How the chapter of this global organization sponsored by Google is doing incredible things for startups and entrepreneurs in Calgary.
Entering the entrepreneurship community can be scary and intimidating for most people and it sure was for Husam and I. I remember many times, after we had started our marketing company, before HustleCo, always doubting whether or not we were truly entrepreneurs. I used to get intimidated by networking at these events because it always seemed like everyone else was all ahead of where I was at, and loved to fire away millions of questions like: what’s your differentiating factor, how do you plan to scale, some jargon about VC’s, and then they shoot you a frown about not being a tech startup etc, and it is very intimidating. I remember thinking “Maybe we can get to know each other first before talking business off the bat? Maybe I’m not trying to scale right now, perhaps I’m just focused on providing value to my clients by solving their problems and paying my next months rent okay? Isn’t that what being an entrepreneur is about? Solving a problem? I’ll think about scaling later and when I’m ready.”
I felt isolated by a lot of entrepreneurial events in Calgary and was losing hope. However, one event really changed my mind last year, and it was a Startup Grind Calgary event featuring a fireside chat with Derek Ball. Startup Grind Calgary is a non-government funded chapter of Startup Grind sponsored by Google for Entrepreneurs: A global community of entrepreneurs operating in 350 different cities worldwide. To say I enjoyed my first Startup Grind event would be an understatement. It was by far the greatest event I had ever been to in Calgary! It has a laser focused on supporting entrepreneurs in our community (besides obviously the HustleCo created events we have coming up, wink wink).
Husam had committed to volunteer with Startup Grind Calgary that evening, but as it turned out, he has a spin class training at Stax Cycle Club that evening. So, like a good business partner, I stepped in and volunteered for Startup Grind that night. Derek Ball did an amazing job inspiring and telling stories of his entrepreneurial journey in the fireside chat guided by Chad. After this evening, I had made good friends with all the volunteers and met many people that I continue to work with today. I asked myself, what makes these events so awesome? Why is the community so welcoming? The multi-millionaire investor just shook my hand and thanked me for volunteering and was super humble. All the volunteers are awesome, and just work towards a common goal of building the community, all while having a good time doing it! So what is it that makes Startup Grind Calgary so great?
Here are 6 reasons to love Startup Grind Calgary and how they are supporting startups and entrepreneurship in Calgary.
By Entrepreneurs, for Entrepreneurs
All the volunteers for Startup Grind Calgary are unpaid. We don’t receive anything besides perhaps a free beer or two and admission to our own events. Everything else, including all the work put into organizing and marketing the events is done by us and supported by our sponsors and partners. This means that every dollar raised goes directly back into the events.The only reason all of us volunteer is because we are all passionate about building and supporting the entrepreneurship community in Calgary. We align with Startup Grind values. That passion comes from the entrepreneurial nature of all the volunteers. All of us are either entrepreneurs ourselves or directly involved in the entrepreneurial sector.
Fireside chat format
We all saw enough powerpoint presentations and slides in school, so a fireside chat is a really nice format for storytelling. Chad Ford, director of Startup Grind Calgary and CEO of Sunexo Solutions, always does a great job with the questions and keeping the audience engaged. The fireside chat format allows Chad to ask questions and hear stories from the speaker that we otherwise wouldn’t know, or are tough to find online. It is the aspect of spontaneous storytelling that really adds exclusivity to these events. It means rather than being told what to do, we instead get to hear great stories and pull what relevant value for our different businesses.
The connections you form at Startup Grind Calgary events are all through peer to peer networking. There is no centralized organization of meeting one another. It all just happens at our events, over the food, the drinks, and the fireside chat. It is a great way to connect with other entrepreneurs in the city, or those with an entrepreneurial mindset. Megan Cameron with Twelve Poles Photography, is our volunteer photographer who I met through Startup Grind. This connection formed enabled us to do a content generation session at HustleCo, basically a package for startups with headshots for entrepreneurs at a great price.
We don’t serve beer and pizza. Well we have in the past, but it was some of Calgary’s favourite pizza, Una, and some really great beer, Village, thanks to both for their support. The food is great, the drinks are fantastic and the company is the best.
Since we are all entrepreneurs, and the events are organized by volunteers, we all want to help each other out. For example, HustleCo is having an event featuring a YYC Instagram Influencers Panel. Startup Grind volunteer and Calgary realtor, Mike Sherrard (The Purple Realtor), volunteered to take part on our upcoming panel through our Startup Grind connection because of his Instagram influence. So far, another volunteer I’ve met through Startup Grind, Travis Wilkins of On Point Electric and Controls, is helping promote our influencer panel event and supporting us by helping sell tickets and generate interest for this event.
Have you seen the quality of established and successful speakers we’ve had during our fireside chats with Startup Grind Calgary? Manjit Minhas (a Dragon), Andrew Chau (Skip The Dishes), Trent Johnsen (Hookflash), Nick Beique (Helcim), and many more. For a premiere event you need premiere speakers, and it’s a great feeling to be in a room with entrepreneurs in a relatively intimate setting who’ve “made it.”
If you haven’t been to a Startup Grind Calgary event yet and are interested in joining the community, check out our upcoming events on the page here. We look forward to seeing you there and I’m convinced you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the caliber of entrepreneurs we have in this city and the startup community: https://www.startupgrind.com/calgary/
For ticket discounts, use coupon code: hustlecoVIP
Startup Grind Values
We believe in making friends, not contacts. We believe in giving, not taking. We believe in helping others before helping yourself. We are truly passionate about helping founders, entrepreneurs and startups succeed. We intend to make their startup journey less lonely, more connected and more memorable.