Without a doubt, 2020 challenged us and yet brought to light the value technology plays out in our lives. More than ever, a sense of community and a spirit of collaboration has reverberated among us. 2020 started strong with bold initiatives for Rainforest and the Calgary ecosystem. There were projects up to the height of the Calgary tower to execute on: ecosystem mapping, a collaborative volunteer program, a teen tech showcase with the Library, Cheers to the Grassroots version two, visits to large tech companies for the summer tour, and that was just the first half of 2020!
Well, you know what happened as well as we do. And yet, here we are, connecting weekly. Averaging 40 people per week online, consistently, and we couldn’t be more proud. The pandemic meant we teamed up with Edmonton to offer LWOL (Lunch Without Lunch) to a broader audience with combined efforts. The online format did not allow for the same serendipitous connections as in person events but we managed to bring value in other ways. Panel speakers, month long topics, and the summer tour continued to offer new musings about how, as a community, we can continue to improve the innovation economy in Alberta.
Rainforest Calgary teamed up with Startup Calgary to offer Power Hour in conjunction with StartUp Pitches and Drinks online. This was a great way to expand our reach into the community. As StartUp Calgary moves under the Platform umbrella, programming and events are being updated to reflect the needs of the community. The goal for 2020 was to partner with other meetups as well. This may be realized into 2021 as many groups have successfully moved back online.
Steven left the Rainforest team to pursue full-time work with the Leftovers Foundation in early April. Brigitte was hired at the end of August to breathe new life into Rainforest and continue the work of responding to the community into 2021. Kourtney announced her departure for the end of 2020 (though she is likely going to hang around a few hours a week supporting for a couple months into 2021). The community manager roles will always ebb and flow and this is part of how we can continue to ensure Rainforest stays relevant and not stuck in an outdated model of behaviour (also thanks covid for shaking that up).
2020 provided an opportunity for us to reflect as a community and measure ourselves. We put out three reports.
Despite the challenges of 2020, the scorecard measurement went up from 629 to 686 and made big gains in the Culture and Leadership pillar. This is a testament to the continued efforts of the entire community committing to the values of the social contract and wanting to raise the bar in Calgary.
The LIBI Podcast continued with weekly releases throughout 2020 with guests and hosts from across the province. The podcast continues to showcase innovators, dreamers, and amazing ecosystem builders. January 12, 2021 will be the 100th podcast episode!
Highlights from 2020
Nine entrepreneurs worked through the LIBI Fund Program, getting training to help them validate their startup. They participated in Startup 101 and Customer 101 & 201 from StartUp Calgary, Marketing or Sales Kickstarter from 321 Growth Academy, received $200 in credits from Good Lawyer, and three expert sessions from Nicerr. The entrepreneurs will be presenting at LWOL session in January on their takeaways from the program. Thanks to every who supported the entrepreneurs in their early states.
All the best,