Local startup wins downtown office space rent free for 2 years


A local startup will soon get the keys to an office space downtown after winning it for two years rent free in a competition.

In 2021, the CEO of the CommAlert Group decided that since his employees were working from home and had no plans to return to the office, he would gift the fully furnished space to a group that needed it.

“A startup really has to keep their eyes on their costs and a huge expense is space,” said Tim Carwell. “I started in my living room a long time ago.”

The office space in downtown Edmonton has two years left on the lease. Over 70 companies applied to be able to spend that time in that space without paying for rent or internet.

“Psychologically, when you’re downtown in the financial core and you look out the windows and you see your space, it feels like you made it,” said Carwell. “It’s pretty special to be amongst your business peers and doing good work.”

Of the dozens that entered the competition, the five finalists were:

  • RUNWITHIT Synthetics – They use live, at-scale synthetic modelling to help decision-makers prepare for and respond to situations
  • HRing – A social platform that allows people to apply for jobs with a pitch video and pre-record interviews
  • Tamaca Therapy Services – A team of health specialists that travel to First Nations communities to aid children and youth.
  • hiregood – An initiative of Boyle Street Ventures that employs people who face barriers in the formal job market
  • ASPECC – A non-profit organization that educates the public on LGBTQ2S+ inclusion, sexual health, consent, and healthy relationships

“It’s amazing how many diverse and dynamic businesses there are in Edmonton that we don’t even know of,” said Carwell.

Each group was trained on how to give a pitch and were then given 30 minutes to make a Dragon’s Den-style pitch to the judges.

“What’s going to set them apart is not only the knowledge, but the passion and the story of the why, why are they doing this?” said Carwell.

The winner of the competition was RUNWITHIT Synthetics.

“We are really facing some fantastic opportunities, this being just the most amazing gift,” said Myrna Bittner, the founder and CEO of RUNWITHIT Synthetics. “I just can’t think of a better way of representing Edmonton to the world than by discussing this, what happened here.”

Carwell added that he hopes the competition will inspire other business leaders to help small businesses.

“Sometimes that’s all it takes, is just those little contributions from the community that are so meaningful to so many,” said Bittner.

Carwell plans to hand the keys to the office over to RUNWITHIT Synthetics and give them a tour of the space and the area next week.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Touria Izri

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