In 2009, Beamdog — now the largest independent game studio in Edmonton — was struggling to distinguish itself in an ever-crowded online gaming market. Firm believers in direct sales, Oster and his co-founder Cam Tofer set up a digital distribution platform similar to online PC-games retailer Steam. Despite more than 300 unique titles on offer, Beamdog barely had any sales. This was the same year the iPad launched.
Last month, I shared three ways you could help build our startup community. All I can say is - wow! In May, we saw our busiest Hack Day of the year; you shared the stories of incredible Edmonton startup companies and cheered them at Collision, North America's fastest growing tech conference; welcomed more than 20 new student entrepreneurs to the Student Summer Program; and helped us find a great new team member.
Thank you for the vital role you play in building our startup community and encouraging even more people to connect.
Jerry Wolverton was tired of juggling passwords.
Between himself, his wife and their three children, the family of five found themselves managing some 200 accounts, their login information all stored in a rapidly-filling little black book.
“We ran out of pages!” Wolverton recalls. “We had to start a new [book]. Our kids are all in school, and they come home with new passwords every semester, with new accounts.”
Of course, your computer can encrypt and remember your passwords for you. But even the largest companies have data breaches exposing those passwords and the information and access they protect. So for Wolverton, the inspiration for Stash was ultimately pretty simple: “there’s got to be a better way of doing this.”
People imagine real estate agents as always on the job. Roberto Moreno wants to change that. A few years ago, when his wife Elisse wanted to return to the world of real estate, they wondered how they could use the latest developments in technology to make the job easier and let her spend more time with her family. And so Gabbi, the A.I. assistant they have been developing over the last two years, was born.
Touted as a central hub for all communications between an agent and a client, Gabbi aims to step in to help convert leads and move sales forward. “Statistics show that if realtor doesn’t respond to a potential customer within a few minutes, that customer has already gone elsewhere,” says Moreno. “The consumer wants information much quicker. It’s important for agents to be able to respond in a timely matter with accurate information, and that’s really where Gabbi can come in and help.”
dealcloser was founded in typical startup fashion: a personal problem sparked an idea, which led to a set of terrible user interface mockups on Power Point and an initial investment that just covered the cost of building a prototype.
Like most startups, it took a while to hammer out a minimum viable product, but a solid product market fit kept investors and customers interested. Now, dealcloser is being used in law firms in 9 cities in North America, in 5 states and provinces, in 2 countries around the world.
After selling his previous company in 2016, email newsletter service Mailout, Gregg Oldring was trying to figure out what to do with the empty downtown office space for which he still had a lease. Then he ran into Tony Williams, at that time merely an acquaintance, at a coffee shop.
“I didn’t really know him that well, at that point,” says Oldring. “We had that classic conversation, ‘What do you do for a living?’ And Tony’s response that day was, ‘What I do is stupid.’ Which got me thinking, ‘Okay, tell me more.’”
Darren Nakonechny is excited. In a few weeks, the first PATCH units — a digitally controlled analog routing system for audio recording — that he and his colleagues at Flock Audio have been developing for almost two years, will be shipping out to the customers who had preordered them in 2018.
“You go through such rough times along the way it makes you wonder, ‘Is this going to actually be something, or is it going to fail?’” explains Nakonechny, founder and CEO of the Edmonton audio company. “But when you step back, you go ‘Wow, this is very cool.’ We started literally in the basement of my home and now we have an office and work with a network of professionals building a product that people are excited about. Shipping out our first units is a milestone we’ve all been working toward for a long time.”
Jason Suriano wrote the book on game-powered learning. Literally.
In 2017, he delved into 15 years of research, consulting and production experience to demystify this often-misunderstood discipline in a book titled Office Arcade: Gamification, Byte-Size Learning, and Other Wins on the Way to Productive Human Resources.
“A lot of people might not take what we're doing seriously,” says the bright-eyed founder and CEO of Edmonton-based e-learning company, Trajectory IQ.
While many companies understand that game-powered learning is more engaging and can, in turn, lead to higher retention of information, they simply don’t see the value in investing in what they perceive as fun and games, explains Suriano.
“[They think] ‘Yeah it's more engaging or interactive, but what is that going to do for the company?’”
When Colin Bramm and Roy Pombeiro launched Showbie in 2012, the pair thought it would be impressive if they could have their classroom software used not just in Alberta, but across the border in Saskatchewan or even the United States. It turns out, they may have set their sights a little small – today, Showbie is used by 3 million teachers, parents and students in more than 135 countries.
In March of 2015, Rakesh Soni shared a blog post "How Edmonton's startup ecosystem helped us dramatically grow LoginRadius." He shared the progress of the company and how they interacted with so many of the supporters, organizations, and events our city has to offer as they began their journey to build a tech product. They have come a long way since working on their business idea from a mining camp site room 120km north of Fort McMurray!
Today, LoginRadius announced a $17M in Series A funding from ForgePoint and Microsoft’s Venture Fund, M12. This new injections of funds will be used to accelerate product innovation, customer acquisition, and global expansion.
Since its launch in 2012, LoginRadius has relentlessly focused on customer identity and has experienced triple-digit annual growth for the past two years. The company has grown to support global offices in Vancouver, London, San Francisco, Sydney, and Jaipur, with plans to more than double its workforce in the next 12 months.
Here at Startup Edmonton, we had the pleasure of working with LoginRadius in their very early days!