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Startupville

Startupville is …

A podcast featuring interviews with startup founders and tech community leaders discussing what it is like to build a startup – and a startup ecosystem – in a small city.

Startupville is brought to you by Innovation Place and Martin Charlton Communications.

Stay in touch with the friendly folks of Startupville.


Latest Episode

Reduce, Reuse, Robotize

with Sam Dietrich (Prairie Robotics)

"9 out of 10 people in North America find recycling more confusing than investing in the stock market, filing their taxes or assembling Ikea furniture."

— Sam Dietrich

We talked with Sam Dietrich of Prairie Robotics. Sam was inspired to create change in the world to make recycling simpler so that we can individually make a positive environmental impact.

After entering a competition to find out how technology can be used to monitor the amount of solid waste generated and disposed of in Saskatchewan, Prairie Robotics used Artificial Intelligence to estimate the weight of the waste entering landfills to capture data in real time to automatically generate waste reports. This wasn’t enough, so they developed the ability to use AI at the source to resolve issues at the household level.

We talked with Sam about the importance of recycling, how we can change the future now, and what’s in store for Prairie Robotics.


Episode 67

Global Biotech Week 2021

with Jay Robinson (Ag West Bio and the GAAP Accelerator), Conrad Nixon (Back to Your Roots) and Rob Henderson (Biotalent Canada)

"There’s an adage that I’ve followed through my career, is that you can have great technology and a terrible team, or a great team and terrible technology, and the great team will win every time."

— Jay Robinson

Global Biotech Week started 18 years ago right here in Canada, and has since gone global, raising awareness for the significant role biotech plays in the world today. So, to celebrate Global Biotech Week, we’ve interviewed three leaders in the biotech sector, to learn more about what they do, and what makes biotech different from the typical startup experience. We talked with Jay Robinson of Ag West Bio and the GAAP Accelerator, Conrad Nixon, Co-founder of Back to Your Roots, and Rob Henderson, President and CEO of Biotalent Canada.

We talked with Jay about the GAAP Accelerator, a new organization created to support early stage and rapid growth stage companies in all areas of agriculture and food. Back to Your Roots is a food startup specializing in raw fermented food products, hand crafted using minimal ingredients. BioTalent Canada is a national non-profit that supports the people behind life-changing Science.

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Episode 66

Uniting the Prairies 2021 — Calgary, Alberta

with Nicolas Beique (Helcim), Alitta Tait (Harvest Builders) and Patrick Lor (Panache Ventures)

"Built into all Calgarians is this: We want to make sure that you love your time here, that you meet the right people, that you’ve found your tribe, you’ve had a mind meld with people that get you, that make sure you’ve had a great conversation."

— Patrick Lor

Uniting the Prairies, or UP Conference, is a virtual conference on June 23rd and 24th that brings together the top startups from across the Canadian prairies to connect with global investors and tech leaders, and collectively elevate the prairie community.

Leading to the UP Conference, we are hosting a five episode mini-series to highlight the five major prairie tech cities in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Check out the four previous episodes on Saskatoon, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Regina, and today we’re featuring Calgary, Alberta.

We talked with Nicolas Beique, founder and CEO of Helcim, Alitta Tait, Head of Partnerships at Harvest Builders, and Patrick Lor Managing Partner of Panache Ventures.

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Episode 65

Uniting the Prairies 2021 — Regina, Saskatchewan

with Matt Fahlman (Offstreet), Trevor Phenix (Broad Street Bulls) and Tina Beaudry-Mellor (Economic Development Regina)

"In our community, you can move here and actually have influence in the community, because it is smaller. You can have access to decision-makers you would not have in a big centre."

— Tina Beaudry-Mellor

Leading to the UP Conference, we are hosting a five episode mini-series to highlight the five major prairie tech cities in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Check out the three previous episodes on Saskatoon and Edmonton, and Winnipeg, and today we’re featuring Regina, Saskatchewan.

