Good morning, Toronto startups and entrepreneurs! Here we are in another lockdown. It’s been tough. Some of you have been feeling isolated, many have been unable to see extended family, a few may have lost friends and loved ones. Concentration and focus might seem in short supply these days. Get outside and walk, rain or shine. Exercise if you can. Take up a new hobby with friends. Most of all, try to cut yourself some slack on the quantity and quality of work you’re undergoing. Whatever the work, it takes second place to your mental health.
Back in February, ventureLAB
welcomed the third cohort of Tech Undivided
, a program helping women-led tech companies grow and scale. Last week, I learned the inspiring story of Kushi Kaur
, a member of Tech Undivided’s second cohort, who arrived to Canada from India by way of Libya. Through the program she founded Joint App
, a digital platform for immigration resources for international students.
Because of the pandemic, Kaur was handling daily calls and emails from frustrated students trying to sort out study permits and work visas. To help, she’s working on MangoVisa
, a community connecting Canadian and American students living abroad. Kaur is looking to launch in 2021, and has this to say about her experience (emphasis mine):
As an entrepreneur, Kushi believes inner strength is key to success. While she says her family couldn’t imagine her — an Indian girl — at the head of a tech company, they’ve been supportive none-the-less. “They don’t have anyone to look to, to understand what I’m doing,” she says. That’s something she hopes will change.
For those of you looking to take your
startup idea to the next level, we have two new opportunities to consider. Access Community Capital Fund
is holding its Women’s Business Accelerator
starting April 19. It’s an online workshop series for developing your idea and plan through learning, coaching, networking, and pitch practice.
If fintech is your focus, the Station FinTech Montréal Accelerator
, powered by Highline Beta
, might appeal to you. Successful applicants will be able to work closely with Québec’s financial and insurance institutions to enable safer, faster, and more reliable payments. If these opportunities interest you, you’ll find more details below.
Staying on accelerators, you may have heard of Foodpreneur Lab
. It’s like a tech accelerator, but for women and BIPOC food entrepreneurs. One of our readers is conducting a survey on their behalf, asking for your experience with pre-accelerator programs. Through this survey
, they hope to better understand how entrepreneurs who identify as women and/or racialized people experience agnostic accelerator and startup programming, and how this impacts their learning. Please consider filling it out. Depending on your answers, this survey will take approximately 10-20 minutes
. If you have any questions, you can contact Foodpreneur Lab
Here are some upcoming deadlines for applying to accelerators, grants and funding, or other competitions. Don’t miss out! If you know of others, please submit any application deadlines and I’ll post them if they’re relevant.
Be.Build.Brand. (B3) is a ten-week entrepreneurship program for Toronto Community Housing tenants between the ages of 18 and 29. The program supports entrepreneurial ideas in the pre-incubation stage and helps participants to turn their ideas into viable business plans. The program offers exposure to relevant entrepreneurship content, industry guest speakers, and capacity-building opportunities. Participants will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges for a chance to win seed funds for their business venture. You could come away with funding of up to $2,500 through, an opportunity to receive free branding and marketing from a professional agency, access to website development and a digital marketing consultation, an actionable business plan through lean business model canvas, and networking opportunities with industry mentors, guest speakers and Be.Build.Brand alumni.
Are you a newcomer woman with a business idea? The Women’s Business Accelerator is a free, online workshop series that will equip you with the tools you need to build a profitable business. In the WBA program, you’ll develop your idea and craft a business plan, receive coaching support to enhance your learning, network with other entrepreneurs and industry professionals, and practice and refine your pitching skills. Eligible applicants must be a permanent resident, convention refugee or live-in caregiver with a legal right to work in Canada, and have a business idea or be interested in starting a business in Canada.
The Station FinTech Montréal Accelerator, powered by Highline Beta, is an opportunity for fintech and insurtech startups from across Canada to work closely with Québec’s financial and insurance institutions. It’s a true ecosystem program to help startups and big companies connect. Operated in Montréal, the program will benefit startups with a product in the market that enables safer, faster, and more reliable payments. Participants will receive four months of milestone-driven programming tailored to their needs; hands-on weekly coaching on growth, plan development, fundraising, and corporate engagement strategy; corporate connections with curated events, pitch sessions, and private sessions with advisors; as well as an optional minimum initial investment of $25K.
This program, delivered by Futurpreneur, will provide young, Black entrepreneurs age 18-39 across Canada with a comprehensive offering of $5,000–$60,000 in startup loan financing, as well as up to two years of mentorship, opportunities to engage with a national network of Black entrepreneurs, leaders and community organizations at a range of entrepreneurship events, and a variety of relevant tools and resources. Participants who are keen to scale their businesses even further will also be eligible for up to $40,000 in follow-on financing funded by RBC, based on the first two years of successful business performance.
Have a great week, and stay well!