The Startupville podcast launches its newest season Wednesday, March 4 and continues its mission to offer another perspective on how to build a startup, and startup ecosystem, when you’re in a small city.
Last season featured 25 guests from the Uniting the Prairies (UP) Conference in Saskatoon, including Katherine Regnier, CEO of Coconut Software, discussing how to be an inspiring leader; Debbie Landa, founder of the Grow Conference, on how startups can raise capital; and Alex McCallum, COO of QRA, on how to refine a customer’s journey.
Season 5 is a continuation of the ever-evolving Saskatchewan tech journey. “Just when you think the story has been told, the ecosystem evolves,” said host Dan Gold to Innovation Place via email. “There’s growth, evolution and pivoting, success and lessons, plus there are new characters. This season tells the world that Saskatchewan is open for business, and more than that, it has innovation at its heart.”
This season drives home the message that Saskatchewan tech and Prairie tech is more than just Saskatoon, shifting its focus to the burgeoning Regina ecosystem as well as including episodes from Winnipeg and Kelowna. “Just a few years ago, if you looked at Regina, there was little or no startup culture, and now, especially since Cultivator arrived, there’s a whole new crew of startup founders and they have a community to coalesce with,” said producer Mike Wolsfeld to Innovation Place. “Cultivator put some fuel on the fire of what was starting to brew in Regina startup culture,” said Wolsfeld and credited the thriving startup ecosystem Co.Labs, located at Innovation Place in Saskatoon. And, he noted, for those listeners not familiar with Regina tech (and maybe even those who think they are!), they can expect to hear about companies they didn’t even know were on the map.
Therefore, it’s pretty perfect that the first episode features an in-depth conversation with the infamous Sean O’Connor, VC Fund Manager from Conexus Credit Union, which powers Cultivator. Cultivator, located at Innovation Place in Regina, is Canada’s first Credit Union-led business incubator. Its mission is to help founders launch, grow, and scale innovative high-growth companies in Saskatchewan and it has already seen tremendous success within its first year — in no small part to O’Connor’s wealth of knowledge. “He’s great at capturing what’s happening in Regina and throughout Saskatchewan,” said Wolsfeld. “Getting his perspective from Vancouver tech and comparing the two was really interesting.” O’Connor also had a lot of great tips for startups about what a venture capitalist is looking for in companies, so be sure to tune in on March 4 when the episode drops.
Another unanimous standout from Season 5 — which Gold would like to note is a whole season of strong episodes — is Kirk Morrison, CEO and Co-founder of Krugo, located at Cultivator, discussing the company’s use of social media and visual marketing. “They’re one of the few startups really nailing marketing and branding,” said Wolsfeld. Similarly, Shawn Hazen from Lumeca, a tenant of Innovation Place in Regina, offered not only a bird’s eye view of what it means to be a startup, but how to forge an entirely different path. “They’re not trying to privatize health care. They’re trying to make public health care better and more accessible,” said Wolsfeld. “It’s a more holistic approach to tech, especially when Big Tech is going in the opposite direction.”
Season 5 sounds like not only a straight up delight, but another rallying cry for Saskatchewan tech to continue collaborating and connecting. “We must not view the tech scene as Saskatoon vs Regina,” said Gold, referencing the unique features, like quality of life, that make Saskatchewan tech special and able to compete against larger centres. “We don’t need to be or want to be the next Silicon Valley. We have special things about our region that we need to identify,” added Wolsfeld.
With Season 5, Startupville will do its best to provide startups in Saskatchewan and beyond the tools they need to grow and create an ecosystem where they can thrive. “We want to help be a piece of the solution doing more to support Saskatchewan tech,” said Wolsfeld.