The Rise of Edmonton’s Social Scene: A Chat With the Man Behind the Fabulous MadeinEDMTN Events | By Louis Nguyen

For so long, the name “Deadmonton” has described this seemingly low-key yet full-of-potential city. Despite being one Canada’s wealthiest cities, Edmonton’s social scene has failed to match what Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver have to offer. But things are quickly changing.

Not only are there many projects initiated by the capital city to rejuvenate Edmonton’s outlook, there are also many young and passionate people trying to change the city’s social scene. MadeinEDMTN is a group of people seeking to become part of the driving force in connecting and engaging the city’s new generation of young, educated and successful people. The group comprises five amazing individuals with diverse backgrounds, ethnicities and careers. However, they share a united goal of providing the people of Edmonton with engaging events. I had the honor to sit down and interview Sahr Saffa, one of the core members of the MadeinEDMTN project. Sahr is currently a Business student at the University of Alberta and a future entrepreneur of the City of Edmonton.

Louis: Hey Sahr, thank you for sitting down with us and doing this interview. First, I want to know how are you feeling today?

Sahr: I’m feeling great – there’s a lot going on at the moment, as we prepare to host the MadeinEDMTN Skybridge Experience this upcoming Saturday – but the MadeinEDMTN team is blessed to be in a position where we are able to contribute to the success and development of Edmonton young up-and-comers – so I can’t complain.

Louis: Tell our readers a bit more about the MadeinEDMTN project? We want to know more about the people behind it and the journey you and your team have been through.

Sahr: MadeinEDMTN was developed by a group of friends who felt that the city had many young people who are contributing to the overall success and development of the city; however, lacked the ability to contact like-minded individuals.   Having Robert Tyndale introduce the idea to Keenan Pascal, Gur Manhas and myself, over the course of the past eleven months – MadeinEDMTN came to fruition in response to the growing demand of Edmontonians for “something different.” Our mission is to provide a steady stream of events, each of which offers the capacity for other creative, like-minded individuals the opportunity to expand their networks and share their trials and experiences. The other part of our mission is to provide unique, yet memorable experiences aimed at highlighting the city of Edmonton itself as an exciting city.

Our unique approach for hosting events in Edmonton is quite different from that of other associations.  Our approach consists of two main areas of focus. The first is a set calendar of annual signature events hosted in unique venues that the wonderful City of Edmonton has to offer, while the second consists of digital experiences aimed at engaging the community outside of Edmonton. The annual calendar will deal with physical experiences where we provide unique experiences in little or never-before-used venues, while providing an up-beat social setting. We strongly feel [this social setting] will promote the formation of relationships, networking and the connection of the core up-and-comers of Edmonton. The latter  focus on digital experiences is aimed at captivating the attention of groups outside of Edmonton – which potentially will broadcast to the world the diversity our city offers in terms of events and experiences.

Personally speaking, I’ve met many interesting people through basketball, work, and school and it feels that everyone has their own unique story. Why not create a medium where all these individuals can collaborate and form a beneficial relationship? MadeinEDMTN was introduced to expose these individuals (or what we refer to as personal brands) to each other in an upbeat, comfortable yet engaging setting.

Louis: Why do you do this? I mean, what really sets MadeinEDMTN project apart from other similar types of events going on out there in the city?

Sahr: What sets us apart is quite honestly our focus – we choose to host these experiences in unorthodox locations.  Take for example our most recent event, The Downtown Vibe, which was a NYC-inspired loft experience that we held last month, located on the second floor of the Yellowhead Brewery.  This was once again a venue that has never been utilized for an event before, and expanded not only the Yellowhead Brewery’s capacity in terms of revenue-generating capacity, but also introduced several hundred Edmontonians to the Brewery itself.  In the past, we’ve hosted experiences in a large ice-cooler in the Billingsgate Seafood Market, an upscale garden party in the luxurious setting of Con Boland Gardens, as well as a fundraiser for children in the Congo within the confines of the clothing store, Room 322. Identifying, utilizing, and recording these unique venues not only differentiates our product, but it lends exposure to the businesses that people may not have knew about otherwise.

