Member Profile: James A. Neufeld SAM


Photo Credit: (Left) Adam Ostrow, Mashable (Right) James A. Neufeld, SAM. Photo Courtesy: Native Advertising Summit 2014 

Q: What are you building at Startup Edmonton? 

We’re building a company called SAM. We’re on a mission to build the best tools to search, curate and tell stories with social media content. While there are certainly a lot of players in the social media marketing and management space, we’re one of the very first to be a pure inbound curation tool. We don’t look at social networks and see a marketing or engagement opportunities, we see millions of stories being told and shared. Finding, managing and telling these stories is what motivates us here at SAM; and we’re thrilled our platform is helping storytellers like Financial Times, Reuters & Press Association do exactly that.

Q: What drew you to Startup Edmonton and how has the community changed during your time here? 

I started SAM in my basement. That’s no way to get inspired or held accountable to keep pursuing and pushing your nascent ideas into a reality. It takes a village (aka community). The draw to Startup Edmonton was a little bit of everything; a great workspace, community, environment and people.

I think surrounding yourself with smart, creative and hard working people is really important. The biggest way that Startup Edmonton has changed since I joined is the sheer amount of talented people that are building amazing things in one building. The combined mind power and skill in a single refurbished warehouse is pretty astonishing. Who doesn’t want to be surrounded by that?

Q: How has the community inspired you? 

Simply put, to think differently. The community at Startup Edmonton so diverse in terms of focus of people and companies. I’m constantly being inspired to think differently about our own startup and the tactics we use to market, develop, sell and the tools other startups are finding value in. I think this is a huge advantage of Startup Edmonton, as it’s not a pure tech work space, there are fashion brands, food, bio, hardware and creative startups.

Q: Who is one of your mentors & what is the greatest lesson they taught you? 

I’ve been very fortunate throughout my life and career work with a lot of very talented people in different cities and countries. I think valuable lessons are gleamed from everywhere and everyone, despite their “mentorship” status or not. Personally, Bruce Johnson, is someone in the local Edmonton startup scene who’s been instrumental in mentoring and guiding me and SAM in our journey of building a company. Something Bruce is amazing at, and I’d encourage all startups to find in their Mentors, Advisors, or whatever you call them, is just getting things done. In the end, advice is cheap and usually flows freely from most everyone. Hard work and surrounding yourself with people that actually roll up their selves and say ‘I’m gonna stop talking and start doing’ is absolutely critical. In that sense, we’re incredibly lucky to have our mentors and investors (from Bruce to Accelerate Fund and VA Angels) not only be the smartest people with amazing track records, but also be hands on in shaping the success of our company.

Warehouse District (and beyond) Favourites:

  • Drink: That would have to be Credo. Although, very excited to haveTranscend part of the Mercer.
  • Bite: Lots of good eats within a few blocks of Startup Edmonton. But, my favourites would have to be the summertime Food Trucks.
  • Activity: To no one’s surprise, Ping Pong.