Young entrepreneurs gather at action summit

Aim to grow young enterprise across Canada


A young Calgary entrepreneur is in Toronto today helping to craft an action plan to grow young enterprise across the country.

Kevin Alto, 26, of Alto Collective which is a company that produces handmade wood products from longboards to wallets to phone cases, is participating in Futurpreneur Canada’s first-ever Action Entrepreneurship Canadian Summit in Toronto.

It is bringing together close to 200 young entrepreneurs from across Canada.

Alto Collective was started in August 2011 in Calgary.

“There were roundtables that happened across Canada and I took part in the one in Calgary and they’re basically trying to come up with an action plan for entrepreneurship in Canada,” said Alto. “From surveys and information from small business owners, they’ve tried to compile as much information as possible to get a good understanding of four main action items.”

The foundation came up with four key entrepreneurial needs: entrepreneurial mindset; skills; resources; and markets and growth.

The foundation said young entrepreneurs are the future of the Canadian economy, holding incredible potential to fuel economic growth and innovation. But they also face challenges.

In late 2013, the foundation reached out to 1,000 of the nation’s best and brightest young entrepreneurs and business, policy, education, non-profit and other leaders. Roundtable discussions took place in 11 cities – Halifax, Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary, Edmonton, Yellowknife and Vancouver.

There was also a virtual roundtable, an online panel discussion, interviews and a national survey sponsored by Foundation for an Entrepreneurial Canada.

“It starts from the ground up. Awareness. Understanding what entrepreneurship is,” said Alto. “I’m here basically helping to give a perspective from my experiences. Coming out of university I was a mechanical engineer but entrepreneurship, the concept, wasn’t there at all.

“I had to meet somebody who exposed this whole other world to me and that’s sort of how I got my introduction into entrepreneurship. It’s the ground up. It’s the awareness, and building that into the education system. Right from grade school all the way to post-secondary and then beyond. Giving the resources and the backing, the support, the structure, for it. It’s more than just capital. It’s also access to examples, successful entrepreneurs, as well as more resources you can read about and learn about and access to places where you can implement your projects and collaborate and build.”

Calgary Herald | Calgary, Alberta