Recap: Launch Party Edmonton 1

Tonight I attended Edmonton’s first Launch Party, and I’m happy to report that it was awesome! Including the presenting companies, investors, and media, there were about 250 people in attendance, a fantastic turnout and great show of support for Edmonton’s startup scene. There was food, drinks, a DJ, great conversation, and of course, some of Edmonton’s best and brightest entrepreneurs and developers.

Launch Party Edmonton

Ten local companies setup tables around the room, available to demo their products and to talk with potential investors and customers. Each company also got to do an elevator pitch in front of the entire crowd (and all of them did a great job). I wrote about the companies here, but once again, here are the ten that participated tonight:

Each company had a slightly different approach to greeting interested individuals, but Yardstick stood out. They had margarita machines at their table, and gave out free drinks all evening long! Overall, I’d say the event had the same kind of vibe as an artsScene party (for a quick look at what the evening was like, check out this video).

Launch Party EdmontonLaunch Party Edmonton

Launch Party EdmontonLaunch Party Edmonton

I asked as many of the companies as I could about their thoughts on the evening. All of them told me that the opportunity to meet so many people at once was truly valuable. And the opportunity to meet with such different people too – investors, techies, customers, etc. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves while learning about the companies.

Launch Party EdmontonLaunch Party Edmonton

Like many of the people I talked to tonight, I was impressed with the diversity of the crowd. I feel like I know a lot of people in the local tech community, and there were a lot of people there tonight that I had never met before! It was like a bunch of different communities came together, which is really important for growing the local startup scene.

Launch Party Edmonton

Kudos to Mark, Ken, Cindy, and Cam for putting on an excellent event. Can’t wait for the next one! Stay tuned to the Startup Edmonton site, and follow them on Twitter for updates.

You can see the rest of my photos here. You can watch Ken welcoming everyone here.

Preview: Launch Party Edmonton 1

Edmonton’s first Launch Party is set to rock your socks off on Wednesday evening (on ShareEdmonton). There won’t be any formal presentations or panels, but the event will be a great opportunity to network with some of Edmonton’s best and brightest entrepreneurs and developers. It’s also a chance to celebrate the creative and interesting things happening here!

Ten local “startups” will be featured, as announced here. Here’s what you need to know about these companies and the people behind them:

  • Beamdog
    TWO WORDS: Game Distribution
    WHAT: A digital distribution service for games (think Steam).
    KEY PEOPLE: Trent Oster, formerly of BioWare.
    WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: This is the startup I know the least about! There are some amazing folks in the game industry here in Edmonton, and Trent is one of them. Video games continue to move further into the mainstream, and onto dozens of mobile devices. There’s lots of opportunity.

  • Connect13
    TWO WORDS: Youth Advertising
    WHAT: A social media advertising network targeting Canadian youth.
    KEY PEOPLE: Kevin Swan of Nexopia, Boriz Wertz of W Media Ventures (AbeBooks, Nexopia, Techvibes, others), and others.
    WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: The team’s experience with Nexopia (a social network focused on youth) is what gave birth to Connect13. They are web savvy, they know how to reach young people, and they’re using social media to create an innovative new advertising platform. Large, growing market that is currently being underserved.
    FOLLOW: Twitter

  • Edistorm
    TWO WORDS: Social Brainstorming
    WHAT: Online brainstorming service that lets you share with others in real-time.
    KEY PEOPLE: Reg Cheramy, serial entrepreneur (ZigTag, Book That Bet, One Clap, others).
    PREVIOUSLY SEEN AT: DemoCampEdmonton4, Start Me Up at ICE 2009
    WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: We brainstorm all the time, but typically we’re limited to sticky notes and whiteboards. Edistorm brings brainstorming to the web, so that you can brainstorm with people all around the world, in real-time. Lots of opportunity for decentralized teams, events, etc.
    FOLLOW: Facebook, Twitter

  • Empire Avenue
    TWO WORDS: Monetizing Influence
    WHAT: Measures influence online for monetization via advertising.
    KEY PEOPLE: Duleepa Wijayawardhana formerly of BioWare and Sun/MySQL, Tom Ohle, experienced marketer, Brad Grier, social media guru and blogger for Future Shop, and others.
    WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: People love rankings, and Empire Ave offers a fun way to see how you compare to others online. It’s also an interesting approach to online advertising, a welcome innovation in a world dominated by AdWords.
    PREVIOUSLY SEEN AT: Empire Avenue Launch Party
    FOLLOW: Blog, Facebook, Twitter

