New Ventures BC

News about the New Ventures BC competition and seminar series


Board of Directors 2015-2016

We are pleased to announce our new board of directors, for 2015-2016:

  • Bob de Wit, CEO, Greater Vancouver Homebuilders Association
  • Todd Farrell, President, entrepreneurship@UBC
  • Blaize Horner Reich, Dean, SFU Beedie School of Business
  • Steven Lukas, Partner, Fasken Martineau
  • Richard Mockett, Partner, Ernst & Young Vancouver
  • J. Brock Smith, Professor, Winspear Scholar, Peter B Gustavson School of Business, University of Victoria
  • Wal van Lierop, President and CEO, Chrysalix Energy
  • Michael Volker, President, Western Universities Technology Innovation Fund (WUTIF), & President, GreenAngel Energy Corp.

We would like to thank our outgoing directors for their time and dedication:

  • Kip Morison, Chief Technology Officer, BC Hydro
  • Richard Sawchuk, Director, Ministry of International Trade
  • Daniel Shapiro, Professor, SFU Beedie School of Business

myBestHelper selected as finalist for Cartier Women’s Initiative Global Entrepreneurship Competition!

We are happy to announce that former New Ventures Competitor myBestHelper have been selected as a finalist for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Global Entrepreneurship Competition! Since the creation of the competition in 2006, myBestHelper is only the second Canadian company to ever receive the nod, after the 2009 finalist selection of Michelle Romanow then CEO of Evandale Caviar,  and now better known as one of the Dragons on CBC’s Dragon’s Den.
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Meet Your Mentor Networking Event on June 26th

On Wednesday, June 26th this year’s Top 25 companies will meet their mentors in-person at the annual Meet Your Mentor networking event. This event is for our top 25 companies to meet their mentors in-person, but it’s also a great general networking event.

If you’d like to reconnect with the New Ventures community, please join us. Hors d’oeuvres and your first drink provided.

The BCIC-New Ventures Meet your Mentor Networking Event takes place on June 26th from 5:30pm-7:30pm at the offices of Fasken Martineau.

It is free for all 2013 competitors, volunteers, and sponsors but $20 for general admission tickets (and $10 for students). Register online to attend.

Creating Green Elephants

Wal van LieropInvestors are not just looking for companies that are taking advantage of the surge in green technology and environmental awareness. They’re looking for companies that can truly become green elephants; the Fortune 500 leaders of tomorrow.

At a gathering of Vancouver’s clean-tech community organized by VEF Momentum and Chrysalix Energy on Friday, Chrysalix President and CEO and New Ventures Society Director Wal van Lierop gave some direction and inspiration to those future leaders:

“If you are a young entrepreneur and you want to know key elements, the first is the wow factor,” he says. “We want to see it and say ‘this will change everything.’ You need a patent. It needs to be capital-efficient. We want a huge market! And we need to see a clear path to that market. How are you going to reach your customers?”

It’s all about people, van Lierop says. “Create a top team. Not just your executives, but board members, advisors, mentors. Have that team focused razor-sharp on the operations. Revenues are becoming important. Last, but not least, have a realistic exit plan. What are you going to do when you grow up? Greed is good in that respect, but don’t be too greedy. Most of the exits in this sector will be exits to big elephants. It’s very important early on to learn how to dance with the elephants.”

You have to be willing to push some boundaries. “For new entrepreneurs, understand your role: seeing things others don’t see and making them happen. And that means taking risks.”

What do you do after you’ve built your prototype? “Sell your story to investors in the best way possible. Have a very good business plan and a very good power point presentation. Sell it to investors and sell it to customers.”

As your company grows, keep your eye on the big picture. “Then of course, building that team. Focus on execution and creating wealth for all stockholders. Share your ownership of the company with co-founders, with crucial members. If by giving part of your company away you can get a bigger pie, everyone will win.”

And possibly the most important advice that night? “Never stop believing.”

Mentor Profile: Darren Frew

1)  Who are you? Give us your 100-word elevator pitch.