We talked with Matt Fahlman, Co-founder and CEO of Offstreet, Trevor Phenix, Managing Partner of Broad Street Bulls, and Tina Beaudry Mellor, Chief Economic Growth Officer of Economic Development Regina.

Subscribe and don’t miss upcoming episode highlighting Calgary!

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Episode 64

Uniting the Prairies 2021 — Winnipeg, Manitoba

with Catherine Metrycki (Callia Flowers), Michael Legary (Radar Ventures) and Joelle Foster (NorthForge)

"It’s also special I think to build a startup in an ecosystem that is growing, and is just starting to create more and more of these types of companies. Because it means that we’re able to attract talent that’s really excited about what we’re building, and it also means we’re able to attract good attention around what we’re building, and we’re not one of five hundred startups trying to grow out of Manitoba at the same time, the same way you would see that in Toronto or Vancouver."

— Catherine Metrycki

Leading to the UP Conference, we are hosting a five episode mini-series to highlight the five major prairie tech cities in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Check out the two previous episodes on Saskatoon and Edmonton, and today we’re featuring Winnipeg, Manitoba.

We talked with Catherine Metrycki Founder and CEO of Callia Flowers, Michael Legary, Chairman of Radar Ventures, and Joelle Foster, CEO of NorthForge.

Subscribe and don’t miss upcoming episodes highlighting Regina, and Calgary!

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Episode 63

Uniting the Prairies 2021 — Edmonton, Alberta

with Zack Storms (Startup TNT), Kristina Milke (Sprout Fund) and Sophie Gray (DiveThru)

"I think over the last couple of years, we’ve seen more of a grassroots movement where local leading entrepreneurs, local investors, people like Sprout Fund are launching funds, Startup TNT is getting more traditional investors excited about the community, and people like Sophie are raising money. And I think we’re seeing a bit of a shift now, where necessarily the private sector and the grassroots community are becoming more front-and-centre in what our tech ecosystem is about."

— Zack Storms

Leading to the UP Conference, we are hosting a five episode mini-series to highlight the five major prairie tech cities in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Last week our home-city of Saskatoon, and today we’re travelling northwest to Edmonton Alberta, home to an amazing startup ecosystem and our three guests today.

First, we talked with Zack Storms, founder of Startup TNT, and Kristina Milke, Managing Partner of Sprout Fund. Thanks to a few quick messages and the well-connected ecosystem that is the Edmonton startup scene, we also had an impromptu visit for the second half of the interview from Edmonton founder Sophie Gray of DiveThru. A true testament to how fast you can network in the Canadian prairies.

Subscribe and don’t miss upcoming episodes highlighting Winnipeg, Regina, and Calgary!

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Episode 62

Uniting the Prairies 2021 — Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

with Matt Stefan (Co.Labs), Wanda Hunchak (Westcap Management) and Serese Selanders (SolusGuard)

"I think what’s really unique about Saskatoon [and] Saskatchewan as a whole is just the collaboration aspect. And the fact that, I never feel like, and I think my fellow entrepreneurs don’t feel like we’re competing against each other. I think we feel like we’re doing this together, we’re in it together."

— Serese Selanders

The Canadian prairies are on a tear, with five cities rapidly growing their tech sectors, and this conference is a chance for each of them to put their collective energy together to drive things forward even more.

Leading to the UP Conference, we are hosting a five episode mini-series to highlight the five major prairie tech cities in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

We’re kicking off this series with the city where the UP Conference started just two years ago, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

We talked with Matt Stefan, The Executive Director of Co.Labs, Saskatoon’s tech incubator and organizers of the UP Conference, along with Wanda Hunchak, Executive Vice President of venture firm Westcap Management, and Serese Selanders founder and CEO of the fast growing startup, SolusGuard about where the Saskatoon tech ecosystem is today, and where it’s headed.

Subscribe and don’t miss upcoming episodes highlighting Edmonton, Winnipeg, Regina, and Calgary!

