SMARTstart celebrates 2022 entrepreneurs

AIRDRIE, ALBERTA – Eight-up-and-coming local entrepreneurs representing seven businesses were celebrated on Thursday, October 27 at the 2022 SMARTstart Program Celebration event in Airdrie.

The entrepreneurs spent the last eight months refining their idea for a new business or working to strengthen their existing businesses through the made-in-Airdrie SMARTstart entrepreneurial training program.

“The 2022 group of entrepreneurs are finishing the program with a strong business or strategic plan and a community behind them,” says Jessica Williamson, SMARTstart Organizing Committee Member. “We consistently hear from local businesses that a key to success in Airdrie is community. This group has built connections with their mentors, local business professionals and business support organizations, and an alumni group of 125 past participants. This community will continue to rally around the entrepreneurs to watch their businesses grow.”

The 2022 participants recognized at the event were:

  • Becky Urban, Warehouse Spin & Barre
  • Chelsea Dunlop, Ecology of Ease
  • Courtney and Jaret Steranko, Bonfire Shades
  • Emalyn Plazo, Cheng’s Bubbler
  • Jessica Abramyk, Jesa Travel
  • Jonelle Beaulieu, Bright Little Minds
  • Martin Linlove, Lift the Vibe

SMARTstart provided the participants with online business skills training, 11 workshops delivered by Airdrie business experts, and a local mentor. Working with their mentor, each participant completed a business, strategic or feasibility plan.

The event was also an opportunity to celebrate 11 local businesspeople who volunteer their time to be SMARTstart mentors. There are many mentors who have been with the program since its inception in 2014. This year Michelle Carre of LochSmith Consulting was honoured for her fifth year of volunteering. She joins eight other mentors that have also reached this milestone.

“Mentorship is the biggest draw for SMARTstart. The ability for a new entrepreneur to sit down with an experienced business owner and just talk through ideas is a huge stress relief,” says Jodie Eckert, SMARTstart Organizing Committee member. “Often new entrepreneurs don’t know who to approach for mentorship or might be afraid to ask someone. SMARTstart takes the guesswork out and sets them up with skills to utilize mentorship throughout their business journey.”

SMARTstart was launched in 2014 and is an award-winning program delivered by the City of Airdrie Economic Development and Community Futures Centre West. SMARTstart has now provided training to 133 entrepreneurs.

Not only did I complete the SMARTstart program this month, but we are just weeks away from opening our studio and I just turned 40, which just shows you are never too old to become an entrepreneur,” said Becky Urban, 2022 entrepreneur and co-owner of Warehouse Spin & Barre. “The program helped me with every aspect from starting with an idea to opening our doors. Each workshop had so many great nuggets of information and having a mentor to bounce ideas off of gave me a second perspective and helped me think about things I may not have thought of alone.”

The program is made possible with support from the following sponsors:

  • Seminar Sponsors: BDC, MNP
  • Media Sponsors: Air 106.1 FM, Airdrie City View, airdrielife
  • Entrepreneur Sponsors: Beckie Ryan, Blessingways Family Wellness, NWEL Holdings Ltd.
  • In-Kind Sponsor: Woodside Golf Course

Applications for the 2023 program are open until December 11, 2022. Entrepreneurs with an idea or new businesses (in operation for less than three years) are invited to learn more at one of the upcoming information sessions happening on November 1 at 12 p.m. or November 29 at 7 p.m.

To learn more, visit or e-mail info@Airdrie

The 2022 SMARTstart participants:
Jonelle Beaulieu, Emalyn Plazo, Courtney Steranko, Jaret Steranko, Martin Linlove, Becky Urban, Jessica Abramyk. Missing: Chelsea Dunlop.