RBC Social Enterprise Accelerator Demo Day


Inaugural RBC Social Enterprise Accelerator a resounding success

A mobile escape room, recycled denim yoga mats and science education. These are a few of the offerings from the wide range of startups who participated as part of the first RBC Social Enterprise Accelerator Program, delivered by Innovate Calgary. A demo day held on June 13 saw the companies pitch their products and services to RBC executives, investors, potential customers and high profile entrepreneurs from the Calgary community.

“Social entrepreneurs are innovative game changers, focused on creating businesses that blend sustainability, profitability and social impact,” says Jeff Boyd, Regional President, RBC. “We believe we have a role to play in creating an environment where social enterprise can thrive and that’s why we are thrilled to partner with Innovate Calgary and support the RBC Social Enterprise Accelerator.”

Each participating startup was matched with a business advisor from the startup community within Calgary’s innovation ecosystem. These mentors bring decades of business, technical, and entrepreneurial experience to the accelerator and help address specific business challenges, with the goal of increasing impact and growing revenue.

“At the start of the program, most of the entrepreneurs have a very clear understanding about the social impact they are creating but weren’t aware of how to turn it into a viable, profitable business,” says Peter Garrett, president of Innovate Calgary. “That’s fundamentally what this program is about – creating viable, businesses that have that strong social impact. It is important to come together and help these companies build, grow and deliver their social mandates.”

RBC will continue to champion social enterprise and innovation with support for a second accelerator, planned for the fall.

Additional quotes:
“This was such an amazing afternoon. To see the progress that has been made in such a short time is outstanding. I am so proud to see this vision come to life when we see what these folks are doing in these accelerator programs and making such an impact.”
Andrew McNair, Regional Vice President, RBC

“At the beginning of this program, we did not have a mobile unit, waivers, a business licence, liability insurance, or much website traffic from our education market. Now here we are today with over 1700 participants, 11,000 views of our informational video, excited returning customers and new inquiries. We hope to go from 10 to 75 schools next year and implement this across Canada.”
Paul Harvey and Eric Reynolds, Mobile Escape

“Using our mindfulness platform, we hope to transform post-traumatic stress to post-traumatic success in the workplace. Currently there isn’t much being done in mental health prevention in the workplace. In the accelerator program, we focused on the path to commercialization and our train the trainer platform, speaking to groups like Calgary Fire Department to build culture and to U of C to provide training at a post-secondary level.”
Derek Luk, Mindful Mental Training

“When I joined the accelerator about seven months ago, we were trying to figure out the coating on our machine washable, recycled denim yoga mat. Since then, we’ve expanded our product line to include meditation pillows. We have received the green light to employ at-risk women from the Calgary Dream Centre to teach a skill. Providing a vocation is a huge developmental factor in people who are recovering. It’s not just about yoga mats, it is about sustainable markets and sustainable labour.”
Zachary Champoux, Nomad EcoProducts

“We started out in this program wanting to learn about business planning, IP and legal and with all the support, we are on our way to having a trademark and implementing our business model canvas. We provide a program specifically for young men. It gives them a place to have a conversation on what it is like to be a boy and man in society today. It gives them a place to be safe and ask for support. Our dream is to create a training institute and take this across Canada and provide this program to boys within their local area. We can provide a very strong curriculum and evidence and research to support the program. We know this could greatly impact society.”
Pam Krause, Calgary Sexual Health Centre – The WiseGuyz program

“We need kids to be creators of technology, not just users and consumers of technology. Sustainable changes are about getting kids engaged by prototyping and problem solving; but also getting to those who teach those kids and help them engage more learners in more ways.”
Gina Cherkowski, STEM Learning Lab

“Our goal and mission is working toward zero waste events and we envision a future that can be zero waste and providing a solution. With advice from the program we launched a new website and we hope to bring this across Canada to provide a single point of contact for event waste management.”
Colin Smith, Green Event Services

“Through the program I concentrated on documenting my process, automating certain aspects and started applying for funding through Alberta Innovates Technology Futures. Now I’m looking to connect with even more families who need service.”
Sue Crawford, Enable


What is the RBC Social Enterprise Accelerator?
The RBC Social Enterprise Accelerator (SEA), a six-month program for Calgary-based startups for whom the combination of social impact and profitability is core to their mission and business model. Innovate Calgary, delivers the program that focuses on accelerating impact, profitability and technology. There is no cost for participants as SEA is generously supported by RBC.

Participants are assigned an experienced executive or entrepreneur as a mentor, who also understands social impact. The mentor helps to address specific business challenges, mature their business model and technology, create increased impact and grow revenue. Participants also receive pitch coaching and expert advice to build their operational backbone in the areas of legal, accounting, and marketing strategy.

Who are the participating companies?
Pam Krause and Debb Hurlock, Calgary Sexual Health Centre – The WiseGuyz program
WiseGuyz engages junior high boys in a weekly program that has four modules: human rights, sexual health, gender, and positive relationships. The program addresses issues young men face to give them tools to engage in healthy relationships; understand the connection between masculinity and male norms, sexuality and violence; and provides targeted education, skills development, and support to help young men achieve sexual well-being and healthy relationships.

Sue Crawford, Enable
Enable is an online matchmaking platform that partners families and people affected by disability, to reliable student caregivers. By creating meaningful partnerships between people, and connecting with accessible businesses, Enable fosters a stronger sense of belonging for people of all abilities within communities.

Colin Smith, Green Event Services
Green Event Services provides equipment for responsible event waste management. The company delivers recycling stations to events and helps to manage waste reduction by creating a recycling plan with staff and volunteers.

Derek Luk, Mindful Mental Training
Mindfulness is a form of attention and awareness training cultivated through meditation. The company’s focus is mental health prevention by providing Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) in an online platform. The platform hopes to remove barriers that prevent people from accessing clinically supported mindfulness-based interventions, with the ultimate goal of preventing suicides.

Paul Harvey and Eric Reynolds, Mobile Escape
Mobile Escape exists to awaken the senses by bringing people together to think differently about the world around them. The company creates an immersive experience through the concept of an escape rooms, where participants are put within a real-life scenario, solve puzzles to eventually escape the room.

Zachary Champoux, Nomad EcoProducts
Nomad EcoProducts manufactures all of their products, primarily yoga mats and meditation cushions, from recycled materials with the aim to divert materials from landfills and lower GHG emissions in the atmosphere.

Gina Cherkowski, STEM Learning Lab
STEM Learning Lab engages teachers and students in high quality, hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), STEAM (STEM + Art) and Maker learning experiences. The company offers educational programs for teachers as well as innovative and fun programs for youth.

Who are the mentors?
Jill Andres, Creating Value Inc.
Craig Elias, Bow Valley College
Peter Fenwick, Fenwick & Associates
Kari Gordon, Startup Calgary
Jim Gibson, Rainforest Alberta
Leighton Healy, Bootkik
Sarah Lewis, Bow Valley College
Houston Peschl, Haskayne School of Business
Allison Swelin, Garmin
Kevin Franco, Innovate Calgary
Scott Pickard