We asked last year’s top 3 prize winners for some insight into their motives for entering the competition, what they took away from the experience, and some key tips for 2016’s participant ventures. Thank you Ziva Dynamics for sharing your experience!
New Ventures BC: To start, give a brief description of your startup and what you offer as a product/service. How were you inspired to come up with the concept?
James Jacobs – CEO, Ziva Dynamics: Ziva Dynamics is a software company. We’re developing the most advanced, commercially available character simulation software with initial target markets in film, games and virtual reality. Ziva was born out of my frustration with the current state of the art in virtual characters. The technology didn’t behave in a physically correct manner, it didn’t scale very well, and it’s short comings would become more obvious when viewed in virtual reality.
NVBC: Describe what stage your startup was at when you entered the BCIC-New Ventures Competition. Did you expect at the time of registration to compete for the top prizes?
JJ: Ziva was 5 days old when we got the news that we’d made it to the second round. We didn’t have any employees at the time. So we were about as early a Start-up as you can get. We had no idea if our venture would even make it past the early rounds, let alone to the final round. It’s fair to say we were confident that Ziva could become successful. We had big plans and some very experienced people involved. But you never know how judges are going to react.
NVBC: How have you used your prize money and services?
JJ: The services have been amazing. We’ve received invaluable accounting and legal support. All the sponsors seem really excited about what we’re doing. As far as the cash is concerned, we’ve invested it in launching our first commercial product. The prize money allowed us to accelerate our hiring plans and to grow our amazingly talented team.
NVBC: What were your top takeaways from your time in the Competition?
JJ: Apart from having a lot of fun and meeting a bunch of really interesting and smart people, my top takeaways are:
1) The competition is like a bootcamp for getting your company investor-ready. If we hadn’t won a prize, the competition would have still been incredibly valuable to our development as a company.
2) There are so many entrepreneurial lessons available from this competition just by being a part the community of companies and mentors in the competition. I learned a great deal from other CEOs in the competition, from past winners, from the team at New Ventures BC and of course from mentors.
NVBC: Any updates or successes you can share since completing the Competition?
JJ: We landed our first large-scale customer in January. Our technology is being used in movies that will be out in July this year. We’ve raised $1.4M since September of last year [2015 competition concluded Sept 21st – Ed.]
NVBC: What tips do you have for this year’s crop of BCIC-New Ventures participants?
JJ: Obviously, the more you can learn about what the judges are looking for the better chance you have of winning. But I think the biggest tip I could share is to embrace the chance to develop your business through the structure of the competition. If you get to the final rounds then you’ve already won because the process of the competition really pushes companies to refine their messaging for a investor audience and for customers too.