Recap: DemoCamp Edmonton 22

Edmonton’s 22nd DemoCamp took place tonight at the Telus Centre on the University of Alberta campus. DemoCamp is “an event that brings together developers, creatives, entrepreneurs and investors to share what they’ve been working on and to find others in the community interested in similar topics.” You can read my recap of our last DemoCamp here. While it was still a good turnout, the crowd did seem smaller tonight than it has recently. Maybe the frost warning scared everyone back into their homes!

We had six demos tonight. In order of appearance:

  • Our first demo came from 9-year-old Ella, the youngest person to demo here in Edmonton! She was a participant in CodeCamp over the summer that Startup Edmonton hosted with Junior Achievement. Ella learned how to create a game using Scratch, a creative learning community from MIT. Ella’s game, pacman 2, is pretty cool and not as easy as it looks! Ella said she wants to be a programmer one day, and with more time she’d add more levels to her game and would make it more challenging. Great work Ella!

DemoCamp Edmonton 22

  • The second demo was SAM, which stands for Social Asset Management. James walked us through the app’s features. SAM helps media professionals curate and manage content, which they can then use in their storytelling. So I could search for and save a bunch of tweets, then using a WordPress plugin, I could insert them into a blog post. It looks pretty feature-rich already, though SAM is still in beta.
  • Next up was Galen who showed us a couple of the digital storytelling projects he’s working on. One was an app that lets you pin stories atop a map. The other was Novorapid, an interactive short film being produced by the National Film Board. Directed by Tyler Enfield, the film “uses dynamic split screens to allow the viewer to experience the film from multiple perspectives.” It looked like a really cool approach.
  • The fourth demo was Spatialtree from Ajay and James. The basic idea is that you can create a cluster of online profiles that Spatialtree will then analyze and generate reports for. So you could see who’s getting the most interactions, or how you compare to the competition. The tool has a pretty nice interface, though I’m a little unclear on practical applications for this aside from social media marketing.
  • Grant was up next to show us a game he and his team are building called Bardbarian. The protagonist, Brad, has grown tired of life as a barbarian and uses a makeshift axe-lute to “shred lute and collect loot”. It looks pretty fun, and the development team have been blogging as they progress. Here’s some preview footage:
  • The final demo tonight was Meerkat, a social network analysis application developed at AICML. Matt showed us how the tool can be used to visualize Twitter data, and to answer questions about that data such as who is most influential but not necessarily most popular. The team behind it have something pretty powerful, and are looking for interesting use cases for it. Financial analysis sounds like it has been a successful early sector to use the tool.

It was funny that so many of the demos tonight featured Twitter, leading Cam to joke that “Twitter is a thing” and “you should buy some stock!” (Twitter recently announced it is planning an IPO.) Given that I have been known to dabble in Twitter analytics and digital storytelling, I found tonight’s lineup pretty compelling! It’s hard to top an energetic, young programmer like Ella, especially when she kicks off the show with a great demo, so I’m going to pick hers as my favorite tonight. I could certainly see myself using SAM though, so I’ll be keeping an eye on that one! Well done to all the demoers.

There were a few announcements tonight:

  • Startup Edmonton’s Preflight Pre-Accelerator Program returns in October. The deadline to apply is September 20.
  • The 4th Launch Party is slated to take place on November 21. Have something to launch? Get in touch with Startup Edmonton.
  • The Software Engineering Capstone Design program at the U of A is looking for project suggestions! Get in touch with professor Scott Dick if you have one.

Here are some of the upcoming tech events you might consider checking out:

Keep an eye on the Startup Edmonton Meetup group for more upcoming tech events.

See you at DemoCamp Edmonton 23!

Recap: DemoCamp Edmonton 21

Edmonton’s 21st DemoCamp took place tonight at the Telus Centre on the University of Alberta campus. DemoCamp brings together developers, creatives, entrepreneurs, and investors to share what they’ve been working on with the local tech community. Tonight’s audience seemed to be filled predominately with first-timers!

