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Cochrane’s SMARTstart to aid new entrepreneurs

The Town of Cochrane will help potential business understand what it takes to run a successful company with the launch of the SMARTstart program in the town. Photo: Metro Creative Connection

Current and potential business owners can find out more about what it takes to run your own company with the launch of a new, registered program – courtesy of the Town of Cochrane – for budding, launching or learning entrepreneurs.

SMARTstart, which piloted in Canmore in 2012 and has been a growing success for six years in the City of Airdrie, will be running this September in Cochrane. The program is provincially funded through Community Futures West.

“It’s meant to give entrepreneurs skills they may not have,” said Rob Kalinovich, with the Town’s economic development department. “There are no business topics that are off-limits.”

The program uses a combination of online learning, in-person seminars and one-on-one mentoring with successful entrepreneurs, along with personalized advice from a support network. There will be two to three sessions held per month and Kalinovich stressed the program requires commitment and dedication.

It’s the type of program that 4iiii Innovations founders Victoria Brilz and Kip Fyfe, who will be involved with Cochrane SMARTstart as mentors, wished had existed back in the late 1990s when they started Dynastream Innovations – which they sold to Garmin in 2006.

“When we sold Dynastream, people were coming to us for advice,” Brilz said. “Our vision is that Cochrane can become a centre of excellence for tech and high tech…a tech hub.”

Around 12 applicants will be accepted into SMARTstart in its first year, with possible expansion depending on demand. While application is free, successful applicants will be met with a $300 price tag.

Anyone with a business idea, a recent launch or who have been in business for less than three years may be eligible for the program. Those who think they might be a good fit as either a participant or mentor are encouraged to attend one of three free information sessions in the coming weeks at the Cochrane Public Library – May 16 from 12 to 1 p.m.; May 16 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.; or June 6 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

To learn more, visit

Program registration deadline is June 13.


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