I have offered business development services and mentoring to BC’s high-tech community for nearly 20 years.  Presently, I’m doing this working with both the BC Bioenergy Network and the Canadian Institute for Photonic Innovations.  I also support budding entrepreneurs, via mentorship and as a member of the Vancouver Entrepreneurs Toastmasters Club.

2) How long have you been a New Ventures BC mentor/judge?

Since the very first competition in 2001.

3) Why did you get involved with New Ventures BC as a mentor/judge?

I believe my service with NVBC is a great way to give back to the community that has been so supportive of me.

4) Many companies enter the competition but not all can be recognized in the Top 10. Outside of the Top 10, what has been your favorite company in the competition?

In 2007, I mentored a company that had developed and was marketing a novel mat that is placed on the floor of a garage and collects oil and other fluids which drip from an engine.  It was a simple idea but it was also a great business run by an enthusiastic entrepreneur.

5) Of all the companies that have passed through the competition, which one most impressed you?

The 2003 overall winner was Resonance Technologies.  I was part of the Panel Mentoring for the company and I was really impressed with the vision and professionalism of the company’s founder, Matthew Janes.  It was a very cool technology with terrific potential as a business.

Mentor profile: Stephen Smith of

1) Who are you? Give us your 100-word elevator pitch.

I have over twenty years of experience working in information technology.  While at the UBC UILO in 2000 I worked on the transfer of the .ca internet domain registry to CIRA and as part of that project I founded where I serve as CEO.  I also founded Flintbox in 2003 – an innovation database used by over 100 universities around the world to disseminate early stage research results. Flintbox was acquired by Wellspring Worldwide in 2010.

I was a finalist for Ernst & Young’s 2005 Entrepreneur of the Year Awards for Information Technology in the Pacific Region and I was also a recipient of Business in Vancouver’s  Top 40 Under 40 Award for Outstanding Achievement (2005). I also serve on the Board of Tasktop Technologies.

2) How long have you been a New Ventures BC mentor/judge?

Since 2006.

3) Why did you get involved with New Ventures BC as a mentor/judge?

I was asked by my good friend Bob de Wit.

4) Many companies enter the competition but not all can be recognized in the Top 10. Outside of the Top 10, what has been your favorite company in the competition?

Tasktop – they are a very good company that continues to do things right.

5) Of all the companies that have passed through the competition, which one most impressed you?

See above.

NVBC Seminar 1. Assessing the Opportunity

Tonight, New Ventures BC’s own Bob de Wit and Elisabeth Maurer of LightIntegra Technology present Assessing the Opportunity. Entrepreneurs get the answers they need tonight about what do do when running with a new business idea.

Before getting underway with the seminar, Bob de Wit gave a warm and informative introduction of what NVBC is all about…

The NVBC competition takes place over four successive, and increasingly complex, rounds. Competitors are eliminated after each round until only 10 remain in play to win $300,000 in prize packages.

Need more details? Learn more about the New Ventures BC competition.

Check out the winners of past NVBC competitions!

Bob de Wit:
What defines an innovative product that might be entered by a company into the competition?

  • It utilizes new technology
  • It combines existing technologies in a new way.
  • Utilizes technology to develop new or improved existing products or services
  • It utilizes technologies to develop new or improve existing production processes
  • It is early stage of a new technology

Bob’s Checklist for Crafting an Effective Business Opportunity Statement or elevator pitch

  • Say what you do
  • Define the pain
  • Define the solution
  • Say why anyone should care
  • Define how you’re going to win
  • The call to action (ie. Show me the money)

Elizabeth Maurer delivers award-winning pitch representing last year’s winner, LightIntegra

For first place in 2009, they won the $120,000 BC Innovation Council prize package. LightIntegra develops a medical device and disposables to measure the quality of platelets before transfusion…

Questions and Answers Session following the Presentation

1. You talk about the market and how big it is, but do you plan to take it private?

We plan on going private. These companies that I have listed here already have an established customer base. We would feed into what they are doing. They don’t have a platelet quality test. They just want us to go through the FDA process.

