Calgary’s scale-up challenge
January 29, 2020
Starting a business takes grit, determination, skill, and some might even say a bit of stubbornness. The sleepless nights, the worrying about customers and cashflow, the highs and lows of the process make starting a business not for the faint of heart.
Opening a business is one hurdle, but another large hurdle lies in scaling up a business. Many businesses don’t succeed in this step leaving the business to either stay small or close. Businesses that are successful in scaling up, continue to create jobs, become community builders, and leave behind a legacy.
Calgary has a wealth of start-ups; newer companies in the early stages of determining product-market fit, experimenting with customer segmentation and working toward a positive contribution margin. This lends itself to our thriving entrepreneur community bringing innovative ideas to the table solving some of the most complex challenges facing our society and economy. However there is a gap when it comes to helping businesses grow, access new customers, and bring in new investment. Calgary is facing a scale-up challenge.
A scale-up company has validated their product within the market place and has proven the unit economics are sustainable. Companies that are ready to scale-up must manufacture and export their products and services at a larger scale, support multiple clients efficiently, and develop their teams. They do this all while trying to navigate a murky path towards sustainable growth, and without losing their current market position, agility or resilience.
“We hear from our business community all the time that they are struggling to expand and grow,” says Chamber President and CEO, Sandip Lalli, “It’s important that we support these businesses with the tools and resources to expand and reach new markets and customers.”
The Calgary Chamber is taking steps to help businesses scale up by investing $1 million into InterGen Capital, a private venture capital fund. This fund is part of InterGen’s larger strategy to help businesses scale up. InterGen works to connect accomplished, underutilized senior executives with scale-up ready businesses. More then a mentorship this is seen as an ‘in-the-trenches, get-your-hands-dirty commitment.’
“The Chamber has always believed this is an investment-worthy city; this is us putting Calgary first and investing back into our community,” adds Lalli.
VEERUM is one of the first companies to benefit from InterGen’s unique approach.
“InterGen has given us access to an extensive network of knowledge in Calgary and beyond, which has helped to accelerate our deal flow,” says David Lod, CEO, VEERUM.
VEERUM is a SAAS (Software as a Service) provider that matches digital technologies with asset ownership, helping clients build and manage global infrastructure projects. Founded in 2014 VEERUM was looking to grow into larger international markets and compete on the global stage. Over the next year, InterGen will work closely with VEERUM to help accelerate growth.
“Our biggest learning from the advocates has been to keep our messaging simple and get to the point early,” adds Lod.
InterGen shines a light on Calgary’s innovation ecosystem and the growth it has experienced in the past few years. Technology is rapidly changing all industries and Calgary entrepreneurs have the grit and determination to make an impact.
“Support from some of Calgary’s most prominent leaders paired with the Chamber’s investment will go a long way in supporting scale-up ready companies,” says Sandi Gilbert, Managing Partner, InterGen Capital.
To learn more about InterGen or to get involved in the program visit: https://intergenconnect.com/.