SMARTstart businesses are off to a great start!

Eighteen entrepreneurs representing 16 businesses are working their way through the 2017 SMARTstart program.

The program provides entrepreneurs with online business skills training, in-person workshops and mentorship. Connecting the entrepreneurs with a local mentor is one of the most important aspects of the program.

This year’s participants have already completed a draft business, feasibility or strategic plan. By the program end in October, that plan – along with pro forma financial statements – will be complete, providing the entrepreneurs with a solid foundation from which to launch or expand their business.

Let’s meet a few of this year’s entrepreneurs. For a fun Q&A with each, visit


Erica Hatch is melding 18 years as a nurse with a soon-to-be-completed diploma of osteopathic manual practitioner to offer a new service to Airdrie. As owner of Balance Within Osteopathy, Erica brings her passion for blending Eastern and Western medicine to treat clients using osteopathy skills. Her dream is to open a multi-disciplinary health facility in Airdrie. Helping her along the way is mentor Jody Keller.




Based on a personal experience with her mother, Heather Doyle identified a need in Airdrie and was determined to fill it. In October, she opened Loving Hands Partners in Care located on Main Street. Her adult day program provides social interaction for seniors and adults with disabilities through programs and activities. Heather draws on 35 years of experience in health and human services and her big heart to run this unique business. She feels lucky to have Tracy Goodbrand, owner of Irricana Kountry Kennel, mentoring her.

Heather Dunbar opened Home "Maid" Help in early 2016 providing cleaning services to construction, residential, real estate and commercial customers. Following a long career in provincial government, Heather enjoys being her own boss and takes great pride in offering exceptional service to her customers. She is driven to expand her business and is benefiting from the assistance of her mentor, Gary Armstrong of Empowered Employee Education.

Mexican-born Vladimir Gonzalez came to Canada more than a decade ago to work as a chemical engineer. Today he’s focused on sharing his love for high-quality, authentic Mexican food. His goal is to one day be a large manufacturer of all-natural and preservative-free tortillas, corn chips, dips and salsas. Until it’s in the grocery stores, you can find Maxi Foods' yummy offerings at the Airdrie Farmers’ Market (Wednesdays), Crossfield Farmers’ Market (Thursdays) and online. Vladimir’s mentor is Sid Van der Meer, former owner of Northwest Equipment.

Veronica & Adam Boccinfuso are the husband-wife team behind BOCC Home Inspections. They offer a range of services including air quality testing and ozone treatment for odor removal. They are proud to be a family-owned company committed to providing peace of mind to their customers. Veronica & Adam are excited to grow their business and mentoring them along the way is Kari Lines, owner of Budget Blinds.