Local tech entrepreneurs had the idea to build Startup Calgary ten years ago. They felt that in a very energy-focused, resource heavy sector, tech innovation was getting lost. Building the tech community has seen consistent growth - the non-profit now puts on events and meetings regularly. Their largest event, Launch Party, can gather up to 800 people. Manager Jenn Delconte related that last year they had 4000 event attendees and 80 events. One example of an event they run multiple times a year Startup Weekend, a Techstars initiative sponsored by Google, hosted in multiple cities worldwide. This is a gathering of locals with business ideas who want to give entrepreneurship a test run. Gathering ‘hipsters, hustlers, and hackers’ Startup Calgary will form teams around the top ideas, bring in business coaches and keynotes, and allow them to loosely guide a concept to get it off the ground by the end of the weekend. These events take place at their office, located in the Calgary TELUS Convention Centre.
The real growth however, came in May of 2017 when Startup Calgary joined Calgary Economic Development. Joining gave Startup Calgary more government support and funding, eventually allowing them to staff four full-time employees.
Jenn began to work in the tech field for a mobile app company in Saskatoon upon graduating with a degree in marketing. She says that back then there were not many women in the tech space. Jenn loved translating the tech language to customers. Moving to Calgary in 2012, Jenn expanded her network through meet-ups and built relationships with key players in Alberta’s technology ecosystem. Jenn decided to then try her shot at entrepreneurship, starting her own events and marketing agency focused on non-profits, such as charities and entrepreneurial support organizations - Startup Calgary was one of her first clients. Once the merge with Calgary Economic Development came through in 2017, Jenn and her employee decided to hop on board with Startup Calgary full-time.
Startup Calgary is a fantastic initiative to grow the technology community. Growing up in Nova Scotia, I always viewed Alberta I always viewed Alberta as oil fields and some financial sectors. Talking to Jenn really opened my eyes to the growing community of technology in Alberta. I hope Halifax can follow suit with organizations that help push innovation and tech entrepreneurship like Startup Calgary and tekMountain do!