October 16th - 20th, 2017 is Edmonton Startup Week, and when I was asked to talk about Edmonton’s startup culture with Mark Connolly on CBC's Edmonton AM show, it got me thinking about my own journey thus far. So as my contribution, I thought I’d share my startup story.
When I made the decision to go “all in” with Msichana Inc., no one around me had made such a “crazy” move: leaving the safety of employment to peruse a dream- a ginormous one.
I did not have a how-to guide, and it was quite scary, even with all the support of the amazing people in my life.
From my little brother challenging me with “ok, but who cares?” to his much nicer girlfriend, as she read my business plan “perhaps not so passionately with the mission statement”.
Then there was my older sister saying ”I don’t quite get it, you may be crazy, but crazy can change the world”,
and the other sister shouting: “that’s my lil’ sister!” (Like that was any help!), then offering “my friend is a lawyer and can be one of the mentors in your program” (now we’re talking!).
My loving husband’s “sugar, what else can I do?” and my awesome friends from “if anyone can pull this off, it is you” remarks to “How’s the Msichana Maven doing today?” .
But there I sat. Day after day at home working across time zones to bring ideas to life…forgetting such basics as food, sleep and the concept of time. I felt like I was in a different world and, at times, felt nobody was really there with me, nor did they understand it.
Desperate Internet searches led me to the Self-Employment Program at Anderson Career Training Institute. We were their 91st class, a group of nine early stage entrepreneurs who became quick friends, jokingly referring to ourselves as the Divine Nine. We were just so happy to find people who “got” what we were going through, and we were so eager to help one another along the way.
Between the program and the Divine Nine, I became aware of the various resources for entrepreneurs in the city. Now the challenge was not a lack of resources, but a lack of time to benefit from all of them!
Edmonton’s entrepreneur community are wonderful people stepping outside their comfort zones and ready to learn. I am humbled by the support I continue to receive, and the collaboration and openness to vulnerability that we all share.
The past several months have been a huge growth experience for me, and while I am still finding my feet, I know that the journey has hardly even begun. Yet I think Hunter S. Thompson was onto something when he said:
Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting “holy shit…what a ride!”
Some of the local resources that have helped me so far are listed below. I hope this will help anyone else out there that is in the same place I was at the beginning of my journey.
PS: This list is certainly not exhaustive, if you know of any other resources for entrepreneurs, please add them in the comments section below!
Best of luck to all the dream-chasers out there!
Anderson Career Training Institute offers class room training by entrepreneurs as well as coaching and support as you get your business running.
NAIT Acceleration Services is an amazing team of passionate individuals who help you think outside the box and see things from a different perspective.
ATB Entrepreneur Centre hosts free events, workshops and networking opportunities for entrepreneurs. Amazing staff and attendees, and a very comfortable atmosphere, you will feel like a local there.
Business Link helps with business research, training, webinars, and also hosts small business events. They are amazing and helped me with business research that had taken me weeks to gather before.
TEC Edmonton and Startup Edmonton are both Tech-focused, however, they put on some really good workshops that are also relevant to non-tech companies and the people are super- helpful regardless of what industry you’re in.
By Lorna Mutegyeki