Alberta celebrates entrepreneurialism: TEC Edmonton celebrates TEC VenturePrize winners

By Amanda Debenham, Communications Officer, Edmonton

1) Know thyself on the issue of risk tolerance

2) Know thy business partner

3) Trust your instincts

4) Obtain at least 10 business cards at every function you attend

5) Persistence pays off

The above are five tips to success given by Evan Chrapko, the keynote speaker at yesterday afternoon's TEC VenturePrize Awards Luncheon at The Westin Edmonton. Chrapko is a highly successful entrepreneur, and Co-Chief Executive Officer, of Highmark Renewables. The theme of his talk: Persistence. Chrapko described his entrepreneurial journey, including the management of the $811M exit of DocSpace, and his current involvement with Highmark and Growing Power, which is in the business of converting tens of thousands of tons of biowaste every year into clean, green energy.

Cybera recognizes the challenges of taking a technological innovation from concept, to lab, to market. We understand what it takes to "bridge the chasm" and integrate a technology into the infrastructure of people's daily lives. Similarly, TEC Edmonton provides expertise, resources, and connections to entrepreneurs across Alberta through its services, including the TEC Venture Prize competition.

I had the privilege of attending the TEC VenturePrize Awards Luncheon, which highlighted some unique displays of entrepreneurship in Alberta. The room was filled with well over 100 entrepreneurs, innovators, communicators, and technology enthusiasts. Hosted by Ryan Jespersen of Citytv, the program started with a Q&A with the Student Business Plan Competition finalists, which included:

  • Gezim Hoxha of GizmoBooks.com
  • Tyrel Schick of Nougat Software Entertainment 
  • Trina Salvisberg of AltaCap Energy Solutions 

The student Q&A was followed by comments from Chris Lumb, the Chief Executive Officer of TEC Edmonton, then Mayor Stephen Mandel of the City of Edmonton. My favourite part of the lunch '€” the Fast Growth Finalist Face Off '€” followed. The three finalists included:

  • VibeDX Diagnostic Corp., a company that developed a technology for diagnosis of spinal abnormalities, and holds the promise to improve quality of life for back pain sufferers; 
  • lightPower, a company that builds flexible plastic solar panels with long-term stability to be integrated in consumer electronic products or used as stand-alone battery chargers; and 
  • CAD Crowd, a company helping firms hire CAD staff globally, enabling the effective sourcing of CAD work through their relationships with quality-certified partners, and an enterprise project management software tailored specifically to manage and facilitate CAD projects. 

Each of the finalists pitched their products and companies '€” which included a three-minute video '€” to the judges. From the videos, it was obvious a great deal of passion, thought and planning has gone into each of the finalists' products.

After the judges left the room to deliberate, Becky Wong, Acting Director, Partnerships, and Manager, New Company Formation, for University Technologies International, gave the Screeners' Award of Merit (SAM) Presentation, which is given to the best business plan submission. This year, the SAM award went to InspectaCAR.

Finally, after the keynote presentation, the Student Competition and Fast Growth Competition winners were announced. Congratulations to VibeDX Diagnostic Corp, the winner of the TEC VenturePrize Fast Growth competition, and to Trina Salvisberg of AltaCap Energy Solutions, the winner of the TEC Venture Prize Student Business Plan competition! VibeDX Diagnostic Corp took home $150,000 in cash and in-kind services and AltaCap Energy Solutions took home $10,000. On behalf of Cybera, I wish the TEC VenturePrize winners, and the finalists, all the best with their innovative products and companies.

Throughout the lunch, a lot of the guests were "tweeting" (using the #ventureprize hashtag) their thoughts about the finalists.

Who has your vote for top honours? Let us know in the comments field below.