2. Market adoption and market penetration… You mentioned you were going to start with hospitals because they are most incented. You mentioned they would pay $500 for a bag of platelets. If they find the platelets are bad, would they return them? They’ve already paid for them…

Once hospitals can determine which one is the better product, they will force the production site to give them the better product. Can they get their money back? I don’t know. Maybe they can do an exchange and not pay for the next product. Something like that? Most cost savings comes from reducing the stay of the patient in the hospital… the cost attached to repetitive transfusions.

3. You won the competition… Were there areas you saw that differentiated you from the competition? Were there paradigm shifts that if you knew then what you know now, would you have made changes?

I didn’t actually get to hear other pitches, so as a contestant, I didn’t really know how we compared. What we learned… being a scientist, I found it tremendously important to see these seminar topics and get the experience of the mentors. To get the feedback about what we had to think about was essential. To have a good idea is one thing, getting feedback was good. But being willing to listen and learn so that the feedback was actually helping you was also important.

(Bob de Wit: All three of the top teams added to the management team as they went along last year. This should be noted by current competitors).

4. Where else did you get support for growing your venture?

Within Vancouver, the angel network and the life sciences network, where you can test your pitch is really, really helpful.

8:18 pm – Time For Prizes

New Ventures BC Leather Folio goes to Oliver!

New Ventures BC Jacket goes to Wolfgang!

8:20 pm Bob de Wit is back! “So, How do you Win?”

Round 1 Questions. What are the NVBC judges looking for?

  • Describe the product or service offering
  • Describe the innovation behind the idea without disclosing proprietary technology.
  • Briefly describe the tech sector
  • Provide a brief analysis of the market and competition

How about eligibility?

Our WIPO Definition of IP – Creations of the Mind

Round 2 Entry, Feasibility Test

Deadline is May 10, 2010!

Round 2 Judging Criteria

9 questions, grouped into Baseline questions and Evaluation Questions

Where you sell the judge on your venture.
Describe your product or service.
Technology Development.
Who’s on your team?
What’s your Business Plan status?

Q1. Intellectual Property
Describe your IP strategy including plans for how your IP gives you a defensible competitive advantage. Remember, IP is not just patents!

Note: If patents are part of your strategy, don’t disclose all of your secret sauce. Talk about what it does, not how it does it. Patent protection is important to us.

Q2: Market

  • 9 out of 10 submissions don’t talk about how they make money. Don’t make that mistake!
  • Be specific about the size of your target market in terms of size, segments and trends. You need to come up with a number that shows you’ve researched what the market is.
  • Make sure you consider all the markets you could apply your technology to, but keep focused on your first market.
  • Next, describe your ideal customer. This really helps you work from the ground up.

Q3. Distribution

Explain the go-to-market plan. Do you have alliances you intend to strike? Why? When?

Q4. Competition

  • Describe your company and product’s primary competitive differentiators.
  • What makes you unique? How will customers benefit or save money?
  • What are the barriers to competition?

Q5. Financial (key numbers)

  • What have you spent to date? What funds have been raised? From where? How much do you need?
  • When will your venture be cash-flow positive?
  • Include your key assumptions that drive your forecasts.

What do Successful Entrepreneurs Understand?

  • The market where their product is sold.
  • Key defensible qualities that give an edge over the competition
  • Strong supporting team
  • Philosophy: “Cash is king”. They budget as closely as they can so they always know their cash runway.

Some final tips:

Find mentors to expand your vision

Don’t overplan – take action

Hire people who are smarter than you.

Tailor your elevator pitch to different audiences

Play to win but be willing to risk failure

Acknowledge the competition. Never say “there is no competition!”

Don’t let the critics get you down. Use the feedback. Adapt and overcome.

Have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously.

Where to Look for Help?

  • Your regional Science Council
  • New Ventures BC Competition
  • Mike Volker’s website

Where NOT to Look first for feedback:

  • Your bank
  • Your family and friends
  • Outside your home market
  • Business planning consultants (You can’t have someone else write your business plan. It just doesn’t work!)

8:42 pm Questions Session


1. Can we get a copy of the slides?

Will be available on the NVBC site the following day

Bob – Who’s already joined the competition?

Answer from the audience: Most put their hands up!

The competition goes on!