Head of Program Design, eCommerce North
President and CEO, Moneris
Canada needs an e-commerce accelerator, and eCommerce North is here to provide.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, e-commerce sprinted ahead by a decade in just three months. While established companies enjoyed a deluge of new business, many early-stage startups struggled to keep up with increasing demand. eCommerce North is determined to change that.
Filling the gap
During each of the first four months of the pandemic, online sales exceeded those of the 2019 holiday season, widely considered to be the busiest time of the year for e-commerce companies. Amid this growth, many entrepreneurs struggled to provide good customer experiences.
By providing the right kind of coaching, structure, and network, eCommerce North aims to help e-commerce entrepreneurs close these gaps.
“This kind of support has been absent until now,” explains Sen Sachi, Head of Program Design for eCommerce North. “This is the right time for an e-commerce accelerator.”
Programmed by tech and innovation hub Elevate and powered by Moneris Solutions Corporation, this new accelerator is on a mission to create a community for Canadian e-commerce startups, rooted in a one-of-a-kind non-dilutive program offered to a dedicated founder cohort.
“More Canadians shopped online in 2020 than ever before,” says Angela Brown, President, and CEO of Moneris. “Digital startups are here to stay, and we want to make sure that Canadian entrepreneurs are at the forefront of this revolution.”
Focusing on e-commerce may improve diversity
The group behind eCommerce North believes that bolstering e-commerce may result in more than economic success — it could also improve diversity in the startup ecosystem.
Tech has been widely acknowledged as lacking diversity since mega-cap tech companies began publishing annual equity reports in 2014. One reason for this could lie in a systemic barrier to entry: coding.
Only 0.5 percent of the world’s population knows how to code, and less than 30 percent of developers identify as non-white. Just 11 percent identify as women or non-binary. With this deeply-skewed access point for founders, improving diversity in tech could be a very long road. But according to the eCommerce North team, long strides can be made in leveraging tech-enabled solutions to start and grow an e-commerce company.
“We see a much higher proportion of woman-identifying and BIPOC e-commerce entrepreneurs compared to other kinds of tech startups,” says Sachi. “By empowering e-commerce founders, we may be able to start contributing to improving diversity in the startup ecosystem relatively quickly.”
The program, which will launch its first cohort this spring, promises to help 50 Canadian e-commerce startups scale over the next three years. Its initial cohort will offer founders access to Canadian executives and entrepreneurs, such as Clearbanc founder Michele Romanow.