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The Top Five Lessons Earned at the Winter's Edge Investment Forum

We share the key takeaways from the entrepreneurs and investors at Central Alberta's most prominent pitch competition.

On February 20, 2019, CWB got to be a part of the Winter’s Edge Investment Forum in Red Deer, Alberta. At the event, we heard from 14 different entrepreneurs who were pitching to a panel of investors. Through some of the discussions we had at the event with approximately 130 people in attendance, we learned a number of important lessons and heard innovative ideas about business in Central Alberta. In particular, there were five points that came to the fore as key takeaways.

1. Central Alberta is creating a culture of investment

Business owners want to see more engagement and encouragement from government, educators and investors. They mentioned the importance of strong networks and partnerships within both their industries and from public institutions, which will ultimately help grow the overall business environment for supporting economic growth in the province.

Beyond the new investments and industry connectivity, what many business owners talked about is the need to share more business success stories. Hearing these stories and learning about what did and didn’t work for fellow entrepreneurs allows an opportunity for more business owners to learn from others and find their best path to success. 

2. There needs to be more opportunities like the Winter’s Edge Investment Forum for entrepreneurs in smaller communities

The business community in Central Alberta jumped at the opportunity to participate in this event and present their ideas to a panel of investors. There was an amazing array of ideas shared, which crossed all sectors. The business owners we connected with talked about how developing innovative business ideas can do so much in not just meeting market demands, but also in improving people’s lives.

There was also a recognition that many of these new business ideas could not survive on their own. Seeing this much investor interest in Red Deer gave the business owners hope that their ideas could continue progressing and reach the customers who will find the most value in what they’re offering.

3. Learning more about process improvement: innovation of things vs. innovation of ways

Guest speaker Jim A. Gibson, author of Tip of the Spear, presented on the concept of the difference between the physical things we can innovate and how we use our innovations. Technology — the physical things that people use to run their businesses — is changing rapidly every day. Gibson identifies how businesses build processes to use these new technologies, which needs to change as well.

In his presentation, Gibson also noted that linear systems of organization — how many businesses are designed — aren’t able to handle the exponential changes brought about by new technologies.
The importance of businesses needing to keep pace with and adapt to technology stems from the idea that once a new technology is introduced and adopted, it probably isn’t going to go away.
Gibson refers to this as the genie and once the genie is out of the bottle, it’s not going back.

4. Albertans need to be ready to apply their hard work ethic to our changing economy

The business owners we connected with also spoke about how rapidly the energy sector is changing all over the world — not just in Alberta. That means there is an immense opportunity for Alberta-based businesses to find where they can add better value to the changing economy.

The main sector people noted in Alberta’s changing economy is technology development. Many of the presentations at the forum showcased new technologies that can be applied to the energy sector and to everyday life. The hard work ethic that Albertans are known for is being applied to new business ideas that will help the province move into its new economic reality.

5. Technology is a mainstay

Luke Krueger from Valhalla Private Capital, keynote speaker from the forum, spoke about the kinds of things investors are looking for in a company — particularly from a technology perspective. Quoting Silicon Valley innovator Marc Andreessen, he said, “Every company is a technology company, some just don't act like it and will be left behind.”

Stressing the importance of technology, he stated that data gathered by businesses was worth $131 billion in 2018. He also illustrated how fast new technology is adopted by sharing that it took 68 years for airlines to earn 50 million users, while it only took Twitter two years to earn that same number and only 19 days for the mobile game Pokemon Go.

The importance of technology can’t be overstated and Central Alberta is showing it has the drive to meet the economic demands of a technology-based market. CWB is here to support companies throughout every stage of their business. Speak to a CWB advisor today to see how they can help you to focus on what’s important — your growth and success.