We had five demos tonight. In order of appearance:

  • Opening the show was David Nedohin and Graham from Scope Technologies. They build augmented reality training systems. Tonight they demoed a pretty slick augmented reality training app for a pump assembly. Using a pair of Epson Moverio glasses outfitted with a camera, we were able to see everything David saw as he followed the on-display instructions. The app supports three modes: observe (learn what you’re supposed to do), execute (do it), and record (for auditing purposes). It of course drew comparisons to Google Glass, though the key offering here is the 3D overlay training solution, not the hardware.
  • Next up was Nolan Smits who showed us Nutrsync, a project he has been working on for the last nine months or so. After Nolan took a greater interest in his own health, he decided an app to track nutrients would be useful and he set out to build it. Written in PHP with lots of jQuery, it’s a slick looking app even if it is missing a few features still. You can quickly see how much of each nutrient you’ve eaten, and it’ll suggest foods to fill up on the ones you’re missing. For me the biggest challenge is the same as every food-tracking app: unless you’re eating pre-packaged brand name meals or fast food, it’s too much of a pain to input what you’re eating!
  • Third tonight was Ric Williams from Hungry Moose Games who demoed their new effort called 9 Lives: Casey and Sphynx. One of the neat things about Hungry Moose is that it’s a mashup of local talent, including some ex-BioWare guys and Ric who was with Empire Avenue (and was inspired the guys who built Life Goes On, demoed at DemoCamp Edmonton 18). The highlight of the work-in-progress demo was that the game was built with Unity and was running on a Kindle Fire HD, controlled with a Green Throttle Bluetooth controller. “The $60 game and $125 million investment is going the way of the dodo,” Ric told us, explaining the upheaval taking place in the gaming industry right now.
  • Next up was David Quail and Tim Fletcher who demoed Zenlike. They’re hoping to save users time by utilizing machine learning and natural language processing to automate mundane, boring tasks. Their first area of focus is meeting scheduling. You simply CC your “virtual assistant” on an email thread to setup a meeting, and it parses out the details and sets up the calendar entry and invites (kind of like the way TripIt automagically parses out your itinerary). It was really slick to see in action (it’s a combination of Mechanical Turk and algorithms). I look forward to the day when my devices just know what I want to do and do it.
  • The final demo of the evening was from Ben Zittlau and Greg Bell. They showed us a new feature called Clonr. The idea is pretty simple: magically move things from one place to another! They’ve decided to focus on WordPress to start, and tonight they demoed the ability to completely move a WordPress site from one server to another with basically a single click. They support DreamHost, 1and1, HostGator, as well as plain old FTP, and they’ll move beyond WordPress to other platforms once they’ve got a bit more functionality in place. There’s a massive market for this kind of thing!

DemoCamp Edmonton 21
David Nedohin showing us the augmented reality demo

It was another solid night of demos, so well done to all the demoers! I think my favorite was probably Zenlike, because I can see the trajectory they’re on and it’s thrilling. I, for one, welcome our new robotic overlords. I think there’s no question that Clonr is going to be a big success for the Mover guys, and I’m looking forward to seeing that tool evolve.

Some of the announcements made tonight include:

  • Edmonton now has a Python Meetup Group! They’re planning to meet on the second Monday of each month.
  • TEDxEdmonton 2013 is coming up on June 15. Tickets are on sale now, and some of the presenters have been announced!
  • Ready to build something? Startup Weekend returns to Edmonton on April 26.
  • I hope you see you on Friday at the new Intersect event, billed as a collision of artists and geeks.

If you haven’t already done so, sign up for the Startup Edmonton newsletter to keep up-to-date on future events (you can also join the Meetup group).

See you at DemoCamp Edmonton 22!

Recap: DemoCamp Edmonton 20

Tonight was Edmonton’s 20th DemoCamp, a pretty great milestone for an event that began back in early 2008. The event still manages to attract both new and familiar faces, which makes it a great opportunity to connect with others in the community. We had a really strong turnout tonight and a very solid lineup of interesting demos.

