Jeff Keen - CEO
Jeff has more than 20 years experience in the technology industry, having held executive level management and leadership roles in technology organizations in both the public and private sector. Before his appointment as CEO, Jeff served as Accelerate Okanagan’s Programs Director, with responsibility for designing and implementing acceleration programs and services to assist early-stage technology companies.
Prior to joining Accelerate Okanagan, Jeff’s roles included technology entrepreneur, Founder, COO and Vice President: Client Services, in both early-stage and high-growth technology companies.
Jeff is an Honours graduate from the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and is currently the Regional Director of the BCIC Mentor Program for the Okanagan and an active BCIC-New Ventures mentor.
Braden Messenger - Program Director
Braden is a strong sales leader with excellent technical skills specializing in database development. He has spent almost 20 years in the education marketplace predominately in the US and Canada, although his product was installed in 12 countries worldwide. He has first hand experience with all aspects of a software company and always led his sales and development departments personally. In 2008, he sold his company and transitioned to a consulting role helping companies grow sales, improve processes and prepare exit strategies. As well as being Program Director, Braden also works one on one with the Venture Acceleration Program clients as an Executive in Residence.
D’arcy Schaerer - Financial & Administration Manager
D’arcy Schaerer is a highly motivated self-starter possessing strong analytical, communication and interpersonal skills with significant experience in the Administrative field including project coordination, supervision, and office management.
Throughout her career she has worked in with a diversity of people including rail car repair personnel, seismic jug hounds, condominium consultants, archeologists, paleontologists, and now techies. D’arcy, like her pottery, considers her experiences to be fun, funky, and functional.
Fiona Campbell - Marketing Manager
Fiona is a graduate from the University of Dundee with a Master of Design specialising in Branding and Product Design. She set up her first company in 2000, where she designed and constructed bespoke hardwood furniture, exhibiting and selling to commercial and private customers. Fiona then established Champagne Trays Ltd in 2009, which involved marketing and selling catering products to hotels and catering companies throughout Europe.
Fiona has worked as a Medical Product Designer for the Institute of Medical Science and Technology and was employed by Onzo, a London-based green technology design firm, in a Research and Development capacity. Fiona’s passions include art and design, branding, photography and social media. She relocated from Edinburgh, Scotland to the Okanagan, where she is the Marketing Manager at Accelerate Okanagan.
Andrew Greer - Business Development Manager
Andrew is an experienced business analyst, community builder, and sales manager. He cut his teeth at Xerox working on commission in business-to-business sales and sales management. He then transitioned to an analyst and business development role at Launch Lab, which helped technology companies start and grow in Eastern Ontario. His work experience is supported by a Bachelor of Commerce from Dalhousie University and an MBA from the Royal Military College. Andrew has experience in taking products to market and assisting companies with growth strategies.
Andrew hails from Belleville, Ontario and has recently relocated to the Okanagan Valley. He enjoys all things athletic including kitesurfing, snowboarding, sailing and team sports. He is an amateur photographer, quiet conservationist, and poor guitar player.
Jessica Williams - Client Service Administrator
Jessica Williams graduated from the University of British Columbia-Okanagan with a Bachelor of Education in Elementary Teaching in 2012. She has managed in retail and customer service positions while obtaining her degree. She would not consider herself a technical person, but is looking forward to learn from her peers and her surroundings.
Jessica is born and raised in the beautiful Okanagan Valley and loves the versatile lifestyle that comes with living here. In her spare time, Jessica likes to snowboard, wakesurf, golf, play volleyball, curl, and travel. She looks forward to being surrounded by the excitement of the tech startup community.
Richard Favro - Lead Executive in Residence (EiR)
Richard Favro is a results oriented executive with 35+ years of business experience. He has an outstanding track record in defining, building and managing a variety of business-to-consumer and business-to-business operations. Richard has successfully operated in a wide range of business environments including major IT consultancies, Fortune 100 size companies; start up technology business operations and as an entrepreneur. He has extensive work expertise in Canada, Silicon Valley California, Western Europe and China. Richard has been actively involved in a variety of funding activities both seeking capital as a venture and as an investor evaluating technology based companies.
Raghwa Gopal - Executive in Residence (EiR)
Raghwa is a serial entrepreneur who has founded and invested in many companies. Over the last 30 years, Raghwa has started, grown and sold a number of businesses – most recently, Vadim Software. He has also had extensive experience and been directly involved in a number of mergers & acquisitions throughout his career. Raghwa currently sits on the Board of numerous businesses and not-for-profit organizations. He is a certified Business and Executive Coach he has been recognized as “Entrepreneur of the Year” and as a “Technology Innovator”.
Samuel Fisher - Executive in Residence (EiR)
Samuel, an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business, is an experienced CFO in the technology industry, both in private and public companies. Prior to his tech career, Sam started in management positions with a Canadian chartered bank. His career highlights include the sale of a Canadian software company to a Nasdaq listed US company, various VC & angel funding rounds and steering a public company to sustainability after the internet bubble burst in 2000. Along with his extensive equity financing experience, Sam has a wealth of experience in debt financing and corporate planning. He enjoys playing basketball, tennis and skiing and is a keen drummer when he is not consulting with small and medium sized businesses. Sam has lived in Kelowna for 8 years now.
Marilyn E. Mellis - Executive in Residence (EiR)
Marilyn E. Mellis, CGA, P.Mgr, ACFE – A CGA (Certified General Accountant) with over 30 years diverse experience in all aspects of business management – Accounting, Marketing, Purchasing, Production and Human Resources. Industry range: aviation, manufacturing, construction, agriculture, property management, crown corporations, food production and food service.
Mrs. Mellis has planned, managed and reorganized both small and large companies with assets over $ 50 million. Her expertise has been gained through startup and ownership of her own business and while serving as top level management in other companies.
She received her P.Mgr designation from the Canadian Institute of Management, recognizing Mrs. Mellis’ over 15 years of project management at a senior level. Marilynhas lived in Kelowna for the past 17 years and is an active volunteer on business and camp boards.
Lance Schafer- Executive in Residence (EiR)
Lance, a business graduate of the Asper School of Business, is an experienced entrepreneur, who has founded businesses in several areas in the of the web including businesses in spaces such as digital media, e-commerce, domain name speculation, and web publishing. He has successfully launched multiple start up technology companies with LemonFree.Com being his most noteable venture to date. For his contribution to LemonFree.Com, Lance was recently recognized by Ernst and Young as a finalist in their “Emerging Entrepreneur” category. Lance is passionate about the entrepreneurial experience and has focused much of his career on understanding the underlying formula that defines the success of most companies. In his spare time, Lance enjoys playing bass in a band, skiing and learning more about the Okanagan wine industry.