Need some motivation to commit to Preflight? Check out our alumni companies like DrugBank, Zept and dealcloser.

Before outfitting NFL cheerleaders or the Canadian finance minister, sisters Justine and Kendall Barber needed some help refining their made-to-measure footwear concept. That’s where Startup Edmonton came in.

During a trip to Bali in 2012, Justine Barber tried on a pair of boots that didn’t quite fit her calves. The shoemaker took out a measuring tape and offered to mail her a custom pair. This got Justine thinking: why not make all shoes that way.

When she got back to Canada, she on-boarded sister Kendall and together they set about the trying journey to entrepreneurship.

After knocking on a few doors, Justine connected with Startup Edmonton as we were about to launch the first session of Preflight.

Surprising, but true! Poppy Barley’s first hire was a developer and the vision for the company was technology driven. Over the years, the company’s business model and touch points with technology have changed to best meet their growth and customer needs.

You don’t need to have everything about your idea for a tech product figured out before you join Preflight. All we need to know is that you’re focused on building new technology in any industry (that you may or may not sell directly to a customer) and that you’re committed to exploring all the options related to your idea.

You can read more on Poppy Barley’s startup journey here.

Poppy Barley’s founders Justine and Kendall Barber. Photo Credit:

Poppy Barley’s founders Justine and Kendall Barber. Photo Credit:

Even though the curriculum was brand new, Justine trusted our vision and immediately signed up for Preflight — a three part series that works with tech founders as they refine their market, create product and company roadmaps, and prepare to sell to customers and pitch to investors.

Now a successful omni-channel retailer, Poppy Barley counts a thriving online platform, as well as two storefronts: their flagship store in Southgate Centre and a recently opened location in Calgary’s CF Market Mall.

In addition to footwear, Poppy Barley sells leather accessories. All the company’s wares are ethically made in Léon, Mexico, which is known for its production of leather goods.

Poppy Barley — whose name refers to the original units of measurements in shoemaking — isn’t alone in its success. Over the past six years, Preflight has launched some of Edmonton’s most successful and scaling technology companies, including the following companies:


A transaction management platform, dealcloser helps corporate lawyers become more efficient by modernizing the largely paper-based process of completing a transaction. The software as a service (SaaS) product eliminates many non-value-added administrative tasks, such as collecting signatures, filing and manually tracking document versions, and supports any type of deal — from a simple incorporation to a complex M&A.


DrugBank is a leading Internet resource for free drug information. The comprehensive online database includes information on more than 13,000 individual drugs and is used by millions of global users ranging from university researchers to health professionals to members of the general public. DrugBank’s clients include the World Health Organization, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Cancer Institute.


Zept is an app that simplifies the experience of recruiting international students. Rather than scour rankings and university websites, users answer a few questions and Zept’s algorithm quickly and accurately matches them to schools based on program interest and grade requirements. It also allows universities to connect with students once they express interest in that institution — acting as a scholastic Tinder of sorts.

Feelings Inspired? Join Preflight to keep the momentum going!

Building a tech product is hard and it’s even harder on your own. Preflight is structured to support your efforts in three ways:

  • Instructional sessions to connect you with proven tools and methodologies used by accelerators, incubators, and serial entrepreneurs from around the world.

  • Mentorship opportunities with experts that have real-world experience, including CEOs, Product Managers, Designers, and Investors.

  • Peer Networks that understand your unique challenges and can help keep you accountable to moving your idea forward.

Want to learn more? Book a meeting with our Community Coordinator, Ben, and he can fast-track your application!