A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support, and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.
Our community is strong and growing with record speed and maintaining a connection through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic, we've got a plan.
We are #OKGNtech is a showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters, and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth, and more excitement. Follow along on the blog and on Instagram @OKGNtech to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.
Meet Brodie. Brodie Desimone is the President and owner of Brightworks Ventures, an Executive-in-Residence at Accelerate Okanagan and Chief Investment Officer with MAVAN Capital Partners. When he’s not unlocking the capital for entrepreneurs, you’ll find Brodie skiing, captaining a sailboat or riding his motorcycle across the states.
Where do you work in the Okanagan?
I’m the president and owner of Brightwork Ventures where I do second mortgages and various types of investments as well as the chief investment officer with MAVAN Capital. I’m also involved with Accelerate Okanagan as an Executive in Residence and have been the facilitator of the OKGN Angel Summit for the last couple of years.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I think most of my enjoyment comes from educating in one form or another. I always try to have mentorship or coaching be a part of what I’m doing. When I came back to Canada from San Fransisco in 2015, I got involved with youth entrepreneurship which made me want to work on entrepreneurship from two ends. I wanted to help the angel investors develop their capabilities and to support youth entrepreneurs that were building companies.
Do you think there is anything missing from the community here?
The idea that we can work from anywhere means that we can see more talent coming in. Tech companies don’t grow from good technology, they grow from good people. I think those people can come from anywhere. That means you can have someone from New York or Toronto or the middle of Saskatchewan on your team if you wanted to. More people are looking for the lifestyle component in their work-life balance than they have in the past. You can connect to anyone virtually but, if you do a good job, more people will want to relocate here.
What made you want to get involved in the OKGN Angel Summit?
To be fair, I told Richard Takai that I might be interested in participating. I don’t know how he did it, but the next thing I knew I was getting a phone call saying that they heard I was going to be the president of the OKGN Angel Society. At that point, I was in. So, I guess his strategy worked. Honestly, it’s been one of the more valuable things that I’ve done here. I truly enjoy not just the process, but also the people we’ve engaged—some have become close friends and some have become co-investors with me in projects. What more could I ask for?
Do you feel the OKGN Angel Summit is increasing the number of investors in the area?
Becoming an angel investor is a process that doesn’t end after the 10-week program. Gaining some comfort, teaming up with others after the fact, joining an angel group or fund or syndicating a deal with other people, gives them the comfort they didn’t have on their own. When I look at what we do in-program, it’s really just a primer. The question is whether the water is flowing when they finish the Summit. Seeing investors come back year-after-year so they can continue learning and eventually make investments on their own, or syndicate with someone they met in the group, tells me that we’re doing something right.
Do you find you’re still learning about investing?
It’s an ever-changing space. Every investment you place is an opportunity to learn something new. Going through the sessions as a group, you learn a lot about industries that you wouldn’t have considered investing in. When you leverage the experiences and expertise of other investors, you get to broaden your understanding and find new opportunities for investing.
What is something that people don’t know about you?
In my grade 11 year, my friends and I built a music store and a recording studio. We had a band and we couldn’t afford retail on music equipment. So, the obvious solution was to start a music store so that we could get access to the stuff at cost. Some of the guys that were a part of that, I’m still partners with today. That was my entry into the computer industry, through sound engineering.
The best piece of advice you’ve ever received? Or can share?
My dad used to say, “do what you love to do, the money will follow.” I’ve taken that to heart. I tend to do what I enjoy with the people I like doing them with. And I have faith that the money will follow. That’s something I’ve found with investing. There are lots of opportunities to do good work in the community, participate in startup growth and make some money along the way.