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Launching the Wired West

Claudia Moore is the G2G who is putting Calgary’s tech community on the world stage

Sep 1, 2008

by Marzena Czarnecka

Claudia Moore walks the talk.

When the president of Material Insight, a marketing consultancy focused on highly entrepreneurial tech startups, co-founded the company five years ago, she and partner Shelley Kuipers envisioned a model in which the elite entrepreneurs they attracted to their company would take time out from Material Insight to “go in deep” with one client company.

“We believed that the model that works best for tech startups and the companies that work with them is this combination of helping a variety of companies and then going ‘in deep’ and focusing on just one for a while,” she explains. “That’s the track record the successful entrepreneurs in this sector seem to follow.”

The model seems to have worked too well: Kuipers was asked to join Calgary’s Cambrian House as its president last January. The company develops startups discovered through its “crowdsourcing” concept. And this summer, Tynt Inc., a Calgary-based software developer with a unique product (its beta site went live June 30), lured Moore to its team as it prepares to emerge out of stealth mode. Pulling Moore in-house is a sure sign Tynt is ready to emerge from its chrysalis. Key among her skills is a gift for crafting stories that translate a company’s product and strategy into something the market understands – and wants.

She discovered this talent in a warehouse in industrial Vancouver, when she was a communications consultant with Parallel Strategies. She was searching for the offices of Kelsan Technologies, an unsexy account none of her more experienced colleagues wanted.

“I found these guys in a warehouse, sitting around barrels of grease,” she recalls. “This was their product – really, really sophisticated grease for light rail transit that would decrease track noise. They were bursting with passion, inventiveness and talent, and they said to me, this is what we do, and we don’t know how to make it matter to people. Make us matter to the next customer, to the industry analyst and to the talent we need to hire.”

Moore took the unsexy, greasy account of Kelsan and helped the company craft a globally compelling story. Kelsan’s grease is now used by the London Underground, MTR in Hong Kong, Prague Metro, as well as Canadian customers such as Bombardier Transportation and B.C. Rail. Moore realized that grease was just the beginning. “That account really got me going in the technology world,” she says. “This was what I wanted to do – work with tech companies, listen, learn and craft their story for the marketplace.”

As to where she was going to do this – Vancouver may have seemed the obvious choice for a Smithers, B.C.-born, University of Victoria graduate. But in 2000 the bloom was off the tech rose in Vancouver and still peaking in Calgary. It quickly became clear to her that Calgary was the place for an ambitious, driven person to make her mark. “The business community here is, wisely, opportunistic. I found I could call up the CEO of just about any company I thought I could offer value to, and if I could make a compelling pitch in a couple of sentences, they would make the time to meet me for coffee.”

Plus, she adds with a grin, the stats on single men in Calgary versus those of Vancouver looked waaay better. (That gamble paid off; she met and in 2003 married software engineer Michael Jenson.)

Moore quickly met Brian Craig and Shelley Kuipers, two experienced Calgary tech entrepreneurs. She became a vice-president with their tech boom venture Stormworks Inc. and remained part of the management team when Stormworks was acquired by Solium Capital Inc. in 2002.

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