Recap: Launch Party Edmonton 5

Last night Startup Edmonton hosted its fifth Launch Party, “the city’s flagship startup event that celebrates and showcases the hottest startups in town.” Hundreds of Edmontonians attended to learn more about ten new local companies. A short program at the start included an overview from Startup’s Tiffany, remarks from presenting partner QUALICO Commercial, remarks from EEDC, and greetings from Mayor Don Iveson.

Mayor Don Iveson

Mayor Iveson said that startups are another reason that Edmonton is getting noticed. He shared a thought that he heard recently, which is that your city isn’t on the map when someone opens a branch office there, it’s on the map when a company from your city opens a branch office somewhere else! Citing the recent news that 40% of all new jobs in Canada last year were generated in Edmonton, he told the presenting companies, “you’re going to create a lot more!”

This was one of the first public events at which EEDC acknowledged the acquisition of Startup Edmonton, a relationship highlighted by the recently relaunched Ignite Edmonton website. Chief Operating Officer Derek Hudson talked about Startup being part of the EEDC family, and highlighted the strengthening startup ecosystem in our city.

Edmonton Launch Party 5

The ten presenting companies represented a range of industries and opportunities, including education, HR, oil & gas, and home automation. They were:

I spent some time checking out Alieo Games and their creative learning product called COW (Creative Online Writing). Alieo’s Kit Chen explained the idea to me, which is that kids don’t practice writing enough and through gamification, there’s an opportunity to change that. We co-wrote a short story that I very creatively called “the monkey by the river” to get sense of how the tool works. Kids can choose between a blank page or a prompt to help them start writing. As they write, they’re presented with bonus words that they are meant to incorporate. If they do, they earn Alieo dollars that they can spend on their avatar. When they’re done, the system presents some statistics of their writing to help them improve.

Edmonton Launch Party 5

The plan is to try to get schools to adopt the tool, but they are also pricing it so that a single teacher could use it with his or her own class with discretionary funds. The three primary people behind the company are all PhD candidates at the University of Alberta, so they’re building this company alongside that already ambitious endeavour! Alieo Games is an eHUB Startup, and won first place in the TEC VenturePrize Student Competition last year. You can follow them on Twitter for updates.

I also spoke with Alexis Alchorn from Pogo CarShare. They were probably the most high profile of the participating companies, given they had just done a big reveal earlier in the day. Pogo is similar to other carsharing services like Car2Go, but it is created by Edmontonians for Edmontonians. Basically you use a mobile app or the website to see where the cars are currently parked, you go and pick one up using your membership card and PIN code, take your trip, then park the car somewhere within the zone when you’re done and it becomes available for another member to use. It really could enable two car households to drop down to one, or maybe even allow some people to go without a car altogether!

Pogo CarShare

It costs just $35 to sign up, and after that you only pay for what you use – $0.47 per minute, $14.99 per hour, or $69.99 per day, and those costs are inclusive of gas, insurance, etc. You can even take the car out of the city for the weekend, and you pay $0.30 per km after 200km. Pogo is starting with just 20 vehicles but they hope to expand that number pretty quickly (down in Calgary, Car2Go has more than 500 vehicles). You probably have more questions, so fortunately they have an extensive FAQ page.

Given that Calgary is one of the fastest growing markets for Car2Go, I have long wondered why we didn’t have a carsharing service here in Edmonton. Now that Pogo is here, I hope to see them succeed. That said, it won’t be easy. They’ve done the heavy lifting of getting the right parking permit created in Edmonton, so in theory a competitor could more easily come to our city now. And one disadvantage as I see it is that if you’re a Car2Go member, you can use the service in any of the more than 30 locations they operate in. In practice I’m not sure how often that happens, but it’s a nice perk of being a member if you travel a lot, and at least for now, Pogo is Edmonton-only. Anyway, I wish them well!

I was intrigued by the name MASV and the “cloud communications” subtitle, so I spent a bit of time talking to co-founder Manson about the idea. Basically MASV is a tool to connect oil & gas companies with equipment rentals over the phone. The unique thing is that the automated phone system uses cloud-based voice recognition and proprietary filtering algorithms to connect renters with the right company. The problem they solve is that out in the field, a phone is often the only tool an oil & gas company can rely on, and they need to source equipment quickly.

Edmonton Launch Party 5

They’re using Node.js and Twilio to power the system. The business model is to have the rental companies pay a fee to be included in the directory and thus available to be connected with renters. MASV is also an eHUB Startup. They anticipate launching early next year.

I thought TwoFold’s Alison McMahon had a great elevator pitch, so I talked to her to learn more about the tools TwoFold has built to create better managers. She said “people usually quit their managers, not their jobs”. Alison is an HR consultant who has been working with companies to implement best practices and develop their managers, so she has lots of experience in the industry. After seeing the same problems again and again, the idea for TwoFold was born.