Tonight’s event was held at the Telus Centre on the University of Alberta campus, and featured six demos (in order of appearance):

  • Dan Haight showed us the EMS analytics application that Darkhorse Analytics has built. It runs on an iPad and provides emergency services professionals with insights into the data they already collect (every time you call 911, that information is recorded, along with response times, lat longs, hospital information, etc). The app is very attractive and the UX seems really intuitive. It could easily be adapted to markets other than EMS as well.
  • Next up was Gezim Hoxha who showed us Team Do List, a super simple task list sharing application. With a focus on simplicity the app doesn’t let you do much more than create a list and add tasks to it, but that’s the idea. You don’t even need to create an account to create a task list, you can just start adding tasks. When you’re done, you can share them via email or SMS.
  • Neil Lamoureux was up third and he showed us CodeBaby’s suite of tools for creating intelligent virtual assistants. I have to say, it looked a little too good to be true! In just a matter of minutes, Neil had created an animated, lip-synced virtual assistant for TD Insurance, it was really impressive. The application features a friendly drag & drop interface, and includes the ability to preview an assistant on a live site without making any code changes. Very slick!
  • Our fourth demo was from Ashley & Dana Janssen and Matt Riemer who showed us Tradetacular, a platform for trading Magic: The Gathering cards online. I thought they did a good job of showing us why Tradetacular is better than the alternatives that already exist. I also really enjoyed the fact that they had multiple accounts and browsers setup and open to facilitate demoing a trade. While they are focused on Magic: The Gathering right now there is no reason that Tradetacular couldn’t be used for other collectibles in the future. They’re on to something!
  • Jeff Marvin was up next to show us BioWare’s N7 HQ, an online companion site for the popular Mass Effect 3 game. The site lets players track challenges and awards, view characters, inventory, and leaderboards, and explore profiles of other players. I was hoping for a little less talk and a bit more demo, but it was interesting to gain some insight into a big company like BioWare.
  • Our final demo of the night was from Sam Jenkins and Estyn Edwards who showed us WellNext, an interactive service that helps organizations implement employee wellness and engagement programs. Tonight they focused on a specific integration they built that uses data from a blood test to provide insight into how healthy an individual is, and then provides the organization with an aggregated view of the health of their employees. It was really neat to see it in action!

I think most people in the audience were impressed by how smoothly all of the demos went tonight, so great job to all of the demoers! I’m a sucker for analytics, so I really enjoyed Darkhorse’s demo. But we’ve seen them at DemoCamp before, so I’m going to go with Tradetacular as my favorite of the night, followed closely by WellNext. I loved the attention to detail in both, as well as the confidence in how to address their respective markets. Also, as Cam mentioned, the Tradetacular demo was really well done:

Some of the announcements from the event include:

DemoCamp Edmonton 20

This being a milestone event, I thought some of you might like to go back in time and revisit our past events, so here are my recaps and links for all 113 demos:

See you at DemoCamp Edmonton 21!

Recap: DemoCamp Edmonton 19

It has been so long since our last DemoCamp – number eighteen took place way back in March! A lot has happened in the interim, most notably that Startup Edmonton has completely moved into the Mercer Warehouse and it has definitely become the home of startups in our city. It’s really great to see the energy and momentum continually building! Even with all of that activity however, DemoCamp remains an important part of the ecosystem. It’s a great opportunity to see what local entrepreneurs are building and to connect with lots of people in the community.

