SMARTstart Launches 2020 Program

AIRDRIE, ALBERTA – The 2020 SMARTstart entrepreneurial training program officially launched Tuesday night with an enthusiastic and dynamic group of local entrepreneurs and mentors.

“The launch is one of my favourite events of the year,” says Tara Levick, SMARTstart Entrepreneur Coordinator and Organizing Committee Member. “With each new group of entrepreneurs we see a new set of unique businesses each with interesting challenges and opportunities. We’re very excited to see where these entrepreneurs will be in eight months when they complete the program.”

Launched in 2014, SMARTstart has assisted 103 local entrepreneurs with their new business or business idea. As a result 17 new businesses have opened their doors and 29 businesses have expanded their operations or services. Fourteen entrepreneurs, representing 13 businesses, have been accepted into this year’s program.

Entrepreneurs with an idea:
Jodi McFarlane, Alberta Ortho & Dental Sharpening Inc.
Patricia Duggan, Funky Petal
Rebecca McElhinney, Lotus Reproductive Health and Fertility
Sergey Buryachenko, Cybersecurity Services for Businesses
Stephanie Rabel, Oh Snap Photo Camper
Tamara Wheeler, Becoming Boundless Meditation Studio
Tami Crawford, Makers Studio/Coworking Space
Tannis Smith, Community Art Space
Tendai, Dongo, Children Empowerment Workshops

New business owners (in operation less than 3 years):
Danny & Kimberly Goring, GT Promotions
David DeNobrega, Snap! Collectables
Joni Daley, Rival Axe Throwing Ltd.
Shala Heger, The Little Blind Company Ltd.

Over the course of eight months, the entrepreneurs will complete the 100 Essential Business Skills online training from GoForth Institute, participate in 11 in-person workshops, and work with a mentor on the completion of a business, feasibility or strategic plan. Mentors are volunteers from the Airdrie business community.

The 17 local business leaders volunteering in 2020 are:
Andrew Bennett, The I.T. Company
Danielle Coulter, former owner Tutor Doctor
Don Dixon, Cangos
Heather Cowie, Airdrie Family Eye Doctors
Heather Harke, Shoplift Deals Limited
Jacqui Jepson, The Pink Wand Cleaning Services Ltd.
Jennifer Benner, Benner Database Designs
Joan Traub, Retired (Airdrie Yoga Studio)
Jo-Anne Yau, Masuch Law
Kelly Paisley, The I.T. Company
Melanie Beingessner, Blessingways Family Wellness
Michelle Carre, The Carre Group
Nadine Woitt, Mezzanine Hair Studio
Nancy Kelln, Unimagined Testing Inc. & Greenwood Rentals
Sid Van der Meer, Retired (Northwest Equipment)
Tracy Goodbrand, Irricana Kountry Kennel
Wendy Bates, The Hair Lounge

“SMARTstart mentors tell us they get just as much from the program as the entrepreneurs,” says Jodie Eckert, SMARTstart Mentor Coordinator and Organizing Committee Member. “It reignites that creative enthusiasm they had when first starting their business.”

The Launch Event was held on February 25 at Woodside Golf Course where the 2020 participants, mentors and sponsors were introduced. A “speed connecting” session was held to provide the opportunity for program mentors and entrepreneurs to meet.

SMARTstart is an award-winning program delivered by the City of Airdrie Economic Development, Bow Valley College and Community Futures Centre West.

The program is made possible with support from the following sponsors:
Seminar Sponsors: BDC, MNP
Media sponsors: Air 106.1FM, airdrielife, Airdrie Echo, Here’s the Scoop
Entrepreneur Sponsors: Sid Van der Meer
Alumni Sponsors: Blessingways Family Wellness, MJ McClain Accounting, Beckie Lower
Encore Sponsor: Airdrie Chamber of Commerce
Friend Sponsors: Ecole Des Petis Amis
In-Kind Sponsors: Custom Gemini, Noodlebox, Healthy Meals Made Easy