Friday, October 28, 2011

It was a Ring-a-Ding-Dong Dandy!

Last night's Thousand Dollar Thursday took place in the Kasian Gallery in the Faculty of Environmental Design at the University of Calgary.

According to Wikipedia, Environmental Design is the process of addressing surrounding environmental parameters when devising plans, programs, policies, buildings, or products, which made the location an ideal venue for an AF-Calgary Pitch Night.

Of course, what made it more awesome was the presence of a Pterodactyl.

It was with that backdrop that Calgary's Top4 Finalists for the month of October took the stage in order to attempt to WOW the AF-Calgary Trustees within 90 seconds and convince them why they should be awarded the $1,000 prize.

Hosted this month by our very own Trustee of Awesome Jeff Wielki, he started off with a brief overview of the Awesome Foundation, and even plotted a map showing how Awesome Foundation chapters are starting to pop up around the world. He mentioned that AF-Calgary, despite being only seven months old, is leading the Awesome movement by mentoring new chapters such as Edmonton, Alberta and Turin, Italy, and that many chapters are experimenting with adopting some of the concepts that were developed right here at AF-Calgary, like Pitch Nights.

Jeff, wanting to demonstrate that we do indeed eat our own dog food here at AF-Calgary, launched into a 90 second pitch of his own describing who he was and why he's excited to be a part of Team AF-Calgary. In this writer's opinion, I think he summed it up quite nicely at the end when he said the reason he sticks around is because he "drank the kool-aid, and it was delicious," although he forgot to mention how "awesomely delicious" that kool-aid truly is.

And with that, the night began in earnest with October's Top4 Pitches:

Pitch 1: The SoJo

First up was Trevor Gair, speaking on behalf of his SoJo project, an online destination that would help inspire and empower youth to dream big and engage in social entrepreneurship, providing them with the tools and resources to help turn their ideas for social change into reality.

Trevor spoke very passionately about his project, and according to him, his SoJo project is all about people with ideas, giving them a platform to connect and the tools they need to launch their social programs, projects, ventures, and enterprises that, through execution, will ultimately improve the quality of life for people in communities around the world.

The $1,000 would be used to help further develop the SoJo online web portal, which is currently in closed beta phase, as well as help the team expand the outreach of the program.

Pitch 2: AcceleratorYYC

Up next was Christian MacLean, speaking on behalf of AcceleratorYYC, an entrepreneur lead co-work space tailored to the unique needs and challenges of pre-launch and pre-product startups. They aim to be an incubator and accelerator space for early-stage technology start-ups based in Inglewood that the community can draw resources from.

In their original submission, they indicated that they would have liked to use the $1,000 to help with setup costs, to bring in knowledgeable speakers that people can learn from, and to help fund other community events in their space.

However, come pitch time, in an act of generosity, they decided to change up their pitch at the last minute after seeing and connecting with Trevor Gair as he pitched his SoJo idea, saying that if AcceleratorYYC won the $1,000, they would match it and donate the funds to the SoJo project and allow Trevor use of their space to help implement his idea.

Connections such as this one are routinely made at AF-Calgary events, which is one of the hopes that we had when we originally came up with the whole Pitch Night format (which at the time, wasn't done at any of the AF chapters around the world). Knowing that there are so many Awesome Ideas here in Calgary, we wished to expose as many of them as possible to anyone who's watching or paying attention. As there is only one $1,000 prize that we can award (mainly because the prize money comes out of our own pockets each month, and since many of us are ordinary Calgarians ourselves, we ain't rich), by exposing the ideas to others, the hope was that someone somewhere might see those ideas and offer to help those people bring it to fruition in whatever way they can.

So thanks AcceleratorYYC for donating your pitch time to SoJo and for being so generous!

Pitch 3: The B.J.'s Gym Show

Third up was Angie Annis, wishing to put on a community event entitled the B.J.'s Gym Show, an event that would celebrate over 40 years of history at the historic B.J.'s Gym in Calgary's East Village.

For long-time Calgarians, B.J.'s Gym plays an integral role in Calgary's wrestling history. Many famous Stampede Wrestlers trained and performed here over the years, and those who know about the lineage of B.J.'s Gym and how it came to be knows how tightly strong that gym is tied to the Hart family, a family known around the world for their contributions to professional wrestling (the gym was founded by B.J. Annis, Angie's father, who married Georgia Hart).

Angie wishes to throw one last big hurrah at the gym before it's torn down, celebrating over 40 years of rich history at the gym as well as honouring Stu Hart's legacy, while at the same time, looking forward to the future. With live music and artists showcasing their work, plus hosting some very special guests who've all had an important role in the history of B.J.'s Gym, Angie hopes to throw one giant bash that all Calgarians can participate in at the gym over the final weekend of November.

Angie and her team submitted a detailed cost breakdown of how they would use the $1,000. Most of the money would go to advertising and marketing materials, while the rest would go towards attaining the proper city permits and licenses, as well as be spent on logistical items such as equipment rentals and other items needed to host and run the event.

They also brought a Pterodactyl.

Pitch 4: L.E.G.A.C.Y.

Final pitch of the night went to Shana Ng speaking about the L.E.G.A.C.Y. Program.

L.E.G.A.C.Y. stands for "Lift, Empower, Guide, and Advocate for Calgary Youth" and wishes to pass on valuable skills and knowledge to generations of high risk youth so they can make healthier and safer choices.

Conceived by four nurses who work at Wood's Homes, a social service agency that serves 20,000 vulnerable children and their families every year, the L.E.G.A.C.Y. Program will focus on areas to teach youth the skills to live a healthy lifestyle and maintain a positive sense of well being. Areas include smoking cessation, physical activity, health topics, nutrition, and hygiene.

The $1,000 would help operate the L.E.G.A.C.Y. Program by helping to fund supplies, educational materials, transportation, and other program costs.

It was another tough night for the Trustees to decide which project idea to award the $1,000 to, but after a very long deliberation, a decision was made.

And the winner is...

AF-Calgary's October 2011 no-strings-attached $1,000 winner is the B.J.'s Gym Show. Angie and her team will be hosting the farewell party on the final weekend of November, and all of Calgary is invited. Stay tuned here as we'll let you know more about the details of the bash as they become available.

Thanks to the Faculty of Environmental Design and the University of Calgary for allowing us to host our event this month at the Kasian Gallery. It's a wonderful space with innovative exhibits, so if you're ever on campus, you should make time to check it out.

Kudos to everyone who submitted an idea for consideration this month, and congratulations to all of our Top4 Finalists and Honourable Mentions this month!

Finally, a special thank you to Elissa Lynn for helping us with photography duties for the night, and Tara Prudhomme for helping with the live-tweeting.

Congratulations Angie!

We're currently accepting submissions for the final Thousand Dollar Thursday event of 2011, taking place on Thursday, November 24 at the Endeavor Arts Gallery. As the fourth Thursday of December falls awfully close to the holidays, we're going to take December off and figured it would be fitting if we ended the calendar year where we began back in April (has it been that long?). It's going to be a big one, so save the date and we hope to see you there!

The deadline for submissions for the November 2011 prize is 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, November 10. To apply, fill out this handy-dandy web form!

Thanks again to everyone who made time to come down last night, and we hope to see you again in November!


  1. What a fantastic, positive idea in the form of networking, helping each other, inspiration and expanding creativity. All under the umbrella of promoting great people/ideas/events around Calgary. LUV it!


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