The importance of accessing the capital required to move businesses forward in Alberta’s rapidly evolving start-up and scale-up landscape cannot be overemphasized. Navigating the capital-raise environment is not easy. While there are many funding avenues available to explore, they can be difficult to access or even to learn about.
Access to capital is undoubtedly fundamental, and equally important are the relationships a business is able to establish. These relationships bring invaluable expertise and mentorship that can help an organization navigate the opaque funding landscape. But how and where can you begin to foster the kinds of connections that will serve the growth of your organization?
Community and networking opportunities
Alberta IoT is a non-profit member-based association that supports organizations with a vested interest in IoT and emerging technologies. Members, ranging in size from solo entrepreneurs to large enterprises, collaborate to provide a common voice to advance the knowledge, adoption, and growth of emerging tech in Alberta and beyond.
Alberta IoT currently supports over 220 members, and as the association grows, it seeks to enable operations integration, business opportunities, and expansion, with an ultimate mission to position Alberta as the world leader in IoT and emerging technologies. To accomplish this goal, the association focuses on five core areas, including amplifying Alberta innovations, facilitating connection to capital, supporting and building tech talent, acting as one strong voice in government, and recruiting and growing businesses in Alberta.
Community is one of the essential values of Alberta IoT. The association knows the importance of bringing together knowledge and resources to support organization growth. Some of the most significant benefits of membership in the Alberta IoT are ecosystem exposure, networking opportunities, and a community that is willing to connect and collaborate. Alberta IoT recognizes the importance of bringing together knowledge and resources to support organizational growth, and numerous opportunities are created to support collaboration and sharing of knowledge amongst the community. Monthly member meetings amplify the innovation stories within the province, while additional events allow members to expand their reach into new networks.
Building connections, together: Alberta IoT programs
Apart from community and networking opportunities, there are several capital raise options that businesses can explore to secure the funding they need. The three main options are venture capital, angel investment, and grants.
Venture capital (VC) is a type of financing provided by investors to start-up companies that have high growth potential. VC investors typically provide funding in exchange for an ownership stake in the company. Venture capitalists often take an active role in the company's management and decision-making process, providing mentorship and expertise to help the company grow. In Alberta, there are several venture capital firms, like Alberta IoT partner Valhalla Capital, that provide funding to start-ups in the technology, health, and energy sectors.
Angel investment is another popular option for start-ups looking to raise capital. Angel investors are high net worth individuals who provide funding to start-ups in exchange for an ownership stake in the company. Unlike venture capitalists, angel investors are not typically involved in the day-to-day management of the company. Instead, they provide funding, mentorship, and industry connections to help the company grow. In Alberta, there are several angel investment groups, such as VA Angels and Calgary Angels, that provide funding to start-ups in various industries.
Grants are another capital raise option that businesses can explore. Grants are non-repayable funds provided by the government or private organizations to support specific projects or initiatives. Unlike venture capital and angel investment, grants do not require an ownership stake in the company. Instead, they are awarded based on merit and the potential impact of the project. In Alberta, there are several government grants available to start-ups, such as the Alberta Innovates Technology Futures program and the Alberta Small Business Innovation and Research Initiative. Additionally, businesses can also leverage the expertise of Grant Sherpa, a Calgary-based consulting firm that specializes in grant writing and funding strategy. Grant Sherpa helps businesses identify and apply for grants that align with their goals and provides support throughout the application process.
Apart from community and networking opportunities, there are several programs that businesses can explore to evaluate the funding options available to them. The Alberta IoT Fast Track Program facilitates connections between members and industry partners. The program provides participating businesses with access to experts, mentors, and workshops, as well as opportunities to participate in events like pitch competitions. Through these resources and connections, businesses can gain the knowledge and support they need to navigate the funding landscape and find the right funding avenue for their specific needs. Whether it's securing venture capital, angel investment, or a grant, the Alberta IoT Fast Track Program can help businesses position themselves for success and drive innovation forward in Alberta and beyond.
When deciding which capital raise option to pursue, it is essential to consider the specific needs of the business and the requirements of each option. Venture capital and angel investment, for example, are typically more suitable for start-ups with high growth potential and a proven business model. Grants, on the other hand, are more suitable for businesses with a specific project or initiative that aligns with the grant's objectives.
Accessing the capital required to move businesses forward in Alberta's rapidly evolving start-up and scale-up landscape can be challenging. However, organizations like Alberta IoT exist to help businesses navigate the various funding avenues available to them. It is crucial to consider the specific needs of the business and the requirements of each option when deciding which capital raise option to pursue. Establishing relationships and networking within the business community is equally important, as it can provide invaluable expertise, mentorship, and support to navigate the opaque funding landscape and often turbulent times of entrepreneurship. By collaborating and connecting with others in the community, businesses can position themselves for success and drive innovation forward in Alberta and beyond.