  • FotoJournal
    TWO WORDS: Photographer Blogs
    WHAT: Blogging platform built specifically for photographers.
    KEY PEOPLE: Kyle Fox, designer and web developer, formerly of Lift Interactive, currently at Yardstick Software, Jon Smelquist, designer and web developer.
    WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: The proliferation of digital cameras means there are more photographers than ever, making it harder for the pros to stand out from the crowd. WordPress is great for text, but not so great for photos – that’s the void that FotoJournal fills.
    FOLLOW: Facebook, Twitter

  • Mailout Interactive
    TWO WORDS: Email Services
    WHAT: Professionally designed email newsletters and management.
    KEY PEOPLE: Gregg Oldring, founder, Jon Larson, business development, and others.
    WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Already eight years old, Mailout Interactive is well-established in Edmonton and elsewhere. Dozens of organizations use Industry Mailout, including the City of Edmonton, Original Fare, Homeward Trust, and others. They have a proven, powerful email platform, and email isn’t going anywhere.
    FOLLOW: Facebook, Twitter

  • PureInbox
    TWO WORDS: Information Synchronization
    WHAT: Information synchronization service, wirelessly to any device.
    KEY PEOPLE: Sam Huang, co-founder of Gennux Microsystems, and others.
    PREVIOUSLY SEEN AT: DemoCampEdmonton4
    WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Email, contacts, calendars, task lists, files – we have more than ever, and we want to access them from any device, no matter where we are. That’s the heady challenge that PureInbox is tackling, with support for Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, the iPhone, and more.

  • Seek Your Own Proof
    TWO WORDS: Smart Entertainment
    WHAT: Online community for kids to investigate history and science.
    KEY PEOPLE: Ken Bautista, one of Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40, Norman Mendoza of Redengine, and others.
    PREVIOUSLY SEEN AT: DemoCampEdmonton9
    WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: They won TEC VenturePrize, accepted financing from Foundation Equity, and recently signed a deal with Discovery Kids. An all-star team off to an incredible start – keep an eye on this one!
    FOLLOW: Facebook

  • SnowSeekers
    TWO WORDS: Winter Content
    WHAT: Highlights winter destinations in Alberta & British Columbia.
    KEY PEOPLE: Jim Barr, former journalist, and others.
    WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Fresh off the Winter Olympics, winter tourism in Western Canada is booming. SnowSeekers takes the traditional destination guide to the next level, with in-depth information, mobile apps, and regularly updated content.
    FOLLOW: Blog, Facebook

  • Yardstick Software
    TWO WORDS: Web Testing
    WHAT: Web-based training and testing software and services.
    KEY PEOPLE: Chris LaBossiere, co-founder, Don Riep, co-founder, Greg Kureluk, business development, and others.
    PREVIOUSLY SEEN AT: DemoCampEdmonton8
    WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Experienced team, active in the community, highly decorated, with a large, loyal customer base, and a culture tuned to change and fast growth. Yardstick surrounds itself with great people, and is well-positioned for additional success. A gem among Edmonton tech companies.
    FOLLOW: Twitter

You can follow all of the above organizations and individuals on Twitter here.

It should be a great evening. The festivities get underway at 6:30pm at the Matrix Hotel. If you don’t already have tickets, you can buy them here for just $10 (some will be available at the door for $15). Follow StartupEdmonton for updates. See you there!

Edmonton Tech in 2009

What another fantastic year for tech in Edmonton! I think 2009 had an excellent mix of events, product launches, company successes, and much more. Below I have tried to recap as much of it as possible. I did my first recap post like this last year – you can read it here.

STIRR in EdmontonCrazedCodersFree beer! London PrideDemoCampEdmonton9Start Me UpENTS Grand OpeningLeveraging Technical Expertise Locally


Again we had a great year for DemoCamp, with five events (five, six, seven, eight, nine). The year started off with STIRR, a networking event for tech founders, funders, and others. In early March, the Alberta Entrepreneurs Bootcamp took place at the University of Alberta. Our second BarCamp event was held in June. In July, Edmonton’s first UXCamp took place. The annual Edmonton Code Camp took place in September. Though it wasn’t exactly a tech event, open data played a large role at ChangeCamp which took place in October. That same weekend, Flash in the Can (FITC) brought Flash developers together. November started with the annual ICE Conference, featuring a new startup focused event called Start Me Up. A couple of weeks later, the Leveraging Technical Expertise Locally open house took place – the pilot will get underway in Q1 2010. Also in November the City hosted an Open Data Workshop, another big step on the path toward open data in Edmonton. The month finished off with the iPhone Dev Camp. The year finished off with the first Startup Drinks, put on by Digital Alberta and Startup Edmonton. Watch for much more from them in 2010.