TwoFold provides managers with tools and processes they can follow without being HR experts. Employee surveys, coaching plans, orientation schedules, training history, and performance conversations are all examples. The interface looks pretty clean and is something I could have seen myself greatly benefiting from when I first became a manager. Pricing ranges from $25 per month for up to 15 employees, to $1,200 per month or more for more than 100 employees.

Edmonton Launch Party 5

I didn’t spend as much time at the other companies, but all were interesting. I remember talking to Jason Suriano about his product Trajectory about three years ago, so it was neat to see that it has come to fruition and has customers already. TeachMe is also tackling education through gaming, but instead of writing they focus on math. Otto is a “system-in-a-box” that enables home automation, targeted at builders and renovators rather than end consumers. Instacoins enables you to buy Bitcoin with your bank account using Interac Online, simple as that. OMx is in the health space, and they have a dashboard that aims to give you better information about your body. And MADSOFT Games is focused on browser-based gaming.

The event took place at EPCOR Tower, in the expansive main floor space. As my friend Jeff remarked, the location nicely reflected the Startup Edmonton mantra that was visible on stage: “whatever you’re thinking, think bigger.” It was a very different feel than last year’s launch party, which took place at Startup Edmonton itself. Bigger, bolder, and more polished.

Edmonton Launch Party 5

Launch Party took place on day four of Startup Week, which saw a number of entrepreneurship-oriented events take part all across the city. Kudos to Ken, Cam, and the entire Startup Edmonton crew on a great event and a successful week of celebrating startups in Edmonton!

You can see the rest of my photos from the event here. You can see my previous posts about Launch Party here: #1, #2, #3, #4.

Recap: DemoCamp Edmonton 24

democampEdmonton’s 24th 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. There was a pretty good turnout tonight, and lots of new faces in the crowd.

We had seven demos tonight, three of which were projects created at the recent 24 hour Computer Engineering Club Hackathon. In order of appearance:

  • Gregg and Stephen showed us Industry Mailout‘s new email editor. The existing editor hasn’t really been changed since 2004, so a fresh approach was long overdue. The new editor looks very slick, and in addition to being easier to use with a live preview, it’s more advanced too. Users can easily include tweets and other elements in their templates. It also supports Liquid.
  • Ross and Andrew were up next to show us their project from the hackathon called Stall. It’s a mobile app that lets you play mini games simply by scanning a QR code that has been placed somewhere. So imagine getting into an elevator, scanning the QR code, and playing a quick game. They also implemented a high score feature, so you could try to top the leaderboard in that elevator. Cool stuff!
  • Our third demo was from Michael who showed us Renturly. It’s an app that helps to match buyers and sellers in off-market, NPN (non-performing note), and REO (real estate owned) real estate. I must admit I don’t understand the business, but I gathered that this isn’t a tool you’ll use to buy your next house. It’s for people looking to buy and sell apartment buildings, hotels, and golf courses. I’m not really sure where the name comes in or why the logo is a bird, but it sounds like Renturly already has a number of paying customers.
  • Next up was Indragie and Ali who showed us their Smartwatch Light Bulb Controller, which took first place at the hackathon. Their solution enabled a Pebble smartwatch to control the color and state of a wifi-connected lightbulb (they used LIFX). It was neat to see such a visual demo that just worked! Currently it requires a server and a phone, and it requires everything to be on the same wifi network, but in theory they could make it run from the cloud.
  • Our fifth demo was from Logan and his team showed off the cross-platform API using Visual Studio! Myst makes it easy for developers to add features to their games like cloud saving, multiplayer, and achievements. It sounds like their API is fairly complete, though they are still working on the deployment and management.
  • Sixth was Ranek who showed us his hackathon project called URSA. As he himself admitted, it solves a problem that students try to solve every couple of years – a better way to search and select from the University of Alberta’s course catalogue. His solution did look pretty slick, and there are lots of potential improvements he could make. Interestingly it doesn’t simply scrape data, but actually gets the bulk of it from an LDAP server the university makes available. Progress!
  • The final demo of the evening was from Kris, Damien, and their team, who showed us GameSys. They work in the online gaming (as in casino) space, and showed us some nifty tech that can help to detect fraud, collusion, and other “abhorrent” behavior in online poker. We basically saw a Virgin-branded poker game being played, followed by a peek at the admin interface they would use on the backend to detect foul play.

Here are some video highlights from the event:

All of tonight’s demos were relatively quick – I don’t think anyone used their full seven minutes actually! I am really happy to see what Industry Mailout is up to as their service is used by so many local organizations (I feel like I interact with it daily due to all the email newsletters I get). I loved seeing all of the cool projects that students were able to create in just 24 hours, it’s really impressive. Even if their solutions don’t have a commercial future, it’s great to see such creativity.

