Calgary Innovation Coalition advisors accelerate path from idea to launch
The Calgary Innovation Coalition’s (CIC) team of Business Development Advisors (BDAs) work with Calgary-based early-stage technology companies to refine and improve their business models, accelerating their path from idea to launch. When companies are deemed ready, the BDAs provide a recommendation and guide the entrepreneur through the application for voucher funding, administered by Alberta Innovates.
Entrepreneurs enter the funding pipeline through Startup Calgary’s Business Model Canvas (BMC) workshop series. Participating entrepreneurs receive a detailed overview of the BMC and ongoing one-on-one support from BDAs and community triage coaches. As the entry point to voucher funding, the BMC 101 workshop attracts approximately 28 new companies per month, hosting a total of approximately 130 entrepreneurs to-date.
In addition to these BMC workshops, members of the CIC, host several ideation events each month to introduce entrepreneurs to the startup ecosystem.
Meaghan Nolan and Kyle Nishiyama are the co-founders of Mikata Health, a digital health company developing artificial intelligence-powered tools to reduce clinic workloads.
Meaghan and Kyle moved to New York City for five years before returning to Alberta to start their company. “It was really important for us to make connections in the community. We started our own meetup group, participated in Cohort 3 of the ATB X accelerator and attended tons of community events.”
Meaghan connected with Startup Calgary’s Community Manager, Jenn Delconte, at a Startup Community 101 presentation in February. Jenn guided Meaghan and Kyle to additional community events and programs, connecting them with additional support as they prepared to launch their minimum viable product.
With the help of a local developer who recently pivoted from education to tech, they were able to launch their minimum viable product in just six months. Mikata Health is being used in three clinics, two in Calgary and one in Edmonton, with plans to expand by 10-15 clinics in the next month.
After receiving a recommendation from CIC BDA, Kevin Dahl, Mikata Health was approved for voucher funding in January and March of 2018, receiving the Seed and Bridge Vouchers.
“The Seed Voucher funding allowed us to leverage the Startup Package at Dentons Canada LLP. Legal is a big piece of the puzzle for us because of the privacy, security and compliance requirements associated with working in B2B healthcare,” says Meaghan. “From bringing on your first employee to ensuring you are compliant, engaging legal guidance early saves a lot of time and a lot of headaches.”
To continue differentiating their product, Meaghan and Kyle are currently seeking a full-time full-stack developer and a full-time data scientist. With the help of the Bridge Voucher funding, they have engaged local development studio, Bullish Ventures, to assist with their next phase of development while they search for the right talent to fill their two new positions.
“One thing that is unique to Canada is the federal and provincial support through government grants and programs. We have been closely connected with David Bocking from Alberta Innovates; Kevin Dahl from the Calgary Innovation Coalition; and Lynn Sutherland from NRC IRAP,” says Meaghan. “I consider all three of these people to be mentors and coaches. From holding us accountable to guiding us through the funding process, they have helped us get the most out of the programs that are available.”