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Home > About > News > Learn how Alberta is innovating in services & retail
December 9, 2023
Alberta Innovates supports and highlights innovation across Alberta.
Here are nine of our favourite stories of service and retail innovation from the last few years.
GroundUp eco-ventures is based on circular economies with a focus on creating value from upcycling the waste streams of the coffee and craft brewery industries.
From gluten-free coffee flour, barley saved-grain flour, brownie mix and pancake mix to coffee oil, their goal is to create value through eliminating waste.
Barley-saved grain flour, for example, is made after they pick up spent grain from breweries, dehydrate then mill to the required consistency.
Coffee oil and flour are produced in a similar manner: pick up grounds from cafes, dehydrate to make them shelf stable then extract the coffee oil in their “top-secret cleantech process.” The remaining grounds are milled as coffee flour. All the work is done and packaged on-site in their Okotoks facility.
In 2022, GroundUp won overall grand prize honours from the Made in Alberta Awards for its Born Again Protein Brownie Mix.
Calgary’s CleanO2 has made the world’s first carbon capture soap. The company captures carbon that would have otherwise been released into the atmosphere with its CarbinX™ units and turns it into soap products that are great for the body, the community, and the environment. CarbinX™ attaches to natural gas heating appliances in commercial buildings, capturing the CO2 and turning it into potassium carbonate, which is also known as pearl ash. The potassium carbonate gives CleanO2’s handmade products a silky-smooth lather while reducing our carbon footprint.
In 2005, Jaeson Cardiff, Kathi Fischer and Scott Forgrave saw an opportunity to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions in the heating industry and CleanO2 was born.
Bessie Box is another great example of Alberta ingenuity. Since the pandemic, there has been an upward trend in home-delivery grocery options. What sets Bessie Box apart, though, is their mission: By Alberta, for Alberta. It doesn’t hurt that their antibiotic and hormone-free meat is affordable and delivered fresh to your door.
Bessie Box was started in 2019 by University of Calgary alumni Shanika Abeysinghe, Alex Leakos, and Spencer Kerber. Since the pandemic, they’ve steadily grown and have even hired laid-off service industry workers to keep up with the demand.
In a time when supporting local is more important than ever, Bessie Box has shown that quality, community focused products can still be the gold standard.
In 2020, BessieBox was awarded the Most Promising Startup Entrepreneur of the Year.
Jobber is a web-based, end-to-end business management system to help small, home-service companies. Jobber handles everything from customer relationship management, quoting, scheduling, and job tracking to invoicing customers and collecting payments. Edmonton-based Jobber helps its clients organize their entire operation.
Jobber’s platform streamlines and automates daily operations, replacing duplicate entry and repetitive tasks with tailored automation.
Jobber’s features help small home service businesses organize their operations, go above and beyond for their customers and to grow. Jobber is designed specifically for home service businesses in industries such as landscaping and lawn care, painting, residential cleaning, HVAC, general contracting, pest control, tree care, mobile pet services, and snow removal.
In 2019, Jobber announced that it had been named a 2019 Best Workplaces™ in Alberta based on independent analysis and an employee survey conducted by Great Place to Work.
Calgary’s Virtual Gurus is a fast-growing start-up that uses a virtual platform to match organizations with highly skilled virtual assistants. The propriety courses offered by The Virtual Gurus Academy ensure that local contractors have the skills necessary to competently use new and common technologies, so companies can get the assistance they need.
Originally freelancing as a virtual assistant, in 2016, Bobbie Racette, CEO, recognized the challenges with existing platforms, so she quickly switched gears from freelancer to entrepreneur and began developing a new virtual assistant platform The Virtual Gurus. Starting from a team of three she has quickly grown to become one of the largest North American networks of virtual administrative assistants.
In 2019, founder and CEO, Racette was named Indigenous Entrepreneur of the Year by Startup Canada and a recipient of the 2021 Report on Business Changemakers award.
With home appointments taking place in the middle of the workday or requiring several visits to complete, booking repair technicians can cause disruption. ICwhatUC simplifies customer-driven repairs across any industry by giving customers the power to do their own repairs, estimates, and inspections, assisted by augmented-reality video calling.
Expert agents can view and interpret customers’ surroundings to guide them through the process, all with one-click access and without ever setting foot on location. And rather than having to schedule a time in advance, a customer simply calls for assistance, or an estimate when they need it. An SMS message then initiates a video session without requiring an app, letting technicians see exactly what the customer sees. Using augmented reality, the agent can guide the customer through the repair process in real time.
ICwhatUC puts the customer experience first and dramatically simplifies customer-driven repairs across any industry.
Blenderz Garment Recyclers is keeping clothing out of landfills with its commitment to zero waste and zero export. The Edmonton-based company takes textiles from thrift stores, charities, the public, and businesses and breaks down the materials that cannot be sold so they can be used for textile projects. Blenderz Garment Recyclers sells five kits for those interested in using recycled material for textile projects, including a rug makers kit and a fabric twine kit.
Any clothing that’s still in good shape is sold by the pound so people can wear, resell, or upcycle it.
Goodlawyer connects businesses with a network of lawyers offering on-demand legal help.
While practicing as a corporate lawyer, co-founder Brett Colvin experienced firsthand that the field hadn’t kept up to the digital age and many small businesses just couldn’t afford a lawyer. So, he quit the big firm, teamed up with a developer and a designer, and got to work on building something better.
Goodlawyer offers a stable of pre-selected lawyers with expertise in contract law, intellectual property, and other business-related legal areas. The process takes the guesswork out of price, opting for flat pricing and fixed quotes instead of the traditional billable hours. In addition, Goodlawyer’s Legal Concierge service can direct clients to free resources and help them identify the appropriate lawyer for their needs.
Goodlawyer is a managed marketplace that connects start-ups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses with vetted lawyers to meet their legal needs.
The real estate purchase process is fraught with compliance risk if the proper contract forms are not used correctly. Based in Lethbridge, Real Deal Transaction Management Inc. wants to simplify the transaction process for Alberta realtors with their Software as a Service product, DealSimple. Using automation, the software speeds up the transaction process by pre-populating licensed forms from the Alberta Real Estate Association, ensuring all transactions meet industry standards. DealSimple performs key functions like collecting signatures (digital and/or hardcopy), delivering contracts, sending reminder prompts, and providing real-time updates if any changes are made. DealSimple allows realtors to spend more time growing their business and less time chasing down paperwork.
“I like to describe running a software tech start-up as the extreme sport of business. I have a passion for taking something that seems undoable, breaking it into small pieces, and making it happen.” – Siobhan Henry Espina, CEO and founder