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Local entrepreneur credits Venture Okanagan’s Investor Forum for taking his company to the next level

Okanagan College Media Release

Don’t miss Venture Okanagan’s upcoming Investor Forum, a Dragons’ Den-style showcase where emerging entrepreneurs pitch would-be investors On Nov. 13, six presenters will vie for a $5,000 grand prize and the chance to promote their businesses to the Venture Okanagan community at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus.

Chris Priebe, a Kelowna-based tech entrepreneur and founder of 2 Hat Security, was the winner of Venture Okanagan Investor Forum last spring. “Winning $5,000 was very helpful,” he says, “but what it really gave me was the confidence to know I was on the right track.”

Emboldened by the Venture Okanagan win, Priebe entered the BCIC New Venture competition and made it all way to the fourth round and won the $15,000 prize for best social venture, “which also generated a lot of buzz about the company.”

His company produces a product called PottyMouth, an online chat filter tool that helps gaming and entertainment companies go beyond flagging bad words and also screens for combinations of words and phrases and analyzes their meaning. Messages are then sent to users and subscribers about their inappropriate behaviour—which can effectively stop cyber bullies in their tracks.

Priebe launched his startup after he left Club Penguin, the company his brother Lance and two partners famously sold to Disney in 2007 for $350 million.

Since the Venture Okanagan Spring Investor Forum win, things have been moving quickly for 2 Hat Security. It now has eight employees, is onboarding its first two clients—Kidscom.com and Kidzworld.com—and Priebe is currently in talks with several large entertainment and telecommunications companies. “But I just can’t say who, yet,” he says.

Venture Okanagan, a partnership between a community of angel investors and Enactus Okanagan College, a non-profit student organization that focuses on a mix of entrepreneurial- and education-based projects in the community, runs the Investors Forum, which is held twice a year in spring and fall.

“It’s a great venue for developing entrepreneurs,” says Steve Watson, Okanagan College business professor and chair of Venture Okanagan.
 
With each forum Venture Okanagan reviews about 20 pitches and provides feedback about the startups’ readiness to move on to the equity investment stage. The final six make it to the Investors Forum.

“The forum not only benefits entrepreneurs, but it saves time for investors, who typically review 100 deals or more before they find an investment opportunity,” says Watson.

“With the Venture Okanagan Investors Forum, on average at least one out of six presenters receives an equity investment, and many gain a mentor, which can be just as valuable.”

The seventh Venture Okanagan Investors Forum, presented in cooperation with Grant Thornton, Shaw Business and Prospera Credit Union, takes place on Nov. 13 from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus. After the presentations and award announcement, attendees have the opportunity to network with presenters and investors at a reception catered by students of the College’s Culinary Arts program.

Tickets are $35, available at www.vofall2013.eventbrite.ca. For more information, visit www.ventureokanagan.com.