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Techstars Startup Digest Toronto - Is one of these new opportunities right for your startup?

Issue #39 — View online — Suggest a link
Techstars Startup Digest Toronto

Locally curated talks, workshops, and other events for those interested in creating a startup, growing one, or who want to connect with startups in the Greater Toronto Area.

Good morning, Toronto startups and entrepreneurs! Canadian founders often bemoan the lack of VC funding in this country. Certainly, the pandemic hasn’t helped matters. Are you aware that Brookfield, the Toronto real estate investment giant with $600b in assets, also has a technology arm? Founded four years ago, Brookfield Technology Partners has issued tech startups cheques valued between $25m and $50m. Techcrunch has more on how you can land some of Brookfield’s millions.
Black History Month is over, yet Black underrepresentation in the Canadian startup and VC funding world continues. Yes, a more supportive ecosystem is finally forming around Canada’s Black tech founders, with initiatives like the DMZ’s Black Innovation programs. The Canadian VC landscape, however, still skews white.
That VC landscape became a little more inclusive recently, with the creation of the Bay Mills Diversity Fund. It’s the work of three brothers — Sheldon James, Stephan James and Shamier Anderson — and part of their firm, Bay Mills Investment Group. The fund will back early-stage startups, mostly at the Series A, that have a least one full-time BIPOC founder. The brothers have closed $15m of a planned $100m, and hope to make 50 investments, with initial cheques ranging between $500,000 and $5m into startups across categories, with an emphasis on fintech, real estate, edtech, medtech and cannabis.
For most founders, funding is just one of a host of other concerns. Mentorship — speaking regularly with people you trust about your trials as a founder — is equally valuable, sometimes more so. As important as it it, finding the right mentor can be tough.
Fortunately, if you’re a woman founder or want to start your own venture, industry-specific mentorship is available for free through the month of March. Startup Canada’s #StartupWomen mentorship program is giving women the opportunity to connect with over 100 expert mentors to seek tailored guidance and support to build their business. There are also five industry-specific mentorship circles available where entrepreneurs can candidly speak with fellow entrepreneurs about challenges and opportunities in their industry in a small group setting. The tech industry circle is on March 9.
If you’re looking for more than mentorship, we have two new opportunities for local startups. The first is a pitch competition with two prizes of $25,000 to use as seed money for your business. Open only to students of the Toronto Rotman School of Management, the Slaight New Venture Competition will be held in April, with applications closing this Friday. The second opportunity is NEXT Canada’s Next Founders, a program for growth-stage founders looking to scale their business into a world class venture. The program runs from April to September, with admissions accepted until March 17.
You’ll sometimes see big opportunities listed in this newsletter, but who gets selected in the end? This past week, Google Voice AI announced its next cohort, which includes two Toronto companies: Babbly for child speech and language skills development, and conversationHealth, which offers conversational agents and voice assistants for patients and healthcare professionals.
Two Toronto startups were also selected to take part in Comcast’s first SportsTech Accelerator: Dibz, which helps stage and sports attendees upgrade their seats while in the venue, and Eon Media, which sells “zero-latency” video-streaming software offering broadcasters AI-enabled metadata extraction from videos.
Finally, you may have seen the Intuit Prosperity Accelerator program listed some months back. Its first cohort is now all grown up and ready to demo solutions which they hope will address the financial challenges Canadian consumers and small businesses are facing during this pandemic. The demos are slated for this Tuesday at noon. Look for these five Toronto companies among the presentations: Homewise, a digital mortgage provider; Willful, an estate planning platform; Paper & Coin, with financial education for youth; Rivvi, an autonomous payroll platform; and Sparcblock, a platform for streamlined B2B transactions. Look in Tuesday’s events for more information.
Community Opportunities
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.
Google for Startups Accelerator Canada is a three-month accelerator program for Seed to Series A Canadian technology startups. The accelerator is designed to bring the best of Google’s programs, products, people and technology to startups that leverage machine learning and AI in their company today or plan to in the future. In addition to mentorship and technical project support, the accelerator also includes deep dives and workshops focused on product design, customer acquisition and leadership development for startup founders and leaders.
Do you want to spend your summer working on your startup? Are you a Toronto Rotman School of Management student looking for some seed funding to help your business? The Slaight New venture competition will give six students the opportunity to pitch for two prizes of $25,000 seed money. This competition is hosted by Enactus Ryerson, Canada’s largest experiential learning platform that helps students unleash their entrepreneurial spirit and develop their talent and perspective essential to leadership in our ever-changing world. 
The PITCH IT! GBC Competition is designed to provide seed funding to support aspiring entrepreneurs in developing and pitching their business/social innovation ideas. Open to George Brown students, participants have an opportunity to win a portion of the $10,000 prize fund. Two streams of the PITCH IT! GBC competition will occur simultaneously: one for-profit business and one for social innovation enterprises. For-profit businesses can apply for both streams if their product offering covers social innovation. Applications can be submitted by solo-entrepreneurs or multi-founder teams.
Mar 17 - Next Founders
Next Founders accelerates the growth of Canada’s most promising entrepreneurs by providing mentorship, access to capital, and unparalleled entrepreneurial education taught by world-class faculty. Next Founders is our most flexible program, offering à-la-carte education from some of North America’s top minds that you can opt into based on your individual needs. The ideal applicant is building one of their first ventures, often has a STEM background with little formal business education, or are startup founders from top-tier accelerators, looking to complement their experience. 
Mar 26 - IFH LAB 2021
As millions of Canadians struggle to pay for today, save for tomorrow, and plan for the unexpected, they need help to better their financial lives. IFH Lab is a six-month program for early-stage startups designing real solutions to the most pressing financial health challenges Canadians face, particularly those most financially vulnerable. Selected startups receive access to mentorship with personalized guidance from founders, financial services executives, investors, and experts in financial health. Startup teams will also join a cohort of like-minded entrepreneurs, exchange best practices, and get access to a broader network of investors and partners.
The events of this past year have created incredible challenges for all entrepreneurs, with studies showing that women in particular have been hardest hit by the global pandemic. This year, it’s more important than ever to elevate the women entrepreneurs and founders in our communities who continue to invest it all, demonstrating remarkable resilience and innovation in the face of all obstacles. It’s time to recognize their work in front of a national audience, and a nomination is the first step. If you know a Canadian founder that deserves some recognition, nominate her.
Have a great week, and stay well!
Ian Stevens ◦

Techstars Startup Digest Techstars Startup Digest Toronto is curated by:
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