DemoCamp Edmonton 19
Cam introducing the evening

Tonight’s event was back at the Telus Centre on the University of Alberta campus, and featured five demos (in order of appearance):

  • Patrick Pilarski from the Alberta Innovates Centre for Machine Learning (AICML) kicked things off with a very cool demo that involved a robot! He leads the organization’s Adaptive Prosthetics Project, which is focused on creating intelligent artificial limbs for amputees. In the demo he used sensors on his own arm to control the arms of a small robot, but also to train the algorithm. This video probably explains it better than I can – it’s so great that we have stuff like this happening in Edmonton:

  • Tim Tuxworth was up next to show us Go-Taxi. This was the first demo that I can remember to feature a live Skype video call as Tim called a taxi driver to help with the demo! Unfortunately he ran into some technical issues, but I think everyone got the idea. The app helps taxi companies manage requests, and helps clients book a taxi and see its current location on a map. It’s a neat idea!
  • Next up we had Brandon Webber and Tim Fletcher who demoed Monogram. Essentially it provides a public profile on the web for Instagram users, but that’s just the start. Eventually Monogram will support other services like Vimeo, SoundCloud, and Etsy. It’s a very beautifully designed tool! With Instagram working on a web presence though, they’ll need to get some other services supported quickly.
  • Our penultimate demo was by Rakesh Soni who showed us LoginRadius. It’s a suite of products that help businesses integrate “social infrastructure” such as login, analytics, and sharing. The idea is that LoginRadius is easier to integrate than all of the various social networking APIs, so you as the developer only have to learn one thing. I was happy to hear it was built with .NET and runs on Azure!
  • The duo of Sean Solbak and Shawn Sidoruk had the final demo of the evening, DibsIn. It’s a mobile app that allows shoppers to view a list of deals in the area. So if you’re downtown, you might see a deal at That Hat. When you redeem a deal, you get to spin a virtual “Price is Right” wheel to determine the exact amount of the discount. It’s pretty slick, and they have over 20 local merchants participating already!

I’m a fan of diving straight into the demo, so I could have done without some of the preamble and intro video stuff that went on tonight, but I think the demos went pretty well for the most part. Kudos to the audience for asking some great questions tonight! I also want to give props to Monogram and DibsIn because both feature “Made in Edmonton” on their websites!

DemoCamp Edmonton 19DemoCamp Edmonton 19

There were a bunch of announcements throughout the evening about some cool stuff coming up:

  • Startup Edmonton has a number of courses coming up. Everybody Can Code runs on Monday evenings throughout October, for instance. Check out the full list here.
  • Edmonton Girl Geek Dinners will have another event coming up soon – stay tuned to their Twitter feed for details!
  • The fall session of Preflight for Tech Startups begins on October 1st.
  • TEDxEdmonton Education takes place on October 13 at the Winspear Centre. It’s going to be an amazing day full of discussion about how learning is impacting our schools, workplaces and industries.
  • Registration is now open for WordCamp Edmonton 2012! This year’s event runs November 16-17.
  • It seems like there’s always something interesting happening in the Startup Edmonton space. Check the calendar for more events!

See you at DemoCamp Edmonton 20!

Recap: DemoCamp Edmonton 18

Last night was our eighteenth DemoCamp here in Edmonton, and it was awesome! We had an excellent turnout – probably one of our best – and seven really great demos. It’s so inspiring to see local folks working on some really unique and creative projects. You can read more about DemoCamp Edmonton here, and you can read my recap of our last event here.

DemoCamp Edmonton 18

Tonight’s demos, in order of appearance:

  • Backup Box – Eric and Mark showed us their online backup utility, a project they started working on at the Startup Hackathon / Global Game Jam back in January. Backup Box makes it easy to transfer files from a variety of different services, such as from FTP to Dropbox. There’s a big need for a service like this. I love that their website says “Proudly made in Edmonton” right on the front page!
  • Life Goes On – Susan, David, Eric, and Ian demoed their very creative game, something they also started back at the Startup Hackathon / Global Game Jam. I just love the idea behind the game – you solve puzzles using your characters dead bodies. From the website: “Sacrifice an endless stream of fearless knights into the arsenal of spike pits, flamethrowers, sawblades, and lava to make progress through a deadly gauntlet filled with elaborate deathtraps!” You can download the demo now, and watch for a commercial release in the future.
  • PlanHero – Sean, Graham, and Dave demoed their solution for organizing events with friends. You can schedule an event and invite people, and they can then vote on options and pay their share of the costs. I was one of the test users for the demo, and it went really smoothly. Imagine organizing ski trips or pub crawls or hockey pools, those are just some of the events that PlanHero would be useful for. They’re off to a great start!
  • Super Motherload – Skye and his team from XGen Studios demoed their intriguing digging adventure game. From the website: “Super Motherload challenges players to dig deep into the substrata of Mars as they collect increasingly rare and valuable minerals.” I kind of liked that the team basically just sat down and played their game for seven minutes, though a bit more commentary would have been welcome. Looks like fun though!
  • Signia – Next up was Dan who showed us his solution for connecting customer behavior and analytics. It’s a sort of check-in system, so you might use it to track what customers are purchasing and then use that data to create a reward program. Signia was created because Dan’s brother had a specific need, so he just decided to see how far he could get!
  • Technitone – Grant showed us a few things he has been working on, but the big one was a web technology showcase app called Technitone. You’ll want to use Chrome if you check out the website, because it makes use of some cutting edge stuff like the Web Audio API. Using the tool you can compose music using a visual drag & drop interface, but that’s a pretty simplistic description. There’s much information about Technitone here.
  • The Peregrine – Brent came up from Lloydminster to show us his innovative glove for user input. With over 30 touch points and motion sensitivity, you can use the glove to move things on the screen, to type, or to perform other programmable options. Currently you need to plug it in, but a wireless version is in the works. It was very Minority Report-like, and the audience loved it. Here’s a video that gives you a better idea of how it works:

People always love hardware demos, so I think The Peregrine was definitely an audience favorite. Chatting with people after the event at Original Joe’s, it sounds like Life Goes On and Backup Box were also quite popular. The sound effects of your character dying over and over again in Life Goes On had everyone hooked and laughing! I also enjoyed Technitone, because I love that it stretches the boundaries of what is possible today. It offers a glimpse of what’s coming!

DemoCamp Edmonton 18DemoCamp Edmonton 18

There were a bunch of announcements throughout the evening:

  • Work on the Startup Edmonton Space is coming along and we hope to be open in the Mercer Warehouse soon. Memberships will come in two flavors – $275/month for a desk and other benefits, or $125/month for drop-in members. You can apply here!
  • The website for Flightpath is now up! Check it out and learn about the entrepreneur-led, peer based startup accelerator launching in Edmonton later this year.
  • Have an interest in data analytics? Then the Analytics Hackathon is for you! Build something with one or more of the available datasets (City of Edmonton, Edmonton Oilers, etc.) and you could win some big prizes! Submissions are due on April 12, so you need to move quickly.
  • Accelerate AB is back at the end of May! This year the event is taking place here in Edmonton, and it should be a great opportunity to connect with entrepreneurs from around Alberta.

Thanks to everyone who came out last night. See you at DemoCamp Edmonton 19!

DemoCamp Edmonton 18 is tomorrow!

democampEvery couple of months there’s another DemoCamp here in Edmonton. Our last event was in January, and the next one takes place tomorrow evening. If you’ve never been, you should definitely try to make it out tomorrow! You don’t have to be a programmer to get something out DemoCamp.

DemoCamp is an event that brings together developers, creatives, entrepreneurs and investors to share what they’ve been working on and to find others in the community interested in similar topics. For presenters, it’s a great way to get feedback on what you’re building from peers and the community, all in an informal setting. Started back in 2008, DemoCamp Edmonton has steadily grown into one of the largest in the country, with 200-300 people attending each new event.

The rules for DemoCamp are simple: ten minutes to demo real, working products, followed by a few minutes for questions, and no slides allowed.