There were many active tech groups in Edmonton this year. The Social Web Meetup continued going strong. The Edmonton Flash User Group held a number of monthly events, in addition to FITC. Agile Edmonton had a great second year, with regularly monthly events. Other active groups included the Edmonton .NET User Group, the Edmonton Microsoft User Group, the Edmonton Web Design Meetup, and TechWing Wednesday.

With 2009 being the breakout year for Twitter, it’s no surprise that the service featured prominently in Edmonton’s tech scene this year. The first Photography Tweetup took place in April, and the group met a few more times later in the year. Also in April was EdmontonTweetup4, and in June we held EdmontonTweetup5. We held two Twestival events this year, in February and September. In November, the community once again got together to wrap gifts for Santas Anonymous. The last major tweetup of the year, the Holiday Tweetup, took place in December. There were many other smaller tweetups throughout the year. I’ll have more on Twitter in Edmonton in 2009 next week.


It’s hard to keep track of all of the news that happens in a year, but here are some of 2009’s most interesting Edmonton tech stories:

And here’s the collection of Edmonton Startup Index posts at Techvibes:


I’m really excited for 2010. I think we’ll see accelerating growth and change in the tech community, based upon the strong foundation laid during the last two years. Here are a few things to watch for:

All the best in the new year!

Have another event, story, or link that should be included above? Let me know in the comments or via email. Thanks!

Recap: Startup Drinks Edmonton 1

Tonight was Edmonton’s first ever Startup Drinks, sponsored by Startup Edmonton and Digital Alberta. A few dozen entrepreneurs got together at The Hat for drinks, food, and great conversation! The event was targeted at startup founders, employees, and funders, but anyone with an interest in local startups was welcome to attend. With no DemoCamp scheduled this month, Startup Drinks was a nice excuse for everyone to get together.

There was a bunch of food available (the sliders were yummy), and all drinks were just $6! I had a great time chatting with Don, Kyle, Brian, Sean, Sean, Tys, Andre, and many others. And don’t get me and Reg started on big ideas, because we don’t know where to stop! I didn’t get to talk to nearly as many people as I’d have liked, but everyone seemed to be busy with their own conversations.

Startup DrinksStartup Drinks

Startup Edmonton is a new organization focused on growing the local tech startup scene. Through events like Startup Drinks and Startup Weekend, the organization will help Edmonton-based entrepreneurs connect with one another. That’s important, and outside of DemoCamp, it’s something we’ve largely been missing here in Edmonton. Startup Edmonton also hopes to help startups in other ways, by connecting them with the people and resources they need. More than anything, Startup Edmonton will advocate for local startups. Investing in Edmonton-based entrepreneurs benefits us all, and that’s what Startup Edmonton is all about.

Thanks to Cam, Ken, and Mark for making tonight happen! You can keep up-to-date with Startup Edmonton on Twitter and Facebook, and watch for the website to launch early next year.

Leveraging Technical Expertise Locally (LTEL) Application Deadline: December 15

Just a reminder that if you’re planning to participate in the Leveraging Technical Expertise Locally (LTEL) initiative, you have until next Tuesday to declare your interest! If this is the first you’ve heard of LTEL, check out my recap of last month’s open house. Expressing interest is easy – just fill out this online form. You’ll need to provide your personal and business contact details, as well as:

  • A description of your solution in 100 words or less
  • An overview of your solution in 200 words or less (no I don’t know how the description and overview are different)
  • The top 10 features of your solution
  • The technical specifications of your solution
  • Direct & indirect benefits and costs of your solution
  • An explanation of how your solution will address the technical and operational needs of the customer and end-user
  • A preliminary timeline for your solution

Interestingly, there’s also room for three team member profiles, and comments on product differentiation, commercialization potential, and financial considerations. So if you have sales projections or plans to look for investment, you can mention that up front.

The website has a number of useful documents that might be of interest, including a scan of the current Lost & Found form and tag (pictured above). You can also download the City’s IT standards, which have been clarified:

The City does not wish to dictate the technologies proposed by the applicant, however, the solution must run in the City’s technical environment, as City staff are expected to use the application on a daily basis. In addition, the City is open to considering proposals that include hosting of the proposed application.

