"What's the biggest lesson 2017 taught you?" Steph, our Program Manager, asked as we started our planning for the year.
Without hesitation, the biggest lesson from a year full of highs and lows is that our members, companies, students, and team need to be more creative, ambitious, even reckless in the types of problems they're tackling and the scale of solutions they're building.
There are many things in Edmonton that are going well: there is an incredibly supportive and collaborative community (see the 280+ meetups a year); more significant interest than ever before in the expertise of our students and faculty in our post-secondary schools (check out the Reverse Expo next week), and more people are willing to explore entrepreneurship as a way to make a difference in their communities (shout out to our friends at Roundhouse). Of course, there is always room for improvement!
2017 was full of travel and conversations with my colleagues across the country and around the world. The most significant takeaway from my experiences last year in cities like San Franciso, Waterloo, and New York is that early-stage teams are unapologetic when it came to how daring and unexpected their products are.
We're outpaced by the sheer originality of ideas coming out of other centres. I strive at Startup Edmonton to create a place where you can experiment, learn, and build a tech-enabled product. Over the past few weeks, I've thought more and more about how we foster creativity and all the risks that come with it.
On our big mural wall, there are lots of startup slogans and the one I've struggled the most with is Fail Fast. All it means is don't spend too much time on a bad idea, just because you want it to succeed. But, it doesn't capture all the ideas that need to come first to begin to fail at one or even all of them.
None of the startup slogans address those very first moments when you don't put limits on all the possibilities in front of you:
Hard Work Beats Talent. Passion Never Fails. Done is Better than Perfect. Move Fast and Break Things. It's Not Done Until it Ships. Stop Sketching Start Building. Less Talk More Hustle.
So, how do we start being braver when it comes to ideas?
I don't have any answers yet, but 2018 is when I'm going to tackle this challenge head-on in my work at Startup Edmonton. I'm incredibly lucky that when inspirations strikes, whether from an IG story by a big brand or a new initiative from a startup community, I can send it directly to my team and see what conversation is can spark. I feel pride that this same kind of connection happens all the time between members in our space and Preflight program. It's one of my favourite parts of what we're able to day-in-and-day-out in service, to our startup community.
I'll pop back in throughout the year to share updates on tools, resources and even examples of creativity and ambition in practice. Thank you, as always, for trusting Startup Edmonton with your ideas, and I can't wait to hear what 2018 has in store for you.