Janet was a varsity long-distance runner at Western University, where she completed her business degree at Ivey, earning the Gold Medal. Post university, she switched to triathlons and two years later, became Canada’s National triathlon champion. She competed internationally on the National team for several years while working full time.

Janet Bannister Topics
Enable or Disrupt? The New Innovation Economy
There and Back Again: Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Change
Book Janet Bannister

We have entered a new phase of business. Transformative technologies are disrupting every single industry on the planet, and whether you know it or not, your business will not only have to adapt—it will have to fundamentally change.

In this eye-opening talk, venture capitalist and founder of Janet Bannister takes a look at three key things that are reshaping business right now: AI and transformative technologies, platform businesses, and the democratization of creative production. In the midst of all this change, two types of companies will emerge, says Janet: enablers (the ones building the transformative tech stack) and disruptors (companies that will use the transformative tech stack to redesign or create new markets, processes, models, products, and services). Where will your organization fall on this scale? What implications will it have on your line of business? And what are the new requirements, opportunities, and challenges you will face?

An authentic and down-to-earth speaker, Janet shares case studies and insights that illustrate the importance of the innovation economy. In a time when everything in business is changing, this direct keynote is absolutely essential. Janet reveals what your company needs to hear, right now.

Janet Bannister started her entrepreneurial journey quite early—at age 15 she founded her own healthy baking business. With significant grit and determination, her fascinating path led her to Silicon Valley and back, eventually resulting in the creation of one of Canada’s most successful websites ever: Now a partner at Real Ventures, Janet is a high-profile, successful venture capitalist—a powerful female leader in a still incredibly male-dominated field.

What strategies has she implemented for innovation, for problem-solving, for leadership? And how has she kept herself and her people inspired? Her extraordinary keynotes reveal a career spent in motion, always at the edge of the next big shift, and fuelled by balanced risk-taking, determination and perseverance. Yet Janet balances this relentless drive with a sense of humour, modesty, deep care for others, and a passion to give back. In this talk, Janet shares the most important leadership principles and entrepreneurial values that have led to her massive success.

Janet Bannister

Stories of my life

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Janet Bannister

Tech Manitoba

“Janet was absolutely excellent. She connected with the audience immediately and set a perfect tone for the event. Her presentation was so captivating that she could’ve kept speaking all day, and people would still want more.”


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