Upon hearing the question, we all leaned in. There were twenty or so of us, a montage of artists, journalists, and entrepreneurs on the edge of our seats in the room upstairs at the Edmonton Petroleum Club. We were mid-session, preparing for Creative Edmonton’s Brewfest: an evening focused on celebrating Edmonton’s creative community with vendors, local breweries, and live entertainment. On this night, however, it was a small gathering of the event’s start ups sharing their stories and opening the door for collaboration. Each presenter had exposed a breadth of experience both in business and in the spectrum of human emotion, but none so raw as when provoked by the title’s question.
Shayne, who had put forth the question, was on his knee, camera in-hand, tapping into the audience with a soft but reassuring confidence. The question was posed in decided contrast to the narrative of the evening – providing an inner thought, one that was not rehearsed, branded, nor ready for sale. Jared, the subject at hand, relaxed into his chair, collected his thoughts and responded with unexpected intimacy and depth, intensifying the focus of the room.
I found the dialogue to be strikingly personal within a room full of people, most who had never met. Further, I had wondered if there were time for personal reflection with each business growing rapidly, making the question more significant. Nonetheless, the fearlessness of Jared’s response – his sincerity, his frankness – was much of the same calibre that drives him to pursue his passion. In that same breath, Shayne, who had put forth the question, creates with the same creative fabric; capturing the spirit of Edmonton with a powerful narration and accompanying visuals.
Yet, the interaction between the two was not an isolated moment of clarity in the Petroleum Club’s room full of business people, outwardly categorized by their pursuit of success; each of whom had many times before seamlessly presented, pitched and proposed. The exchange an amplification of the room’s collective energy and ultimately, what defines the character of our city: perseverance.
From exploring the great risk Gil took while he was on the brink; to witnessing the spark in Marnie’s eyes that glows brighter with every obstacle she overcomes; or watching Saniya orchestrate her start up – one of the newest – as if I were seated in the amphitheatre of the Winspear. The evening came to a close and I felt inspired by their experiences and compelled to further my involvement with the start up movement, in whatever manner I could.
In the end, I’m not sure if I harbor any regrets, but I do know the inspiration ignited from tonight will continue to burn brightly along the path of our City of Startups’ future – and that has only further suspended me in anticipation of what is to come.
Special thank you to Creative Edmonton and Saniya Ghaledar, Director of Creative Edmonton, for creating and hosting the evening, as well as extending my invitation. In addition, thank you, to all in attendance, especially the event’s speakers; Jared Zamzow, Founder of Rhynopack; Marnie Ashcroft, Founder of Glow Juicery; Gil Elegado, Founder of Suite Four Eleven; Shayne Woodsmith, Founder of FacesOfEdmonton.com; Curtis Greenland, President of Blue Pixel College; Kristen Reinhardt, Project Manager of the mStore Commons; and Chan Rin, Founder Vivid Ribbon Photography and Design, for his behind the scenes work with his camera.
Photography courtesy of Chan Rin, Vivid Ribbon Photography