Venture Mentoring Service of Alberta (VMSA)
Your access to experienced, dedicated, high-quality mentors with no conflict of interest.
Leveraging the MIT Venture Mentoring Service of Alberta (VMSA) program supports Alberta-based innovators and entrepreneurs by matching them with volunteer mentors. The mentor team is comprised of two to three people who work together to provide the entrepreneur with practical, day-to-day professional advice and coaching. Mentoring is given across a broad range of business activity including product development, marketing, intellectual property law, finance, human resources, founders issues, etc.
VMSA mentors are selected for their experience in areas relevant to the needs of new entrepreneurs, and for their enthusiasm for the program. Mentors are required to subscribe, in writing, to a Statement of Principles that govern their behaviour, outline their responsibilities, guard against conflicts of interest, and control financial involvement with the entrepreneurs and their ventures. Relationships between mentors and entrepreneurs are formed based on the needs of the entrepreneur and the interests of available mentors.
Meeting frequency and length of participation are up to the mentee. While our mentoring is set in the context of your venture, our actual client is the founding entrepreneur.
VMSA mentoring services are educational only. All business decisions remain under the full control of the participating entrepreneur. In other words, we are here to help; we cannot do it for you. Participants are assured impartial and unbiased advice by a strict code of ethics.
All interaction with VMSA is confidential and under non-disclosure. VMSA services are currently offered to the community without charge. VMSA entrepreneurs are expected to be professional, open and responsive to the volunteer mentors who work with them. They are also expected to provide VMSA, to the best of their ability, with accurate information about their venture.
Target: early-stage startups to mature startups
Meet the Startups
Meet the current participating companies:
Meet the Mentors
- Alice Reimer
- Alice Reimer brings a long history of accomplishments across the technology sector. In 1999, she co-founded Evoco, a web-based construction and program management software company, and as CEO, led Evoco through acquisition by Austin-based Accruent in 2012. Alice is a recipient of PROFIT’s W100 designation as one of Canada’s top female entrepreneurs and was selected by Alberta Venture’s 2013 50 Most Influential People. Long committed to giving back, Alice mentors technology entrepreneurs as a member of the A100 and serves on the Board of AcceleratorYYC.
- Brad E. Zumwalt
- Brad Zumwalt is a seasoned entrepreneur and executive with vast experience founding, leading and exiting companies. He is a director of several technology companies and sits on several boards. Among his achievements, in 1994 Brad negotiated the acquisition of Image Club by Aldus Corporation, which in turn was acquired by Adobe Systems. Over the next four years he led a team of more than 200 employees through sustained revenue growth exceeding $40 million. In 1998, Brad founded EyeWire.com, an on-line visual content and design company which was successfully acquired by Getty Images. In 2001, Brad founded Veer Incorporated where he was Chairman and President, and in 2007 it was successfully acquired by Corbis, a privately owned company by Bill Gates.
- Shawn Abbott
- Shawn Abbott is a successful entrepreneur and innovator who, as CTO and then President of Rainbow Technologies, helped pioneer the Internet security space. He saw Rainbow Technologies grow ten-fold in profitability before being sold to SafeNet for close to $500 million. Previously, Shawn pioneered the CD-ROM locking used on several million discs and is published on hardware cryptography in the ICSA Guide to Cryptography. Shawn also holds an early patent as one of the inventors of the now widely used USB keys.
- Carey Houston
- Carey Houston is a strategic technology executive with more than 15 years proven consulting and operational experience. She is skilled in managing startup and high growth tech ventures, and brings a successful track record developing winning strategies, launching products, motivating and creating strong teams, and bringing discipline to planning and execution.
- Ken Moore
- Ken Moore was a founder and President of TENET Medical Engineering. A company originating from the University of Calgary, TENET grew to international success as a designer and manufacturer of medical devices for orthopaedic surgery. Recently sold to Smith & Nephew, one of TENET’s primary goals was to contribute back to the University of Calgary. TENET donated more than $2 million for scholarships, fellowships and a fund to help commercialize startup companies. Prior to TENET, Ken played 12 years in the Canadian Football League with the Calgary Stampeders and Saskatchewan Roughriders.
- Pierre Doyon
- Pierre Doyon is passionate about helping people succeed and about putting in place the building blocks that enable companies to meet and exceed their business objectives. Most recently, Pierre was President and CEO, and a shareholder of Calgary-based Chariot Carriers Inc. where he led the executive team in a transformation of the company that included enhancing distribution agreements in Europe and the US, as well as developing a high performance team culture. In 2011, Pierre ultimately led the successful acquisition of Chariot Carriers by Thule Group, an international sports and utility transportation company based in Sweden.
