Our Team

Since 2013, Appreciation Engine has been built with a lot of coffee, good music, and smart brains.

Meet the talented and kind people who run, design, build, cajole, laugh, guide and support AE. Hello from all of us! 

Our Vision

We will fundamentally change how data is shared and used.

We believe that everyone has the right to control how their data is being accessed and who’s using it. With recent data breaches and consumers’ data knowledge evolving we know that AE is going to help shape the online data future. It’s a lofty goal but that’s the way Vision rolls!

Our Purpose

To help people & brands connect in a beneficial two-way relationship.

We fundamentally believe that brands and businesses that focus on opening up a two-way relationship with their customers will ultimately win. We want AE to be a connector that powers businesses to be more successful and customers that are loyal to the brands they love.

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Jeff Mitchell, CTO & Co-Founder


I have over 12 years’ experience in the U.S., Canada and NZ, developing technology strategies, leading development and creating extraordinary companies as part of senior management teams.

Although I’ve worked at the enterprise level, I’m also passionate about working in start-up environments because they offer me the chance to develop technology platforms and business strategies from the ground up.

I use my skills, knowledge & leadership to develop technology that creates powerful solutions at all levels of business.

Jeff recommends…

🚀 NASA’s Exoplanet Travel Bureau: Space, The final frontier. Where no one has vacationed before….

🎲 Ethnos: This game is a nuanced combination of earning points for playing card sets and controlling the map. It’s quick, lots of fun, and full of replay potential.

🎮 RUINER: A stylish and fast-paced top-down cyberpunk shooter, with a kick-ass soundtrack to boot. Go get ‘em, puppy!

Follow Jeff on Last.fm or LinkedIn

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Annabel Youens, CMO and Co-Founder


I do a little bit of everything. I write up strategy docs, test out new technology, strategize with our fun clients & work with the team to build a better Appreciation Engine. I love that my job never gets boring and the people I get to work with are amazing. Brilliant!

My startup bug hit when I worked for five years at an internet start up in Victoria, Abebooks. With that amazing team I discovered how technology could really bring people together & make people money. I was hooked. In 2002 I moved to Wellington, NZ to work and consult in digital and web. After founding AE I ran the LA office for 5 years and now I’m back in beautiful BC. I’m lucky that I’ve found a job that combines all my loves – the web, writing, community and media.

Annabel recommends…

🍨 Parachute Ice Cream: Parachute is a local ice cream company based in Victoria, BC and they make THE BEST ICE CREAM I’VE EVER HAD.

🧵 The Great British Sewing Bee: If you have any interest in clothing you’ll come away with an appreciation for a well-made garment and most likely look a little closer at the clothes you purchase.

🧠 Brain.fm: I’ve noticed a significant improvement in my ability to focus and an increase in my output when I use this science-based music service.

See Annabel on Twitter and LinkedIn

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Jason Scriven, Head of Enterprise Sales


AE is the third company poised for growth that I have been lucky enough to work with. Previously I was employee number 20 at 3E Company (now Verisk 3E) and was the original product manager for their award-winning Saas product 3E Online. I was also the inaugural Director of Sales and Affiliate Marketing for Neverblue Media (now Global Wide Media), one of the pioneers of the CPA affiliate marketing space. Like 3E and Neverblue, AE has visionary leadership, an industry-changing platform, and a talented team bringing the platform to market.

Born and raised in Alberta, I lived in the coastal San Diego area for 16 years before calling Victoria home in 2004. During the last 4 years, I’ve been keeping busy running seminars for the Victoria technology community on How to Become a Better Tech Manager and How to Build a Team of Strength.

Jason recommends…

🎙️ Train Ugly and the Learner Lab Podcast: Trevor Ragan presents the science on how to become a better learner in fun and passionate newsletters, blog posts, and podcasts. Be a Jungle Tiger!

📚 The Peter Ash novels by Nick Petrie: With a cover endorsement from Lee Child, the story of a special forces vet who can’t sleep inside and uses his unique skills to hunt bad guys and protect the good guys. Try Burning Bright which starts 200 feet up in the branches of a centuries-old California Redwood.

🎥 CHiPs and The Predator: Two movies funnier than their box office success would indicate. They are anchored by the consistently excellent Michael Pena as “Ponch,” fighting freeway traffic, and Keegan-Michael Key as a Marine vet from the psych ward fighting alien bounty hunters.

