Town of Canmore


SMARTstart is an entrepreneurial training program with three components: online learning, in-person seminars, and mentorship. Town of Canmore Economic Development is pleased to offer SMARTstart to our community, in partnership with the Bow Valley Chamber of Commerce. The program is delivered over 8 months, with one intake per year. The program is for anyone with a business idea, or new business owners in their first 3 years of operation, seeking to base their businesses in Canmore. 

Applications for the class of 2024 are now open. Deadline to apply: June 11 at 11:59 p.m. 


Key Program Dates
Student Applications Open Monday, April 3, 2023
Information Sessions

April 4 from 12 - 1 p.m. (virtual)
April 18 from 7 - 8 p.m. at Elevation Place in room 212 
May 9 from 12 - 1 p.m. (virtual)

Application Deadline Sunday, June 11, 2023
Selection Process & Interviews Monday, June 12 - Friday, June 23, 2023
Applicants Notified Monday, June 26, 2023
Program Launch Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023
Workshop Seminars Sept. 2023 - April 2024 (11 sessions total)
Online Learning TBA
Draft Plan Submitted Friday, Jan. 26, 2024
Second Draft Plan Submitted Friday, March 22, 2024
Final Plan Submitted Monday, April 22, 2024
Program Ends Friday, April 26, 2024
End Celebration Event Friday, April 26, 2024


Remember when you were just starting out in business? Your enthusiasm, the long hours, and just how much you wished you had someone to bounce your ideas off? SMARTstart is your chance to share your wisdom, business expertise, and lessons learned with entrepreneurs who are just getting into the game.

The Mentorship Program
SMARTstart Mentorship is an opportunity for experienced business owners to connect with and guide the next generation of business owners. The goal is to increase the likelihood of success for local aspiring entrepreneurs by providing mentoring and guidance over an eight-month timeframe. Our mentors often find that working with entrepreneurs at the start of their business ownership journey reinvigorates their own entrepreneurial spirit.

To learn more, visit the SMARTstart mentor information page

Mentor applications are open year-round, apply here



What is SMARTstart?

To learn more about the program, click here to visit the SMARTstart website. To learn specifics about Canmore’s delivery of the program, please register for an upcoming information session, either virtual or in-personIf you missed the information session, click here to watch a recording of the virtual session. Passcode; ^P8m$1Wn

Who’s it for?
People with a business idea and new business owners in their first three years of operation.
How much does SMARTstart cost?
The cost to participate in the intensive, eight-month program is $310. 
Why take the program?
To increase the chance of a new business surviving those first crucial years.
If I already have a business plan, what plan do I create?
You can work on updating and enhancing your Business Plan. Or, you may choose to work on a Strategic Plan instead.
Can I save my application and come back and add to it later?
While the program we use allows you to come back and edit your form (provided you are on the same computer/device each time), we recommend you complete your form all at once to ensure you do not lose any of the answers you worked so hard to write.
After I apply, can I change my application or submit additional materials?
No. Your application is final after you submit it. Therefore, please take the time to ensure you’ve uploaded any supporting materials and answered the questions in full before you hit submit.
Are franchises eligible for SMARTstart?
Franchises independently owned and operated are eligible for SMARTstart.
Are multi-level marketing businesses eligible?
No. Unfortunately, we do not accept businesses that are part of multi-level marketing, networking marketing, or referral marketing organizations.
Can I have a day job and be part of SMARTstart?
Yes, many of our entrepreneurs also work full or part-time jobs. To accommodate this, the program is run over the course of eight months. We also alternate our in-person seminars between lunchtime and evenings to accommodate work/personal schedules.
Who are the program’s mentors?
Mentors are local business owners with 5+ years of experience.
How are mentors and entrepreneurs paired?
Matching is based on the Mentor’s strengths and the Entrepreneur’s needs. Before they are paired, Mentors and Entrepreneurs have an opportunity to briefly meet at a networking evening. While both entrepreneurs and mentors have the opportunity to tell us who they would like to be paired with, SMARTstart organizers make the final matches.
Who Should Mentor? 
We are looking for Mentors who have:
Experience running a business for more than seven years (Retirees welcome)
Approximately 30 hours (spread over eight months) to volunteer their time with a new entrepreneur
Are Canmore locals
Understand and value the importance of business planning
What Does a Mentor Do?
The Mentor provides support and input as the Entrepreneur builds their business acumen. The Mentor’s role is to guide, not solve problems, or take on the Entrepreneur’s business dilemmas. Over the course of the program Mentors will:

Meet with their entrepreneur at least three times and be in regular touch by phone or email
Attend the welcome event, celebration event, and at least one peer-to-peer session
Be welcome to attend any of the in-person seminars for the entrepreneurs (optional but encouraged)
Be instrumental in assisting the entrepreneur as they create a plan (business, feasibility, or strategic)
Participate in a mentor training/orientation session
How Does Mentoring Work? 
Mentors are paired with an entrepreneur for the duration of the program. Matching is based on the Mentor’s strengths and the Entrepreneur’s needs. Before they are paired, Mentors and Entrepreneurs have an opportunity to meet at a networking evening. Once paired, the first task is to complete a Mentor-Entrepreneur agreement to outline expectations, goals, and work out other details about the relationship.
How Do I Become A Mentor?
Mentors are chosen through an application process. Click here to apply now!
How Do I apply as an Entrepreneur?
The application portal can be found on the SMARTstart website. Click here to apply now!

The Town of Canmore is located within Treaty 7 region of Southern Alberta. In the spirit of respect, reciprocity and truth, we honour and acknowledge the Canmore area, known as “Chuwapchipchiyan Kudi Bi” (translated in Stoney Nakoda as “shooting at the willows”) and the traditional Treaty 7 territory and oral practices of the Îyârhe Nakoda (Stoney Nakoda) – comprised of the Bearspaw First Nation, Chiniki First Nation, and Goodstoney First Nation – as well as the Tsuut’ina First Nation and the Blackfoot Confederacy comprised of the Siksika, Piikani, Kainai. We acknowledge that this territory is home to the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3, within the historical Northwest Métis homeland. We acknowledge all Nations who live, work, and play and help us steward this land and honour and celebrate this territory. We commit to working to live in right relations and to advance Truth and Reconciliation.

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