Emphasis mine – that’s great to hear!

If you’re chosen to continue, the next step in the process is to present your solution to the selection panel on January 28, 2010. Your solution doesn’t need to be complete by that date – mockups, prototypes, or whatever you’re comfortable presenting is fine. The selection will be announced on February 3, 2010.

For more information, check out the LTEL site. If you have questions or other concerns, email Have a great idea for a new Lost & Found system? Apply now!

Taking Edmonton’s Technology Community to the Next Level

I’m always thinking about the technology community in Edmonton. Some very positive things have happened in recent years, and I want to see that trend continue and even accelerate. To take our tech community to the next level however, we’re going to need everyone to bring their unique strengths and abilities to the table. Community organizers, researchers, investors, public policy makers, educational institutions, small and large enterprises, and most importantly, entrepreneurs, all have a role to play.

For a while now I’ve felt that something is holding us back, something that we can change. That’s what this post is about.

Leveraging Technical Expertise Locally

There were two interesting items at the top of the City of Edmonton Executive Committee meeting yesterday. The first was the TEC Edmonton 2008 Annual Report (PDF). The second was a report entitled Leveraging Technical Expertise Locally (Word).

I read the second report with great interest. It is based on a consultation with TEC Edmonton, Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC), and City Administration and is in response to the following motion from the May 6, 2009 Executive Committee meeting:

That Administration consult with TEC Edmonton, Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, and the general technical community on opportunities to facilitate and better capitalize on incorporating work and research done via the City’s purchasing, standards and business practices, and report back to Executive Committee.

The report is relatively short at just two and a half pages, so I encourage you to read it for yourself. Here’s my summary:

  • One of the four principles of the City of Edmonton Strategic Plan is innovation, loosely defined as “exploration in the adoption of new techniques, technologies, products and ways of operating in order to improve results and lead progressive change.”
  • With that in mind, EEDC, TEC Edmonton, and City Administration want to challenge the status quo with a pilot project that connects them with one another and the “general technical community”.
  • The pilot project would provide benefits to local technology firms (such as opportunities to use the City as a reference customer) and to City Administration (including exposure and access to technologies that previously had not been realized).
  • The pilot project would leverage concepts similar to “the University of Alberta Idea-Fest or local technology Demo Camps” and would consist of two sessions.

It’s nice to see DemoCamp and IDEAfest both get mentioned. Kudos to Cam Linke, Michael Janz, and everyone else who makes those and other events successful.

The above points seem logical enough and if that’s all I had read, I’d happily support the recommended pilot project (which sounds like a couple of events). Unfortunately I kept reading, and as the saying goes, the devil is in the details.

First, the scope of the pilot project is defined as:

  • Small entrepreneurial organizations
  • Prototype the approach – keep it simple
  • TEC Edmonton would identify potential attendees and review with Administration
  • Products must be usable and available for testing

If by “small entrepreneurial organizations” they mean “startups” then I think the first point is spot on. There are so many local startups that could use a leg up with the City. The second point makes sense also – simplicity and iteration are key. The fourth point is similar to the rules of DemoCamp – we’d like to see action rather than talk. I’ll come back to the third point.

Next, the two sessions are defined as follows:

The first session, held in Q3 of 2009, would focus on the City of Edmonton identifying business problems and communication of priorities to TEC Edmonton associated companies.

A second session would be held approximately four weeks later with TEC Edmonton members presenting possible solutions to opportunities identified.

Can you spot the pattern? It continues in the report’s final remarks:

This pilot also supports the concept of the knowledge economy and leverages the capability of local educational institutions.

It focuses on retaining and accelerating the success of high-impact innovation-based start up companies in the Edmonton area by strengthening the partnership between TEC Edmonton and the City of Edmonton. This in turn promotes the development of an entrepreneurial culture and the infrastructure to nurture and sustain scientific and technology-based enterprises.

What started out as a promising attempt by the City to leverage and work with the wonderful technology community we have here in Edmonton quickly became all about TEC Edmonton. According to the recommendation, TEC Edmonton would be responsible for picking the attendees and for driving the dialogue.

This is bad for two reasons:

  1. TEC Edmonton does not represent the whole of the technology community in Edmonton.
  2. TEC Edmonton has a very poor track record when it comes to “promoting the development of an entrepreneurial culture” in Edmonton.

