Meet the 2022 SMARTstart entrepreneurs

Our 2022 program is made up of 10 entrepreneurs representing nine businesses who are participating in workshops, online training and one-on-one mentorship with the goal to complete a business, feasibility or strategic plan.

We can’t wait to see where their enthusiasm and hard work will take them by the end of our eight months together! Let’s meet them:

Chelsea Dunlop is excited to pair her drive to help others with her love of sharing minimalism in her new venture, Ecology of Ease. Using a minimalism mindset, she will help clients reevaluate the contents and functionality of their home with a goal to save them time and money. She will know she has been successful when people with overwhelm are able to live an easier life. Jennifer Benner of Benner Database Designs will be helping Chelsea through the process to take her idea and turn it into a reality.

Business and life partners Courtney and Jaret Steranko own Bonfire Shades – a company with great energy and style offering full UV protective sunglasses with bamboo arms, a lightweight feel and polarized lenses. The couple currently sells seven different styles (and MANY different colours) via their online store and in-person at local markets. They aim to expand sales to local stores, and across Canada. Helping them navigate the program and develop a business plan is mentor Kari Lines of Budget Blinds of Airdrie.

While Emalyn Plazo isn’t new to business in Airdrie, she hopes her bubble tea shop with a twist is a fresh idea residents will flock to. Cheng’s Bubbler offers bubble teas and smoothies made with fresh fruit, and sweet treats such as croffles, which are a marriage between a croissant and a waffle iron. She opened her first shop in Crossfield this winter and hopes to expand to a second shop in Airdrie within one year. Emalyn is matched with mentor Gary Armstrong of Empowered Employee Education.

The pandemic provided an opportunity for Jessica Abramyk to work towards her lifelong goal of starting her own business. Jesa Travel agency focuses on travel that gives back – she matches travellers with their ideal vacation while ensuring that the Travel Operators she works with embrace responsible and regenerative tourism practices. Through the program she aims to perfect her customer journey to ensure travellers have an incredible experience from start to finish. Helping Jessica out is mentor Ankur Goklaney of La Capitale Financial Security.

Becky Urban is excited to be the ‘new kid on the block’ for fitness in Airdrie. Her soon-to-open studio, Warehouse Spin & Barre, aims to provide a fun and inclusive community for everybody and EVERY BODY. Becky is a born and raised Airdronian with spin and barre certifications, and experience working in a cycling studio. Mentor Heather Harke of Shoplift Deals Ltd. will be helping Becky to develop a sense of community within the new business and establish marketing and social media strategies.

Jonelle Beaulieu knows just how important the brain development of young children is to Airdrie parents. Through her business, Bright Little Minds, she offers affordable sensory gifts for parents who don’t have time to prepare their own activities. Top selling products that stimulate the senses and engage children in play include: heavy object sensory bottles, eye spy bottles, slime, sensory kits, playdough kits and more! Helping Jonelle to build a plan to grow her business and online presence is Dr. Melanie Beingessner of Blessingways Family Wellness.

Martin Linlove is passionate about human development and the importance of social skills and emotional intelligence to greatly increase your chances of success in the workplace and your personal life. Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify emotions, react appropriately, support others and make sound decisions. His new venture, Lift the Vibe EQ Assessments & Training, aims to provide personalized and group EQ-I 2.0 & EQ 360 Assessments with comprehensive reports and coaching to any business. Mentor Tracy Goodbrand of Irricana Kountry Kennel will be working with Martin throughout the eight-month program.