Photography by 3Ten/Aaron Pedersen
WHY HE’S TOP 40: He’s helping make Edmonton an entrepreneur-friendly city, so it can thrive in future markets.
KEY TO SUCCESS: “You don’t have to raise money — just time and sweat can get something from prototype to product.”
Even before Cam Linke was hired as the new CEO of Touch Metric, makers of a business-to-business surveying software, he was a start-up junkie. Only his start-ups were meant to benefit other start-ups.
In 2008, he left a two-year internship a third of the way through to form DemoCamp Edmonton, an event series first started in Toronto for people in the tech community to network and show their products.
Some of the city’s best tech success stories have demoed there, including Touch Metric (before Linke’s involvement) and the “social stock market” game, Empire Avenue, that just landed a $1.2-million investment. Years later, DemoCamp is still a must for start-ups. “We always have more people registered than we have slots available,” says Linke. “And to see the things it has spawned …”
One such spawn is Startup Edmonton, a nonprofit organization he co-founded a year later with Top 40 alumnus Ken Bautista. It offers mentorship, workspace and an accelerator program for burgeoning start-ups with $120,000 of municipal funding. Of course, one thing led to another, and this year he and Bautista started a for-profit seed-investment company called Flightpath Ventures. Once they secure funding, they should — each year, for three years — inject $15,000 in 10 new companies graduating from Startup Edmonton’s accelerator program, then get them from prototype to product development, to “putting it in a customer’s hand to get feedback and, hopefully, possibly, money.”
Linke’s intention is not to become a career investor. He wants to continue heading Touch Metric, which has a small but impressive client base that includes Apple, makers of the operating system on which the app runs. But, for his future and the company’s, it’s important that the “ecosystem” is healthy.
“If we’re a city where entrepreneurs can thrive, a place where the resources and mentality is there, that to me is what the future of Edmonton is,” he says. “I don’t know if we’re going to have flying cars or if cancer will be cured, but what I do know is that it’s going to be entrepreneurs that make that happen. That’s what I want to see for this city.”