Meet Jason on Twitter and LinkedIn

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Grant Spychka, Head of Customer Success


I’ve been working in customer success and marketing for the last 8 years – everything from leading a success team at a startup that managed some of the world’s biggest user acquisition and app monetization partners, to exploring the music retail industry as Head of Marketing for one of the most prominent vocal/audio processing companies in the space.

Coming back to the world of startups with AE is such a natural fit, as I strongly believe in our responsibility to keep user data safe and secure, while still being able to interact with others online in relevant and meaningful ways. Plus, we work with such amazing people both within and outside of our company, and I get to do what I love. Win-win!

Grant recommends…

🎮 Mass Effect: The trilogy and yes, even Andromeda. A sprawling space opera that blends an incredible story with fun RPG and third-person shooter mechanics, where you choose your own story.

📺 Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency: a 2-season wild ride featuring Elijah Wood. Hard to describe, but inspired by a series of Douglas Adams novels. Did you like the movie The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? If yes, then watch this.

🎧 Three by Joel Plaskett: National treasure, Joel Plaskett, serves up three solid albums of east-coast Canadiana from the shoe-gaze-y to the foot stomp-y. A wonderful road trip companion.

Meet Grant on LinkedIn and Spotify

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Mike Penhall, Senior Developer


I’m a Silverstripe developer, music fan, fine wine sampler, and pug enthusiast based on a farm in Levin, New Zealand. I’ve worked in the startup world for 10 or so years, as a content creator, community guide, and production manager, but primarily as a developer. I love the way that in the startup space no two days are the same, and that the landscape is constantly changing. Anything is possible!

Mike recommends…

🎧 Sam Cooke: Smooth soul sounds from one of the all-time greats.

🎵 Love is for Losers by The Longshot: Green Day’s singer goes (sort of) back to basics with a new side project.

🎮 Persona 5: Fight monsters whilst attending Japanese high school. A completely unique gaming experience and very highly recommended.

Meet Mike on Last.fm and LinkedIn


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Jennifer Paul, Intermediate Developer


I’m a web developer with experience in SilverStripe, Django, and Rails. I was drawn to the world of programming and startups when I joined Ladies Learning Code, a group that teaches women tech skills and encourages women to meet other like-minded individuals. From there I was hooked and decided to become a full developer. I took Lighthouse Labs‘ intensive web development program and then got my first coding job at a Victoria startup called ChatterBlock. Now with a few years’ experience, I’m using my awesome tech skills at AE! I love coding because it’s like a logic puzzle that’s always different and always interesting!

Jenn recommends…

📺 Westworld: Fantastic ideas and concepts, great storytelling, and amazing acting from the likes of Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Woods, Tessa Thompson, Thandie Newton, Anthony Hopkins, and more.

🎮 Florence: Florence is a short game, but its standout design, music, and storytelling make it absolutely worth 45 minutes of your time.

🎧 Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe: This album shows a true and rare talent. It’s worth taking the time to listen in full without distractions — it will enrich your day, I promise.

Meet Jennifer on LinkedIn


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Roxanne Baker, Marketing Magician


From microbiology lab tech, to public servant, to comic convention artist, I’ve worked in a wide variety of industries. As AE’s Marketing Magician, I’m using my creativity, my research background and problem solving skills in a multitude of areas — social media, analytics, sales and more!

What drew me to AE was the opportunity to work with such amazingly thoughtful, kind, and intelligent people (they truly embody AE’s core values)! Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that they understand my Star Trek references.

Roxanne recommends…

🍔 Bin 4 Burger Lounge: There’s nothing I love more than a great veggie burger… except maybe one from a local business that uses local ingredients — and that’s Bin 4’s “Ginger Soy Tofu”!

🖖🏻 Star Trek: The Next Generation: If you’re only going to watch one Star Trek series, make it TNG. Don’t skip out on the first two seasons, the ’80s cheese is totally worth it.

🎮 Metro 2033: Based on Dmitry Glukhovsky’s novel of the same title, Metro 2033 is a first-person shooter with an incredible story that takes place in the Metro tunnels of post-nuclear apocalypse Moscow.

Meet Roxanne on Instagram (art), Instagram (sewing) and LinkedIn