Great job to all the demoers!

Here are the upcoming events and other announcements that were highlighted at DemoCamp:

  • Startup Edmonton is hosting an open house each Friday afternoon. It’s a great opportunity to check out the space and to find out what it is like to be a member.
  • The next Go Meetup is on Monday night. There are also meetups for Ruby, Python, and many other technologies so check them out! One of the newest is an AWS Meetup, the first meeting of which will be during lunch on March 20.
  • There’s an interesting lunch event coming up next Wednesday called Lunchalytics. Taking place at Startup Edmonton, the event’s theme is Predictive Analytics in the Public Sector.
  • TEDxEdmonton is coming back this summer with the theme of “uncertainty”. They’ve recently changed the date to June 14 to watch for future details in the weeks ahead.

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

See you at DemoCamp Edmonton 25!

DemoCamp Edmonton 24 is on Thursday!

Looking to connect with local entrepreneurs, investors, and other creative Edmontonians? Look no further than the next DemoCamp, taking place at the U of A on Thursday.

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 event.

If you’ve never been to a DemoCamp, I think you’ll enjoy the format. The reason it is called DemoCamp is because you have to actually demo something!

The rules for DemoCamp are simple: 7 minutes to demo real, working products, followed by a few minutes for questions, and no slides allowed.

Following the demos, a large group usually heads to a local pub for drinks. It’s a great opportunity to ask the demoers about their stuff and to meet some new people.

BarCamp coming soon!
Photo of Edmonton’s first DemoCamp in March 2008

You don’t need to be a programmer to appreciate DemoCamp. The demos are approachable and don’t usually dwell on any technical details. There are plenty of people in the room who are not developers, so you won’t be in the minority if code scares you! Come and get inspired by what others have applied their talents to.

Here are the details for Thursday’s event:

WHEN: Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 6:45pm
WHERE: TELUS Centre 150, University of Alberta

The demos this time will include:

Here’s a teaser on CTV Edmonton!

Don’t miss it! You can RSVP on Meetup here. If you can’t make it, follow along on Twitter using the #democampyeg hashtag.

If you’d like to read about previous DemoCamps, you can see my recaps here. Here’s my recap of DemoCamp Edmonton 23, which took place in November. Thinking you might want to demo in the future? You can apply here.

See you Thursday!

Preview: Launch Party Edmonton 4

Tomorrow evening is Edmonton’s fourth Launch Party, an event which “celebrates and showcases the hottest startups in town.” These are companies that have recently launched and which are ready to pursue the next level of growth.

Launch Party isn’t your typical networking event or trade show. It’s a party designed to celebrate and showcase the rockstar entrepreneurs in our community. Drinks, DJs, and great company all await you at Launch Party!

Launch Party is for everyone in the community – students, media, investors, entrepreneurs, designers, consumers – if you’re interested in starting, growing and supporting local startups, then Launch Party is the place to be!

There’s an impressive list of Launch Party alumni in Edmonton, including Mover, Yardstick, Poppy Barley, and Jobber. Now we get an opportunity to see another ten grow and hopefully succeed!

presenting companies

Here are the presenting companies for Launch Party 4:


FOUNDED: April 2013
TWO WORDS: Linguistics Training
WHAT: “People have difficulty speaking new languages because their mouths have been trained to move in a different way. AccentFree is a personal linguistics engine to help retrain how people speak. Our products level the playing field for ESL speakers, giving them equal career and social opportunities, and turn smartphones into personal linguistic tutors.”
KEY PEOPLE: Michael Brougham
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: I’m personally unfamiliar with AccentFree, though it’s clear that founder Michael has a passion for the beauty of the human voice. ESL itself is a large industry here in Alberta, and with a large and growing influx of newcomers, there’s a lot of demand for services and solutions to support them.


FOUNDED: May 2011
TWO WORDS: Game Platform
WHAT: “ is an independent focused, games development platform that connects dedicated producers with passionate players. The diverse system allows audiences to enjoy products online and contribute to the evolution games through feedback, collaboration and funding. This provides the producer with a richer and more flexible environment in which to validate, fund and promote their products with the most relevant audience.”
KEY PEOPLE: Pieter Parker, Sean Kopen
PREVIOUSLY SEEN AT: DemoCamp Edmonton 14 (Pieter, with Bit Shift Games)
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Despite both Sony & Microsoft launching new consoles this month, the gaming industry remains in flux. We’re gaming more, but in different ways, and the likelihood that aspiring game developers can make something is ever-increasing. Cinder will be entering an already competitive market, but there’s lots of potential.