Here are the details for tomorrow’s event:

WHAT: DemoCamp Edmonton 18
WHEN: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at 7pm
WHERE: TELUS Centre 150, University of Alberta
COST: Free! Register here

There are seven demos lined up, so it should be an exciting evening! DemoCamp is a free event, but we do like you to register so we know how many people are coming. After the demos are done, we’ll all head over to Original Joes on 109 Street for post-DemoCamp drinks and conversations. If you can’t make it, follow along online using the #democampyeg hashtag.

In addition to being an excellent opportunity to meet others in the local tech community and to get inspired by what they are up to, DemoCamp has at times been a launching pad for local startups. Back at DemoCamp Edmonton 15 in September 2011, Sam Pillar demoed Jobber. Just a few weeks ago, he announced that Jobber had received a seed round of investment! Likewise, at DemoCamp Edmonton 12 in September 2010, Edmontonians were among the first to see TestFlight. At the end of last year, they were acquired by Burstly!

You can check out my recaps of all previous DemoCamps here, and you can see some photos here.

Oh, and if you’re looking for something to do tonight to get you in the mood for DemoCamp tomorrow, check out the YEGRB meetup. They’re talking about design and are also hosting the first ever Exchange.js talk to chat about JavaScript development.

See you at DemoCamp Edmonton 18!

Recap: DemoCamp Edmonton 17

democampWith wind chills reaching well below minus thirty, it’s amazing that anyone at all showed up at the Telus Centre tonight for Edmonton’s seventeenth DemoCamp, but they did! While perhaps not our largest turnout ever, we still had a pretty full house for six demos. You can read more about DemoCamp here and you can check out my recap of our last DemoCamp here.

DemoCamp Edmonton 17DemoCamp Edmonton 17

Tonight’s demos, in order of appearance:

  • Zeel – Built by Rocketfuel Games, Zeel is “the topical Twitter app that connects you with your interests.” You can think of it as a layer on top of Twitter that makes it easy to follow conversations on specific topics. You can do that with saved searches of course, but that’s a little more difficult and the experience certainly isn’t as nice!
  • Cross Platform Tablet App using Flash – Randy demoed an application that he built using Flash that was then deployed to the iPad and an Android tablet without requiring any changes. I didn’t catch the name of the app, but it was pretty cool to see the same app running on different platforms.
  • Accessing US-Only Blocked Content in Canada – Ben showed us a trick he shared with the YEGRB group recently. It’s a bit technical, but with just a few steps, you can get access to Pandora, the US Netflix catalog, and other services that block access from Canada. He’s got a screencast that shows you how to do it here.
  • Web Suite ProCollin was really nervous, but did a pretty good job of showing off his online invoicing and CRM app. Web Suite Pro seems very feature rich, with lots of built-in functionality and support for a variety of platforms. FreshBooks is the obvious competitor in the space.
  • Linelo – Terry demoed his solution for recording and organizing large amounts of text. You capture lines of text, and then you can group lines together, format them, collapse them, and more. He’s got support for Android and additional platforms are on the way.
  • Slapshot Heroes – From Visimonde, the folks behind Rinksters, comes this iPad app that is kind of like Angry Birds but with pucks and coins. It started out as a mini-game within Rinksters actually, and was popular enough to stand on its own. Ted was entertaining, just as he was back at DemoCamp Edmonton 15 when he showed off Rinksters itself.

I think Ben’s demo was perhaps the favorite of the night, even though it was a little geekier than the rest. It’s always fun to have demos like that – stuff that isn’t necessarily going to turn into a product or company but which is cool nonetheless. Slapshot Heroes was certainly entertaining, and I’m sure more than a few folks will have already spent the 99 cents to download it. Perhaps not surprisingly, I’m most excited to try Zeel, even though I don’t have an iPhone. I’m always interested in finding new ways to extract value from Twitter!

DemoCamp Edmonton 17

There were a number of event announcements this evening:

Stay tuned to Startup Edmonton for additional events and announcements!

See you in March for DemoCamp Edmonton 18!

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,
  • 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!

