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Building Economic Capacity With A CEO Training Program

Developed an online CEO Training Program of the Market Validation Course to support entrepreneurs across the Province and designed for entrepreneurs to validate their early-stage business idea.

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Project Objectives For The NonProfit Leadership Training

  • Identifying and implementing a suitable LMS
  • Adapting the existing content to suit online delivery
  • Enable more entrepreneurs throughout province to access the program

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Thinkific Hosted CEO Training Programs

Self-directed and available on-demand to anyone in British Columbia. We produced a five-module online CEO training program providing lessons, reading, worksheets, activities and other supplemental content. Hosted on the Thinkific, which offers a fully-hosted course management system.

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Client Feedback On The NonProfit Leadership Training

"I have worked with Spark + Co. for several years and they are my go-to resource when I have an on-line learning project. Holly is proactive, responsive, collaborative, and reliable…. With Spark + Co, I can trust that the job will be done on-time and on-budget.”

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The Non Profit Leadership Training Business Problem

New Ventures BC‘s mandate is to recognize, encourage, and develop entrepreneurship and innovation in BC’s start-up technology sector.  And in particular, they focus on nonprofit leadership training for CEOs in the technology sector.

New Ventures BC (NVBC) was looking to create an online CEO training program for their Market Validation Program, offered by the Venture Acceleration Network (Innovate BC).  It would allow NVBC to support entrepreneurs across the Province, particularly in rural locations, and access the program designed for entrepreneurs to validate their early-stage business idea.  In addition, NVBC desired a contemporary and modern design for the CEO training programs.

New Ventures BC contracted Spark + Co. as we had built the original nonprofit leadership training on Market Validation, which consisted of PowerPoint content, Articulate Studio ’09 interactions, recordings, and in-person workshops.  The project also included identifying and setting up a new LMS (Learning Management System) to manage their CEO training programs.

CEO Training Program Constraints


The first constraint in developing the nonprofit leadership training was the lack of budget for creating new content.  Spark + Co. worked with the existing content, and we utilized existing illustrations, worksheets, examples, case studies, and scenarios, modifying them as needed.

A second and more significant challenge was creating a consistent flow of the content suitable for the on-demand delivery of the CEO training program.  Since the course had previously been given in person by several different instructors, there were very diverse and conflicting opinions regarding the sequence they each recommended.  Adapting content from an in-person or blended delivery is like adapting a book to a movie.  You incorporate additional capabilities and interactivity to replace the in-person delivery, but as it is self-paced, the navigation needs to be very clear so the learner can effortlessly guide themselves through the course.

The LMS (Learning Management System) selected to manage the CEO training programs had the required features.  But, as with any LMS platform, compromises and workarounds had to be created to ensure the best learning experience possible.  One constraint related to glitches in navigation required some unique problem-solving.

Lastly, New Ventures BC wanted to ensure that this new online course was a distinct version of the program while maintaining a core consistency throughout since the overarching goal was to ensure that all tech companies in BC had a shared understanding of the same concepts.

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Design Process To Create The Online CEO Training Program

In creating these CEO training programs, we used our typical four-stage process.

Engage + Analyze


Spark + Co. worked with stakeholders to determine critical requirements for the nonprofit leadership training and used our experience with Learning Management Systems (LMS) to find the best LMS platform.

We established objectives for the project to create this CEO training program.

  • Identifying and implementing a suitable LMS,
  • Adapting the existing content to suit online delivery, and
  • Enable more entrepreneurs throughout Province to be able to access the program

Instructional + Creative Design

Once the LMS was selected, we worked with New Ventures BC to identify the additional content necessary to supplement the core components of the online CEO training program.  These components, such as worksheets and other tools, are critical to the learning experience.  The entrepreneurs taking the online course needed to be able to access the same content and worksheets to apply to their ventures.

The content was modified and re-purposed to make it “elearning ready using graphic designers, videographers, and voice-over experts that Spark + Co. provided as part of the team.  We designed new instructional activities to replace instructor-led content.

Build, Test + Modify


As the nonprofit leadership training developed, we created written documentation (developer’s notes) to ensure that New Ventures BC could manage and update the program itself in the future.  Our aim in working with a client is to help build as much capacity in the organization as they want.

We created three versions/builds of the program.  Executives, course instructors, and a pilot group of users tested each version and provided feedback.


The online nonprofit leadership training that Spark + Co. developed for New Ventures BC was launched successfully on time and within budget.  As part of the launch process, we provided advice on communication and marketing strategies and techniques.

New Ventures BC considers the CEO training program a living course and regularly updates it based on user and subject matter experts’ feedback.  NVBC established a maintenance schedule to update content and add enhancements to keep the course up-to-date and fresh.

NonProfit Leadership Training Solution

The Market Validation Program is a five-module “online course” that provides lessons, reading, worksheets, activities, and other supplemental content to enable a technology entrepreneur to validate the market for their product/business.  This CEO Training Program is hosted on the Thinkific platform, which offers a fully-hosted course management system.  The program is self-directed and available on-demand to anyone in British Columbia.

We expanded the nonprofit leadership training program to add alternative delivery methods.  For example, a learner could access a mentor for a fee.  The course is delivered in a cohort model, so learners can access a peer group to enhance their learning.

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Online CEO Training Program Outcome

“I have worked with Spark + Co. for several years and they are my go-to resource when I have an online learning project. Holly is proactive, responsive, collaborative, and reliable. I give her a project brief and then she takes it from there. With Spark Co, I can trust that the job will be done on-time and on-budget.”

Angie Schick – Program Manager, New Ventures BC

The custom nonprofit leadership training is helping entrepreneurs build economic capacity in British Columbia.  Since launching the Venture Acceleration Platform, New Ventures BC has had hundreds of CEO Training Programs users.  These users created or strengthened their companies by ensuring their new business/tech idea was valid, and a market existed for their innovation.

The recent BC TECH Summit referenced the “Market Validation Training” program as part of the success story of the tech sector’s growth in the Province.   Enabling entrepreneurs in rural and remote regions access to the same great content as their urban counterparts.