Edmonton Strathcona: Tech Start-up Capital of Canada

Edmonton Strathcona: Tech Start-up Capital of Canada

July 06, 2020

Last week I joined the advisory board of an exciting tech start-up.

My bosses are 19 and 24 years old. And I’m thrilled.

Emmanuel Akindele, 19 and Jonathan Femi-Cole, 24 are students at Western University in London, ON. They are founders of a tech start-up called Blue Guardian.

emmanuel.jpg Jonathan Femi-Cole
Emmanuel Akindele Jonathan Femi-Cole

I met Emmanuel in 2017 at a Conservative leadership event at Western. A few weeks ago he reached out to tell me about Blue Guardian.

It’s developing a unique and disruptive solution that educates parents and helps them protect their children from abuse on social media platforms. This is a huge market, with only a few players already established with what I think are relatively bland offerings. In my mind, Emmanuel and Jonathan are on to something huge.

Really huge. Check out this one-minute Blue Guardian YouTube overview and you’ll see what I mean.

The two met in March of this year while both were attending Ivey’s Pierre L. Morrisette Institute for Entrepreneurship bootcamp and signed up for a competition where they had 48 hours to pitch an idea to qualified investors.

They won, beating out nine other teams in the toughest competition at Canada’s leading school for entrepreneurs.

Here’s where it gets really good, and what motivated me to get behind these two young men.

The COVID-19 pandemic meant that they couldn’t’ travel or attend trade shows or conventions to test market reaction to their app.

So, they began doing door-to-door in London and Vaughan. Armed with only a clip board and a pencil, they asked people if they’d be interested in the Blue Guardian app when it was ready for testing.

Feedback was phenomenal.

“We had people trying to give us money on the doorstep, asking how they could subscribe to our app – and we don’t yet have anything to sell them,” said Emmanuel.

“I had one guy take me next door and dragged his neighbor out of his house to show us what we’re doing. So, we know we’re absolutely on to something here.”

Here's a link to the news release and their website. As an advisory board member, I’m going to help this company in a variety of different ways, including raising capital, as they grow and thrive.

These two young men have put in 1,200 hours each and $5,500 of their own cash into the project. We’re going out to raise the first $150,000 so they can complete their beta version of the Blue Guardian app. Their goal is to sign up 8,000 subscribers in the first 12-months after launch. If all goes well, further financing rounds, hiring more help and hockey-stick curve growth are not far away.

What does this have to do with Edmonton Strathcona?

Everything. If elected MP in our riding, one of my top priorities will be to work with private sector and all levels of government to set up a venture capital hub in our riding that attracts top talent like Emmanuel and Jonathan and investors from around the world who want access to companies that could potentially be the next Shopify of Canada.

We have everything needed in Edmonton Strathcona to make that happen. Access to the University of Alberta with its world class faculty and programs. Gorgeous neighborhoods.  Affordable housing. A vibrant and diverse community, with the largest francophone population of any federal riding in Alberta. Abundant and inexpensive office space.

In my private sector life, I am lucky enough to travel across Canada and help our country’s leading businesses grow, create jobs and wealth and help build Canada’s future.

I strongly believe that once we emerge from COVID-19, the next ten years in our country could see an explosion of job creation and opportunity – IF we get things right. IF we create an economic, social and cultural platform that encourages job creation. IF we can support people like Emmanuel and Jonathan.

Canada needs more Blue Guardians. Let’s bring them here. Along with their jobs and promise of a bright future in our city.

Let’s make Edmonton Strathcona the tech-start up capital of Canada.

 

- Rick Peterson


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