Innovation Rodeo 2021 a virtual success
Bow Valley College's 2021 Innovation Rodeo finished strong last week. Held entirely virtually from July 12-July 16, this five-afternoon event brought together keynote speakers, panel discussions, Innovation Challenges, and pitch competitions, helping students and promising entrepreneurs connect with industry experts and commercialize their ideas faster. In addition, this year's 'Investor Readiness' theme permeated through the program and was inspired by a recognized gap between investors and investment-ready ventures.
This year's Innovation Rodeo saw 1106 participants gather over five days in the virtual space. Thanks to the generous support of our Prize Sponsor Bennett Jones, Ticket Sponsors Alberta Enterprise Corporation, MNP and Platform Calgary, as well as our 150 Startups Program Founding Partners RBC and Hunter Family Foundation, participants were able to access innovative and engaging entrepreneurship sessions to help advance their careers and their businesses.
Following the theme of investor readiness, this year's Innovation Rodeo featured panellists and sessions focused on:
- creating products and services people want,
- raising non-dilutive funding,
- raising funds from angel investors or accelerators,
- raising funds from Venture Capitalists,
- making a successful exit.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday's events featured Innovation Challenges and regional pitch competitions, and Friday's event featured two final pitch competitions to cap off an exciting week of innovation and entrepreneurship.
Some of the most promising first-time Entrepreneurs from Alberta's publicly-funded colleges, universities, and polytechnics competed in the pitch competitions for daily cash prizes of $2,500 in regional rounds of the Most Promising Student Entrepreneur pitch competitions. The top two from each day of the regional pitch competitions advanced to the finals on Friday afternoon. They competed for an additional $17,500 and the chance to win one of three $12,000 US scholarships to the top Entrepreneurship Program in Silicon Valley.
This year's pitch competition winners stood out from the pack:
First place: Gillian Alm.
Gillian's company, BALMskincare, is a startup skincare company focused on providing free education to young women on skin health and products to have the skin they are confident in.
Second place: David Bermudez.
His company, Fresh Hydroponics, is a city sustainable local farming, working with businesses to extend shelf life, cut the cost down, guarantee the freshness of greens by producing locally.
Third place: Dana Holland.
Her company, Bold N Brave, is focused on getting teens outside away from technology and screens to build skills that will help their confidence, resilience and connections as they move into adulthood.
Winner Gillian Alm states, 'Participating in the 150 Startup's challenges has helped me grow tremendously as an entrepreneur. I have learned countless new skills, including how to run successful advertisements, validate customer interest in your product, and pitch an idea.'
Event participants this year raved about the event. One participant noted, 'It was mind-blowing! I didn't expect the number of notes I captured for my career progression.' Another shared: 'It was a well-organized event and provided a great opportunity to connect with other startups from around Alberta. Our team will absolutely attend again if the event is hosted on an annual basis.' Overall, participant feedback was glowing and positive, a true testament to the appetite for entrepreneurial education in our province and the impact that virtual delivery has on the program's reach.
Led by Bow Valley College's Entrepreneur in Residence Craig Elias, Innovation Rodeo is widely promoted by our community partners. It is celebrated as an Ingenious way to grow the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in Alberta. Sponsorship and revenue from ticket sales – the ticket sales revenue was given away to the Crowd Favourite Pitch Competition winners - from Innovation Rodeo go towards supporting first-time Entrepreneurs in Alberta's publicly funded colleges, universities, and polytechnics.
The Innovation Rodeo is one of the key annual 150 Startups program activities. Bow Valley College's 150 Startups program aims to reach aspiring and first-time post-secondary school students during the earliest stages of entrepreneurship, providing them with the guidance, tools, skills, and mindset to take on the challenge of becoming a first-time entrepreneur.