I didn’t realize how fulfilling being a mentor in the SMARTstart program was going to be when I signed up. To be in a position to offer support, reassurance and guidance to another on their adventure of business building is rewarding for all involved. You cannot help but grow yourself along the way!
Robyn Pearson
A Friend Indeed
I came here thinking that I was going to get help with my business plan for three years from now to own my own clinic. And, today I do own my own clinic and it’s all because of SMARTstart. They helped me with my business plan, they helped me get in touch with the people who would help me get to where I needed to go, and right now I am a business owner because of them.
Dr. Melanie Beingessner
Blessingways Family Wellness
2014 SMARTstart Entrepreneur
I enjoy being able to help new entrepreneurs relieve a little bit of anxiety by encouraging them and letting them know they aren’t  the only ones dealing with the stress and challenges of starting a business.  My favorite thing is when I offer someone suggestions and they turn out to be valuable, whether it saves them a bit of time or helps them increase their sales.
Kari Lines
Budget Blinds
SMARTstart helped us to think bigger. We opened our business to have a place to do what we love. With the help of SMARTstart, we are now building Tri Fit Training to be a successful business. We are so grateful to have been part of such a forward-thinking program.
Christine McLeod & Tracy Winger
Tri Fit Training
2015 SMARTstart Entrepreneur
As a sponsor, SMARTstart allows me to stay in contact with our business community and help it grow. A community with a strong business sector is a STRONG community.
Sid Van der Meer
Retired (Northwest Equipment Ltd.)
SMARTstart gave me the ‘kick in the pants’ that I needed to start shooting for higher levels with my business. If this is something you are ‘thinking’ about doing, I recommend that you stop thinking and you start doing. That is what I learned in the program and it has benefited me greatly.
Lorne Osborne
Provision Athletics
2016 SMARTstart Entrepreneur
It has been a very rewarding journey for me with being able to give back, make a difference, and connect with like-minded entrepreneurs. I am so excited to watch these new businesses grow and flourish!
Tracy Goodbrand
Irricana Kountry Kennel
I am leaving the program knowing that my passion is not just a dream. With this program my life and my family’s life has changed forever.
Christelle Hitimana Uwamahoro
Healthy Meals Made Easy
2016 SMARTstart Entrepreneur
SMARTstart has become one of my guilty pleasures. The enthusiasm and comradery of the entrepreneurs each year is infectious! In marketing we talk about finding our tribe… well, it has been my privilege and honor to be a part of this one.
Jennifer Benner
Benner Database Designs
I have been involved since the inception of SMARTstart and value the chance to give back to the community. I particularly enjoy experiencing the passion of the entrepreneurs and watching them develop and grow their businesses.
Joan Bell
Retired (Airdrie Yoga Studio)
I love the program as it reminds me of why I became an entrepreneur. I have developed many lifelong friendships and been a part of watching some amazing businesses grow. SMARTstart also teaches me to look back and remember how far I have come and what an amazing ride business truly is!
Jacqui Jepson
The Pink Wand
I always knew I was great at my job. It was when I decided to open a business in that same field that I realized how little I knew about running a company. SMARTStart gave me the skills and the resources I needed to make my business thrive. With the help of my mentor and the seminars, I developed many skills that I use on a daily basis.
Pat Denis
Omega Fire Protection
2016 SMARTstart Entrepreneur
The SMARTstart program is fantastic! The information you learn is wonderful, but more than that… it’s about making connections with other professionals in the business community. The support network you create is invaluable.
Melody McClain
MJ McClain Professional Corporation
2015 SMARTstart Entrepreneur
I truly believe I learn as much from the entrepreneurs as I am able to help them. I had many mentors along my business career but I sure wish I could have had an opportunity like SMARTstart when I started.
Sid Van der Meer
Retired (Northwest Equipment Ltd.)
SMARTstart gave me the knowledge and skills that I needed in order to assess, and execute my business idea. It helped me to take betters decisions and avoid common pitfalls. The mentorship part is an amazing value added to the program!
Vladimir Gonzalez
Maxi Foods
2017 SMARTstart Entrepreneur
If you’re unsure of [how to run a business], go through SMARTstart…it’s about creating relationships in the community of people who can actually help you excel.
Joni Daley
Rival Axe Throwing
2020 SMARTstart Entrepreneur
We didn’t know how to run a business before we got into it. We learned a long list of things through the program from finding real estate, permits and licensing, to getting product in stores and restaurants.
Kyle Wudrich & David Schroter
948 Brewing
2018 SMARTstart Entrepreneurs
SMARTstart is well worth the investment. It helped me to meet people in the business community. You don’t always want to do it alone, when you’ve got other people to chat with, it helps.
Patricia Duggan
Funky Petals
2019 SMARTstart Entrepreneur

We’ve seen great success since the program launched in 2014!

Business success

More than 130 people have completed SMARTstart. Our entrepreneurs have opened businesses, grown their businesses, and have improved their business practices.

We’ve also had participants determine that their idea is not viable or that they don’t have what it takes to be an entrepreneur. We also consider this a success. SMARTstart is all about helping entrepreneurs realize their potential.

We’re proud to say many of our entrepreneurs and mentors have been recognized for their success. Several have won or been nominated for an Airdrie Business Award.

An award-winning program

Others have noticed that SMARTstart is a one-of-a-kind program. SMARTstart has been recognized with the following awards:

  • Alex Metcalfe Award–Best Community Economic Development Project from Economic Developers Alberta
  • Innovation Award from Community Futures Network of Alberta
  • Above & Beyond Award: Economic Sustainability from Alberta Urban Municipalities Association