This year marks New Ventures BC’s 20th anniversary of supporting tech innovation in BC! We are celebrating our 20 years of impact by interviewing those who made the past two decades so special.

Since 2010, Christene Best has been a mentor for the NVBC Venture Acceleration Program and the Competition. Specializing in building and coaching successful teams and improving sales operations, Christene is currently Vice President of Sales at Amped Technology and has over 15 years experience in sales and marketing roles for enterprise software, business services and technology companies.

It’s safe to say, we consider ourselves pretty lucky to have Christene’s expertise onboard at NVBC. Here’s a bit from our conversation about her most memorable mentoring experiences and her thoughts on the secret to success for early stage startups.

What have your mentees taught you?

My mentees have taught me that you can turn your passion into something concrete and that you need a lot of drive and discipline to do it!  Developing a new business is challenging, especially when you’re working full-time somewhere else until your new business can pay the rent. I think the folks who tend to do well in the Competition are the ones who figure out that the way to truly win the contest is to improve their business.

I never fail to be inspired by the courage, creativity and originality of the people who come up with business ideas.

How does it feel to watch your advice implemented by your entrepreneurs?

I don’t know that I get an opportunity to do that a lot. Just recently I gave some advice to a company in the Competition on how to reorder and emphasize certain aspects of their pitch and they ended up getting really great marks.  Flameless Cremation was kind enough to credit me for it, but I’m not sure I really deserved it. Helping the company was fun for me. I am happy to be useful and see people succeed. I never fail to be inspired by the courage, creativity and originality of the people who come up with business ideas.

It takes so much chutzpah to start a business, particularly when you are self-funded. It takes a lot courage to be able to do it and I admire it. I don’t think I would ever be a good entrepreneur, but I really enjoy helping them!

What are some of the most memorable companies you mentored?

One that stands out is James Jacob from Ziva Dynamics.  I did a pitch review for him in the Competition and his company has become a really successful venture (not, I might add, because of my mentoring!). The company came second in the 2015 Competition,  two years after he won an Oscar for his special effects work. It’s pretty cool to have worked with someone who has an Oscar!

Even a half-baked strategy, well implemented, is better than a brilliant strategy, poorly implemented. Having a clear plan and being able to stick to it without distractions is really important.

What do early stage companies need to focus on to be successful?

It’s really important to do a lot of discovery to know if your idea is truly viable. It is also important to test your hypotheses and not make a lot of assumptions. Part of that is creating an informed business plan by first talking to as many people as possible to figure out your total addressable market and sellable addressable market. When you are hungry for revenue, it can be difficult to stay focused. There are so many ways to get distracted and it’s easy to get pulled in different directions and chase a deal because it seems opportunistic. If you don’t stay on target in your sales efforts, then you’ll never find out if you’re actually able to sell to your target market.

Figuring out your strategy and learning how to execute it is also challenging. Even a half-baked strategy, well implemented, is better than a brilliant strategy, poorly implemented. Having a clear plan and being able to stick to it without distractions is really important. If you stick to your plan and then find credible information that indicates you should pivot, great. Just make sure that you are making decisions based on fact not on feelings.

What do you think NVBC’s impact has been on the tech community over the last 20 years?

It has been remarkable. I mean the training and the information that people around BC get through New Ventures BC’s acceleration programs and the Competition is great.  NVBC provides a great opportunity for folks who want to build something new to get access to expertise and resources that they probably otherwise would not be able to access.

NVBC does a great job connecting people in BC’s tech community through their programs and support. It’s an excellent way for people who have been successful to give back.

Share your #2020nvbcimpact story!

This year marks our 20th anniversary of supporting tech innovation in BC! We are inviting NVBC Competition alumni, mentors, volunteers, accelerator participants, and ISI grant recipients to share your impact story by completing a short form on how you feel NVBC supported you and sparked innovation in the tech sector!

Submit your story

20 years on tech’s inside track – Tom Mitchell