Kelly Graves (’77), Augustana’s 2011 Distinguished Alumnus
Posted on February 16, 2012 by Christopher Thrall
Having studied and worked at Augustana, entrepreneur Kelly Graves will be honoured at the Community Awards Banquet on Feb 29 as our 2011 Distinguished Alumnus.
Raised in Wetaskiwin, Kelly Graves has been involved in entrepreneurial endeavours since age eight, when he bought and sold his first head of cattle to start a university fund. He attended Camrose Lutheran College from 1975 to 1977 for his first and second years of university education. He worked his way through a degree in English at the University of Alberta. He then returned to CLC as Communications and Alumni Relations Officer from 1981 to 1988.
Kelly moved to Calgary in 1991 with natural gas giant NOVA’s computer centre. He spent a few years in the U.S., where he entered the first dot-com boom, helping to shepherd a number of startup technology companies to success. He worked on some of the first shopping carts, geolocation services, social networks, and online interactive agent tools. He was a key stakeholder in Net Effect Systems which, in 2000, sold its web-based customer service system to popular search engine Ask Jeeves.
In 2007, Kelly was named entrepreneur-in-residence at Calgary Technologies Inc, where he spent a year providing innovators with input on their business plans and advice on marketing. While there, he visited the Cook Islands to lead their renewable energy program. He has worked all across North America, in Europe, and throughout the south Pacific. He is involved in the crowdsourcing, alternative energy, and parallel-computation communities, with dozens of publications to his credit. He is a board member or advisor to a very large number of companies across North America.
Most recently, he co-founded Sweet Lightning to focus on technology smart grids in developing nations and Spacebourne to examine the feasibility of a western Canadian low-earth-orbit launch authority.
He maintains a strong network of relationships from these all these activities, and uses the internet to create a geography-free work environment.
Kelly is an experienced advisor, senior analyst, strategist, author and mentor, with broad experience in information technologies, policy, e-business, energy, and customer relations. He is a successful entrepreneur with experience across a wide range of sectors. Kelly has acquired a reputation for his pragmatic, “get-things-done” style, extremely effective facilitation, and an ability to bring out the best in teams and individuals.
He has developed national environmental policies and continent-spanning software suites, and has founded or co-founded several extremely successful companies. In the past decade, he has helped hundreds of technical start-ups in North America with the mechanics of planning, marketing, funding, and product development.
He and his architect wife live on Saltspring Island in British Columbia. Kelly builds and paddles traditional Inuit skin-on-frame kayaks, some of which have been publicly exhibited as art, and teaches classes in rescue and rolling techniques. He is a published fiction author, with a story appearing in an anthology with Margaret Atwood and William Gibson. He has been named to receive honorary citizenship in the Cook Islands for his extensive volunteer work there. He is an active supporter of a large number of charities and non-profit activities aimed at equitable distribution of the world’s resources and at lowering the ecological footprint of civilization.
He is currently nearing completion of a graduate degree in astrophysics, concentrating on the search for extra-solar planets.
• As the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Calgary Technologies Incorporated, mentored over 300 individuals from 75 corporations on funding, marketing, planning, technology management and staffing.
• As co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of LOA Corporation, helped guide Loa Networks to develop a parallel, distributed control infrastructure that can create ad-hoc smart grids at multiple levels. Based on analysis of worldwide electrical industry trends, instantiated a business model and software suite that reflect a hitherto-untried approach to demand-side electricity management.
• As a co-founder and VP of Customer at Net Effect Systems and later at Ask Jeeves, worked with roughly 100 corporations (including Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Gateway, Dell, Buena Vista (Disney), Time-Warner/AOL, and PacBell) to integrate go-to-market product strategies with customer-support tools and processes.
• Founding principal and analyst at Pangaea Corporation, a Canadian venture capital startup.
• Chaired Advisory Board for Cambrian House, notable crowdsourcing startup. Helped move board from passive to active role, adding the capacity of about two full-time-equivalent staff members to the management effort.
• Member, Advisory Board for Tynt Multimedia, a Web metrics startup. Helped move board from passive to active role.
• Developed methodology for g9 Corporation to apply social-media tools to data-capture for SR&ED grant proposals. The methodology lowers grant application costs by 40%.
• As lead analyst of the Cook Islands National Energy Committee from 2007-2010, guided a human-centred consultation process to weight environment concerns with available technologies and potential risks. The resulting strategy, which has been endorsed by Cabinet, contains over 100 energy-related initiatives and will transform national energy use over the next decade.
• As president of Ideas First Consulting, worked extensively with over 200 public, corporate, and private groups to develop policies, restructure companies, establish and operate boards, analyse and market products, develop measurement systems, mentor and train, manage public campaigns, and develop and patent software. Clients range from national governments to Fortune 500 corporations to tiny startups.
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