TEC Edmonton Background

Formed in 2000 and ratified in 2006, TEC Edmonton is a joint venture between the University of Alberta and EEDC. It’s mandate is to “help navigate the commercialization process – transitioning science solutions into business opportunities” in the greater Edmonton region. A few highlights from the annual report I mentioned above:

  • TEC Edmonton received 98 reports of inventions in 2008. A total of 77 patent applications were filed and 48 patents were granted. A total of 23 technologies were licensed.
  • TEC Source provided free business advice to 70 entrepreneurs in 2008.
  • A total of 160 entrepreneurs participated in TEC VenturePrize in 2008.
  • The TEC Centre is home to 22 tenants.

TEC Edmonton represents the Information and Communications Technology, Physical Sciences, Life Sciences and Agri-Value industry sectors. There’s absolutely a need for an organization to facilitate the commercialization of research coming out of the University of Alberta. TEC Edmonton needs to continue that work – they’re good at it and they’ve proven they can get results.

The Problem With TEC Edmonton

TEC Edmonton automatically gets a seat at the technology table in Edmonton, whether it deserves one or not. The City of Edmonton and EEDC cannot pursue their objectives in the technology space without involving TEC Edmonton, which is a problem because TEC Edmonton isn’t interested in much of what it would take for those organizations to achieve their objectives.

Startups have little to no interaction with TEC Edmonton and are very rarely impacted by TEC Edmonton programs. Software-based startups are even further removed from TEC Edmonton’s activities. The organization is completely geared toward monetizing expensive high tech research from the University of Alberta, not helping local startups.

  • Patents are meaningless in the world of software, but are at the heart of nearly every deal that TEC Edmonton does. The very first question mentioned on the TEC Source page is: “Do you have intellectual property or a business plan?”
  • The TEC Centre is an incubation facility for TEC Edmonton companies, not technology companies in general. You can’t just drop in.
  • Alberta Deal Generator doesn’t help startup companies prepare for investment, it helps later stage companies. And the private sector does a better job of that anyway.

Quite simply, TEC Edmonton has been ignoring software startups for nearly a decade now. Why does this matter? If we want to move beyond our current energy-based economy to nurture and capitalize on the incredibly smart and talented people we have in Edmonton and Alberta, we need to start paying more attention to software. That’s where innovation is happening and value is being created.

What We Really Need

We don’t need two events to talk about business and communication problems for TEC Edmonton associated companies, nor do we need an organization filtering communication between the City and the technology community. What we really need is for TEC Edmonton or an organization like it to help software startups by doing the things the community can’t.

Easy exchange of knowledge and ideas is something the community has proven it can do well with events like DemoCamp and BarCamp. The ability to get started without a lot of initial investment is another thing the community is addressing through initiatives such as ENTS (you can read more about ENTS here).

Something the community can’t do is provide smart seed funding. I’m talking about YCombinator and TechStars. Tiny amounts of money to get entrepreneurs going, with ongoing mentorship and other networking opportunities. These programs likely aren’t going to make anyone rich, but that’s not the point anyway. The point is to invest in people, to encourage entrepreneurship. TEC Edmonton could do this right away if they really wanted to by scrapping Alberta Deal Generator and taking a fraction of the money spent on that program and putting it into a local YCombinator. I’ve heard about some members of the community working towards this, but I think it would be a great opportunity for TEC Edmonton.

Final Thoughts

If we want to take the technology community in Edmonton to the next level, we need the City of Edmonton and EEDC to recognize that as it currently exists, TEC Edmonton is holding the community back, not helping it move forward. TEC Edmonton certainly has a role to play, but it’s not the catch-all they’ve been given. We need to focus more attention and energy on software startups, an area that TEC Edmonton has historically ignored.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend or listen to the meeting yesterday, so I’m not sure what the Executive Committee did with the report. I’m hopeful that the right people will read this however, so that we can start down the path to positive change.

Finally, I’d like to thank everyone who provided me with context and thoughts on this topic over the last few months – you know who you are.


Unfortunately the leaves have already started changing colors on some of the trees and the mornings are getting progressively cooler. The good news about fall? It means that DemoCamp is back! Join us at the University of Alberta in two weeks to see what local tech entrepreneurs are up to. As usual, we’ll head over to RATT after the demos for Edmonton’s best networking opportunity for tech professionals. Here are the details for #8:

Date: Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Time: 6:30pm (and drinks/networking afterward)
Location: E1 017, ETLC, University of Alberta (map)
Cost: Free sign up

The rules for DemoCamp are simple: ten minutes to demo real, working software, followed by a few minutes for questions. No slides allowed. You can learn more here. Our last DemoCamp took place on May 13th – you can read my recap here.