TWO WORDS: Weigh-Station Bypass
WHAT: “Drivewyze Inc., provider of the leading electronic weigh station bypass service, Drivewyze PreClear, enables commercial vehicle operators to maximize cost savings by reducing weigh station pull-ins and increases road safety by enabling law enforcement agencies to focus on non-compliant commercial vehicles. Drivewyze partners with industry leaders including Electronic Logging Device manufacturers, trucking associations and government stakeholders to deliver the next generation of weigh station bypass solutions.”
KEY PEOPLE: Doug Johnson, Brian Heath, Jason Ding
PREVIOUSLY SEEN AT: AlwaysOn Global 250 Winner
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Can we still call Drivewyze a startup? A subsidiary of Intelligent Imaging Systems, Drivewyze already has more than 230 sites and numerous partnerships. In August 2013, the company raised $7.5 million in funding from Emergence Capital Partners and iNovia Capital. The company has hit upon a cost-effective solution in a big, big market.


FOUNDED: January 2012
TWO WORDS: Financial Forecasts
WHAT: “Dryrun is a software as a service (SaaS) product built for small businesses to forecast their cash flow, compare their options and understand their business. Improving on the familiar spreadsheet, it’s fast, easy, clear and collaborative.”
KEY PEOPLE: Blaine Bertsch
PREVIOUSLY SEEN AT: DemoCamp Edmonton 23
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Dryrun is gearing up to launch later this year, and already it’s a highly functional, attractive service. Blaine’s background in design has served him well in the creation of what could be a fairly boring tool. I think the key to success will be integrations, with services like FreshBooks.


FOUNDED: June 2011
TWO WORDS: Local Labels
WHAT: “Localize makes it easy for grocery stores to launch and maintain highly credible local food campaigns. Our shelf-labelling service identifies local and regional products right on the store shelf, and provides customers with an easy way to find more information about where each product has come from when they scan the QR code that is found on each label. We have launched the Localize service into over 50 grocery stores in Alberta, partnered with over 300 food producers, and have profiled over 3500 food products. We are currently growing the program into BC and Saskatchewan.”
KEY PEOPLE: Meghan Dear
PREVIOUSLY SEEN AT: Semi-Finalist in VenturePrize, Social Enterprise World Forum
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Fresh off a $20,000 win in the Good Deals Venture Pitch Competition, Localize has some momentum at the moment. With a growing network of grocery stores and a really impressive number of producers, Localize is well-positioned to capitalize on the incredible interest in local food in Alberta and beyond.


TWO WORDS: 3D Printing
WHAT: “pinshape is a 3D printing community marketplace for 3D printable models. Users can explore models from the world’s leading 3D designers to learn, share, download, and order physical 3D prints through pinshape’s professional 3D print service. Designers can upload their work and share it for free or sell it for profit. With a fluid pinboard interface, life-like 3D rendering, and individually tailored content, pinshape is organizing the world’s 3D designs, and changing how we explore 3D creativity.”
KEY PEOPLE: Nick Schwinghamer
PREVIOUSLY SEEN AT: DemoCamp Edmonton 23, TEC Edmonton/Fundica Funding Roadshow
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: I’m positive that one day we’ll all have 3D printers in our homes, just as inkjets are so ubiquitous today. Part community and part app store, pinshape is the kind of service that will bridge the gap between experts and designers and those of us that just want access to this amazing technology.


FOUNDED: March 2013
TWO WORDS: Asset Management
WHAT: “SAM is an online social asset management platform for news and media professionals. We’re building the most powerful search tools to empower journalists to intentionally find meaningful content from social networks and constructing an asset management platform to make it easy to work with these social assets throughout the media lifecycle (newsgathering to broadcast and publish). To put it another way, SAM is a CMS for Tweets, Instagrams, Youtube Videos and any other social content that is essential to News Coverage, Content Production and Journalism.”
KEY PEOPLE: James Neufeld
PREVIOUSLY SEEN AT: DemoCamp Edmonton 22, News Xchange Startup Alley
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Social media is here to stay, with tweets, photos, and other posts already integral to the news gathering and sharing process. They’re not very integrated though, and that’s the problem SAM is looking to solve. There’s a lot of interest in new approaches to media, and SAM could have an angle that not many have considered yet.

