The 2021 SMARTstart program is off to the races!

The SMARTstart program, which has been running since 2014, has assisted over 120 entrepreneurs with the skills to set their business up for success. The program is designed with entrepreneurs in mind to provide them with real-world business skills and access to tailor-made advice. The goal of the program is to increase the chance of new businesses surviving those first crucial years.

SMARTstart is delivered over 8-months and connects the participants with online learning, workshops, and mentorship. Each entrepreneur walks away with a completed plan either feasibility, business or strategic and connections to the Airdrie business community.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still looming, SMARTstart has transitioned online but the organizing committee has kept the 2021 cohort small with hopes that indoor gatherings will be allowed at some point during the 8-month program. The 2021 program is made up of 10 entrepreneurs representing 8 businesses and 11 mentors.


Lilian Jourieh owns Airdrie-based Smashdoor Marketing, a full-service marketing and media agency. Her agency builds and manages digital and traditional media campaigns, consults with clients on their marketing programs, and more. Lilian defines her biggest challenge as 'succeeding in a competitive industry' and looks forward to working with mentor Jo-Anne Yau of Robertson LLP to smash through the glass ceiling via hard work and merit.





After years of working for large firms, Kirsten Harrison saw an opportunity to step out on her own with Backyards & More. Her business specializes in landscape planning and design mainly for residential and light commercial properties. Mentor Heather Harke of Shoplift Deals Ltd. will be helping Kirsten to diversify her offerings and tackle the perceived seasonality of landscape planning and design.





Sharon Borson of Royal Appliance Repair has a goal to keep fixable appliances out of the landfill via her affordable appliance repair services. In 5 years' time she hopes to build a self-sufficient team of employees who are known for excellent service at a reasonable price. Helping Sharon navigate the program and her business are mentors Tracy Goodbrand of Irricana Kountry Kennel and Kari Lines of Budget Blinds Airdrie.





Meagan and Scott Doerksen aspire to create an environmentally-sound hydroponics farm for Airdrie locals and vendors. Through embarking on this entrepreneurial journey, this husband and wife team want to set an example for their children that it is ok to try new things and work towards the change you want to see in the world. Andrew Bennett of the I.T. Company will be helping the pair through the process to take their idea and turn it into reality.




Stay tuned to meet the next four SMARTstart 2021 ventures!