Secondly, our experiences are invitation only. We want to ensure that everyone at the event is associated with a member of our team – whether it be a brand ambassador, a VIP or distinguished guest, or one of our core members – which also included our recently added Project Manager Ms. Jessica Clark. This ensures everyone’s experience is an intimate once that allows for better networking experiences (having people who can bridge the gap between individuals), and further provides a memorable experience itself. We are not your cliché-networking event or the absolute head-banging party event – we are not trying to create a hybrid experience, but rather an experience where people can say, “I was a part of a MadeinEDMTN experience.”

Louis: What is the long-term goal for the MadeinEDMTN project? Where do you see yourself in Edmonton’s fast-rising social scene in five, even ten years?

Sahr: The long-term goal is simple: we want Edmonton and the uniqueness located here broadcasted all over the world – we want to remove the often-used sigma “Deadmonton,” and replace it with a destination that people look to be a part of. Edmonton offers much more than meets the eye; however, we feel that a successful medium to display it has yet to be created – we aim to provide that.  We see ourselves as just administrators that will help reveal the many different events that our city hosts, and will thus act as catalysts that will speed up the process of developing Edmonton as a large, well-known, metropolitan city.

Louis: When attending fabulous MadeinEDMTN events, what are the three key things that you always aim to bring to your guests? For example, let’s say this upcoming Skybridge event?

Sahr: You will always get the opportunity to witness exceptional local talent, and experience fantastic foods that local eateries have to offer.  In the past, we have had the Rapid Fire Improv Team (from the Citadel Theatre); and musicians and artists of many genres display their product to our guests.  More important, is the opportunity to communicate face-to-face with like-minded individuals and share experiences of the past or ideas of the future – word-of-mouth in its rawest form. I do not want to spoil the specs of the upcoming Skybridge Experience, but one large partnership has recently allowed us to bring in the speakers and guests from TEDx that should lend not only experiences but also provide inspiration to our patrons. Honestly, what we provide is an experience that you have to witness for yourself – we offer experiences!

Louis: Tell us about some of your future endeavours?

Sahr: Future endeavors include, but are not limited to a steady stream of physical experiences to connect the local community and digital experiences featuring the local brands of Edmonton with the goal of communicating to the world. The brands we choose to incorporate are based on each experience. However, they are already based on word-of-mouth, and our past success. We have had a plethora of individuals to work with. With that being said, we are also open to people’s suggestions. If they feel that there is a concept or idea in Edmonton that deserves some additional attention, please visit www.madeinedmtn.com and let us know! MadeinEDMTN was developed for the people of the city and we want to ensure that they have the opportunity to provide input. Anything we have done in the past can be viewed on our website. Also, we are always trying to connect with more young and influential individuals. I can be contacted at sahr@madeinedmtn.com if anyone would like to attend our events and share ideas that will continue to contribute to the great city of EDMTN!

Photograph courtesy of Jessica Clark. Photo has been edited for size. 

Related posts:

  • LR

    Edmonton can’t use excuses like “it snows 6 months of the year” when this is not exclusive to Edmonton. This is just Canada in general. The city needs culture that goes beyond being a rigger and “git er duun”, and there are people in the city that I know who have tried to make it happen before without a lot of success. What MiE has going for it is the network it builds. The social scene that is comming together is a step above anything that the greasy Edmonton bars offer on the typical weekend. Without sounding too much like a country club elietist, MiE offers the ability to be social with people of higher caliber and ambition than players and barstars. This is the Edmonton network for people who ENJOY working towards a worthy goal with other leaders, and the leaders are out there. The sense of competition and fear is palpable on a typical evening on Whyte or Jasper. I believe there is enough energy there, if directed towards something productive and cooperative, to really help people create the change they want to see. Any person who considers themself an innovator or leader in their field and is living in Edmonton is starving for a scene like the one by MiE. It just doesn’t exist … Yet. That’s what entrepreneurs do though, they fullfill a need for the people, and in exchange are rewarded for it. There are a bunch of disorganized sporatic groups like this one in Edmonton, but there is nothing really uniting them or nurturing them. The lack of that culture is suffocating to all the unmet potential that exists out there. This is what MiE provides. Networks are an asset as good as gold. It started with rail roads, highways, radio, television, internet, and social media; this here is the next-level network.