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Mentorcamp To Debut In Sydney

Founder Permjot Valia launched MentorCamp in Halifax in 2011 and has since held the event in such locations as Arkansas, South Africa, and Manitoba. He recently became the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Island Sandbox, an innovation program for post-secondary students in Cape Breton, and has therefore decided to hold the 2016 event on the island.

“I’m looking forward to bringing in the mentors and introducing them to Cape Breton — both for the mentors, to show then what Cape Breton has to offer, and for the local companies,” said MentorCamp Chief Operating Officer Carolyn Clegg in an interview last week.

MentorCamp was formerly an annual event in the region and is now held every second year. It has been held five times in the region, always in Halifax, and the big change this year is it is being held in Cape Breton for the first time. It’s the first time Sydney will host a startup event aimed at companies from beyond the local startup community.

Sydney boasts one of the fastest growing startup communities in the region. As of the end of 2015, there were 32 startups on Cape Breton and 21 were less than two years old. The local incubator, Navigate Startup House, has recently received federal and provincial funding and is working to stage more events for startups based in Cape Breton and elsewhere.

The MentorCamp event will bring together an array of mentors from Atlantic Canada and outside the region who are experts in a range of disciplines.

They include: Arkansas entrepreneur Carol Reeves, who has been profiled in such publications as Forbes; Michael Sikorsky, the CEO of Calgary startup Robots & Pencils; Mark MacLeod, the founder of SurePath Capital Partners of Toronto; and April Dunford, a Toronto-based specialist in startup sales, marketing and customer support.

As well as startups from all four Atlantic Provinces, the companies attending MentorCamp include promising startups from other areas so all participants — mentors and entrepreneurs — can compare the local companies with those from elsewhere.

The eight companies attending MentorCamp are: Airbly, Argyle Shore, PEI; Campfire Union, Winnipeg; Empowered Homes, St. John’s, ReadyPass, Fredericton; Treatsie, Fayetteville; Ubique Networks, Sydney and Toronto; WellTrack, Fredericton; and WoodsCamp, Mahone Bay.

Read our Recent Coverage of MentorCamp Companies:

Airbly To Launch 100 Units This Summer

Ubique Lands $2M, Preps for Series A

WoodsCamp To Disrupt Timber Market

WellTrack Pitches at Propel ICT Demo Day

ReadyPass, Empowered Homes Graduate from Propel Launch

The event spans two days. On Monday, Aug. 15, the eight invited companies will spend the day with the mentors.

The next day, about 20 companies from Sydney’s burgeoning startup community will be invited to attend one-on-one sessions with the mentors attending the event.

Clegg said the MentorCamp organizers will decide after the event whether to hold it in Cape Breton again or to return to Halifax or try another part of Atlantic Canada. She added the team is impressed with the energy they’re finding in the Sydney area, and Valia hopes to be involved in many other events in the area.

“They’re eager, and there’s definitely skill there,” said Clegg. “And what’s happening now is they’re pulling it all together, and we’re really seeing the support happen.”