Scope Technologies

FOUNDED: November 2010
TWO WORDS: Augmented Reality
WHAT: “Scope Technologies develops user-guided Augmented Reality Solution with focus in Industrial markets including mining, oil and gas, military, aerospace, and manufacturing. Our solution is primarily developed for the purpose of training and maintenance. Essentially, our solution is an extension of any manual or document, and creates a “see-it, do-it” process. Our process involves a full understanding of the challenges of the client, whether it entails and unskilled labor force, trying to minimize mistakes in maintaining equipment, or saving time. We ensure that our solution is practical for the customer, which could significantly impact the hardware that the solution is deployed on – including tablets, glasses, or a combination.”
KEY PEOPLE: David Nedohin, Scott Montgomerie, Graham Melley, Reg Cheramy
PREVIOUSLY SEEN AT: DemoCamp Edmonton 21
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: There’s a ton of interest right now in wearable computing as well as augmented reality (and some predict that gadgets in the category could save companies $1 billion within 3-5 years) . Their demo back in April focused on using augmented reality for training, an already large and growing market with a lot of potential, especially here in industrial Alberta. They’ve got a talented team and an important supporter is Epson who makes the Moverio glasses they use.


FOUNDED: September 2011
TWO WORDS: Sports Analytics
WHAT: “SportingCharts is enhancing the way people view and understand sports. We are dedicated to improving the analytics of sports by providing tools, resources and visuals, to better arm teams, fantasy players and bettors in their decision making and produce more informed fans.”
KEY PEOPLE: Cory Wagner, Chad Langager
PREVIOUSLY SEEN AT: Make Something Edmonton
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: People love their sports. Chad and Cory were previously with Investopedia, so they know a thing or two about data analysis! I regularly see people linking to the charts at, which is why it’s so interesting to me – there’s a lot of people interested in the data but they don’t necessarily know what to do with it. Their new ChartBuilder tool is a look at things to come. In addition to data and analytical tools, SportingCharts has expanded into opinion articles with more than 20 contributors.

Visio Media

FOUNDED: July 2011
TWO WORDS: Elevator Advertising
WHAT: “Visio Media tenders digital elevator advertising space in commercial and residential properties by installing Android based tablets. Visio tablets are equipped with state of the art technology that provides exact impressions and accurate demographics like age, gender and duration of stare. As well as NFC (Near Field Communication) technology that allows the audience to simply tap their smartphones on the elevator tablets to engage with advertisements.”
KEY PEOPLE: Fouad El-Masri, Nicolette Leonardis, Sami Al Askari
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: They’ve installed screens in elevators in more than a dozen locations since February, and have even provided screens to Southgate Mall and Mill Woods Town Centre. They’ve signed up dozens of advertisers, and just recently launched support for NFC to enable some interesting new scenarios. We’ve had the screens in my condo building since the summer, and I can definitely see the potential.

The event gets underway at 6:45pm at Startup Edmonton. Unfortunately the event is already sold out, but keep an eye on social media for details about all the companies!

You can see my previous Launch Party previews here: #1, #2 Recap, #3.

Recap: DemoCamp Edmonton 23

democampEdmonton’s 23rd DemoCamp took place last night 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. Despite the cooler weather, we had a strong turnout for both the first half (demos) and second half (beer) of the event.

We had five demos. In order of appearance:

  • Shawn and Zeshan kicked things off with a demo of SelfieText. “If SnapChat and Instagram had a baby, this app would be it,” they told us. The app lets you take a photo and send it to contacts, but the unique thing is that the photo “self destructs” after 12 seconds. They’ve decided to go with the closed network approach, and though you can take a photo of anything, they found the app was popular among people taking selfies.
  • Next up was Nathan, Forrest, Ben, and Donald who showed us Project Quest, a fun project management app that they built for Rails Rumble 2013. The idea is that instead of creating and working on tickets, you instead create and complete quests. Each quest also gets added to a game map. They had different types of quests too, representing by a unicorn or a yak that needs to be shaved. It looked like a really fun project to create!
  • Our third demo came from Nick and Andre who showed us PinShape. Described as a cross between Pinterest and the App Store, PinShape is a community for 3D printing. Designers can use the site to share and even sell their 3D models, while the public can use it to download, buy, and print the objects that others have designed. It definitely seems like 3D printing will be rapidly moving from commercial/industrial applications to consumer ones soon, so the project seems well-timed.
  • Our fourth and quickest demo of the evening came from students Grant and Motiejus who showed us SilentZone. The app runs on Android phones and allows you to have your phone switch to vibrate or silent mode automatically based on your location. There are other apps that provide similar functionality, but SilentZone is focused on having a simple user interface. They have plans to add more features though the app already seems highly useful.
  • Our final demo came from Blaine who showed us DryRun. It’s a web-based tool that helps you forecast your cash flow and create different financial scenarios with a few clicks. The interface looks great and very simple-to-use. Blaine has plans to integrate it with financial services like FreshBooks, though he feels already that you can get a lot of mileage out of the app. There are tools for sharing and exporting your scenarios and projections too.

