Kari Gordon is executive director of Startup Calgary.
Calgary’s Business: What’s the history behind Startup Calgary and why it was started?
Gordon: Startup Calgary was established in 2010 by a group of tech entrepreneurs wanting to connect with like-minded people and build awareness at the grassroots of the tech community.
CB: What’s its purpose and vision going forward?
Gordon: Startup Calgary’s purpose is to work with early-stage entrepreneurs from idea through to minimum viable product. We connect founders to the support they need within the greater tech ecosystem to help them launch and scale their businesses.
CB: How does it help young companies get up and running?
Gordon: Early-stage founders are often in a hurry to launch and they ignore the basics of what problem they’re solving, the value proposition, market size and revenue streams. The services offered through Startup Calgary help guide them to answer those questions and encourage continuous iteration.
CB: What are the key things startups need to do in the initial stages to build a foundation for success?
Gordon: Founders are in love with their idea and assume everyone else will be as well – without ever talking to a potential customer. That assumption can be a fatal flaw costing time and money.
This can be easily avoided through market validation, which is why we encourage founders to interview as many customers as possible and never stop.
CB: What are the key challenges and obstacles startups have to overcome to be viable?
Gordon: We consistently see companies that struggle to establish a founding team. We consistently see companies that fail because they don’t have the right founding team. Without the right skills, culture fit and the ability to get things done, you can’t move a company along.
The second challenge is faced by companies that don’t seek legal advice prior to issuing equity and co-founder agreements. This mistake often creates situations where companies are not investable at a time when money is needed to scale.
Finally, the best and most efficient path to viability is reoccurring revenue – a concept often overlooked by young founders.
– Mario Toneguzzi
Respected business writer Mario Toneguzzi is a veteran Calgary-based journalist who worked for 35 years for the Calgary Herald in various capacities, including 12 years as a senior business writer.