It has been such an exciting year within Alberta tech and the energy in the Rainforest has been no different! 2021 began with vigor as the virtual world was no longer filled with uncertainty - we felt more grounded in our virtual community.
As the digital environment grew, the desire to know more about what was happening in the tech sector became fierce in YYC. The Rainforest met that demand by focusing our weekly cadence, LWOL (pssst… get it in your calendar for 2022), on demystifying the tech scene. Our first panel of career pivotor's brought in an attendance of over 165 people and the energy grew week-over-week as we explored different tech roles, ecosystem resources, and introduced over 300 newcomers to our online gatherings.
In the Summer, we recognized the LWOL audience was made up mostly of founders and curious Calgarians so we shifted our focus to hearing founder stories through the lens of the Social Contract. An average of 80 attendees joined per week with each founder bringing a new audience to the community. Hearing how the innovation of ways played into these founders’ success, failures, and team building has inspired many to form collaborations, pay it forward, and share their own knowledge with others.
When not colliding at LWOL, our online Slack community of nearly 2,000 people shared 5,400 private and public messages demonstrating the power of the online community even further.
2021 also began with an addition to the YYC team with our new Community Storyteller, Amber Rowden. Among Amber’s many efforts to tell founder stories through the lens of the Social Contract (check out our blog, Rainforest Role Models campaign, and our various social channels), she grew the Rainforest LinkedIn following by 75% and brought Rainforest Alberta nearly 15,000 website visitors. She even took the community onto new channels like Instagram and TikTok where we continue to gain followers and act as an onramp to the ecosystem.
In 2021, we engaged in a project with previous Community Manager and artist, Mackenzie Bedford of Bedford Creative. This inspiring project offers an approachable and fun way of sharing the Rainforest analogy with new audiences. The videos are also used throughout the ecosystem to help us remain rooted in the social contract. The project has already had over 230 views!
In the Spring we held a fireside chat with co-author of the Rainforest book, Greg Horowitt (hosted by Rainforest Alberta co-founder, Jim Gibson) where we were reminded that “99% of what makes innovation happen is completely invisible”. It all comes down to optimized human behaviour and TRUST!
This led to our first-ever virtual Summit where 147 participants took part in an interactive morning of reflection on the social contract values and the importance that our actions have on accelerating a welcoming, inclusive, and vibrant tech sector.
A very special highlight of this year has been supporting the community-led LIBI podcast, managed by Al Del Degan. This year we hosted the first-ever LIBI podcast awards and it truly felt like we were on the red carpet! We couldn’t be prouder of this team, as the podcast was named top 4 Canadian innovation podcast this year!
Other impactful events and partnerships have involved our friends at Platform Calgary, Startup Calgary, CRIN, and more! Check out this report for more impact stats.
As we say goodbye to another unprecedented year, we would like to thank the many partners who help us grow the Rainforest movement. Thank you to our friends at Rainforest YEG, Alberta Innovates, the Calgary Innovation Coalition, the wonderful humans at Zinc Ventures, and most importantly, the dreamers, doers, and curious individuals who make up this incredible community. We are grateful to serve you.
Wishing you all a peaceful and joyful holiday season,
Rainforest Alberta - YYC