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Found a startup. Build your city. Maybe even change the world.


An open letter to Calgarians.

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Over the recent years, we as Calgarians have faced and prevailed over many challenges. We rebuilt from a devastating flood. We moved past damaging hail storms and heavy snowfall. Our Flames are quickly turning around years of disappointment and are performing remarkably better than the team from a so-called 'City of Champions'. There are countless trials that this great city has faced, and yet it has continued to grow and flourish.

Today, many see Calgary as a city that will be hindered by a dramatic fall in the price of a barrel. It is nearly certain that these market conditions will present yet another challenge as so much of our economy is based on the energy sector. But the way I see it, Calgary is a place where when adversity strikes, the citizens come back stronger than ever. What we have is the opportunity to build new businesses: businesses that help our city sustainably diversify and grow.

I'll admit it. I'm biased. I have never had a passion for extracting liquified fossils from of the ground. But surely this is the case for many people. Being born and raised in Calgary doesn't make you predisposed to love oil and gas, does it? More than ever, this is an opportunity for people to start doing what they truly desire to do. Now is the time to found your own culture, your own company, your very own startup.

You may say that you don't know how to start a startup. Many founders didn't. Lucky for you, Calgary has many resources to help you build the next great company. Startup Calgary offers many programs and services that are focused on helping you get your ideas off the ground. Innovate Calgary can help network you with local angel or venture investors. Coworking spaces like Assembly may provide you the environment you need to succeed.

You may say that founding a startup is hard. Not going to lie - it is. Building a worthwhile business is not for the faint of heart. Most entrepreneurs will tell you that it is the hardest thing that they have ever done. However, that same group will also tell you that is that building a company is one of the most rewarding and valuable experiences of their lives. It is through this type of perseverance that this city was built, and it is this type of determination that drove success for Calgary-founded companies such as SMART, iStockphoto, and StumbleUpon.

As we embark on a new year, consider adding some of your entrepreneurial aspirations to your resolutions. Pick up a new skill like programming with inexpensive services such as Treehouse or Codecademy. Refine your business ideas with books like Steve Blank's Business Model Generation or Ash Maurya's Running Lean. Attend a Startup Weekend if you want to pack in an intense 54-hour business building marathon.

written by: Colin Chong, Startup Relations Manager at Startup Calgary and Head of Product at AppCarousel.