How Edmonton’s startup ecosystem helped us dramatically grow LoginRadius

This is the second article in my series on Edmonton’s Startup Ecosystem. If you haven’t read the first one, you may want to check it out here — Evolution of Edmonton’s Startup Ecosystem since 2006.

My story is not unlike many others who enter the startup world. After working days at our full-time jobs, my friend/co-founder Deepak Gupta and I used to work late nights from our bedrooms to launch the beta version of our business idea, LoginRadius. Well, in my case it wasn’t a typical bedroom but a mining camp site room, 120km north of Fort McMurray. Albertans, I don’t have to tell you how the further north you go, the further away from reality you feel.

From that small two-man team, working late nights, we’ve grown into a company that to date has two offices and a team of 37 people — that’s a 1,700% increase in just 3 years. Edmonton’s Startup Ecosystem played a critical role in LoginRadius’ growth, proving that the environment is thriving and working, and I really have to say kudos to everyone who’s been involved!

Downtown Edmonton Credit: Varun Pathak

Considering the fact that I immigrated to Canada, knowing where to start with launching the business wasn’t easy, and it was critical for Deepak and I to get all of the proper documents in order to launch the company. BusinessLink, Alberta’s entrepreneurial hub for assisting small businesses, was a great resource on every aspect of starting business in Canada. I used BusinessLink to incorporate our company, get a business license, setup the necessary documents with the CRA, and more. The best thing about BusinessLink is that the help was just one call away whenever I needed it. I loved that.

After we had everything in place with the help of BusinessLink, in January 2012, the beta version of LoginRadius was launched and all legal garb was taken care of. Soon after, I got an email from EEDC (Edmonton Economic Development Corporation) inviting me for a group discussion on how they can assist tech startups. That’s where I came into contact with one of StartupEdmonton’s co-founders. He invited me to checkout their co-working space and participate in DemoCamp, which is an event that “brings together developers, creatives, entrepreneurs, and investors to share what they’ve been working on and to find others in the community interested in similar topics.”

I ended up checking DemoCamp out, and visited StartupEdmonton’s coworking space. I was really impressed by the community involvement, facilities, ongoing events, and the work environment. That’s when I decided that this was exactly the right space for us and our company vision, and I needed to focus as much energy as possible on seeing this through.

At this point, I am still working full-time in Fort McMurray. This would be the first thing to go.

I swiftly quit that job and traded in the mining camp room for a desk at StartupEdmonton’s campus in June 2012 — I learned a lot by interacting with other startup folks as well as the StartupEdmonton team. It wasn’t long until we had the opportunity to present an early version of LoginRadius at DemoCamp in front of over 200 people, and with that we got the much-needed visibility within the local community — to this day I still meet people who remember us from that early presentation!

It got even better for LoginRadius, because through this process, we found our first rockstar team member, Chris Fletcher, who is our Global Account Executive. Our team just grew from two to three, and we were pumped up about the product and were ready to increase our user-base.

Our next project came later that year, in November, with Launch Party (another event hosted by Startup Edmonton), where we launched LoginRadius during their 4th session. The event celebrates “the best” of the startup community and it gave us excellent visibility; about 400 attendees included local business people, students, and potential investors. An opportunity for investment came for us through this event when AccelerateFund, an Angel co-investment fund available to Alberta’s tech companies, saw our presentation — they got in touch with us, and participated in our first round of funding.

With so much happening so fast, it became clear to Deepak and I that each event or program that we participated in led us to more connections that added value to our business. This is how we were able to meet with many organizations that would later play a big part in LoginRadius’ success, whether they invested in us or introduced us to more people, including: VA Angels, A100, and TEC Edmonton. This was all made possible through attending AccelerateAB, which is an annual startup conference in Alberta.

Through one of the startup events, we also got the opportunity to present to the Plug and Play accelerator in Calgary, and that’s where we met Yaletown Venture Partners, who later became one of our investors. Each and every connection mattered and helped us grow into who we are today.

2012 was obviously a big year for us, especially when we connected with one of the partners at iNovia Capital (if you haven’t caught on yet, the startup ecosystem is like a never-ending whirlwind of activity). He introduced us to FounderFuel, a startup accelerator based in Montreal. They invited us to join their 3 month mentor-driven accelerator program, and gave us access to a network of investors and experienced entrepreneurs who were eager to help us succeed. This is how we got our first external funds into the company!

Fostering the connection with TEC Edmonton was super critical for us because it’s where we met our first evangelist and adviser, Shaheel Hooda, who invested in us and was instrumental in helping us get grants worth $350k. He recommended to us that we participate in a business competition for startups called VenturePrize. We went for it, and were awarded a $15,000 cash prize as the runner up in 2013! This was huge for us as it increased our reach through interviews with BreakfastTV, and articles were published about us in the Edmonton Journal, which helped us to be recognized in the community.

LoginRadius’ Edmonton office

Because of VenturePrize we were able to not only present our product, but we got a marketing video out of it worth a few thousand dollars. It was such an amazing experience, and it all happened through our continued networking. The support we received from TEC Edmonton led to us being introduced to angel investors who, in late 2013, invested in us. Things were growing and changing like crazy for LoginRadius.

Through all of this startup networking, the VA Angels were a great help to expand our network. We presented to them in Edmonton, Calgary, and Kelowna, and in late 2013, got participation in our seed funding round for February 2014. It was one of the VA Angel members who introduced us to our VP of Business Development, April Jones, and if we weren’t part of the Edmonton Startup Ecosystem, we never would have been able to make contact with April and grow our team.

Through StartupEdmonton we also continue to meet other startups in the local community where we are able to share ideas and give feedback and support. It’s just the ideal place to cultivate ideas with people who have similar interests and goals.

The benefits of being involved with the Edmonton’s Startup Ecosystem are numerous and far-reaching: through networking we gained investment, financing, grants, and loans; we had the opportunity to be advised by so many industry professionals, and were able to hire some key team members. The coworking space and facilities for startups enabled us to integrate into the community, where we shared learning opportunities and ideas with other like-minded entrepreneurs.

Ultimately, we were able to grow from a small startup to a full-fledged company that serves 150,000 businesses worldwide. LoginRadius’ success wouldn’t have happened as quickly as it did without the support and access to resources through Edmonton’s Startup Ecosystem.

In my next article, I talk about 5 Things That Are Hurting Edmonton’s Startup Ecocystem. Check it out!

About RAKESH SONI

Soni is cofounder of LoginRadius — leading social marketing platform with 150,000 business customers and monthly reach of 340M users. He writes about social media marketing and loves to share his entrepreneurial journey.

You can connect to Soni on Twitter (@OyeSoni) or on Linkedin.