Mar 20, 2024

Get to know Christine Caven

A little about Christine:

My name is Christine Caven, and I am the Director of Business Development and Communications at PS27.

I’m originally from Boynton Beach, Florida. I moved to Jacksonville in 2011 and graduated with a Public Relations degree and a Community Leadership minor from the University of North Florida. In 2020, I moved to Gainesville, Florida where I work remotely for PS27. Gainesville provides a great opportunity to work with partners at the University of Florida. Upon moving to Gainesville, I joined the Board of Directors for startGNV, an organization that supports startups with educational programming, where I served as Vice President for three years. This opportunity allowed me to connect with leaders at UF Innovate, Santa Fe College, San Felasco Tech City, and other regional startup communities. Following this experience, I joined Synapse Florida as an Impact Board Member. I now serve as a Synapse Florida State-Wide Ambassador representing North Florida, where I help connect founders with venture capital opportunities at PS27.

Tell us about your work at PS27 and why you love the company.

Christine Caven at First Coast News Discussing the PS27 Female Founders Forum

My role includes meeting with incubators, universities, and community partners to develop relationships with organizations supporting entrepreneurship and fostering innovation. Throughout the year, I also help expand the PS27 brand by managing our team scout calendar and attending scouting events like eMerge Americas, Synapse Summit, and Venture Atlanta, where we meet startup founders where they are.

In addition to Business Development, I also flex my PR skills as Director of Communications. I do graphic design, video production, and photography for PS27 and our portfolio companies. I create press releases and newsletters and build relationships with media partners. I manage the PS27 websites, blog, and social media channels, including TikTok, Threads, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube. I speak to startup communities and students at the University of Florida College of Business, College of Engineering, Innovation Academy, and startGNV Startup Sprint. This work allows me to have a finger on the pulse of what’s trending, engage with founders in the digital world and in the classroom, and create content that inspires the next generation of students to become entrepreneurs. I’ve helped companies pitch on Shark Tank, present on Good Morning America, showcase products on The View, and get featured in publications like Forbes, Tech Crunch, and Entrepreneur magazine. I also volunteer directly for the PS27 Foundation, which hosts training and leadership events for entrepreneurs and students. As the Co-Founder of the PS27 Female Founders Forum, I’ve helped drive the vision and growth of an event that started at our office with about 15 women to what today is the Largest Celebration of International Women’s Day in Florida.

Working with the PS27 team is the best part of my job. The majority of our staff has worked together for almost a decade. This gives us the ability to move fast on creative ideas. We have a culture that is open to feedback, and we meet every week to talk about what we are working on collectively, and we can call on each other for help when needed. Working together, we get to have fun at work. 

Christine Caven Tests a Virtual Reality Application During a Deal Review with Jim Stallings

Favorite moment in the innovation ecosystem so far?

My favorite memory in the innovation ecosystem so far was hearing Neal Anderson speak about his recent exit and PS27 Ventures’ impact on fintech startup OnPay Solutions. Neal took the stage at a JaxAngels pitch night and shared how the PS27 process impacted his company and helped them navigate their exit. This moment stands out for me because I saw OnPay Solutions grow their business firsthand. I watched the OnPay Solutions team go through PS27 Leadership Week, then outgrow the PS27 Office, and eventually exit to Medius. During Neal’s talk, he mentioned how he missed the Friday calls with PS27 and reporting back to our team on the company’s growth and getting advice. Neal now serves on our PS27 Foundation Board of Directors, and, for me, it’s great to see a leader who’s gone through the process from founder to exit give back in such a meaningful way.

Advice for young professionals hoping to get involved and are interested in venture capital?

Some advice that was given to me early in my career that really made an impact on my journey is “show up and add value.” I encourage young professionals to get involved in the ecosystem by joining a volunteer Board of Directors to get leadership experience and give back to the community. With a foundation of Community Leadership in my education, I highly value community-driven work. If you want to be involved with venture capital, volunteer for a startup, or help out at an event that targets entrepreneurs. Build a network and ask questions. That’s what has helped me grow my career.

What’s your favorite thing about startups you’ve discovered so far, and what do you want to see next?

PS27 Portfolio Comapny RYZE Superfoods

My favorite thing about startups is their ability to tell stories and execute new ideas quickly. I love to see a founder who has an incredible journey behind their brand and is able to communicate the value of their idea with their customers. When PS27 invested in RYZE Superfoods, it was amazing to see a community rally around their story. As busy young professionals, they were drinking a lot of coffee and feeling burnt out from the side effects, such as having an upset stomach. They found that adding functional mushrooms to a coffee blend increased focus, promoted immune health, and gave them the boost they needed to sustain energy at work all day. The community of mushroom coffee drinkers on Facebook, “How I RYZE,” became a resource for recipes, morning routines, and friendships that transformed the brand into much more than just a morning beverage.

Having an incredible story allows a founder to tell their story in a way that engages people and allows them to relate. I’m looking forward to the next generation of storytelling. I love to see founders sharing their stories on platforms like TikTok, which allows for transparency in the highs and lows of building a company. Sharing these true stories allows investors to see where a company has been over time, their biases, and how they make decisions.

What’s the best thing startups can do to help build the innovation ecosystem, and why should they do it? What’s the benefit for all?

The best thing founders can do to help build the innovation ecosystem is to bring women in. I find myself forwarding emails about grants, pitch competitions, and innovation events to founders daily to present them with funding opportunities to help them grow their companies.

According to Harvard, the 30-year average of all-female founders’ share of venture capital funding is 2.4%. Women make up approximately 11% of investing partners at venture capital firms. VC firms with female investing partner hires make more successful investments at the portfolio company level, have 1.5$ higher fund returns, and see 9.7% more profitable exits. Advancing gender equality in the ecosystem is not just the right thing to do but also the smart thing.

It also feels great when a founder lands an opportunity that you’ve shared with them, or they connect with an organization that can help them grow. To quote Taylor Swift, “Karma is the breeze in my hair on the weekend.”

To learn more about Christine Caven, connect on LinkedIn here.

Mayssa Chehata Wins PS27 Pitch Competition Picuted with Christine Caven, Jim Stallings, and Emmy James

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