Dan Burgar

Forty under 40 winner 2018; President, VR/AR Association, Vancouver; Age 35

Photo credit: Rob Kruyt

While Dan Burgar spends much of his work life immersed in artificial worlds, his free time is a much different matter.

“I’m all about connections and meeting new people,” said the former director of business development and partnerships at Archiact, a virtual reality studio with offices in Vancouver and Shanghai.

Developing connections has been a must-do for Burgar since launching the Vancouver chapter of the global VR/AR Association in 2016.

The association is tasked with shepherding growth and business connections within an industry in the midst of major expansions, especially in B.C.

A few years ago the local industry had 15 to 20 companies connected to the broader VR industry.

“Now we’re at 220 and the second-biggest VR/AR [virtual reality/augmented reality] ecosystem in the world,” Burgar said.

“It’s only on that upward swing.”

The speed at which it’s expanding – “a million miles an hour,” Burgar said – is a far cry from the pace of his early life in Fernie, B.C.

“Living in kind of a blue-collar town, being one of the only Asian families there, was an interesting time,” the 35-year-old recalled.

He eventually left to attend the University of Connecticut in the early 2000s, earning a bachelor of science in business management before returning to B.C. and studying at Vancouver Film School.

He briefly considered a career working in the entertainment industry as an agent. But he wasn’t truly certain about his career path until 2014.

That’s when he donned a VR headset for the first time, testing a new application at a conference he was attending.

“It was some cleaning app. Basically it was just washing dishes and sweeping in VR,” he said.

“I just thought to myself, ‘Wow, this is a profound experience in my life.’ And I figured out this was something I needed to go all in on.”

Birthplace: Fernie, B.C.

Where you live now: Vancouver

Highest level of education: Bachelor of business management

Currently reading: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho; Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl; Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Tim Ferriss

Currently listening to: Marlon Williams, “What’s Chasing You”; Miles Davis, “Blue in Green”; Nina Simone, “Please Read Me”; The School of Greatness podcast by Lewis Howes; The Tim Ferriss Show podcast

When you were a kid, what you wanted to be when you grew up: An artist

Profession you would most like to try: Starting an organization/fund to help people who are less fortunate, VC, documentary filmmaker and curated experiences

Toughest business or professional decision: Going all in on VR/AR; at the time it was very nascent technology and there wasn’t a lot of investment. I turned down several lucrative offers at other companies/industries but I realized that my purpose was to grow this industry and build the next wave of computing

Advice you would give the younger you: Invest in yourself at an earlier age, don’t let others dictate your life, focus on relationships, do things that scare you and don’t be afraid to fail, be grateful every day

What’s left to do: Lots. We’re building and growing an industry; this takes time and collaboration but I feel like we’re on the cusp of an explosion with the VR/AR ecosystem  

Join us to celebrate the 2018 Forty under under 40 Awards January 24, 2019, at the Vancouver Convention Centre. For tickets and event info visit https://www.biv.com/forty-under-40