SMARTstart is not for everyone. It’s designed for a specific stage of business, and for individuals who can meet the demands of the program.

SMARTstart is not for everyone. It’s designed for a specific stage of business, and for individuals who can meet the demands of the program.

Time commitment

Here’s what you can expect:

  • Program runs over 8 months, from late February to October
  • Entrepreneurs spend about 40 hours completing online and in-person training
  • Workshop times alternate between lunch and evenings to accommodate work and personal schedules
  • Participants must be self-motivated and have the time necessary to complete their plan
  • Time with mentors is agreed upon and scheduled between the entrepreneur and the mentors. Mentors commit to spending about 30 hours assisting their entrepreneur.
  • We estimate SMARTstart takes about 10 hours a month

Entrepreneurs truly get out of SMARTstart what they put into it!

Who is eligible?

  • People with an idea for a business (preference will be given to idea-stage entrepreneurs who have completed or are currently participating in our eight week Discover program prior to entering)
  • New business owners that have been in operation for less than 3 years
  • Airdrie residents (or entrepreneurs who have/will have a business located in Airdrie)
  • 18 years of age or older

Businesses from any industry are welcome. SMARTstart is designed for entrepreneurs who have a desire to grow/expand their business.

Representatives from multi-level marketing companies are not eligible for the program. Independently owned and operated franchises are eligible to participate in SMARTstart. City of Airdrie employees are not eligible. Family members of City of Airdrie employees may be eligible for the program.


Businesses owned by more than one person are considered partnerships. SMARTstart welcomes partner businesses who meet the following:

  • Up to 2 partners from one business can participate in the program
  • Submit one application form per partnership
  • Both partners pay the participant fee
  • Both partners are expected to complete all components of the program

Program cost

Thanks to support from program organizers and sponsors, SMARTstart is offered at a very, very low cost.

Entrepreneurs pay:

  • $499 participant fee (due in February)
  • Any costs related to your business’ specific needs

SMARTstart pays:

  • GoForth Institute fee ($195)
  • A professional photograph of each entrepreneur
  • All speaker, venue, and program administration costs

The value of the SMARTstart program is calculated at well over $1,000! This doesn’t include the priceless promotion you will receive for your business.

Application & selection process

To join SMARTstart, you much first apply and be accepted into the program. Each year there are up to 20 spots available.

Applications open each fall. More information on how to apply can be found here.

A committee made up of business advisors, mentors, bankers and program organizers review all applications. Applications are evaluated on criteria, not first come first serve. In some cases, applicants are interviewed.

Due to the popularity of SMARTstart, not all applicants are accepted into the program.

Want to chat with us before applying?