Mark Starkey

CEO and managing partner, Victory Creative Group Inc., Age 37

Chung Chow photo

For any athlete turned entrepreneur looking for inspiration, Mark Starkey’s resumé might read like an Oscar-winning script.

The Ohio-born entrepreneur grew up with a love for sports and played NCAA basketball while riding a scholarship and completing his degree in computer information systems.

“My first motivation was just not to fail,” Starkey said. “There are a lot of people in the U.S. and there is a lot of competition.”

In his early days, Starkey took on web developer and data co-ordinator roles and spent five years as vice-president of business development and partner with FCV Interactive, one of B.C.’s largest independently owned digital agencies.

During this time, Starkey began to engage in philanthropy, delving into numerous community-driven initiatives to help at-risk and underprivileged youth participate in sports.

Around the five-year mark of his time at FCV, the biggest opportunity of Starkey’s career came knocking.

Nike (NYSE:NKE) recruited Starkey to become global Nike+ digital experience manager, a role he recalls as “an absolute privilege.”

From there, Starkey couldn’t miss a shot. He moved on to become the global digital business lead of Nike’s basketball division, then assumed the role of brand director of the North American basketball division at Nike’s world headquarters. During this time a senior Nike executive – whose name Starkey declined to disclose – gave him some of the most valuable advice he ever received: “To whom much is given, much is expected.”

It was this motto that helped propel Starkey to his current position. Starkey is now the CEO of Victory Creative Group, a digital creative agency producing storytelling initiatives for global brands like Google (Nasdaq:GOOG), Dove, TEDx and more.

Starkey drew on his past roles to lead a digital company focused on positive customer experience and benefiting from a meticulous understanding of client profiles and needs.

“It is the No. 1 reason brands trust us: we know our clients inside and out.”

Birthplace: Youngstown, Ohio

Where you live now: Vancouver

Highest level of education: B.Sc. from Wright State University (Dayton, Ohio) in organizational leadership and development 

Currently reading: Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work by Steven Kotler 

Currently listening to: Cloud Nine by Kygo

When you were a kid, what you wanted to be when you grew up: I wanted to play basketball in the NBA and have mass impact on the world through inspiring young athletes. Never made the league but so fortunate to inspire athletes through digital storytelling

Profession you would most like to try: High school basketball coach in a small town

Toughest business or professional decision: Resigning from a family business I built hand in hand with my brother to chase my dreams at Nike global headquarters

Advice you would give the younger you: Say no to things that don’t bring you joy

What’s left to do: All of it :-)

Join us to celebrate the 2018 Forty under 40 Awards January 24, 2019, at the Vancouver Convention Centre. For tickets and event info visit