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The highest potential innovators in the Calgary region need to get the deepest and most unrelenting support possible. Period.

But it doesn’t always work that way. Far too many barriers in society, in our corporations, in our nonprofits, in our schools, and across our ecosystem prevent the best people from even getting into the game. This ensures their strongest contributions won’t bubble to the top of the heap to find support. And, as in most regions, keeps the collective focus on a small number ideas brought forward by a small number of people.
1000 Innovation Ninjas takes the focus from betting on those ideas and shifts it to betting on the people and processes with the greatest potential – i.e. it ushers a shift from building the right ideas to building the right people and processes.
We’re working at the front end of the life cycle and at the foundation of the related competency stacks to change the game for 1000 of the highest potential entrepreneurial thinkers and up and coming innovation leaders in the Calgary area.
We’re making our tools, workshops, courses, competency models, and approaches to World Embedded Education for strategic ideation as openly and freely accessible as possible. We’re removing as many barriers to entry as we can to boost and accelerate the work of these Innovation Ninjas who might not otherwise flourish. And we’re supporting their journeys and the handoffs to the rest of the ecosystem that’s ready to help them grow.

It’s about investing in the right people who are
good at carrying out the right processes.

Who are our Sponsors / Innovation Partner Organizations?

Watch this space for some exciting announcements coming soon!

How are we doing?

Innovation Ninjas helped to date in the Calgary Region!

How do I become an Innovation Ninja?

Do the following in the order that works for you …


Start any time

We have a suite of open access tools for ideation that we make available for free through Creative Commons. From idea design, to value proposition design, to breaking and bettering your concepts, to assessing your own ideas.

You can check out the toolkit anytime »


Attend a sleeves-rolled-up workshop

We deliver interactive talks and workshops on a regular basis in places ranging from Moscow, to Mexico, to Seattle, to Waterloo.

As part of the 1000 Innovation Ninjas initiative we also deliver a series of sleeves-rolled-up workshops experiences in the Calgary area to help people get started with the basic training.

When’s the next sleeves-rolled-up workshop?


Unlock the Idea Maker Course

Want to put what you’re learning into practice by building out an idea at your own pace?

We’re opening up batches of seats in our online Idea Maker Course, and making them available for any price over $1 to the most promising innovators and entrepreneurs who come through our workshops or who decide to challenge the basic training on their own.

When you finish the basic training, we’ll open up the rest of the Idea Maker course to you – giving you access to the rest of the 5-day self-paced world-embedded learning experience. There’s no additional cost for this – if you finish the basic training and prove you’re committed, then we’ll give you access to the whole thing. Merit based. As simple as that.

The normal price of tuition for the Idea Maker course is $999.  Why are you letting me pay what I can?

Join a Venture Design Studio to get into an Accelerated Experience Gaining mode

The Venture Design Studio is a multi-week deep dive learning experience through which you will learn by designing the most highly impactful and imminently feasible version of a new venture concept possible.

It’s experiential in nature and designed to be authentic to and accelerate your learning through the entrepreneurial experience. It uses a Design Thinking methodology and venture design tools such as the Idea Napkin, the Idea Model, the Value Proposition Wheel, our Idea Pages, and our Idea Slide Rules – just to name a few – for designing and validating a really big value idea. It also uses some game-based elements, e.g. you will be be able to ‘level up’ after each iteration.

Throughout the experience, you will be: 1) developing ‘idea models’ and other key new venture prototypes; 2) continuously assessing and improving your idea; 3) pitching to and seeking feedback from the right people, including experienced entrepreneurs who will be brought into the process and who will form part of your pre-network.

Overall, the idea is to help you get from being good at ‘implementing it right’ to also being good at ‘implementing the right it’.


Apply to earn one or more WEE Degrees

WEE stands for World Embedded Education, and the notion of a WEE Degree is our answer to the movement being led by the like of Udacity with its Nanodegrees out of California.

A WEE Degree isn’t about the quality of your idea(s) – although we’re pretty sure by the time you get to it you’ll have some pretty good ideas in your portfolio. Rather, it’s about a demonstration of the learning you’ve done and your competencies as an innovator in several key areas.

When you feel you’re ready you’ll be able to apply for your WEE Degree, prove you’ve got what it takes, and share it with the world.

When’s the next interactive talk or sleeves-rolled-up workshop?

Watch this space for some announcements coming soon!

How do I apply to join a Venture Design Studio?

Watch this space for some announcements coming soon!

What’s the Idea Maker Course?

The Idea Maker course / WEE Degree is an online learning experience that is to ideation what Udacity’s Nanodegrees are to web technology. The normal price of tuition for the course is $999.