I think the crowd-pleaser was probably Project Quest, just because it was such a fun way to look at a fairly boring problem (issue/project management). Though the team had lots of ideas for new features and other things to add, there’s no word on whether they’ll pursue it further. I would say that DryRun was probably the demo that I can see being most successful. It’s polished and highly functional, and it solves a problem nicely that a lot of people have (sure you can use spreadsheets, but the possibilities with DryRun are appealing). Of course, the SilentZone guys sort of stole the show with their Q&A. It was the right mix of humor, indifference, and seriousness.

Great job to all the demoers!

Here are the upcoming events and other announcements that were highlighted at DemoCamp:

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

See you at DemoCamp Edmonton 24!

Recap: Intersect – a collision of artists and geeks!

Sharon and I walked down the street to Startup Edmonton for the first ever Intersect event on Friday evening. I had heard Ken talk about the concept in the past, so I had some idea of what to expect. Think DemoCamp, but with artists showcasing their work rather than software developers! Here’s how the event was officially described:

A collision of technical and creative minds, Intersect is a new event that puts geeks and artists on stage to show off projects that merge the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, and other creative fields. A fun way to support artists and creators in our community, Intersect will inspire constructive conversations and interactions around concepts, demos, samples and prototypes being created in Edmonton.


We arrived shortly after the advertised start time of 7pm and found the third floor of the Mercer Warehouse buzzing. A couple dozen people were enjoying the DJ and the bar and we could see projects setup all around the room. Startup Edmonton teamed up with Megan & Beth Dart, the sister duo behind Catch the Keys Productions, to curate projects for the event. They ended up with five, in order of introduction:

  • Scott Smallwood

    Scott Smallwood is a sound artist, composer, and sound performer who creates works inspired by discovered textures and forms, through a practice of listening, field recording, and sonic improvisation. He also designs experimental electronic instruments and software, as well as sound installations and site-specific performance scenarios. Scott has been active as an educator for over 15 years, teaching composition, improvisation, and electroacoustic music at the University of Alberta.

  • Good Women Dance Society 

    Good Women Dance Society is a creation-based company that is committed to helping create a vibrant and sustainable contemporary dance community in Edmonton. The society’s artistic focus is on creating and producing innovative new works with integrity and conviction.

  • Owen Brierley, GURU Digital Arts Collective

    Owen is the Executive Director of Guru Digital Arts College. Over the past 14 years Owen has worked with, taught and worked for many of Edmonton’s top talent in digital media. From Project Director for a Serious Game in the oil and gas sector to Lego trivia interactives for the Telus World of Science, Owen has had the pleasure of exploring almost every form of interactive digital media production.

  • Technitone 

    Built by local interactive firm to showcase Google Chrome, Technitone is an interactive web audio experience that lets you join other creators to plot tones on a grid, construct melodies, and modify the output with a robust toolset of effects. Technitone packs a few neat extras, too, such as a solo mode for those who like more control, and a gallery where you can publish your masterpieces, whether made on your own or with a group.

  • ShowStages Collective 

    ShowStages is a video and design collective. We build narratives through projected media and interactive audio-visual experiences. We work in theatre and new media.

Though it felt like a mixer at first, we soon discovered there was a program for the event! Hosts Omar Mouallem and Julian Faid introduced each project, and then the artist behind it had a few minutes to talk about it. We went around the room from one project to the next, which was a nice change from the stay-seated approach of DemoCamp. After each project had been showcased, the event reverted back to the mixer-like atmosphere and attendees were free to seek out more information from the artists.


I had already seen Technitone – Grant had demoed it a year ago at DemoCamp Edmonton 18 – but it was neat to see it again with big displays. The performance by GWDS was really impressive and utilized FaceTime (I think) to incorporate an interesting visual perspective. At one point the dancer, I believe it was Ainsley Hillyard, created a sort of infinity effect (like you might do with mirrors).



I thought Owen’s project, which if I understand correctly involved positioning video displays using software, was pretty neat. You could create some pretty cool installations with the approach! Scott’s work with sound was fascinating to learn about. I’m not sure if it is still active, but I can totally understand why Scott would be the guy behind Dorkbot Edmonton. Unfortunately Elijah had a few technical difficulties, but he still did a good job of demoing what ShowStages can do. I love that they use a Kinect plugged into a MacBook!


I really enjoyed Intersect, and I do hope it becomes a regular series! I’m sure there are many more interesting collisions of art and technology taking place in our city. Kudos to Startup Edmonton and Catch the Keys on a successful first event!


You can see the rest of my photos from the evening here.

Preview: Launch Party Edmonton 3

startup edmontonNext Thursday evening, Edmonton’s third Launch Party will take place at Startup Edmonton. It’s an opportunity to mix and mingle with some of the city’s most interesting entrepreneurs, creators, and developers. The focus is on ten startups that have risen up over the last year or so and are now ready for the next stage. There are no formal presentations or panels, but there will be drinks, demos, and DJs! You can see my recap of Launch Party 2 here.