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Episode 61

Immigration Nation

with Dirk Propp of Immigrate Software

"You need to spend the money, you need to grow, and the only way to grow is to fuel your growth with talent. If you want that skilled talent, and you want the best of in the world, and you want to pull from the entire global talent pool, then you need to look at immigration for your business."

— Dirk Propp

We talked with with Dirk Propp of Immigrate Software.

Dirk spent 15 years helping people immigrate to Canada as an immigration consultant. And, with a business growing rapidly through positive referrals, he identified ways to automate parts of his business, while still delivering the same level of referral-worthy service.

Now, Dirk isn’t just helping his business, but the whole Canadian immigration industry, with his startup Immigrate helping people pursue their dream of living in Canada faster, at a lower cost.

We talked with Dirk about how he started the company, a recent rebrand that changed everything, and his plans for massive growth in the near future.

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Episode 60

Making Memories

with Jessica McNaughton of MemoryKPR

"The only place we’re actually adding the context and capturing the richness of the story is maybe a little bit social media, and the purpose of that business is not to save your stories. It certainly has a time and place, but it is not what you’re going to pull off the shelf in twenty years and show your kids."

— Jessica McNaughton

We talked with Jessica McNaughton of MemoryKPR.

After years as a successful executive leader, Jessica ventured off on her own to try and solve a problem near and dear to her heart. Keeping peoples’ stories alive.

Jessica started MemoryKPR to fill in the gaps that social media and digitization has left in our lives. Thanks to digitization, we all create our stories in entirely different ways, and Jessica identified a need for creative solutions for how we keep and pass on these stories.

We talked with Jessica about the mission of MemoryKPR, and how they’re marching forward to change the way we create and keep our memories.

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Episode 59

Blood in the Water

with Neil Anderson of SkillShark

"I thought to myself, ‘We just spent eight hours in the dust gathering all this data, and all you’re doing is adding up five columns into a single number and ranking the kids best to worst.’ And in my mind, there was just so much more that could be done with the data."

— Neil Anderson

We talked with Neil Anderson of SkillShark.

The best ideas often come from lived experience. As a softball coach, Neil experienced firsthand the long, tedious process of athlete evaluations which still involved pen and paper, and mountains of unreliable data that weren’t being used to their full potential.

So, he took matters into his own hands, and what started as a complex excel spreadsheet is now a user-friendly digital platform that’s revolutionizing how athletes are being evaluated around the world. From youth sports’ young rising stars, to professional, and even Olympic athletes, With most coaches around the world still using pen and paper, there’s blood in the water for SkillShark.

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Episode 58

An Impactful Partnership

with Thomas Benjoe of FHQ Developments and Denis Carignan of PLATO Testing

"My message to those that will listen is that, succeeding in this space requires development of the talent first. That includes supporting the talent. Not just in the training, but after the training there’s support to ensure those individuals are successful."

— Denis Carignan

We talked with Thomas Benjoe of FHQ Developments and Denis Carignan of PLATO Testing.

In 2015, PLATO Testing identified software testing, a service primarily outsourced to other countries, as an opportunity to help bring more Indigenous people into the ICT industry. Since then, they have trained more than 150 Indigenous people, many of whom still work for the company today.

In 2019, they partnered with FHQ Developments, the economic development corporation for the File Hills Qu’Appelle Tribal Council in Saskatchewan. Through this partnership, they created PLATO Sask, a Saskatchewan-based, Indigenous-owned software testing business that offers training and employment for Indigenous people in Saskatchewan.

The partnership has been a great success, both in continuing to grow the booming Saskatchewan tech industry, and in providing a path into the sector for people who previously had limited access to the opportunities and resources needed to do so.

So we wanted to chat with Thomas and Denis to learn more about their story, and what they’ve learned that can help others in the tech sector increase access to opportunity and build more inclusive companies.

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Episode 57

It’s Now or Never

with Jared Fedorchuk of Levis Tech

"It [was] now or never. In terms of the economy, and where we [were] at as a company, it [was] time to do the pivot that we [needed] to do."

