As our lead mentor, the most important piece of advice Joseph Bowes can offer your startup is to focus on your customer and market.

Joseph is an Executive in Residence (EiR) for our Venture Acceleration Program and a mentor in our BCIC-New Venture Competition. He has been active in mentoring early stage ventures for over 15 years. Joseph has a deep expertise in strategy and customers, corporate development, and finance.

So what makes him passionate to give back to the startup community? “The community has treated me well, and giving back is the right thing to do,” he says. “I believe we are truly helping entrepreneurs avoid expensive ‘early-stage’ mistakes, which generally always involve customers and markets.”

The core of a successful venture

Successful ventures don’t come easy; in fact, startups typically have a high failure rate. In his experience, Joseph has learned that you have to be smart about where you invest your limited money and resources. These decisions have to be informed by discovering what customers want, and what they will pay for instead of betting your venture on guesses.

“As a founder, it’s difficult to step away from your idea and adopt the perspective of the customer. However, doing this is crucial to validate your market. By honing in on your customer discovery early, you can gain accelerate product development and faster traction,” Joseph comments.

For this very reason, informed and intensive customer discovery is at the core of our Venture Acceleration Program. The process of ‘getting out of the building’ and talking to your customers is what makes us different than other local accelerators. You and your EiR will be having discussions about what you have learned from potential customers at weekly meetings.

Discovering the ‘aha!’ moment

Our three-month accelerator combines skills training with deeply experienced and in-depth mentoring. This will shift the way that you, as an entrepreneur, will think about your business. You’ll discover the ‘aha!’ moment: knowing what your customer wants to buy, and what you can offer them.

Your EiR’s goal is to help you attain product-market fit. This is key step on the journey to becoming investor-ready.

Moving forward post-accelerator

How does Joseph know that New Ventures BC is making a difference? “As a mentor, I see it week to week, which is great,” he says. “However, the real proof of impact is in what the ventures actually do with product-market fit (or lack of it).”

Our program’s alumni include those that have continued on, raised outside funding, and are executing on their ventures. Some have also been recognized by independent judges in our business competition, including Copypants and Dooly, who finished in the top ten of our 2016 competition.

Inspired by the power of human invention

After more than twenty years, what keeps him mentoring? Joseph says that he’s continually startled and inspired by the power of human invention. “It’s really cool to see the things that people build businesses around. I’ve been around since the 80’s, so today’s business and tech landscape is very different.”

“Everything I’ve done — as advisor, mentor, and entrepreneur — has always come down to customers and markets. People will buy value, not your invention. It doesn’t matter how cool your idea is: startups are about finding a scalable business model.”

Read more from our #MentorMondays series →


About the mentor

Joseph Bowes

Executive in Residence

Entrepreneur, senior executive, and advisor – Joseph’s passion and experience has always revolved around early-stage ventures, and includes significant experience in commercialization strategy, corporate development, and financing. In this regard, he has worked with technology companies, as well as resource-based, and B2B (retail sector) ventures. Notable C-Suite roles include: his own several startups and successful exits; a senior executive role in a B2B startup which, in less than two years, grew to over $1M per week in revenues, and; serving as a founding director of a Florida-based specialty finance company, which grew during his involvement to $50M USD in net loans ($312M, 2016).

Skiing, racquet sports, and boating are some of Joseph’s favourite pastimes.

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