The Pulse: Oct. 5, 2021

Here's what you need to know about Edmonton today.

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  • 15C: Cloudy. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud in the afternoon. High 15. (forecast)
  • 45,665: Alberta reported 45,665 COVID-19 cases last month — more than any other month since the pandemic started. (details)

The Samdesk team is Sean Solbak (CTO), Tina Tuli (CMO), James Neufeld (CEO), and Ashlyn Bernier (COO).

Samdesk secures $13.5M to expand and meet demand

By Emily Rendell-Watson in the Tech Roundup

Citing client demand, Samdesk has raised $13.5 million in Series A financing, which it plans to use to hire employees both for new positions and to bolster the company's existing teams.

The company offers a global disruption monitoring tool, delivering real-time crisis alerts powered by AI. Its successful financing round was led by Toronto-based McRock Capital, along with HarbourVest, Export Development Canada, and participation from several existing shareholders.

The business is headquartered in Edmonton, with offices in London, U.K. Most of the new hires will be in Edmonton, plus some in a few other locations.

CEO James Neufeld said there are no current plans for new major offices or location expansions.

"Being based in Edmonton has helped us massively in building a strong corporate culture," Neufeld told Taproot.

"Edmonton's strength is in its down-to-earth, hard-working, and diverse people. This helps us build a company that clients love to work with, and allows us to scale a company with empathic people who care deeply about the problems they're solving and the customers they're serving. This is often overlooked, but is truly a competitive advantage and something I can't say enough."

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By Michelle Ferguson

  • Edmonton Public Schools are implementing mandatory vaccinations for all teachers, staff and volunteers. Employees have until mid-October to disclose their vaccination status or request an exemption. Staff who are not fully vaccinated or exempted will have to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test every 72 hours.
  • Liz John-West, a candidate for Ward Metis, lost her garage to a fire on Monday morning. According to John-West this is the sixth fire in her neighbourhood this week. Edmonton Fire has not determined the cause of any of the fires.
  • Scenes for The Last of Us, featuring The Mandalorian's Pedro Pascal, will take place in and around Rice Howard Way this month, affecting access to several roads, sidewalks and businesses downtown.
  • Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid is one of three players named to Canada's initial roster for the 2022 Olympics Games in Beijing. McDavid will be making his Olympic debut.
  • Two Edmonton Oilers players are sidelined due to myocarditis, a known side effect of COVID-19. Josh Archibald and Alex Stalock are both on the injured reserve with the condition. There's a 10% chance of developing myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, after getting infected with COVID-19.
  • Edmonton Elks quarterback Trevor Harris is due to return to the field on Friday, when the team hosts the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Harris missed the last two games after suffering a neck injury during the Labour Day match against the Calgary Stampeders.
  • An Edmonton teen sketched an Indigenous version of the Edmonton Elks logo. Izaiah Masuskapoe was inspired by the BC Lions' Every Child Matters shirts. His design will be printed on t-shirt with proceeds from the sales going to a charity of his choice.
<p>Shelvie Fernan and Victoria Celi of Fly &amp; Fetch </p>

Startup TNT announces top 20 for Investment Summit IV

By Emily Rendell-Watson in the Tech Roundup

Twenty Edmonton companies are preparing to pitch on Oct. 7 for the opportunity to be a finalist at this fall's Startup TNT Investment Summit IV. At least one business will receive a minimum of $150,000 from participating angel investors following the Nov. 18 summit.

The top 20 includes modern shipping company Fly & Fetch; RocketFire Labs, which connects amateur and professional Esports athletes; and Rogue7, which provides digital assistants to industrial control rooms.

"When we compare this applicant cohort to the first summit we ran nearly two years ago now, we have overwhelming evidence that both the quantity and quality of startups is increasing in our ecosystem," Zack Storms, co-founder of Startup TNT, told Taproot.

"We're extremely excited to see many companies that have participated previously reapply with updates and new accomplishments to share. Our top 20 also includes many of the startups participating in Startup Edmonton's Launch Party 12."

The city's current investment of about $30 million per year to support small businesses appears to be paying off and, according to the Taproot Survey, the majority of city council and mayoral candidates say it should dedicate even more resources to nurturing homegrown businesses. Meanwhile, 12 candidates indicated the measures in place are effective, and 11 said the city should put more resources into attracting global businesses.

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5th St. Food Hall

Edmonton's first food hall opens this week

By Sharon Yeo in the Food Roundup

JustCook Kitchens will open Edmonton's first food hall on Oct. 5 downtown. Announced back in January, the 5th St. Food Hall at 10344 105 Street experienced some delays but the extra time has allowed the business to embrace change wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"As JustCook Kitchens was still in the brainstorming stage when the pandemic hit, we were able to ensure we would take into account the many difficulties and restrictions COVID brought to light," Maëlle Piquée, JustCook's chief marketing officer, told Taproot. "We built our application and processes around both in-person and digital interactions, where takeout or delivery isn't an afterthought by necessity, but core to our business model."

JustCook diners will order through an independent app, whether they intend to enjoy their meal in-person in the dining room or for takeout or delivery. At this stage, Piquée anticipates an even split between in-person business and takeout/delivery.

When asked how the app will compete with prominent third-party delivery apps like Skip the Dishes and Uber Eats, Piquée believes JustCook offers something distinct.

"We're a vertically integrated market and food hall combined," said Piquée. "We provide a holistic offering in our local community that is unique to JustCook and isn't designed to take on delivery companies such as Skip or Uber Eats, but instead offer a new, different experience."

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Correction: Yesterday’s edition said Boyle Street Community Services is hosting a clothing drive on Oct. 9, but the event was on Oct. 2.