Here’s what you need to know about each startup.

TWO WORDS: Condo Communication
WHAT: “GeniePad is a communication portal for condominiums, condo boards, homeowners associations, and property management companies. With GeniePad you can simply and easily deliver news, share documents, buy and sell goods within your building’s community, provide your residents with a tool to communicate with the condo board, homeowners association, property management and other residents electronically, making it quick and efficient.”
KEY PEOPLE: Rafal Dyrda of Flame360 Inc., also co-founded PartsBazaar.
PREVIOUSLY SEEN AT: Demoed at DemoCamp Edmonton 15.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: I’m a big fan of the product (my condo building uses it). GeniePad solves problems that all large residential buildings have, and it does so with an attractive, easy-to-use, cost-effective web app. With 130 properties already using the product (which they found largely through word-of-mouth), GeniePad is off to a great start.

TWO WORDS: Shopping Analytics
WHAT: “Granify is an Edmonton-based company backed by several of the strongest venture capital firms in Canada and the US. We’re at the intersection of artificial intelligence and e-commerce, providing a SaaS solution that enables online retailers to maximize their sales by using cutting edge big data and machine learning technologies. We’re a small but growing team of eager entrepreneurial individuals that enjoy working in a fun, creative, and agile environment.”
KEY PEOPLE: Jeff Lawrence, founder of Bloro Games and Precision Targeting; Lihang Ying, architect at the City of Edmonton working on 311 and Open Data; and Shawn Wan, formerly of Tynt.
PREVIOUSLY SEEN AT: Member of Extreme Startups’ first cohort earlier this year.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Granify has already received a significant amount of investment from some very seasoned investors, so that’s a good sign. Big data is an increasingly growing area of interest for many people, and Granify seems well-positioned to make a play in the e-commerce segment of that space.

TWO WORDS: Business Management
WHAT: “Jobber is a cloud based mobile-capable business management system for field service companies. Landscapers, painters, cleaning companies, contractors and many other service professionals are getting organized, saving time and earning more using Jobber to power their administrative back end, and to close the information loop with their employees in the field.”
KEY PEOPLE: Sam Pillar and Forrest Zeisler.
PREVIOUSLY SEEN AT: Demoed at DemoCamp Edmonton 15.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: I ran a painting franchise one summer and I could definitely have used Jobber back then! With a rich set of features, competitive pricing, and a giant market of small service companies, it’s no surprise that Jobber has attracted Boris Wertz and Point Nine Capital as investors.

TWO WORDS: Social Login
WHAT: “LoginRadius is Software as a Service (SaaS) that provides social infrastructure to help businesses grow through the power of social media, improving the ease and efficiency of online identity management. Using LoginRadius, website owners can allow their users to log in with existing accounts on Live, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and over 20 more providers. Social Login eliminates the annoying registration process that all online users have come to dread and not only attracts more traffic to a website but also boosts its user base.”
KEY PEOPLE: Rakesh Soni, who did his MSc in Engineering at the University of Alberta.
PREVIOUSLY SEEN AT: Demoed at DemoCamp Edmonton 19.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: LoginRadius has partnerships with Mozilla, Microsoft’s BizSpark, DynDNS, and X-Card, and already has 22,000 customers according to Business in Edmonton magazine. Social plugins are all the rage, and LoginRadius makes it easy to add them to your website with the added bonus of gathering data for social analytics.

TWO WORDS: Instagram Profiles
WHAT: “Monogram is a web service that helps users create simple online profiles. We create custom plugins that use API’s from popular tools and social networks to give users a deep amount of customization with little effort. We currently only offer profiles for Instagram – but we plan to roll out new profiles in the new year.”
KEY PEOPLE: Brandon Webber, Tim Fletcher, and Adrian Gyuricska, all from Lift Interactive.
PREVIOUSLY SEEN AT: Demoed at DemoCamp Edmonton 19.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: During the demo back in September, Brandon and Tim emphasized that supporting services beyond Instagram was important. Well three days ago Instagram launched their own web profiles. Monogram plans to support SoundCloud, Vimeo, and Etsy among other services. While there’s definitely a market for beautifully designed, premium profiles, it is a busy space with and many others. They’ll have to focus on quality and service.

