2540 Kensington Road N.W. Calgary AB accelerator@districtventures.ca

Arlene tells investors to look beyond the oilpatch

February 11, 2017 — Our founder and CEO Arlene Dickinson recently spoke with the Calgary Herald and shared her perspective on how investing in non-traditional industries can help grow the province’s economy.

In the article, she suggested that “while diversification is often touted as the silver bullet that will save Albertans from future oil price-related recessions, deep-pocketed investors are still far too hesitant to put their money into early-stage companies outside of the oil and gas industry. She argues “Alberta entrepreneurs, the ones who have been successful, need to open up their wallets more to other industries.”

Her concern is that Canadians and specifically Albertans inherent conservatism and dependence on oil and gas is detrimental to economic development; this is part of the reason she opened up District Ventures, the first Canadian accelerator focused on the consumer-packaged goods industry. She contrasts Alberta’s neglect of other industries, specifically packaged goods, with the U.S. when she suggests “this is compared to the U.S., where the largest M&A activity happens in the consumer goods space …so we were losing a lot of companies and resources to the U.S., It didn’t make sense to me.” The article continues to discuss the huge promise the food and wellness sectors hold, being not only trending markets but also that Alberta is an agricultural powerhouse.

Another topic of discussion is Arlene’s belief that entrepreneurs need to start taking initiative and exploring these alternatives; often without initial government support. She suggests “too many businesses in Canada rely on government to get them started. They believe it’s government’s job to fund them at the beginning, and I actually don’t believe that. I believe it’s the entrepreneur’s job to find the first sale and build the business to the point where government can start taking hurdles out of the way and supporting through policy.”

She continues: “For the Alberta economy to truly grow, investors themselves will have to be willing to step outside of their comfort zones and support entrepreneurs doing new things — whether that be clean technology, renewable energy, value-added agriculture, or consumer goods. It takes people willing to put their money where their mouth is when they talk about diversification. And we don’t have enough people willing to do that. When I think about the economy shifting and turning in 2017, it’s going to be because people start to recognize that the world is changing. And we need to start thinking about what else we can do besides traditional exploration and energy development.” To read the full Calgary Herald article discussing Arlene Dickinson’s beliefs on why investors need to look beyond the oil patch, click HERE. 

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