Meet the 2020 SMARTstart entrepreneurs

The 2020 SMARTstart entrepreneurs are resilient! The program started out just like any other year with the group meeting a few times in January and February prior to COVID hitting. 

The program and this amazing group of entrepreneurs made the huge pivot in late March to adjust and go completely online. The program continued in a full virtual format and this group of 12 are at the final stages of the program. Let’s meet the entrepreneurs!

Danny and Kimberly Goring are the owners of GT Promotions. They offer customized apparel and other novelties for individuals and companies. They feel that their can bring a new approach to the ever-developing world of marketing material. Helping Danny and Kimberly are mentors Wendy Bates of The Hair Lounge and Andrew Bennett of the IT Company.

What started out as a far-fetched vision has now turned into one of Airdrie’s unique entertainment spots! Rival Axe Throwing is owned by Joni Daley and has been in business for two years. Joni wanted to create a place for people to come together and experience a fantastic new sport that was not offered anywhere else in Airdrie. Helping Joni navigate the program and her business is mentor Michelle Carre of

From career accountant to florist, Patty Duggan is the newest flower shop owner in town. Funky Petals opened it’s doors this summer in an 110 year old house along 1st Avenue. Patty hopes that Funky Petals becomes the ‘go to’ for all those special occasions requiring celebration. She is excited to deliver a product that brings joy, love and thoughtfulness to her customers. Patty is matched up with Heather Cowie of Airdrie Family Eye Doctors

Tannis Smith is looking to launch her idea for a Community Art Space with the help of SMARTstart. Her idea is to create a space for artists to come together, share, teach and inspire all artists at heart. She envisions kids being able to come make a mess, enjoy, and explore what art has to offer. Helping Tannis out is mentor Nadine Woitt of Mezzanine Hair Studio.

Tendai Dongo’s dream is to be able to offer workshops and programing to encourage children empowerment. She hopes her business idea will help to empower and nurture young minds to be their best selves and shine. Helping Tendai out is mentor Tracy Goodbrand of Irricana Kountry Kennel.

Alberta Ortho & Dental Sharpening is an idea that came to owner Jodi McFarlane while working as an Orthodontic Assistant. She noticed a gap in the market and decided to take it upon herself to fill. Her end goal is to franchise her business and fill this gap all over Alberta, not just Airdrie. Paired with Jodi is mentor Sid Van der Meer, former owner of Northwest Equipment.

Rebecca McElhinney’s inspiration for Lotus Reproductive Health and Fertility came from working in the fertility health sector. She found there should be more information and resources made available for people going through fertility treatment. She hopes to help women and couples with all the options out there when it comes to their reproductive health and future fertility. Mentor Melanie Beingessner of Blessingways Family Wellness is assisting Rebecca through the program.

Cyber crime is not something that small businesses think about when opening their doors, Sergey Buryachenko hopes to change this mindset. Sergey hopes to show small businesses how to shield themselves from an unexpected and costly cyber-attack. Helping Sergey through the program is Don Dixon of Cangos.

Oh Snap Photo Camper is the cutest little photo booth cruising around town! Owner Stephanie Rabel, says Oh Snap was created out of a passion for events, making memories and making others feel special. Whatever your next events is, think Oh Snap! Paired with Stephanie is Kelly Paisley of The IT Company.

Tamara Wheeler is the owner of Becoming Boundless Meditation Studio. She hope to open to provide a healing space for individuals to come experience calm and quiet that cannot be found at home. Her idea is to create a safe space for people to come exercise meditation and improve their state of mind and outlook. Mentor Nancy Kelln of Unimagined Testing Inc is Tamara’s mentor.

Just Flip It is a concept that came to Tami Crawford while watching her grandchildren try to sell toys they have outgrown. She hopes her business idea will help create a consignment hub for children’s toys, games, clothing, etc. Helping Tami along the way is mentor Jennifer Benner of Benner Database Designs.