'Focus on growth': Local startups boosted by 500 Global accelerator

· The Pulse

Air Trail, Cash 2 Crypto, The Public Food Hub Co., and Umay are wrapping up their final days with the Alberta Accelerator by 500, as they prepare for the program's demo day on March 31.

The Edmonton startups, which were announced by Alberta Innovates and 500 Global as part of the 11-company cohort last week, have been immersed in the accelerator since January. They have taken part in programming about areas such as growth marketing and developing ideal customer profiles, and they have worked with mentors from 500 Global's network.

"This program does a really good job at that coaching element. It's about giving (us) a tool set more than it's about doing it for (us)," said Bradley Poulette of Air Trail, which is working on building compliance automation software for regional airlines.

Poulette said Air Trail has tripled its monthly revenue during the accelerator, and he has developed his individual skills as an entrepreneur.

"This (program) is something that's really important for Edmonton to have ... because it's going to produce entrepreneurs who know how to build and run effective, scalable businesses — cut out the cruft and focus on growth," Poulette explained. "Which means that we're going to see ... a significant improvement in the quality of startups in this province over the next couple of years."

Poulette also appreciated the opportunity to commiserate with other seed-stage companies. He said that building relationships with the participating founders forced him to "strip away any sort of pretense" about the story he wants to share publicly, and focus on what he's building.

Andre Diaz of Cash 2 Crypto has also experienced significant growth over the past few months in the program. His company has had its first $1-million revenue month, and he said it is on track to hit its goal of $20 million gross revenue in 2022.

"We have learned skills in development of customer segments to gain a better insight in who customers are ... (plus) how to run different experiments within our business and to track them with the proper metrics to see what was most impactful on the business," Diaz said, adding that guidance in setting up the legal, financial, and fundraising portions of the business has also been crucial for growth.

Founders of companies participating in the Alberta Accelerator by 500 sit at desks and face a projector screen as they take part in training

Participating companies learned about growth marketing hacks, developing ideal customer profiles, and more, as part of the Alberta Accelerator by 500. (Supplied)

Looking ahead, Diaz said the company is hoping to hire more staff, gain market exposure within Canada, and break into different markets around the world.

"This program has given us the ability to see that we are a big competitor in the space and with the right team, partners, and goals we can have a big impact on the economy of Canada and be on the forefront of this new technology," he added.

The other companies participating include Goodlawyer, Home Spritz, Propra, Touch Medical Intelligence, and Tradeslink Inc. from Calgary, as well as Renotag from Ontario and Dropa from Saskatchewan.

All 11 companies will pitch to an investor audience on March 31 to mark the culmination of the program. The goal of demo day is to set up investor meetings and close funding rounds. Applications are closed for the next round, but companies can sign up to hear when they re-open.

The Alberta Accelerator by 500 is part of the Alberta Scaleup and Growth Accelerator Program (Scaleup GAP). Fellow member Plug and Play Alberta also recently announced its first group of participants. Across its health, sustainability, and sector agnostic streams, 46% of the businesses are from Alberta.

Of the 39 companies, True Angle Medical and 2S Water are from Edmonton.