Calgary-based social enterprise HelpSeeker takes home 2021 Impact Award
Local startup recognized for their commitment to social change with the inaugural Impact Award, sponsored by ATB
By ATB Financial 18 November 2021 3 min read
As Alberta’s tech and innovation ecosystem continues to evolve, the annual Start Alberta Tech Awards have become a milestone event, where local startups are recognized for their forward-thinking solutions and accomplishments.
This year, ATB partnered with Start Alberta to sponsor the 2021 Impact Award, in recognition of a successful business prioritizing corporate social responsibility. Nominees outlined their efforts to raise social standards, particularly in diversity, equity and inclusion.
On November 12, Calgary-based startup HelpSeeker took home the inaugural Impact Award, for their work connecting community members to social services and their commitment to raising social standards in business.
“ATB is proud to be a keystone partner with Start Alberta,” says Jon Horsman, ATB Financial’s senior executive vice president of ATB Business. “Together, we have been able to attract and report on bringing world-class companies and capital to Alberta to help grow our technology ecosystem, and this year's Impact Award winner is a great example of local leadership in social ESG practices.”
ATB’s selection committee evaluated all nominees before awarding the Impact Award to HelpSeeker, a social technology Certified B Corp that connects Canadians with over 300,000 community, health and social services and resources.
A simple tech solution
HelpSeeker was created in 2018, when co-founders Alina Turner, a social scientist, and Travis Turner, a teacher, became increasingly frustrated with the status quo responses to social challenges they were seeing in the social sector.
"We had all these dinner table conversations about how our social safety net is extremely convoluted, fragmented and inefficient," says Turner. "Community members would often ask me why simple solutions weren’t being implemented. Young people would look at me and ask: Why can't we just have an app for this?’”
With $10,000 from their kid’s college savings, Travis and Alina hired a developer and dove in to solve this challenge for Alberta’s youth. In the beginning, the HelpSeeker app connected users with services in Medicine Hat, then Lethbridge and eventually all of the provinces and territories.
“COVID-19 happened and we blew up,” Turner says. “We already had a digital platform and resources that it turned out everyone needed.”
The future of social purpose in Alberta tech
Corporate social purpose remains at the heart of HelpSeeker and intentional action on Reconciliation, inclusion, diversity, equity and sovereignty is built into every aspect of the company. They tackle questions on the cutting edge of corporate social purpose and ESG practices, like “How do you do reconciliation in machine learning?”
“It’s not just a box to check or just a blurb on their website," says Start Alberta representative Christiana Manzocco, director of industry development and investment associate at Alberta Enterprise Corporation, adding that HelpSeeker exemplifies the future of innovative social responsibility in Alberta.
“They are an incredibly successful scaling company who isn't just focused on financial growth. Their solution is making things much more human-centred, efficient and data-driven,” she says.
The Impact Award will help propel HelpSeeker to the next level as they work to streamline their quickly growing company and debut their platform in Europe at the Smart Cities Expo in Barcelona.
“This Impact Award is such a welcome recognition - it tells us and our team that the ecosystem appreciates our contribution - even if we don’t quite fit pure tech or pure social,” says Turner.
Manzocco also sees the award as a way to shine a light on Alberta’s market-leading social enterprises.
“Contrary to what the rest of Canada may think, Alberta has an extremely robust focus on ESG practices," she says. “We’re grateful to ATB for being a leader in this space by recognizing just that.”
As part of ATB’s Greater Good strategy, ATB supports organizations that are working to solve some of our greatest societal challenges within the areas of access to education, access to information and communications (including data, connectivity and technology), mental health, and financial literacy and empowerment.
You can learn more about ATB’s Greater Good Strategy here.