Recap: DemoCamp Edmonton 16

democampTonight was our sixteenth DemoCamp here in Edmonton. Held at the Telus Centre on the University of Alberta campus, DemoCamp is still going strong in our city! Tonight’s event continued the new format adopted at the last DemoCamp in September: 7 minutes for demos, 3 minutes for questions, and announcements interspersed throughout the evening.

DemoCamp Edmonton 16
Reg has been the official DemoCamp Edmonton timekeeper since the beginning!

We had seven demos tonight, in order of appearance:

  • TinderizerDaniel demoed his bookmarklet app that lets you send articles from around the web to your Kindle with the click of a button. There are similar services available now (like Readability) but Daniel has continued improving his offering since first releasing it a year ago.
  • Transit Heat Map – Next up was an interesting web app that helps you visualize how many stops you can reach within a certain amount of time. After you pick a starting stop, you can quickly discover which parts of the city are accessible within 15 minutes, and which parts might take an hour. Reminded me a bit of Mapnificent.
  • Browser HordeKevin demoed a web-based platform for solving complex problems. Similarly to SETI@Home and other distributed computing systems, complicated problems are broken down and solved using computing resources from volunteers. The difference is that Browser Horde runs entirely in the browser.
  • Darkhorse Analytics – Daniel ran us through the web-based analytics app that Darkhorse has been building for the Emergency Services industry. The app consumes data that EMS agencies already collect, such as trip times, wait times, etc., and provides an easy-to-use dashboard to make sense of that information.
  • Solvers Market – Alex demoed his question and answer site, billed as “an intelligence exchange platform.” Similar to StackExchange and other sites you can post a question for others to answer, but the site also incorporates money, so you can earn money for solving questions.
  • Fluik EntertainmentVictor showed the very successful Office Jerk game and its successors, Office Zombie and a new Christmas-themed version of the game. Office Jerk reached #1 on the iOS app charts.
  • Willstream – Joel demoed the mobile payments solution that is currently focused on the market in Senegal. The idea is to build a service that supports the three-party interaction that is common in developing markets (funds owner, spender, and merchant).

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I’m not sure there was a clear favorite this evening – all of the demos were great! I love seeing projects like Tinderizer and the Transit Heat Map, built to solve a specific problem without requiring big plans for commercialization. Browser Horde is perhaps a bit technical, but seems suited to some specific problem domains and if they can find enough volunteers, could be quite successful. Darkhorse Analytics certainly seems like it could be a big, big winner. The research and effort that Daniel and his team have put into the product really shows, and I think a lot of folks in the audience were really impressed with the demo. Solvers Market demoed a couple weeks ago at PanEx, and while interesting, still needs to find a clear differentiator in a crowded market. Willstream’s demo unfortunately didn’t go very well (they had some issues with data being deleted today) but I think the concept has promise. I hope they can make it work.

Fluik has become a great Edmonton success story, and seems poised to continue producing hits and to keep growing (they’re already at 20 people and are hiring). Office Jerk was released on April 28, 2011 and immediately found success. Growth has continued ever since, with the game being downloaded more than six million times in just its first month. Keep an eye on Fluik!

There were a number of event and other announcements this evening:

  • The YEG Founders Club is getting started. The group aims to provide a place for entrepreneurs to connect with one another. Follow @yegfounders on Twitter and watch for more information.
  • The next Founders & Funders event will take place on December 5. The invite-only event is an opportunity for founders of technology startups to connect with investors.
  • MediaCamp Edmonton is scheduled to take place on February 4, 2012.
  • Grant MacEwan University is launching a usability lab, and would like to open it up to community. You can contact Sharon Bratt for more information.
  • The next Startup Weekend is scheduled for January 27, 2012 and will coincide with Global Game Jam.

Stay tuned to Startup Edmonton for additional events and announcements!

Tonight’s after-party at Original Joe’s Varsity didn’t seem as packed as some in the past, but it was still a great opportunity to connect with the demoers and others in the community. Thanks to everyone who came out tonight. See you at DemoCamp Edmonton 17!

