VU19 Mentor Jesse Armstrong

Venture Up Mentors: Jesse Armstrong

We want to highlight the involvement of our amazing mentors, who help support and guide our Venture Up’ers on their journey.

Meet Jesse Armstrong, founder and CEO of Vaka Interactive. With a background in business management and coaching, Jesse is passionate about solving real problems for people, wants to enable people to become incredible innovators – so it’s great to have his experience, knowledge and enthusiasm on-board for Venture Up!

We caught up with Jesse to find out more about him, what drives him and why he got involved with Venture Up earlier this year.

Hey Jesse, could you tell us a bit about your background?

I am currently the CEO of Vaka Interactiv. My team and I are passionate about storytelling! In particular, we a specialise in bringing stories to life through technology. Our sole focus is to create empathy that moves people by drawing out the true potential of a story, then crafting an environment that really brings the story and its storytellers to life.

I do what I do because of one reason… passion!! I absolutely LOVE tech, storytelling and entrepreneurship so combining the three in one business is, for me, ‘living the dream’.

What made you want to be involved in Venture Up?

Aside from my passion for entrepreneurship, I believe that programmes like Venture Up are perfect mediums for helping some of New Zealand’s greatest entrepreneurs to realise their true potential and get a taste of the entrepreneurial life.
I never had anything like this available to me growing up and didn’t discover this passion of mine until only a few years ago, so if there are any opportunities to give back I will.

What do you feel you get back from mentoring?

Straight up fire!!! 😁
I get so pumped up when I hear amazing ideas, see teams work through difficult challenges and especially when teams have those ‘light bulb’ moments during mentor sessions that always leads to them saying something like “oh I finally get it!” It’s moments like that where I get to see them kick into overdrive based purely on excitement for the journey ahead. It’s really contagious and I’m very fortunate to feel that often as a mentor.

What do you look for in a team or venture before you commit to mentoring?

For me it would be:
1) Team Synergy
In ANY venture the most important thing is the team who starts and runs it. If I meet teams who just don’t click with each other or can’t be honest with each other I know that they will have a high chance of failing.

2) Passionate problem solvers
I absolutely love teams who are passionate about the problem they want to focus on solving. Passion is the source of resilience and drive. Teams with this are much more likely to come up with a solution that has real potential market valuable an can lead to huge success.a

3) Calculated learners
I want to help teams reach their full potential as early as possible and if a team approaches me with a very specific list of things they need help with and if they have questions ready to go I know they have what it takes to learn anything needed to enable their success.

Mentor: Jesse Armstrong
Mentor Jesse Armstrong meets with #VentureUp19 participants
What’s one question you wish you’d be asked in an interview? And what would your answer be?

Q: How much would you like to be paid for this?

A: hahaha just kidding!
I think for me it would be a question around how to effectively use mentors and my answer would be ‘ALWAYS take a calculated approach’ by having a whole diverse team of mentors who specialise in different areas of business you need help with (eg strategy, sales, compliance, branding, etc)

The key here though is to ALWAYS proactively seek out the right reason and specify what you need their help with before every session.


Both our #VentureUp19 Wellington AND our #VentureUp19 Queenstown programmes are over 😭😭😭! Still want to hear more about the programme and the people who make it great? Make sure to keep up-to-date through our social channels (Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram) and our mailing list– and stay tuned for more news just around the corner.

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