Startup Canada first in the world to launch national grassroots entrepreneur-led network to provide entrepreneurs with the tools, communities and culture to succeed
Startup Canada, a national entrepreneur-led non-profit movement, today unveiled its first flagship venture, Startup Canada Communities, trailblazing a new approach to supporting entrepreneurs – from the bottom-up.
Startup Canada Communities gives entrepreneurs a single doorway to enter their local entrepreneur community to access mentors, space, funding and support to start and grow their businesses and to connect with other startup founders. It does this through local networked websites and entrepreneur-led events and activities that unite the entire community.
In York Region, one of 15 pilot communities across Canada, Startup York is being led by ventureLAB and will connect entrepreneurs and startup companies throughout the Region.
Startup Canada Communities is a response to the call-to-action from more than 20,000 entrepreneurs in 40 communities who made their voices heard during the Startup Canada National Tour last year, calling for stronger, more connected and more active local startup communities to accelerate entrepreneur success.
“Healthy and vibrant entrepreneurial communities at a local level are the heart of supporting and driving the growth of startups – community development and entrepreneurial development go hand-in-hand,” said Victoria Lennox, CEO of Startup Canada. “We are uniting and harnessing the momentum of the Startup Canada movement to form the foundations of a pan-Canadian network to network to inspire, support, and provide constant encouragement to entrepreneurs.”
A national platform with local impact
Entrepreneurs and enterprise support organizations in communities across Canada are welcoming the activities of Startup Canada and see this platform as an opportunity to come together, build critical mass, and accelerate the growth of local startups to create jobs and greater economic and social benefit.
Jeremy Laurin, CEO of ventureLab, who hosted a Startup Canada Town Hall in Markham last year, is supporting the startup community in York Region. “Startup Canada Communities is important because it coalesces the energies, best practices and innovations of individual Canadian startup communities, enabling each community to learn from the experiences of others,” said Laurin. “This has the potential to be a driving force in promoting and advancing entrepreneurship in Canada.”
For entrepreneurs, Startup Canada Communities makes it easy for them to navigate their community and connect with other founders. According to Shauna Harper, entrepreneur and Startup Canada Communities leader for Prince George, BC, “You can go to a lot of agencies and organizations to get help with different parts of your business – whether it’s the local BDC, the Chamber of Commerce or Communities Futures – but they all have restricted mandates and are not connected. Startup Canada brings it all together, making it easy for entrepreneurs to connect to support and other entrepreneurs.”
“Startup Canada is linking Canadian entrepreneurs in a way never before undertaken,” said Michael Legary, serial entrepreneur and founder of Seccuris, who also leads a community fabrication center for entrepreneurs in Winnipeg, MB. “The impact it has had in Winnipeg has been immediate and hugely successful in connecting our community together and helping us reach out to fellow Canadian entrepreneurs to better our businesses.”
It takes a community
Since launching one year ago today, the Startup Canada movement has taken on momentum of its own, amassing a following of more than 50,000 entrepreneurs and 300 partners, and catalyzing more than a dozen entrepreneur-led co-working spaces, accelerator programs and local campaigns across the country.
Startup Canada Communities is launching with 15 pilot communities as the first wave of its national network. The communities are: St. John’s, NF, Fredericton, NB, Charlottetown, PE, Quebec City, QC, Montreal, QC, Ottawa, ON, York Region, ON, London, ON, Kingston, ON, Winnipeg, MB, Calgary, AB, Lethbridge, AB, Smithers, BC, Prince George, BC and Langford, BC. . These communities were chosen for their varied levels of startup sector maturity and to build a coast-to-coast network diverse in community size, demographics, and industry sectors.
“There are many bright, innovative business people in Canada who just need a bit of help with resources and guidance to get their ideas off the ground,” said Ken Bautista, founder of Startup Edmonton and a Startup Canada Communities Project Advisor. “As an entrepreneur-led, entrepreneur-driven initiative, this will enable home-grown entrepreneurs to keep pushing the bar as the world shifts to a global knowledge-based economy where the renewable resource is creativity and innovation.”
Leveraging best practice
With an all-star Advisor Team supporting the project – including Bautista, Brad Feld (Boulder Colorado serial entrepreneur, investor and TechStars co-founder), Bjoern Herrmann (founder of Startup Genome), and Jonathan Ortmans (President of Global Entrepreneurship Week) – Startup Canada Communities is leveraging national and global expertise to advance the pilot and increase its impact.
“This grassroots model for entrepreneurial development is truly transformative and will position Canada as a beacon for entrepreneurs worldwide,” said Feld. “Startup Canada’s national network of communities will ensure that entrepreneurs of today and the generations to follow will have the necessary tools, communities and culture to succeed.”
Building Canada into a Startup Nation
While countries around the world vie to attract entrepreneurs, Startup Canada is breaking new ground with this approach of building a national grassroots startup community network.
“The world should be watching this project closely because Startup Canada is on to something that could revolutionize the way entrepreneurship is ignited and advanced in communities around the world,” said Ortmans.
“The real work begins now,” said Lennox. “We are supporting the next generation of Canadian businesses looking to scale and succeed in increasingly competitive global markets. This needs to be a national team effort.”
Results from the pilot project’s first year will be used to strengthen the model to support the launch of another wave of Startup Canada Communities in 2014. For more details on the network and the participating communities, visit www.startupcommunities.ca.