Why 2012 is going to be a big year for Startup Edmonton

I can’t believe it has been nearly four years since Edmonton’s first DemoCamp took place! Who could have imagined, on that winter evening in the dungeon-like basement of the University of Alberta’s School of Business building, that sixteen DemoCamps would take place over the subsequent years. But they have, and they are still as popular as ever, regularly drawing 200 people from a wide variety of communities – entrepreneurs, programmers, designers, investors, and lots of others. DemoCamp Edmonton 17 is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, January 18 – don’t miss it!

I also never imagined that DemoCamp would eventually lead to Startup Edmonton, but I’m glad it has. Ken, Cam, Sam, and Tiffany recognized that DemoCamp was actually part of something bigger, and they decided to do something about it.

We help connect creators, innovators and entrepreneurs to start and scale bold new ideas through events, mentorship, workspace, and accelerators. Our vision is to make Edmonton a hotbed for creativity and entrepreneurship. Our mission is to amplify creative innovation and activate startups. Our goal is to invest in 500 creative entrepreneurs over the next 5 years.

DemoCamp helped showed us that Edmonton is full of smart, talented, creative people with really innovative ideas. But having an idea is not enough – you need to take action. That’s where Startup Edmonton comes in.

The organization has been around for a while now, organizing events like Launch Party and TEDxEdmonton in addition to DemoCamp, but it became much more official on December 5. That’s the date Startup Edmonton turned into a fully-fledged non-profit company. Here is the board of directors:

  • Todd Babiak – Co-Founder, Story Engine Inc.
  • Brad Ferguson – CEO, Strategy Summit Ltd.
  • Veer Gidwaney – CEO, DailyFeats.com
  • Chris LaBossiere – Co-CEO, Yardstick Software
  • Chris Lumb – CEO, TEC Edmonton
  • Mack Male – Co-Founder, Paramagnus Developments Inc.
  • Gregg Oldring – Co-Founder, Mailout Interactive / Inkdit
  • David Quail – Co-Founder, Attassa
  • Darin Rayburn – Executive Vice President, Melcor Developments
  • Kevin Swan – Principal, iNovia Capital
  • Sheetal Mehta Walsh – Founder/CEO, Shanti Microfinance

Though not everyone could attend the first meeting in person, there was great energy in the room as we went through introductions and got down to business. Here is our management team:

Rock stars, each and every one of them!

Startup Edmonton

The year ahead

Ken and the team spent countless hours last year planning, networking, connecting, pitching, building – basically doing all of the things a startup needs to do. They’ve put a solid foundation in place, and they’re the right team to drive the organization forward. With the help of our founding partners, I really feel like Startup Edmonton is going to make a big splash in 2012.

The investment ecosystem in Edmonton (and Alberta) is pretty good at funding things that already have momentum, but there’s a serious lack of viable products flowing into that funding pipeline. Yet we know from DemoCamp and other events and initiatives that there is no lack of ideas. How can we get people with ideas to turn into entrepreneurs with fundable products? That’s the challenge that Startup Edmonton will tackle. Here’s how:

  • Inspire – DemoCamp and other events to bring the community together
  • Create – Hackathons, Startup Weekend, and other events focused on prototyping
  • Accelerate – Incubator for early stage tech startups to rapidly take their prototypes to the next level

Startup Edmonton is already pretty good at “Inspire” and efforts related to “Create” are ramping up, but it’s “Accelerate” where things will get really interesting this year. The tech accelerator program is called Flightpath, and it will invest in up to 30 early stage software/digital media startups over the next three years. These are small financial investments, but combined with mentorship, learning, and networking opportunities, the goal is to help startups make meaningful progress in a short period of time. To turn more ideas to into fundable products.

You will of course see more DemoCamps, Startup Weekends, Launch Parties, and other events in 2012. But you’ll also see the startup space that was teased a couple of months ago – a physical space downtown “where geeks, entrepreneurs, and creatives collide.” You’ll see more opportunities to share your knowledge and to learn from others. You’ll see the launch of Flightpath and the first class of startups. You’ll see a more concerted effort to build awareness of startups in Edmonton.

And I think you’ll start to see that creative entrepreneurs and Edmonton’s future are beautifully intertwined.

It’s going to be a great year – get connected!

2 thoughts on “Why 2012 is going to be a big year for Startup Edmonton

  1. I was jazzed when I saw that Babiuk was behind a start-up called Story Engine. I expected it to be some kind of social platform to connect writers or something… then it turned out to be just another marketing company. Blah.

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