If you’re planning to come out, sign up here!

Help us spread the word – check out the BarCamp Edmonton blog and our Facebook group. Be sure to tag your tweets, posts, photos, and other content with democampyeg.

Hope to see you there!


Are you ready for another DemoCamp? Our next event here in Edmonton is coming up fast, on May 13th! Join us at the University of Alberta to see what local tech entrepreneurs are up to. As usual, we’ll head over to RATT after the demos for Edmonton’s best networking opportunity for tech professionals. If you’re new to DemoCamp, check out my recap of our last event. Here are the details for #7:

Date: Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Time: 6:30pm (and drinks/networking afterward)
Location: E1 017, ETLC, University of Alberta (map)
Cost: Free

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

This time we’ve got a fantastic new sign up page for both attendees and anyone interested in demoing at this event or in the future. No more wiki craziness – just enter your name and click Register!

Help us spread the word – check out the BarCamp Edmonton blog and our Facebook group. Be sure to tag your tweets, posts, photos, and other content with democampyeg.

Hope to see you there!


It’s DemoCamp time again here in Edmonton! In just three short weeks we’ll once again converge at the University of Alberta to see what local tech entrepreneurs are up to. Following the demos we’ll head over to a local pub for Edmonton’s best networking opportunity for tech professionals (we’ll probably be at Hudson’s on Campus this time, instead of The Windsor). You can read about our last DemoCamp here. Here are the details for #6:

Date: Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Time: 6:30pm (and drinks/networking afterward)
Location: E1 013, ETLC, University of Alberta (map)
Cost: Free

The rules for DemoCamp are simple: ten minutes to demo real, working software, followed by a few minutes for questions. No slides allowed. If you’d like to demo, make sure you’ve attended at least one DemoCamp in the past, and add yourself to the signup list.

Please help us spread the word – we’d like to make this the biggest DemoCamp Edmonton yet! Let’s fill the room. Check out the BarCamp Edmonton blog, our Facebook group, the Facebook event, and the wiki page. Be sure to tag your tweets, posts, photos, and other content with democampyeg.

See you in early March!

STIRR in Edmonton

stirr canada Tonight we held the first ever STIRR Canada event here in Edmonton. About sixty of the city’s entrepreneurs, investors, and other tech professionals came together at The Hat downtown to chat with one another, and to meet and learn from Greg Zeschuk, one of the founders of BioWare.

I think “STIRR” was new to most people, so near the beginning of the event Patrick Lor from the STIRR Canada team explained how he got introduced to the organization and brought it to Canada.

STIRR Canada is a networking community for high-tech startup founders, founding teams, former founders, angel and VC funders, and technology journalists. Our events are designed for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs.

The idea is to bring new and experienced entrepreneurs together. We do a bit of that at DemoCamp of course, but the audience tonight was a bit different. There were definitely more guys wearing suits! I think it all comes down to access – busy guys like Greg simply can’t make it out to every DemoCamp, so to be able to have him present tonight was pretty cool.

Greg from BioWareSTIRR in EdmontonRandy & Cam

Founded in 1995, BioWare is a major Edmonton success story. Greg and his colleagues Ray Muzyka and Augustine Yip realized early on that, in Greg’s words, “no one likes a creative doctor.” They decided to put their creativity into video games, and BioWare was the result. After a string of hits, BioWare became an acquisition target and was eventually scooped up by Electronic Arts in late 2007. Today the company continues to produce popular games, and has grown to about 500 employees.

Here are some of the highlights from Greg’s talk:

  • Early on, BioWare didn’t see the need for a board of directors or advisors. Looking back, they wouldn’t recommend that strategy to anyone!
  • Greg figures that the cost of making their first game was less than the cost of a single month of development at the company today. It’s become a much more expensive industry.
  • Greg says to be prepared for the long haul. He pointed to Google as an example: most people think about their success in recent years, but the reality is that they’ve been running in some form or another for more than a decade (since 1996).
  • Another piece of advice from Greg: don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. And if something doesn’t make sense, be suspicious!

Greg’s presentation was really interesting, and seemed to be well-received by everyone in attendance. Of course, the major focus of an event like this is the networking that followed. There were lots of interesting discussions taking place all evening long!

Thanks to The Hat for running a wonderful service this evening, and to Cam, Pat and the other organizers for bringing this event to Edmonton. I’m glad I was able to help. Most importantly, thanks to everyone for coming out!

You can see the rest of my photos from the evening at Flickr.