Member Profile: Shay Barker - the newest member of the Startup Edmonton family


We’re excited to add a new member to the Startup Edmonton family - meet Shay Barker, our Program Manager!

In the coming months, you’ll get to know Shay more as she leads Preflight sessions, offers mentorship hours, and expands the reach of our programs. Be sure to keep an eye out for Shay in the community; she’ll be the one eager to hear about your challenges & how she can help.

Shay is a new resident to Edmonton; she loves everything about the city and all that it has to offer. You can catch her cheering on the Edmonton Oilers, hanging out at the Next Act, drinking craft beer, or checking out the local music scene.

Shay is passionate about the messy work of entrepreneurship. She’s happiest in the trenches with founders and their teams working hard to get products and services into the hands of customers. Her profession experience bridge the space between hands-on support for entrepreneurs and regional economic development. She has worked for organizations Alberta Centre for Sustainable Rural Communities, Battle River Alliance for Economic Development, and Airdrie Economic Development and growing businesses such as Thumbprint Craft Beer Market and Hayloft Restaurant.

We sat down with Shay to find out more what drew her here:

What made you want to work at Startup Edmonton?

Just under a year ago I was doing some research for entrepreneurship support models so I did a roadshow with my boss in August. We ended up at Startup Edmonton where Stephanie took us on a tour, explained the process, and told us what Startup is all about. I left inspired, got into my boss’ truck and said, “If a job ever opens there, and I honestly don’t think it ever will because who would ever leave, I would likely apply for it and try and move my life here.” The draw to Edmonton was a huge factor in being ready to apply for a job here. I just kind of took a leap of faith actually and quit my previous job before I had anything lined up and then this popped up and everything worked out.

What was it about Edmonton specifically that drew you in?

In the last couple of years, I’ve grown to love Edmonton. If you had asked me five years ago if I would want to live here, I would have said no. I was always keen on smaller cities or small rural centers—that’s where I grew up, that’s where I spent most of my time. So, the largest city I’ve lived in up to this point is St. Johns, Newfoundland where it’s around 200,000 people.

In regards to Edmonton, I just gained a huge fondness for it. A lot of my friends live here and I ended up here every second week and just grew a love for the city. I wanted to be a part of the magic that was starting to happen here, and you see it every day, so I’m very excited.

Can you tell us a bit about what your role will be as Program Manager?

The ways that Startup Edmonton support entrepreneurs are really varied and I’m looking forward to diving in head first! I will be running the programming that currently exists, as well as looking at programs to expand on, change, add to, and shape in response to community needs. I’ll also be facilitating some of our Preflight sessions and building out our mentorship offerings. 

What is it about Edmonton’s startup community and culture of innovation that excites you?

I feel like Edmonton is a bit of a hidden gem city. It can take some time to figure out how awesome it is and I'm thrilled to be part of helping spread the word. Not a lot of people outside Edmonton know how innovative, how advanced, and how entrepreneurial the city is. It’s very down to earth, there’s a very collaborative feel, and there’s a very warm comradery in the entrepreneurship world. It seems like local business supports other local business and that’s how you grow a unique business environment.

Get to know the entire Startup Edmonton team here.