On September 28th, the Startup Canada team touched down in Calgary to host the region’s 2023 leg of Startup Canada Tour – a five-stop national in-person event series connecting early stage entrepreneurs with national ecosystem players, local support organizations and industry experts to drive their businesses forward. The sold out event gathered nearly 500 local founders for a full day of thoughtful, actionable programming, and collective celebration of the Albertan entrepreneurial community.
In addition to the mainstage sessions – which included workshops, panels and keynotes from both local and national thought leaders and leading entrepreneurs – Calgary’s leg of Startup Canada Tour also featured personalized, one-on-one support programming through the Ecosystem Support Zone and the Ask the Expert Lounge. The regional Ecosystem Support Zone featured nearly 30 small business support organizations which attendees had the opportunity to engage with – learning about, and connecting to, the many support channels available to them locally, provincially, and nationally. Calgary’s event also featured the Ask the Expert Lounge – an opportunity for founders to ask their most pressing, important questions to subject matter experts in the areas of funding, marketing & sales, operations, HR and legal.
The day started with opening remarks from the Honourable Danielle Smith, Premier of Alberta and MLA for Brooks-Medicine Hat. She discussed Alberta’s entrepreneurial prowess – drawing attention to the province’s high venture capital investment rates and, specifically, Calgary being a top city in Canada to start and grow a successful business.
From there, the programming kicked off with an inspiring keynote from Bryan de Lottinville, Founder and Executive Chairperson of Benevity. He chronicled his journey building one of Western Canada’s largest startups, speaking to his entrepreneurial ethos and the importance of doing good through business.
In the next session – Unleashing the Albertan Advantage: Local Champions Who Turned Challenges into Success – Allan Waine of Edmonton Unlimited led panelists through a transparent, vulnerable session surrounding key challenges faced along the founder journey and the ways we can transform said hurdles into wins. Panelists included Connie Stacey (Grengine), Ammar Memon (Quickly), Emily Slaneff (CrushCamp) and Ravina C Anand (FLIK).
For the first workshop of the day – Shipping Simplified – Paul Gaspar, Director of Small Business at UPS Canada, covered practical tips and strategies attendees could utilize to enable successful shipping and logistics within their ventures.
In the powerhouse Fireside Chat titled Social Impact Investments for Women-led Businesses, Sevrine Labelle of BDC hosted The51’s Shelley Kuipers and six-time founder Lourdes Juan in an engaging discussion surrounding BDC’s Thrive Lab and the intersections of social responsibility and capital investment for women founders.
After networking and lunch, the next panel – Navigating the Support Ecosystem: Albertan Allies You Can Lean On – dove into the intricacies of Alberta’s startup ecosystem and the programming available to local entrepreneurs. Panelists included: Jenn MacDonald (Platform Calgary), Matt Hill (Business Link AB), Patti-Jay Powell (Community Futures Centre West) and Alessandra Amato (Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking).
In the final workshop of the day, titled From Concept to Profit: Embracing Experimentation and Customer-Centricity for Revenue Growth, Jeff Mitchell of The Maker’s Collective shared practical steps on how to activate a repeatable set of experiments to transform an idea into a new line of revenue.
During the next panel – What I Wish I Knew: Lessons and Learnings from Women Entrepreneurs – TD’s Melanie Campbell discussed lessons learned and invaluable resources available for women identifying founders with Ange Paye (VOTO), Marjorie Zingle (DataHive) and Kara Thorvaldson (Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub – WEKH).
The final panel of the day, Knowledge is Profit: Funding Fundamentals for Startups, welcomed Mark Mitchell (Weave VC), James Lochrie (Thin Air Labs), Bontu Galataa (ATB Financial), Manpreet Deol (Inovia Capital) and Derek Armstrong (Prairies Economic Development Canada). In this engaging panel, speakers covered everything from securing investment and navigating optimal funding options, to mastering the art of the pitch.
Startup Global Pitch Competition Recap:
In addition to the already jam-packed day of programming, attendees had the opportunity to watch the highly anticipated Startup Global Pop-up Pitch Competition – the regional qualifying event for the national Grand Finale on October 26th where Canada’s global-ready startups will showdown to win from a cash pool of $70,000. The Top 3 Finalists – Susgrainable Health, Rinvio Technologies Inc., and Lite-1: Microbial Colour Ltd. – pitched to the electric room, in addition to an esteemed judging panel, for one of ten Grand Finale slots in addition to $3,000 cash.
Calgary’s 2023 Pop-up Pitch Competition winner is Mohamad Abdel Rida, Co-Founder and CTO of Rinvio Inc. Rinviois a disruptive software startup reimagining the Canadian trucking industry. Through real-time insights, including driver behaviour and much more, the innovative team is revolutionizing how safety, compliance, reporting and cost-effective operations are managed across the sector.
Closing remarks for the day were given by Calgary Deputy Mayor, Councillor Sonya Sharp.
Don’t Miss Out: Registration for 2023’s Final Tour Stop Now Open!
The final stop of Startup Canada Tour 2023 is set for Brampton, ON, on October 26th. The one and only hybrid stop of the series was designed to empower access to all entrepreneurs across the country who want to join Startup Canada in learning, gathering and celebrating the collective achievements of Canada’s startup ecosystem.
Registration is now open for both virtual and in-person attendees – learn more and secure your ticket!