Calgary Has Tons of Entrepreneurs and Startups. But Where's the Money?

Posted by Knowlton Thomas

Calgary is famous—and infamous—for its oil. But few outsiders realize that technology and entrepreneurship are also prominent elements in the city of 1.2 million.

In fact, Calgary boasts the largest concentration of entrepreneurs per capita in Canada, according to the Canadian government. And Calgary also boasts the largest number of tech startups per capita.

Cybera even went so far as to call Calgary "Canada's startup capital." Of course, they're from Alberta, so there is bias. But still.

With some of the lowest unemployment and highest job demand in the country, the Alberta city is poised to become one of Canada's next major tech startup hubs, alongside the likes of Vancouver and Toronto. That is, if local entrepreneurs can find money without moving.

Despite incubators such as AcceleratorYYC, run by Tori and Christian MacLean and Pieter Boekhoff, and support organizations such as the A100 and Innovate Calgary, venture capital in Alberta doesn't seem to reach its technology startups.

Adam Joyce, Executive Vice President of Podium Ventures, wrote that "Calgary is a good place to build a tech startup." Why? Smart people, good tax structures, and fair wages, among other things. But he also acknowledged that the city's tech entrepreneurs remain in shadows cast by the region's energy industry. There isn't enough local money flowing into tech startups.

"We need to increase the size of the community," Adam affirms. "[We need more] money available to risk and develop," he says of tech startups. If Calgary companies must keep flying out of Alberta to find funds, they may not return, and the ecosystem the city so badly wants to create will never materialize.

Still, obstacles aside, Calgary remains able to churn out some great startups. To name but a few, there is Kudos, a corporate social network designed to enhance employee engagement; Katipulta professional crowd-funding website that helps non-profits raise funds for social good; IWillHelp.ca, a platform that enables people to donate a portion of their daily transactions to charity; and SFN Biosystems, which captures vented combustion by-products and turns them into a multi-use algal biomass that can be used to produce food and supplement products.

Every city in Canada has weaknesses in terms of fostering technology startups. But each one also has strengths. If Calgary can pry investors' wallets from the oil-stained hands of energy sector execs, the city may indeed become Canada's startup capital. But for now, established ecosystems in Toronto and Vancouver still see the city in their rear-view mirrors.

Company:
Innovate Calgary
Website:
http://www.innovatecalgary.com
Location:
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Innovate Calgary is where startups, entrepreneurs, researchers, investors, industry and partners take innovation and ideas to business. It takes an ecosystem to drive the commercialization success of an innovation or discovery, and we are here to give you the help you need to take your startup, discovery or investment to the next stage of growth or market entry. How? It's simple, Just Ask. more

Company:
Alberta Enterprise Corporation
Website:
http://www.alberta-enterprise.ca
Location:
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Alberta Enterprise Corporation is an independent private equity fund of funds manager. Our fund, the Alberta Enterprise Fund, is a $100 Million allocation targeting technology venture capital funds. We back institutional seed, venture and expansion capital fund managers. We have deep knowledge of the Canadian venture capital and private equity markets. Located in Alberta, our people have specialist skills in... more

Company:
Kudos
Website:
http://kudosnow.com
Location:
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Kudos is designed to Engage your team by recognizing the great things they do everyday. Kudos has many features that can improve Communication and Collaboration. Take a look at the step-by-step Tour to see how easy Kudos is to setup and use, and how you can use Recognition to engage your team. more

Company:
Katipult
Website:
http://www.katipult.com
Location:
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Katipult assists non-profit and charitable organizations in raising funds for projects with measurable outcomes while also creating online followings. On Katipult, a donation isn't the end, its the beginning. Our platform allows organizations to interact with project donors and deliver real time updates. Share campaign videos, photos, and blog posts. We provide the tools and the expertise to address five key... more


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Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton is the managing editor of Techvibes. Based in Vancouver, Knowlton has been published in national publications and has also appeared on television and radio. Previously he was an editor for New Westminster weekly The Other Press and served on its board of directors. When not working, Knowlton enjoys playing tennis, hiking, and exploring weird side streets. more



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