— Jared Fedorchuk

We talked with Jared Fedorchuk, CEO and Partner of Levis Tech about their journey as a company. How they started life as a digital agency, and followed their expertise, and the market to change their business.

They’ve even started to dive into the startup world, spinning off some of their proprietary tech into products of their own, moving some of their business from a service-based model, to a software-as-a-service product-based model. We talked with Jared about the factors that led to their recent pivots, and where Levis is headed into the future.

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Episode 56

Building a Foundation for Building Games

with Darcy McLane of SaskInteractive

"You can quote me: It’s a small scene, but it’s growing."

— Darcy McLane

We talked with Darcy McLane, Executive Director of SaskInteractive. Darcy was on the show last April to talk about the labour market and economic impact study that quantified the massive growth of the Saskatchewan tech sector in the years prior.

The study was a good barometer of where the Saskatchewan tech sector sat heading into the pandemic, so we caught up with Darcy about where things are at today after nearly a year.

But, SaskInteractive does a lot more than measure the Saskatchewan tech sector, and we wanted to talk about what they’re doing to help kickstart the Saskatchewan game development community. While there might not be many big game companies in the province, there are tons of people making games who are desperate for a community of support. We talked with Darcy about how he and SaskInteractive are helping to bring those people together and build a strong foundation to grow the video game sector in the province.

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Episode 55

Filling Big Shoes

with Matt Stefan of Co.Labs

"That’s really exciting to me. That you sort of have this moment where the stars are aligning, where there’s been all this uphill battle to get Co.Labs and the tech scene to where it is today. Where people are focusing on it, and we have all these elements that they don’t have in larger centres, where we’re not fractured."

— Matt Stefan

We talked with Matt Stefan, the new Executive Director of Co.Labs, Saskatoon’s tech incubator.

In under four years, Co.Labs has already left a lasting legacy on the Saskatchewan tech community, thanks in no small part to its recently departed co-founders Jordan Dutchak and Alex Shimla. They’ve left two pairs of big shoes to fill, and if anybody is up to the task, it’s Matt Stefan.

A Saskatchewan native, Matt is returning to the province from the Toronto tech scene to lead Co.Labs into its next chapter. We talked with Matt about making the move back to his home-province, and his vision for Co.Labs moving forward.

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Episode 54

Community is Currency

with David Crossman of Citrus

"We’re going to grow as a community, we’re going to learn, and really focus on problems that hit close to home."

— David Crossman

We talked with David Crossman, Co-Founder and CTO of Citrus, and Founder of HackRegina.

Much has changed in David’s life over the last year. He went from a solo founder spinning his tires to a Co-founder speeding down the track, and the tech community he helped build was thrown headfirst into a global pandemic. So we talked with David about his journey of perseverance as an entrepreneur, and where Citrus and the Regina tech scene as a whole is heading into the future.

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Dan Gold

Your Host

Dan Gold

Dan Gold MPRCA, hails from the south of England where he started out in the IT industry, although media was his first love.

In the ‘90s, he made the leap into broadcasting, working for Europe’s largest radio network. In 2007, Dan was enticed to London to work for a firm which would become a part of The Economist Group, producing strategic content for global brands in fashion and luxury, automotive, sports, finance, aviation, tech, health, and education.

While in London, Dan worked on campaigns that engaged millions of people worldwide on TV, radio, and online. After more than 4,440 productions and content on every major news and entertainment network, Dan made the move to North America to continue his storytelling journey with Martin Charlton Communications.

Mike Wolsfeld

Producer

Mike Wolsfeld

Mike is a born-and-raised small city advocate from Saskatoon, Canada.

With a background in building communities, as Collaboration Specialist with Innovation Place he works closely with the tech community from startup founders, students, firms and support systems to connect the dots and the people that need connecting.

Mike is a strong believer that a lot of big fish working together can turn a small pond into a blue ocean.