Resurrected DemoCamp aims to help connect Edmonton's tech community

· The Pulse

One of Edmonton's most well-known tech events is back after a two-year hiatus, this time as a community-led initiative. DemoCamp Edmonton 51 will feature a number of demos on Nov. 23 at the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii)'s event space downtown.

"People are ready for in-person events again, and DemoCamp has always been an event best done live," co-organizer Tiffany Linke-Boyko told Taproot. "So many great new startups have emerged, and with hackathons happening again, we felt it was time to get it going again."

Linke-Boyko, who is a principal at Flying Fish Partners, collaborated with her sister-in-law Ashlyn Bernier, COO at samdesk, and Sean Feehan, vice-president of technology at Meetingmap, to bring the event back to life.

"The hope is that this will be a low-barrier way for people to explore the tech community by seeing what other people are building and getting connected," said Linke-Boyko. "Successful tech communities need lots of different ways for people to engage."

Edmonton's tech ecosystem has changed a lot since Linke-Boyko's brother Cam Linke — who is now CEO of Amii — launched DemoCamp in 2008. The arrival of several accelerators has resulted in a plethora of opportunities for startups to access mentorship, funding, and pitching practice.

But DemoCamp offers something different, said Linke-Boyko, who attended many in her various roles at Startup Edmonton, including as CEO from 2016 to 2019.

"There isn't anything that really overlaps with DemoCamp and the purity of it — it's not about business models or pitching for investment, and it's focused on tech. You have to have something to demo," she said. "It's about showing what you've built or what you're building, however rough, to get some feedback and connect with other builders and folks interested in tech. It's low-pressure and really just a chance for organic community-building and connecting."

DemoCamp Edmonton 51 will feature demos from samdesk, Frettable, and Table Four. Eugene Chen, a developer of This is Edmonton, will show off his Bike360 project that has added Edmonton bike paths to Google Street View. Four of the projects from HackED Beta, a hackathon organized by the University of Alberta's Computer Engineering Club, will also be demoed.

The event will conclude — as DemoCamp always does — with networking and drinks, this time at RED STAR.

Rows of attendees in front of two large screens in a classroom

DemoCamp Edmonton quickly found a home at the University of Alberta in an effort to be accessible and welcoming to students. (Mack Male/Flickr)

Linke-Boyko said the organizers are looking to reach students, an audience that has long been a focus of DemoCamp. Though this edition is being held at Amii, which has strong connections to the university, future editions might move to other locations. "We'd like to explore rotating the location to different startups, post-secondary institutions, and service provider partners."

At DemoCamp Edmonton 50, held virtually during Edmonton Startup Week on Oct. 21, 2020, Linke spoke about how DemoCamp has always been focused on showcasing makers and connecting the community.

"At the start, we wanted to show off some of the really cool things that were being built in town that no one knew about," Linke said. "We really grew DemoCamp based around that idea: that showing off builders and people that are building things and solving problems are the core of a technology and entrepreneurial ecosystem."

DemoCamp Edmonton had been organized regularly until the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a handful of editions each year. DemoCamp Edmonton 49 was the first to be held virtually on April 20, 2020.

Startup Edmonton, which had been folded into Innovate Edmonton and is now part of Edmonton Unlimited, did host a joint event called "DemoCamp 51" with Platform Calgary on Jan. 27, 2021, but no events have been organized since.

Linke-Boyko said the organizers of the new event reached out to Edmonton Unlimited to ensure it wasn't already working on another edition of DemoCamp. "We felt that it could be run effectively through volunteer and in-kind support through partners like Amii, so we were happy to take it on as a community-led initiative," she said. "We hope it inspires others to do the same!"

The organizing team is planning to host DemoCamp quarterly.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Startup Edmonton is part of Edmonton Unlimited rather than defunct.