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August 8, 2008 / Boris Mann

New Ventures BC 2008 Mentor Panel Two

My brain is still a little melted today from participating in the New Ventures BC mentor panel yesterday. 9am to 5pm, 8 presentations, 30 minutes for lunch, and short breaks between presentations. Wow.

For starters, let me say that this highlights the activity that is going on in Vancouver. Regardless of the specifics of the particular business model or idea, I was impressed by the way all the founders presented their companies and discussed their ideas.

As well, I really enjoyed hearing the varied feedback from the entire room of mentors. Everybody came from varying backgrounds, so it was great to hear the different perspectives that people had. One issue that came up a couple of times was the slippery slope of business feedback vs. presentation feedback (the mentors started riffing on the business). At the end of the day, the New Ventures BC program is a competition, and this event was to help the founders tune their investor presentations. Explaining your product or service succinctly and in an exciting, believable way, with the dollars and cents to back it up and show investor value.

The room I was in (there were three in total) had a technology / web focus. There were quite a few familiar faces presenting, but also some that were completely new to me. I’m trying to encourage new companies that I come across to enter themselves in (we also have a company directory which we’re trying to figure out how to tune: the current list of companies are ones that we’ve spoken to the founders at length, and have extra information in our private Extranet).

Without further ado, here are the companies that presented to us:

  1. ClicVue: a home theater video aggregator — hardware plus a software based remote
  2. Project Opus: a revamped spin on the album — digital artist subscriptions for fans (I’m not getting this quite right, but I don’t know how public this is…I’m excited by this concept)
  3. CrowdTrust: personal identity and knowledge management
  4. QCDocs: the small business ERP (Sean the founder is our accountant, and we are going to be using QCDocs for all the startups that come through Bootup)
  5. AdHack: eBay for advertising, DIY advertising — disrupting the ad industry
  6. CloudTel: fully hosted business VoIP
  7. DreamBank: give dreams, not stuff
  8. Adventure Engine: a booking engine for adventure travel operators

The complete list of 30 finalists is on the NVBC blog. Aside from the official blog, Diaries of a Suburban Startup has been posting great content related to the competition, the startups, and the founders involved.

I spent some time posting commentary to my personal Twitter account. Unfortunately, my favourite Twitter tracker Twemes was affected by Twitter API breakage, so this Twitter search will have to do as an archive. Two of my favourite quotes are James Sherrett from AdHack mentioning the phrase “return on attention“, and David Gratton from Project Opus stating that the new “[music] album is a living document rather than an artifact”.

NVBC is definitely a great event that provides real value to the local entrepreneurial community. I myself participated in it 4 years ago when I came back to Vancouver, not to launch a company, but to go to the various seminars and meet the local community. NVBC should be on every entrepreneur’s list to attend. Thanks to Bob de Wit for asking us to participate.

Finally, special thanks to Andrew Kumar for loaning me an SFU wireless login so I could research companies and their competitors as they presented.



  1. Boris Mann / Aug 8 2008 8:09 am

    Oops, fixed the Dreambank brief, thanks.

    Was great to see you and other folks like David Gratton that I'm really familiar with do your thing for a larger group…and have other folks respond positively as well.

  2. Stewart Marshall / Aug 8 2008 12:51 pm

    Great to see you involved on one of the panels Boris, I think it’s really important that NVBC taps into the energy and excitement you are part of and as I mentioned on a previous blog post, leading.

    I was in one of the other rooms and also got to see 8 companies. This in addition to the 5 I others I say in the first panel a month ago.

    I am always facinated by how the companies use the time. My theory is, outside of the presentation, the time is best spent gaining the insight of the mentors in the room. As always I was surprised how many companies came and presented solo (always a good idea to bring a scribe), to capture the little gems.

    It’s my third year on the panels and I have to say the standard of the competition is much higher this year. The next round of the competition is based on a written submission, but once through to the final 10, the companies will be presenting to the great and the good in the VC/Angel community. The panels hopefully offer something many companies lack – objective feedback.

  3. James / Aug 8 2008 2:34 pm

    Hi Boris,

    Thanks for the kind words about AdHack and your feedback during the session.

    I think you may have Dreambank’s position mixed up in your list. I believe they want people to give dreams, not stuff. (Reverse the nouns and you’ll be sorted.)

    As a competitor in the New Ventures BC I’ve had a nice chance to see how well run the program has been and to get a ton of value from the sessions. Angie and the team at NVBC have done a great job. I’d love to stick around for a little longer!

  4. David Gratton / Aug 8 2008 4:53 pm

    Thanks Boris,

    Appreciate your comments here and at the presentation. I wish, I could have seen all the other presentations!

    The NVBC competitions has been great. I am really impressed with it. I started with a bit of apprehension (I wasn’t sold on the idea of an ‘investment competition’), but the quality of my mentors, the ‘free classes’, and the forced discipline for each phase of the competition have been invaluable.

    Glad to see Bootup Labs part of it.

  5. Darren / Aug 8 2008 5:21 pm

    May I just say that DreamBank and AdHack are clearly the coolest companies on the list? How many extra points for cool?

  6. Dawn Bowles / Aug 9 2008 11:27 am

    Thanks for the “cool” points Darren. I’m biased but it would be great if the judge awards cool points….I didn’t see it on the criteria but will look again.

    Thanks James. Bonus points for noticing the mixed nouns. A complete aside but I’m really looking forward to seeing what the AdHack Community turns out for DreamBank:-) ( yes, we are all working together, how cool is that?).

    Boris I’m not sure what the noun mixup was but it looks good now. I guess momentarily we were proponents of closing your mind to possibility and just buying things!

    I can only imagine how exhausting ( but interesting) it must have been to be a panelist on Thursday. I ‘m glad you made this post so I have a place to say. “Thank you”. We almost didn’t enter New Ventures because it’s a super busy time for us but I’m so glad we did. For all you start ups reading this, run, don’t walk to enter Telus New Ventures 2009!!

    The quality and experience of the mentors panel participants is excellent. We’re lucky to have such a great “incubator” community here.

    I didn’t know what to expect from the mentor panel on Thursday and thought maybe it was an “add on” thing. Instead, I arrived for DreamBank’s time slot and on a sunny August afternoon, there were 11 , (instead of the 9 on the list I had) knowledgeable panelist there to listen and offer feedback. It’s invaluable and will definately implement some of it.

    Thanks Boris and to all who participated. I guess I better put this on the New Ventures Blog too.

  7. Dawn Bowles / Aug 9 2008 11:29 am

    oops. New Ventures BC Competition…not “Telus New Ventures”. That’s the old name.

  8. Andrew Kumar / Aug 10 2008 1:59 am

    Thanks for the shout out bmann! Glad I could help =D

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