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Techstars Startup Digest Toronto - Will the C-level Shopify exodus spur more tech growth?

Issue #46 — 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! Are you exhausted? If you’re a parent, you’re coming out of a week with the kids at home with nothing to do, to a week with the kids at home unable to sit through a Zoom call. Concentration will be difficult at times, even without a noisy living space. Feeling a lack of focus? Get outside for your designated government exercise, or just sit and take a look around.
Some of you may feel like you have energy and time to spare — more power to you. Spend it wisely. Listen to your body and take breaks. Focus on something else. The further away from work-life those breaks are, the better. With your time well-planned and managed, you’ll get closer to your goals sooner, rather than later.
You could launch an early-stage startup this weekend with Techstars Startup Weekend! The 54-hour event is geared towards female tech entrepreneurs across Canada who might be looking for a co-founder, a team, or just some feedback. The event starts Friday night, with three accompanying “Drops” — free community sessions — happening on Monday and Saturday. Scroll down to the event listing for more.
If your hardware or software product caters to those with disabilities, you could get a boost from Access to Success’ ATS Labs accessibility accelerator. Starting in August, it’s a 3-month Canadian program where you’ll learn from practitioners of inclusive design and experienced accessibility innovators. Scroll down for more information.
A recent exodus of C-level Shopify executives could be a prelude to increased innovation and growth in Canadian tech startups. Those leaving include chief talent officer — and employee #22 — Brittany Forsyth, chief legal officer Joe Frasca, and chief technology officer Jean-Michel Lemieux, who all cashed in options with a combined worth of tens of millions of dollars in the past year. Ms. Forsyth has said she has her own entrepreneurship plans. She is also a member of Backbone Angels, an investment collective supporting early-stage female and non-binary founders.
There’s more money on the table for those early-stage Canadian startups, thanks to OKR Financial‘s launch of its $150 million fund. The fund will specifically help companies looking to take advantage of SR&ED tax credits, asset-based lending, government grant financing or equity deals. These programs can take months to come through, which is where the fund comes into play.
Lastly, congratulations to everyone who has ever been involved with Ryerson’s DMZ. Thanks to you, the startups and alumni have raised over $1 billion in funding in the last five years! That’s 194 startups with 424 total investments. It was DMZ alumnus Snapcommerce’s most recent $107M funding round — and DMZ’s largest — which pushed the total funding into the 10-figures.
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.
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.
Entrepreneur First is the best place in the world to meet a co-founder and build a startup from scratch. If you’re talented, ambitious, and looking to found a company, then EF is for you. On our 6-month programme starting in September, you’ll join like-minded people who want to co-found a startup right now. You’ll be supported by a global network of founders, advisors and investors. We’ll cover your living costs while you test out your ideas, and you’ll never have to pay us back. If we believe your company has the potential to succeed at scale, we’ll provide further funding to get you started, in exchange for 10% equity.
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.
ATS Labs is a Canadian first — a unique 3-month program tailored to startups serving people with disabilities. Ever been told your product is not scalable, or won’t have a large enough market? So have we. We understand the unique problems you face, so we created sessions specifically tailored for accessibility startups, such as inclusive design, inclusive marketing, co-creation, and more. Starting in August, you’ll learn directly from founders of later-stage accessibility startups, world-renowned inclusive design practitioners, experienced accessibility innovators, healthtech specialists, and successful investors. We’re bringing together founders of accessibility startups from all over the world.
Have a great week, and stay well!
Ian Stevens ◦

Friday to Saturday
Techstars Startup Digest Techstars Startup Digest Toronto is curated by:
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