Paramagnus and Business Plan Success

Post ImageEverything is public now, so it’s time for an update on our business plan competitions! As you may recall, Dickson and I entered Paramagnus into two business plan competitions – VenturePrize and Wes Nicol. We had back to back presentations in February, and have been waiting patiently to find out how we did. We’ve known for a couple days now, but it was announced today that we’re a finalist in the VenturePrize competition, and we won first place in the local portion of the Wes Nicol! Congratulations especially to our fellow finalists in VenturePrize, and indeed to all of the competitors we’ve met thus far. We’ve learned so much already!

We’re now preparing for the final VenturePrize showdown which takes place at the annual EEDC luncheon on March 22nd. We’ll be among the first people to see the brand new extension to the Shaw Conference Centre. The following day we need to be in Ottawa for the national component of the Wes Nicol competition, so it’ll be a very busy two days! We’re looking forward to it.

Actually the next few weeks will be busy. We did a brief interview tonight that will air on CBC Radio tomorrow morning. Tomorrow afternoon we’re filming our three minute video that will be shown at the luncheon on the 22nd. We’re presenting to a class at the University next Friday. Over the next two weeks we’ll be putting together an “insider’s blog” for our experience in VenturePrize. And of course we’ve got to update our business plan, prepare our second presentations, and keep our business running (not to mention school, volunteering, etc). And it won’t stop there – we’ve already got interviews and the like lined up into April. Definitely good for the business!

We’ve met a lot of people lately, and while it was nice to meet all of you, sometimes it’s hard to get down contact information or remember everyone. If you’d like to get in touch, you can reach me via email or at 780.619.3864. Or of course you can simply subscribe 🙂

Edmonton's Next Generation

Post ImageWe hear lots here in Edmonton about how our city needs to improve, but less about what is being done. I got an email recently about a survey from the Next Generation Task Force. If you’re in Edmonton, you might be interested in this:

The Next Generation Task Force is a temporary committee of Edmonton’s City Council. Chaired by Councillor Kim Krushell, it is charged with providing recommendations to City Council, on making Edmonton a more fun, attractive, and pleasant place to live. It is composed of twenty Edmontonians from diverse backgrounds and walks of life. Over the upcoming months they will be inviting public input on the six broad themes they have chosen (listed here in alphabetical order): Arts and Culture, Business Opportunity, Edmonton’s Image, Human Capital, Sports and Recreation, Urban Living Environment.

They have a ten minute survey up on the website that you can use to offer your opinion on these topics.

Read: Next Generation Task Force

Family Day

Today is Family Day in Alberta – hope you are spending some time with your family! I went for lunch with my extended family of friends today at Red Robin’s downtown. Here are a few pictures.

According to my Dad, we may be giving up Family Day if the Conservatives are successful in declaring a national “flag day” holiday. I personally don’t see the point in having a flag day. We don’t have separate holidays for our anthem, or national sport, etc. Seems to me “flag day” is really just part of Canada Day!

Paramagnus selected as VenturePrize semi-finalist!

I am really pleased to announce that Paramagnus Developments Inc. has been selected as one of six semi-finalists in this year’s VenturePrize Fast-Growth Enterprise Award category. As some of you may know, Dickson and I have been working on a business plan for Paramagnus for the last four or five months, and we submitted it to the VenturePrize business plan competition at the end of January. From the press release:

These six semifinalists will present their concepts to a judging panel who will announce the final three contenders at a March 6 special reception. These three finalists will then make a final pitch to judges and a sold-out audience at the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) Annual Luncheon on March 22, 2006, where the grand prize winner will be crowned.

“This is an exciting group of contestants representing a range of innovative business opportunities,” said Jay Krysler, VenturePrize Program Manager for TEC Edmonton. “The business plan screening panel, who are business and finance industry professionals, certainly had a difficult time selecting only six from so many great business concepts. Alberta will be well-served when all these plans move forward.”

It feels very good to have your business receive validation and recognition from some very smart people. We’ve learned a lot throughout the process so far, and I know there’s far more learning ahead.

