Things have definitely improved in the last couple of years, but Edmonton still has a reputation as something of a dead zone for innovation. Or perhaps more accurately, we don’t really have a reputation – we’re not on the radar in most cases. It’s not true of course, there are plenty of interesting and innovative projects, companies, and people in Edmonton. The challenge is making others aware of them.
There are a variety of ways to do that. One is through the media, both traditional and new. Such mentions tend to be fleeting, however. Another way is through events such as DemoCamp, though those typically benefit only the locals. These are important, and we should keep doing them, but we need something else as well.
As I thought more about the problem, it occurred to me that we could learn something from other industries. There are two organizations in particular that do a good job of boosting local companies – Original Fare and Keep Edmonton Original. You can find their logos at independent restaurants and retailers around the city, and I think seeing them reinforces the notion that we have more than just big box stores and chains. What if we had something similar for technology companies?
For tech companies, the web is important. It’s often the first point of interaction. As such, it’s always been a pet peeve of mine that so many local tech companies seem afraid to mention on their website that they are based in Edmonton:
- Semanti and InviteRight don’t mention where they are from at all
- PureInbox describes themselves as a “Canada-based company”
- WowJobs simply says “based in the province of Alberta”
- Dozens of companies only mention Edmonton in their contact information, including Cell Phones Etc., Yellow Pencil, Thinktel, ProTraining.
- A few mention Edmonton in passing on their about page, such as Paramagnus, Nirix, Industry Mailout, Nexopia, Smibs, and others, but even this could be improved.
I’m not trying to suggest that any of these companies have intentionally left Edmonton out, but I do think there is room for improvement.
So here’s the idea: what if every local tech company put a badge on their website that says “Proud Edmonton Tech Company”? What kind of an impact would that have? I think it would definitely help with awareness.
For most companies, placing the badge on the front page probably doesn’t make sense. Nexopia, for instance, has a very large external audience that probably doesn’t care that the company is located in Edmonton. Others will simply want the front page to look a certain way. Nearly every company has an about page however, and it’s on that page that I think such a badge would be featured (and maybe on the contact page too). Where would the badge link to? I’m not sure. I’m not even sure it has to link anywhere.
What do you think?