Recap: DemoCamp Edmonton 15

Edmonton’s fifteenth DemoCamp took place last night at the Telus Centre on the University of Alberta campus. With more than 200 people registered to attend, it was no surprise that the room was packed to see what some of Edmonton’s developers, creatives, and others have been up to. The event has evolved quite a bit since the first DemoCamp was held back in March of 2008 and that evolution continue last night. Demos were shortened slightly to 7 minutes, with 3 minutes left for questions. In an effort to streamline setup between demos, announcements about upcoming events and initiatives were made throughout the evening, rather than all at the beginning or end. And finally, Startup Edmonton branding was more prevalent.

We had six demos last night, in order of appearance:

  • Pepper – I demoed my little project that makes use of the Kinect to respond to voice commands and simple gestures.
  • Buzzerful – Jas showed us “the apartment buzzer of your dreams.”
  • Jobber – Sam demoed Jobber, easy-to-use administration software for businesses like painters, landscapers, snow removers, etc.
  • Inkdit – Greg showed us “the social network model applied to legal relationships.”
  • GeniePad – Rafal and Sjoerd very quickly ran through the many features of GeniePad, “the next generation condominium website.”
  • Rinksters – Ted gave a very entertaining demo of his company’s immersive virtual world.

I hope I achieved what I set out to accomplish with my demo – I wanted to bring an element of tinkering back to DemoCamp! My buggy app Pepper was built for my living room. Hooked up to my TV and a Kinect, I can give it voice commands like “Pepper, what is the current temperature” and it responds using text-to-speech. I have also been exploring gestures, so I can say “Pepper, show me the latest tweets about Edmonton” and then use my hand to swipe through them. The combination of speech and gestures really intrigues me.

Buzzerful was a neat little app. It gives you control over your apartment buzzer, by enabling the creation of one-time party or delivery codes as well as custom access codes for tenants or roommates. Also very cool is that you can set it up to call multiple numbers all at once, and the first person to answer gets to let the visitor in (or not). I’d totally use that, as long as there were solid notifications about the status of the service (if it goes down, I want to know). Might be cool if it could call me on Skype instead of the phone too.

Jobber is one of those apps that had me thinking “where were you ten years ago!” I was one of the unfortunate souls who undertook a summer with College Pro Painters, and an app like Jobber would certainly have made things better. It manages scheduling, customer relationships, invoices, estimates, jobs, tasks, and much more. It has some pretty nifty visualization tools as well to see where employees are deployed and where jobs are located. There’s even a mobile interface for use on-the-go. Check out Jobber’s blog about the event.

Inkdit deals with something pretty boring – legal agreements. Boring, but important! The service is a way to keep track of contracts you’re signing, either as yourself or on behalf of an organization. And it uses social networking to connect the different parties to the agreement. There’s a great demonstration site (it uses Comic Sans so you know it’s a demo site) that shows off the features.

GeniePad is an impressive application already in use by a number of condominium boards and property managers. The idea is to provide a simple communication portal for condos. It lets condos and owners share news and documents, contact the board or property manager, and track tasks and requests, among other things. My condo board uses it, and we’re really quite happy with it!

It was pretty much a given that the Rinksters demo would be fun – it is a game, after all. But I didn’t realize how entertaining Ted was! I’m not sure if he was intentionally funny at the start but he ran with it as he took us through some areas of the world, including a rare look at Yeti’s house! The game is targeted at kids in the 8-12 age range, though as Ted pointed out, no one will know if you’re older and you’re playing.

I usually ask a few people what their favorite demo of the night was, and the two cited most frequently last night were Jobber and GeniePad. Both apps solve real problems and seem to be well on their way to success!

Once again the big after-party was held at Original Joe’s Varsity. Thanks to Go Auto for sponsoring the drinks!

Some upcoming events you may be interested in:

Thanks to everyone who came out last night. See you at DemoCamp Edmonton 16!