What is SMARTstart?
An entrepreneurial training program with three components: online learning, in-person seminars, and mentorship.
Who’s it for?
People with a business idea and new business owners in their first 3 years of operation.
Where is it?
The program is offered in Airdrie, Alberta.
When does it happen?
The program is delivered over 8 months, once per calendar year, from March-October.
Why take the program?
To increase the chance of a new business surviving those first crucial years.
Application Form & Process
Is the application form only online?
Yes, only online applications are accepted. We do not accommodate paper submissions.
If I already have a business plan, what plan do I create?
You can work on updating and enhancing your business plan. Or, you may choose to work on a strategic plan instead.
If I’m not accepted, can I apply again?
Yes, you may re-apply to the program. We also recommend you contact program organizers to get feedback about your application, should you not be chosen.
If I’m not accepted, where can I get help for my business?
There are several organizations that assist entrepreneurs. We suggest you contact Community Futures Centre West to discuss your needs.
Can I save my application and come back and add to it later?
While the program we use (JotForms) allows you to come back and edit your form, provided you are on the same computer/device each time, we recommend that you complete your form all at once to ensure you don’t lose any of the answers you worked so hard to write.
After I apply, can I change my application or submit additional materials?
No. Your application is final after you submit it. Therefore, please take the time to ensure you’ve uploaded any supporting materials and answered the questions fully before you hit submit.
Should I apply early? Is it first-come, first-served?
Applicants are not selected on a first-come, first-served basis. Each application is reviewed individually based on the Selection Committee’s criteria, so there is no advantage to applying early.
I don’t live in Airdrie, can I apply to SMARTstart?
If you currently own a business located in Airdrie, or you plan to open a business in Airdrie, you may apply to the program. Visit Eligibility & Commitment to learn more.
Are franchises eligible for SMARTstart?
Franchises that are independently owned and operated are eligible for SMARTstart. The franchise must either be owner-operated in Airdrie or, if located outside of Airdrie, the owner must be an Airdrie resident.
Are multi-level marketing businesses eligible?
No, unfortunately we do not accept businesses who are part of a multi-level marketing, networking marketing or referral marketing organizations.
Program Details & Commitments
Can I have a day job and be part of SMARTstart?
Yes, many of our entrepreneurs also work full or part-time jobs. To accommodate this, the program is run over the course of 8 months. We also alternate our in-person seminars between lunchtime and evenings to accommodate work/personal schedules.
How much of a time commitment is SMARTstart?
While it’s difficult to estimate the exact amount of time you need to dedicate to SMARTstart, we’ve provided some estimates here.
Mentors & Mentoring
Who are the program’s mentors?
How are mentors and entrepreneurs paired?
The matching is based on the mentor’s strengths and the entrepreneur’s needs. Before they are paired, mentors and entrepreneurs have an opportunity to briefly meet at a networking evening. While both entrepreneurs and mentors have the opportunity to tell us who they would like to be paired with, SMARTstart organizers make the final matches.