SMARTstart is a made-in-Airdrie entrepreneurial training program offering tools, mentorship and business planning. It is all about providing real-world business skills and access to the tailor-made advice startups need to help set their business up for success. The program is for people with a business idea and owners who have been in business for less than three years.
SMARTstart is owned by Airdrie Entrepreneur Common (AEC), a local non-profit organization founded in 1995. This collaborative partnership provides resources, training and mentorship to support the start-up and growth needs of small businesses. Each year, the program is operated by delivery partners City of Airdrie Economic Development (AED) and Community Futures Centre West (CFCWest).
SMARTstart celebrated 10 years in 2023! Here’s a snapshot of what has happened since 2014:
- SMARTstart has helped 144 entrepreneurs, in 125 businesses
- SMARTstart has a high completion rate – 11% withdrew or didn’t complete
- In total, SMARTstart has helped:
- 27 businesses start
- 37 businesses expand
- 32 businesses continue
- 14 idea in development
- 15 ideas on hold
- Average age is 40
- 69% female, 31% male
- 40% come in with an idea, 60% already have a business started
We are proud that we have been able to help build a stronger business community in Airdrie.
We also launched two new programs in 2023:
- AdvanceSMART matches a business with a team of three to four mentors to support building growth strategies, tackling challenges and becoming a better business leader. This team mentoring approach is a unique methodology with proven advantages – providing entrepreneurs a temporary board of advisors to help reach ambitious growth goals and build successful companies. In the future, we hope to continue to see some of our SMARTstart participants move into this program as their businesses grow.
- Discover helps idea-stage entrepreneurs to build a one-page business plan, assess risk and conduct desirability, feasibility and viability testing to de-risk their assumptions. This new program is bringing a higher number of quality applicants to the SMARTstart program.
Sponsorship of the SMARTstart program allows you to be highlighted in front of up to 20 up-and-coming Airdrie businesses per year, and/or our alumni/mentor group of 170+. It also allows us to keep the costs down for entrepreneurs.
THE PARTNERSHIP OPPORTUNITY
AEC is interested in piloting a new event in Fall 2024 that will be offered to 2024 SMARTstart participants, in addition to our SMARTstart alumni and mentor group (175+). The focus of the event will be on ‘Business Operations’ and include up to three sponsored sessions of 25 minutes in length. The event will be held from 7 – 9 pm and will begin with sponsored sessions and end with a networking component. The session will be free for attendees to participate; we cannot guarantee attendance numbers but will notify sponsors one week prior to the event if there are under 15 registrations and discuss a plan to reschedule.
Only one session sponsor per product/service category will be accepted. Categories may include, but are not limited to:
- Accounting services
- Banking services
- Bookkeeping services
- Business coaching
- Commercial real estate broker/agent
- Employee benefit programs
- Financial planning services
- Human Resources (HR) services
- IT services
- Insurance services
- Legal services
- Mental wellness
- Merchant services
- Software providers (ex: accounting)
Sponsored session details:
- The session must be entirely educational in nature and tailored to the audience of Airdrie business owners.
- Speakers must demonstrate experience, education, and/or certification in the area of focus you are applying for.
- The sponsor will pitch a session outline and speaker, and once approved, AEC will market and host the event and invoice the sponsor. AEC must fill minimum two of the three sponsored session spaces in order to proceed with the event.
- The sponsor is responsible for all costs associated with their presentation.
- The sponsor will provide their logo, to be included on marketing materials for the event and added to our website’s sponsor page for the duration of 2024.
- Presentation materials must be provided ten business days in advance of the session, for review and approval of the educational content. The sponsor will have the opportunity to include an offer for the audience on the final slide of their presentation.
- The sponsor will have the opportunity to provide to attendees promotional materials, product samples, and/or a draw or contest that will assist with your business development efforts. This activity is limited to the event itself.
- The sponsor will receive an invitation to attend SMARTstart 2024 Opening and Closing program events.
- AEC will be responsible for the costs associated with the event space, design of the event invite, marketing via direct email to current participants/alumni/mentors, and will provide beverages and light snacks.
- Due to privacy rules, AEC cannot provide personal or contact information for the attendees to the sponsor. It is the sponsor’s responsibility to collect information through the offer on your final slide, a draw or contest, or business cards. The sponsor is responsible to ensure compliance with privacy and CASL laws.
Sponsored session benefits:
- Bolster your brand image as one dedicated to educating and supporting business owners.
- Increase reputation as an active part of Airdrie’s business community and supporting a non-profit that provides entrepreneur support.
- Increase awareness of your brand and speaker through inclusion in our event marketing materials.
- Support your business development efforts by providing an offer to attendees, promotional materials, product samples and/or a draw or contest.
This sponsorship opportunity is a pilot and available for one event in Fall 2024. Your investment is $1,000.
Please contact email@example.com to discuss the project and express your interest.