- David Edmonds
- David Edmonds is an entrepreneurial executive with more than 25 years creating and developing breakthrough results for both emerging and high-growth enterprises. He is an experienced business leader and growth architect with an award-winning track record for taking organizations to the next level by defining the strategic vision, properly positioning companies in the market, and creating the optimal operating infrastructure.
- Kerri McGovern
- Kerri McGovern has a true passion for working with technology companies at the early stages of their lifecycle. With extensive expertise in securing initial customers, developing and growing partnerships and acquiring venture financing, Kerri is well-versed in dealing with the challenges and overcoming obstacles to startup success. Most recently she led business development at Tynt, which sold to 33Across Inc. Prior to joining Tynt, Kerri managed the Innovation Center at Calgary Technologies Inc. (now Innovate Calgary) where she helped early stage tech companies develop their business model and financing strategy. Kerri also spent five years with the BDC Venture Capital software team, investing in the country’s leading software firms.
- David Cooper
- David has more than 25 years of entrepreneurial and information technology experience, and enjoys working with startup ventures at the commercialization stage. Although he has the most experience in the IT industry, David has also worked with firms in oil and gas, education and hospitality. Currently, David is working as a Commercialization Associate with In-Viro-Drum™ under the Alberta Innovates Industry Commercialization Associate program, but has had several companies of his own. The most recent was ITSportsNet which he took from the concept stage, through the development, trial stage to commercialization and finally acquisition. In addition to David’s practical entrepreneurial experience he holds a BA in Philosophy and an MBA in New Venture Development. Philosophy provides him with the analytical tools to work with and build innovative businesses and the MBA the best practices for leadership.
- Juan Benitez
- Juan joined Cenovus Energy in 2012 as a Senior Investment Advisor within the company’s corporate venture fund. His current role as Senior Specialist for Strategic Partnerships involves working with Cenovus’s Executive Advisor and managing Cenovus’s technology investment portfolio. Previously, Juan was an entrepreneur for 10 years where he co-founded and served as President/COO of Beyond Compliance Inc., a Calgary-based, venture capital funded enterprise software company with clients in North America and the Middle East. Prior roles include 15 years as an environmental engineer which provided him with a broad range of experience. Juan believes that innovative technology solutions are critical to systemically improve environmental and operational performance in the energy industry. He advocates for leveraging Canada’s diverse technical expertise and large talent pool to position western Canada as a leading global energy technology hub.
- Dan Belostotsky
- Dan Belostotsky co-founded the largest private digital media/billboard company in Alberta that was acquired by the Jim Pattison Group in late 2011. Dan later partnered with a Canadian media company (Cieslok Media), to lead their expansion into Alberta, which was acquired by Bell Media in early 2017. He founded Otto Capital Group, investing/advising startups as well as developing and holding real estate across Alberta. He is an investor/advisor in 500 STARTUPS Canada and the founder of a new real estate tech company, HonestDoor, set to launch in mid 2017. Graduated from University of California Los Angeles- real estate development(2014) & University of Alberta,B. Comm(2008).
- Manford Kwan
- Manford Kwan is an entrepreneur and professional engineer with over 30 years experience in developing innovative solutions for the electric power grid industry. Manford founded a Calgary-based technology company in 2000. The company was acquired by the French unit of General Electric in 2012. Manford enjoys working with Alberta companies to develop their international growth strategy.
- Ben Snyman
- Ben Snyman is currently the co-founder and CEO of SafetyVantage Inc., which specializes in online occupational health and safety learning. He holds a commerce degree (B.Comm), a postgraduate law degree (LLB), a Master of Business Administration (MBA), an advanced Taxation Certificate (Tax Law); and is admitted as an attorney of the Supreme Court of South Africa. Ben has held senior positions in large, multi-national organizations in Canada and South Africa. A common thread running throughout his career has been his ability to develop strategic plans to transform underperforming operations, start new businesses, or achieve rapid growth for existing companies. He was the founder, president and CEO of eCompliance Management Solutions Inc., a SaaS company which specializes in cloud and mobile based occupational health and safety solutions. It was successfully acquired in 2012. Ben is a member and serves on the Board of the A100 which hopes to inspire and support generations of Alberta tech entrepreneurs.