We’re really excited about making it this far in the competition, and we’re going to do our best to blow the judges away with our presentation. If all goes well, I’ll be posting again on March 6th that we made it to the final three! No matter what happens, I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished already, and I am eager to see the feedback on our business plan.

I also can’t wait to get our products and services launched!

Read: TEC Edmonton

Detroit: The Host With the Least

Post ImageI’m sure the mood was jubilant in Detroit yesterday as the Super Bowl went off without a hitch. I have to wonder how long it will last though, after reading a very interesting Slate article which examines the city and the sorry state it appears to be in:

Local architects have set up displays in seven abandoned buildings and more than 20 eye-level store windows near Ford Field so that passers-by won’t be greeted by gated or boarded-up shops. In addition, the city has spent money to turn some vacant buildings in the area into temporary memorabilia shops. They will most likely return to their previous state once visitors—and Super Bowl retailers—have left town following the game.

Sounds like a lot of patchwork right? That’s the general vibe the article gives – that Detroit is almost a city in ruins, and they have no idea how to redevelop it. The Super Bowl would have been a great chance, but it seems they missed the boat on that one.

But the main explanation for these missteps is Detroit’s perennial problem: Suburbanites don’t need the city. The resources that most cities offer—high-end restaurants, movie theaters, retail, museums, hotels—are located in the suburbs instead of the city core.

When people talk about the city of Edmonton, there is much of the same – too much development has occurred in the suburbs, the downtown core is dying, etc. Fortunately our city has seen a great revival of the downtown area in the last few years, so maybe Detroit can too one day.

Read: Slate

Nice Weather in Edmonton!

Downtown Edmonton from Stadium LRT #1The last couple days here in Edmonton have been rather nice! Fairly sunny and clear, and not too windy. The only bad part has been the tiny little bits of snow mixed in with the brown muck. I guess that’s what happens when you’ve had a warm winter. It’s about 8 degrees celcius here right now, and around the same is expected for tomorrow. Looks like the weekend will be a little cooler.

I took this photo yesterday afternoon from the platform at the Stadium LRT station. It’s kind of an interesting view of our city’s downtown – normally photos are taken from the other side, where it’s a little more picturesque. There’s a few more in my photostream too.

Edmonton Dining for $10

Post ImageUsually when I go for dinner, it’s to the same places as always, but every now and then it’s good to try something new – the only problem is that usually I don’t know what to try! I’ve come across a post that makes it easy though, with a list of Edmonton restaurants offering $10 dishes! From the Lex Culinaria blog:

The restaurants of Original Fare have come up with a winning recipe guaranteed to help Edmontonians top up their winter padding through the dark, cold months of January and February.

From January 22nd for 10 weeks, select Edmonton Restaurants will be offering special $10 dishes! Before you convince yourself that a $10 meal couldn’t possibly be worthwhile – some of these restaurants are my very favourites and serve some of Edmonton’s best food!

I’ve only been to two restaurants on the list – The Creperie, a long time ago, and it was very good; and Wild Tangerine, which I went to for the first time on Thursday evening, also very good. Full details are available here (pdf).

Read: Lex Culinaria

Coming Soon: Taco Del Mar

Post ImageChances are you’ll see a Taco Del Mar here in Edmonton before the year is out. Never heard of them? That’s okay, I hadn’t either. I don’t remember seeing them in Seattle where they started either:

Taco Del Mar opened on June 8, 1992 on Pier 57 in Seattle’s historic waterfront district. The founders, brothers James and John Schmidt, created a name and logo that reflected the signature menu items—the Fish Tacos and Mission-Style Burritos.

James “discovered” fish tacos while studying at the University of California at San Diego in the late ’80s. His inspiration for Taco Del Mar was the funky shoreline shacks that dotted the Southern California and Baja beaches, feeding big burritos and fish tacos to the hungry surfers and beach crowd. There was something about the food that was incredibly real, fresh, fast, flavorful and very filling.