TWO WORDS: Cloud Storage
WHAT: “These days most consumers are using, or starting to use, cloud storage. This means that files are now in Dropbox, or Google, or somewhere other than their computers. Mover uncomplicates the process for software developers to work with cloud storage. Using Mover, any app, product, or service can easily interact with cloud storage providers like Box, Google Drive, Dropbox, and Microsoft SkyDrive. Mover provides a great application programming interface (API) for software developers. The process of authorizing, downloading, and uploading files from any cloud storage provider is identical using Mover, whereas the old way of doing things was a long and arduous process.”
KEY PEOPLE: Eric Warnke, co-founder of Mesh Canada, former Nexopia employee; Mark Fossen, co-founder of Mesh Canada, former ThinkTel employee; and Ben Zittlau, creator of Alertzy and co-founder of Firenest.
PREVIOUSLY SEEN AT: Demoed at DemoCamp Edmonton 18 as Backup Box.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Dropbox is the poster child of cloud storage, but it is just one of many options. SkyDrive (my favorite), Box, Amazon S3, Windows Azure, and Google Drive are just a few of the other big players. Moving data from one to another is going to become increasingly important, and Mover helps make it easy. Their slogan of “one API for the cloud” is a lofty but potentially lucrative promise.

TWO WORDS: Event Planning
WHAT: “PlanHero makes planning social group trips easy and stress free. We take the chaos out of planning group trips while making sure everyone pays the planner on time. PlanHero makes communicating efficient, allow you to poll your friends to help decide what, when and where to go and help everyone book their trip like a pro. Planners set up basic trip information and any questions they want the group to decide on in no time, meaning less time arguing and reading email chains and more time getting the trip of a lifetime happening.”
KEY PEOPLE: Dave Chmiel; Kyle Huberman, CEO of Pixel Designs; and Richard Aberefa.
PREVIOUSLY SEEN AT: Demoed at DemoCamp Edmonton 18.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Even with an ever-growing list of online tools, coordinating group events (especially those that require payment) is still a pain. That’s the problem that PlanHero hopes to address, utilizing Facebook for easy social connectivity. They may need to focus on a specific niche to start (ski trips, for instance) but the service is slick and easy-to-use.

Poppy Barley
TWO WORDS: Custom Boots
WHAT: “Poppy Barley will revolutionize the way women buy footwear. Mass-manufactured footwear only considers one measurement – foot length and as a result over 60% of women struggle to find boots that fit. Motivated by the promise of fit and brilliance of bespoke, Poppy Barley makes it possible for women to design their ideal pair of boots and self-measure their feet, ankles and legs in 5 minutes. Poppy Barley makes the luxury of made to measure boots attainable for the first time by a business model delivered entirely online with no middlemen and layers of markups.” 
KEY PEOPLE: Justine Barber and her sister Kendall Barber, editor & founder of City & Dale.
PREVIOUSLY SEEN AT: Featured in the Edmonton Journal on September 13.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Purchasing clothing or shoes online is always difficult because of the sizing issue. Will it fit? You never know. Add to that the fact that everyone’s fit is slightly different, and you have a solid use case for Poppy Barley (it also seems more likely to take off than something like Pedpad, which requires a hardware device to measure). The sisters have done their homework and they’ve already inked a number of key partnerships. Oh, and they definitely know fashion!

TWO WORDS: Gift Certificates
WHAT: “Sendioso is an online community where people share their favourite local shops and buy and send gift certificates immediately via email or mobile phone. Anyone can visit, view their friends’ favourite places, buy a gift certificate from any Sendioso merchant, and then send it to anyone, at any time. We want our audience to have fun gifting, sharing and visiting Sendioso stores — maybe for the first time.”
KEY PEOPLE: Jeremy Payne and Lisa Hryniw.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: I’ll admit I don’t know much about Sendioso, but the idea of getting gift cards for places I actually like is appealing. The services seems to have an interesting discovery angle too.

TWO WORDS: Paperless Homework
WHAT: “Showbie unlocks the creative potential of classroom iPads with easy document sharing right from everyone’s favorite apps. Showbie makes workflow easily manageable, effective and secure. The best way to go paperless. Students, parents and teachers are thrilled with the simple but effective way of sharing assignment, projects and homework.”
KEY PEOPLE: Colin Bramm, President of Bramm Technologies and long-time entrepreneur in the education technology space. Demoed SelfChecker at DemoCamp Edmonton 9 in November 2009.
PREVIOUSLY SEEN AT: Launched on June 12, 2012 at Launch Education & Kids in Mountain View, CA.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Colin has been dabbling in the ed tech space for a while so has quite a bit of experience to draw from. The product has already been used by 400 schools around the world. Many districts are investing in iPads for schools, so the addressable market does seem to be growing.

Tickets for Launch Party 3 are $25 or $15 for students. You can get yours here.

Launch Party is just one of many exciting events celebrating entrepreneurship in Edmonton next week. Global Entrepreneurship Week 2012 kicks off on Tuesday at Startup Edmonton, and there are events planned all week long.

See you there!

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!