Throwing it back to 11:00am on Monday, the 18th, anticipation ran high as we kicked off Edmonton Startup Week. With swag bags (worth $75 😊) in tow, and dressed in the #yegSW21 t-shirts, the Innovate Edmonton and Startup Edmonton teams made their way to the downtown treasure hunt locations where coffee and chai, lunch items, and treats were being prepared for the community. Simultaneously, the startup community continuously refreshed their Twitter feed in hopes of finding clues that would lead them to freebies, and commence the five-day celebration of learning, discussions, networking.
And what a party it was! During the kickoff, 200 swag bags and cocktails from Above Average Drinks were distributed, and hundreds of freebies were given out from our five downtown partners: Farrow, Remedy 103, Remedy Bell Tower, Lock Stock Coffee, and Dalla Tavola Zenari. Kudos to those of you who visited all locations and literally ate and drank your way through downtown Edmonton. Nicely played!
This year’s Startup Week was host to over 60 events, planned, and executed by Edmonton’s incredible network of community leaders and entrepreneurs, who shared knowledge, experiences, and stories with attendees who gathered online to learn and connect. While we’d love to recap every session, there are too many good things to share. Instead, we’re happy to highlight a few events that showcase the diversity of topics and speakers that makes Startup Week so special. If you missed a session or want to re-watch a session you participated in, check out our YouTube channel.
On Monday, Token Naturals hosted the panel discussion, “Building a Company in an Emerging Industry”, featuring panelists Keenan Pascal, Innovation Growth Council (IGC) member and Token Naturals CEO, Danny Motyka, Psygen Labs CEO, and Adam O’Brien, Bitcoin Well CEO. They discussed the unique challenges of building a company in new and emerging markets.
Later that afternoon, Kailey Belsher, Head of Marketing at Harvest Academy, shared the seven most common misconceptions startups have when marketing their business, along with steps to avoid each misconception.
Participants kicked off Tuesday morning with a java while enjoying conversations with Black entrepreneurial leaders from around the world. We chatted with Omi Iyamu, a US-based entrepreneur who co-founded ACE, a social media app based on a blockchain-powered platform that brings creators and fans together, and Nigerian Co-Founder, Odun Eweniyi, of PiggyVest, an online savings and investment app in West Africa.
The remainder of Tuesday was jammed-packed with a diverse number of sessions, including “Motion Capture DIY”, jointly hosted by NAIT’s Centre for Innovative Media and the Edmonton Screen Industries Office. Participants also enjoyed the fireside chat with Hassar Consulting Group and Arden Tse on how VCs strategically think about product-market fit for early-stage startups. The fireside chat provided:
Practical insights to help make a case for product-market fit,
Actionable strategies to incorporate in your next conversation with a VC, and
Tips on the top mistakes to avoid when demonstrating product-market fit to a VC.
The momentum continued on Wednesday when Erin Davis Co. provided a practical guide to owning your own equity, diversity and inclusion journey in a time of heightened social consciousness. Startup TNT and 4th Street Capital also partnered to discuss why startups need a data room to enable investors to make an investment decision.
Thursday highlights include a session on, “How can we make innovation more inclusive”, featuring stellar panelists Jacquelyn Cardinal, technologist, entrepreneur, Innovation Growth Council (IGC) member, and Co-Founder and Managing Director of Naheyawin, Simran Dhillon, advocate and non-profit founder, Keren Tang, Edmonton’s new city councilor for Ward Karhiio, and Skye Kihara, Operations & Community Manager at Black Business Ventures Association. Facilitated by Startup Edmonton’s Allan Waine, the panelists discussed the importance of inclusive innovation, barriers within the innovation community and what crucial next steps are needed to ensure the success of underrepresented founders.
Our friends at Goodlawyer had an upbeat fireside chat about startup f**k-ups and how to prevent them from coming back to haunt you! Participants also went on a virtual tour of the recently expanded Stanley A. Milner Makerspace at the Edmonton Public Library and got a front row seat to their recording studio, 3D printers, and plenty more.
The final day of Edmonton Startup Week did not disappoint as Catherine Warren, Innovate Edmonton CEO, talked raising series A funding with James Neufeld, samdesk CEO, Colin Bramm, Showbie CEO, and Andrew Chau, Neo Financial CEO — all who have successfully raised rounds themselves. They shared their behind-the-scenes experiences and provided the ins and outs of raising big money.
Participants also got a virtual tour of the University of Alberta’s Health & Wellness Accelerator and learned how to take advantage of the gamut of resources they provide at no cost! From spacious office and lab space, to cutting edge equipment for product development, to customized support and services from a dedicated team of subject matter experts, the U of A opened the doors to their Hub at Enterprise Square.
“Edmonton Startup Week is an annual highlight — as part of a global movement, it’s a time to network, connect, learn and celebrate the vibrancy of Edmonton’s startup community,” said Catherine Warren, Innovate Edmonton CEO. “With the local connectivity, support and exposure that founders and companies receive during Startup Week they have a strategic advantage – and a platform for sustainable growth. Successful startups spark job creation, investment stimulation and Edmonton’s economic diversification.”