(Red Deer) On December 11, a group of eager presenters and stakeholders gathered via Zoom to watch final ‘pitches’ from Catalyst Incubator learners and ask questions to challenge their assumptions.
The pitch process represents a culmination of the Catalyst Incubator program presented by Central Alberta Regional Innovation Network (CARIN) and sponsored by Community Futures Central Alberta.
The mission of CARIN is to assist entrepreneurs in Central Alberta and help technology and knowledge-based companies move from idea to export in a faster, more seamless way.
Now in its third year, the Catalyst Incubator is a unique, cohort-based program that focuses on supporting start-ups in manufacturing, agriculture, technology, energy innovation, and related sectors. The Catalyst Incubator is 100% funded by CARIN through Alberta Innovates and is free to attend for all selected entrepreneurs.
At the final event, 5 participants each gave 5 minute “pitches” where they provided background about their experience, explained their product and (most importantly) why investors should support it. Stakeholders watched the pitches, asked questions and gave feedback following the presentations.
The pitches do not come without a great deal of refining and preparing of the original concepts. During the 8-week Catalyst cohort, each learner/entrepreneur receives over 50 hours of training from highly qualified mentors.
Past Catalyst participant Ben Shultz reflected, “The Incubator gave me a window into a whole set of skills and processes for validation of an idea that I didn’t ever have to grow before.”
Cathy Forner of C4ner Consulting serves as project manager for Catalyst Incubator. When describing the journey of the learners, she remarked, “The Catalyst Incubator is really for early-stage entrepreneurs who want to discover what problem they are solving, and who their potential customers are.”
Thus far, four cohorts of alumni have already been through the program. A unique feature of the program is that mentors are specifically chosen based on the needs of the learners in the cohort. This allows the program to custom tailor its expert knowledge to issues being faced by the group.
During the sessions, entrepreneurs receive guidance from select industry professionals and apply that advice during the program to their own products or services.
Many learners will go on to take their business to the market and turn it into a full-time pursuit.
Catalyst Incubator is currently looking for its next crop of would-be Alberta entrepreneurs who are interested in the customer discovery journey. You can learn more at ca-rin.ca/catalyst-incubator.