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Entrepreneur Support Organizations: Helping to Understand the Ecosystem

Startup Canada
Startup Canada
Kayla Isabelle

Kayla Isabelle

CEO, Startup Canada


Unlike learning a new skill or hobby, there is no “how-to” handbook for entrepreneurship – that’s where non-partisan, well-connected support organizations come in. In an ecosystem filled with hyper-specialized, regionally diverse entities, there is a benefit in having access to a “30,000 foot overview” of the resources and opportunities within the startup landscape. Support organizations and their teams can point new and existing founders in the right direction, help them make informed decisions, and empower their success through connections and collaboration. Ecosystem connectors are also uniquely poised to identify the support gaps that really exist in the space.

There is much to consider when launching a new business – everything from financing and HR to marketing and legal. According to Startup Canada’s 2020 census, founders in the space are looking for more streamlined, centralized overviews of support available across the ecosystem. Startup Canada is committed to creating and fostering an entrepreneurial environment in Canada that is as supportive to new projects as it is to those that are established. Knowing that no two journeys are the same, we have created a list of resources for all aspiring and existing founders.

Here’s a good place to start:

Financing

  • Hockeystick connects startups to funding using AI and data to drive connections.
  • Clearco is a lending firm specializing in non-dilutive revenue-share agreements with startups.
  • Backstage Capital is a venture capital firm specializing in funding women, People of Colour, and LGBT+ led startups.
  • The 51 is a Financial Feminist platform where investors and founders come together for democratized access to women-led capital for women-led businesses.
  • The National Angel Capital Organization is a steward of the angel capital asset class and informs evidence-based policy in partnership with the government.
  • The Government of Canada has many loan and grant programs meant to empower Canada’s founders.
  • Bank loans for SMEs: BDC, Scotiabank, etc.

Pitching

Volition brings a community-building approach to advising and events for entrepreneurs.

Human Resources & Hiring

Essential HR provides streamlined HR relief to small businesses through hands-on support.

Marketing & PR

  • THINK DIFFERENT[LY] is a PR company helping organizations build, test, and measure effective growth strategies.
  • Comms Bar works like an Apple Genius Bar, helping founders to use PR, marketing, and publicity to grow their business.

Global Growth

Startup Global connects a pan-Canadian cohort of entrepreneurs wanting to build global businesses through workshops, bootcamps, pitch building, advisory support, digital resources, and more.

Mentorship & Community

  • Mentorly is a leading online mentorship platform connecting emerging and seasoned entrepreneurs for meaningful, one-on-one mentorship.
  • Startup Communities are local, grassroots networks on a mission to fuel a culture and environment of entrepreneurship at the local and industry level.

Demographic-specific Support

Women-identifying Support
  • FLIK is a curated portal allowing ambitious women to take on a mentorship-based apprenticeship under a woman leader.
  • Startup Women helps women founders through mentorship, events, and resources.
Rural Support
  • Rural on Purpose is a social purpose business with a global mission to introduce a new era of rural entrepreneurship.
  • Clearing a New Path Podcast amplifies the underrepresented voices of rural women founders across the country.
  • Community Futures operates 267 non-profit offices across Canada providing small business services to those in rural communities.
Indigenous Founder Support
  • Okwaho Equal Source is a social purpose enterprise on a mission to fuel social impact through human-centred design, innovation, and Indigenous-led research.
  • NACCA is a network of over 50 Aboriginal Financial Institutions dedicated to stimulating economic growth for Indigenous people in Canada.
  • Pow Wow Pitch is a grassroots community of Indigenous entrepreneurs purpose-built to provide a platform for education, celebration, mentorship, and reconciliation.
Black Founder Support
  • The Black Entrepreneurship Program is a partnership between the Government of Canada, Black-led business owners, and financial institutions which includes an investment of up to $350.8 million over four years.
  • Black Entrepreneurs BC provides advocacy, access to funding facilitation, advisory and mentorship services to help Black businesses grow, scale, and become sustainable.
LGBT+ Support
  • The CGLCC is the only chamber of commerce uniting and advocating for Canada’s 28,000+ LGBT+ owned and operated businesses.
  • Pride at Work uses dialogue, education, and thought leadership to empower Canadian employers to build workplaces that celebrate LGBT+ employees.
  • TransFocus Consulting brings systems-thinking to gender inclusion, helping organizations transform from the inside out.
Disability Support

Liberty Co is a consultancy focused on increasing the participation of Neurodiverse individuals in the workforce.

Youth Support

Futurpreneur provides financing, mentorship, and support tools to aspiring founders aged 18-39.

Specialized tools and resources have their benefits, but to truly empower Canadian entrepreneurs we need centralized, reliable, dedicated support spaces where founder success is central to mission and mandate.


Kayla Isabelle is the Chief Executive Officer at Startup Canada, the gateway to Canada’s entrepreneurial ecosystem that points you in the right direction, eliminates barriers, and champions your needs to private and public sector partners. Startup Canada’s mission is to connect Canada’s entrepreneurs with the tools, community, and support they need to start and build their businesses. Kayla has dedicated her career to supporting entrepreneurs, both in Canada and internationally. As an award-winning strategic communications consultant and change management facilitator, Kayla is passionate about leveraging the power of storytelling in the entrepreneurial community.

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