Sounds pretty interesting, though I’m not sure how well they’ll do in good old beef country (though there are beef and chicken items too). From today’s press release:

Taco Del Mar, a Seattle-based quick service restaurant chain specializing in Baja style “mondo burritos and rippin’ tacos,” announced today it has successfully completed negotiations with British Columbia based TDM Federal Holdings, Inc. to develop restaurants across Canada. The deal could produce 300 Taco Del Mar franchises in Canada over the next four years, and nearly double that by 2014.

The 2006 focus will be to launch Taco Del Mar in Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario.

I’d be interested in giving the place a shot. Their menu looks good anyway!

Read: Taco Del Mar

Big Earl 96.3

If you’re scanning the radio dial here in Edmonton, you’ll notice we have a new station. Or, more accurately, an existing station that has for the thousandth time changed formats. What was known most recently as 96X is now Big Earl, who apparently “plays everything country.” There are some really great posts in their forums, like this one:

I wonder how many of these loyal 96X listeners would convert to listening to country if they gave it more than 10 minutes of listening. I personally know of two people who HATED country music until they listened to it and then it became all they listened to!

I think a lot of people would be surprised if they actually gave country music half a chance.

And of course there are some not so good posts, like this one:

YOU HAVE SERIOUS ISSUES SO GO TO A COUNCELOR YOU SUPPOSEDLY DONT CARE WHAT PEOPLE SAY SO I GUESS YOU WONT CARE ABOUT THIS……………GET A LIFE AND DONT WORRY BECAUSE PEOPLE WILL NEVER LISTEN TO YOUR STATION BECAUSE YOU MADE IT AND BECAUSE YOU SUCK SO IF YOU REALLY ARE SMART…….YOU WILL CHANGE IT BACK

With this reply:

I HATE U STUPID BIG EARL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

To be truly honest, I really don’t care. I almost exclusively listen to music or podcasts on my Zen Touch in the car now anyway, and if I do happen to listen to the radio it’s to either The Bear or Joe FM (yeah I have come to like Joe FM). That being said, it’s always fun to throw out my two cents.

I think what happened is that The Bounce and Sonic started to take away listeners from 96X, so they “did some research” as their program manager said on the 6 O’Clock news tonight (must have been a slow news day) and decided country would be the way to go. The format is actually a copy of a Big Earl station that launched in Camrose last month, and that one is probably a copy of another station. In my opinion, Big Earl is doomed to failure. We already have a very successful country station in CISN, and unlike 96.3, they don’t change their format every year destroying any sort of listener base they might have managed to accumulate.

Futhermore, we already have the “play anything” format in Joe FM, so will a subset of that be successful? I guess we’ll find out, but I doubt it. The only thing that’s for sure is that being a program manager at 96.3 must suck.

UPDATE: My mistake, there are two country stations in Edmonton – CISN and CFCW. Also, looks like both 96X and The Bounce lost listeners in the Fall 2005 ratings while CISN and CFCW gained listeners. You can see the ratings here. Oh and the official website for Big Earl is http://www.bigearlonline.com. While we’re on the topic of new radio stations, did you know that MAGIC 99, a Smooth Jazz/Adult Standards station launched on Thursday? Check it out at 99.3 or online at http://www.magic99.ca.

UPDATE 2: Found a better ratings page complete with descriptions and commentary.

UPDATE 3 (3/28/2008): The station has changed once again, to Capital FM! You can read about it here.

Cold, slippery morning in Edmonton!

I guess the weather here in Edmonton is just getting me ready for what’s coming when I get to Inuvik. It was a very cold minus 24 this morning when I left the house, and the high was apparently only minus 17. In addition to being pretty darn cold, the roads were extremely slippery. I drove to school today (instead of taking the LRT) which meant that I took the Whitemud. Near the 91st street exit, I saw a car going in the same direction as me spin out and hit the barrier. It looked like he was trying to change lanes, but I can’t be sure. Obviously he was going too fast, and he paid the price – the left front side of the car did not look good at all.

So bundle up, and drive for the conditions!