April 1, 2020
Category: Blog Posts
How Edmonton is Supporting Startups During COVID-19
If history has taught us anything, it’s that an economic downturn doesn’t always mean doom and gloom. It can offer opportunities for startups and entrepreneurs who are nimble and able to react to a very dynamic environment. Cheryll Watson, VP of Innovate Edmonton and Co-Chair of Alberta Innovation Corridor is already thinking past our current crisis.
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we came out of this with new companies that looked at solving problems we never knew existed or had a different viewpoint that we hadn’t even considered?” asks Watson.
With that in mind, Startup Edmonton is offering free online entrepreneurship courses. The first course, Business Model 101, teaches entrepreneurs the basics, including identifying your customer base, defining your unique value and pricing your product. Preflight, the follow-up program, pushes further along in the process of building and selling a new product, preparing to pitch to investors and selling to customers.
Founded in 2009, Startup Edmonton is an entrepreneurial campus and community hub that supports entrepreneurs as they build and grow tech-enabled products. Alumni companies like footwear mavens Poppy Barley and Localize, an award-wining grocery labelling company, are just two of the 175-plus graduates that have graduated from the non-profit located inside the Mercer Building on 104 Street and 104 Avenue in Downtown Edmonton.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic the courses were offered in-person, but just like the advice Startup Edmonton gives entrepreneurs, the organization is adapting and pivoting online. “Now that we’ve moved the courses online, we’re using Zoom and shipping materials to people’s houses, as well as finding new ways to do group exercises.”
The free courses have been such a hit among local entrepreneurs that Startup Edmonton is now offering Business Model 101 three times a week. Many people stuck at home are developing ideas that they’ve had in the back of their heads for years and are looking for guidance, support and a cohort of likeminded people.
According to Watson, the global startup economy is valued at nearly $3 trillion and is one of the fastest growing sub-sectors. Interrupting the progress of these fragile, fledgling enterprises in our city and province could have a major effect down the road, says Watson. With Startup Edmonton lending a helping hand, many of these startups could be the companies helping with the economic fallout from COVID-19, but time is of the essence.
“It’s about future jobs at a time when we’re going to need them most,” Watson points out. “People tend to rise up in situations like this and Edmontonians are no different.”