With this course you’ll jump right into using a practical set of tools for getting your ideas down, and developing personal / team and concept pitches to help communicate them. You’ll develop your very own Idea Page – like a Facebook page but for your idea (which can be kept public, made private, or password protected). And you’ll begin learning to assess your own concepts and how to build a portfolio of high potential ideas.

But describing it this way doesn’t do it justice so take a few minutes to watch this video.

This signature course is the first in a series of such learning experiences that together help people go from Napkin to Revenues. Its focus is on the design of really big value ideas – ideas that are at the same time highly impactful and imminently feasible for you (and the team you attract) to carry out.

Want to know more? Want to preview the experience? Learn more and explore it here »

Pay what I can?

Hi! Alex here, co-founder of the Straight Up Business Institute.

And yes, for 1000 Innovation Ninjas we want people to name their price for our Idea Maker course. Any price over a dollar, as long as they can show us they deserve it, and as long as it’s clear that they’re going to put it to really good use.

Here’s why:



We’ve spent two years building the tools, processes, and courses we wish we’d had when we started leading innovation in companies and then becoming entrepreneurs ourselves. And doing so in a straight up way so you can benefit from them right now, embedded wherever you are, to accelerate something important to you or your organization.

And our mission now is to find 1000 of the highest potential entrepreneurial thinkers and up and coming innovation leaders and work with them to accelerate their work. To bring them to the next level. To help them drive innovation and open big new doors.

We’ve realized that in order to do this right it needs to be based on merit. In other words, it has to be based on getting the best people in the door.

So get in on the 1000 Innovation Ninjas opportunity, name your price for the Idea Maker Course – anything over a dollar that you think’s fair value, challenge yourself, and see if you’re one of them.


Alex and Mike.

Frequently asked questions

What’s the catch?

There’s no catch. We’re a social business and we’ve built and fully road-tested both our super online learning experience and the Idea Maker – the first of our signature courses (including all the tools and processes that make it unique).

And now our mission is to get the best possible learning experiences into the hands of people with the highest potential to innovate.

If you want to be one of them then we want you to choose your price based on what you can afford. No barriers to entry.

May the best ideas come from the best people following the best processes!

Will I lose access once you reach 1000 Ninjas?

Nope. We’re after enabling and accelerating the work of 1000 high potential entrepreneurs, 1000 corporate innovation leaders, and 1000 students. And every one of those Ninjas will be treated just like anyone we work with in the future. The only difference is that you’ll be first among them.

We might ask you to help us celebrate a little when we reach our goal – a virtual high five of sorts. And you can be sure you’ll be the first to hear about our next stages and future releases. But that’s it.

I lead a team. A team that’s always busy trying to get things done. Is this for us too?

Yup. We’ve been on teams, we’ve led our own teams, and we’ve worked with teams all over the world. In high tech and low tech contexts. In for profit and non profit environments. Online and in person. In educational settings and in the workplace. And we know how hard it can be to shift a culture or build a common language across a group, let alone build competencies that boost your performance while not disrupting what you already do well.

We know how many employees don’t want another expensive consultant-led workshop or airport bookshelf self-help business book to read before the offsite. And we know you want PD dollars to be spent wisely.

Which is why Idea Maker’s delivered in a straight up way from start to finish. It’s designed to help your organization get better at what we call Strategic Ideation – coming up with a portfolio of really big value ideas so you can spend your time and resources in the right places. And it’s deliberate in making it happen when and where you need it.

Check out our team and corporate innovation offerings »

I run an incubator, accelerator, or school. How do we get 1000 Innovation Ninjas into our shop too?

Bringing 1000 Innovation Ninjas into your shop can help make it more efficient. It’ll help make sure you have the best concepts coming into and out of your process possible. And help make sure you’re known in the community for concepts and innovators that lead the pack.

We can run some workshops with you, sign you up with your own batch of seats in the Idea Maker course, and even have you as a host for a Venture Design Studio: Check it out and tell us a little more about yourself.

And if you find that works well for you, we’re also looking for colleges and universities that want to become 1000 Innovation Ninja Campuses, and incubators and accelerators that want to become 1000 Innovation Ninja incubators and accelerators. Ask about this.

I teach this stuff to a class or cohort. How can this experience boost the learning experiences I’m designing?

Through this initiative we’re opening up 1000 seats in the Idea Maker course for students and we’d be thrilled if they were yours. We have teachers using the course as a sort of ‘super textbook’ allowing them to flip the classroom and spend their time in the room very differently.

Be sure to check out our support for educators using the Idea Maker and our Educator’s Hub too.

As you’ll see, educators and students are asked to pay what they can too – any price over a dollar.