In the first part of our “How to Start a New Tech Company” series, we talked about pathfinding and where to start. The next step is introducing you to some of our province’s technology incubators.
As your big, brilliant idea starts to take shape, it’s time to get the proper support in place to get it off of the ground. Saskatchewan’s tech scene is an incredible network of resourceful, talented, and knowledgeable folks, and the best way to get your foot in the door and access the right resources, experience, and connections is through an incubator. Designed to help early-stage startup companies succeed, incubators provide mentorship and several other services to help founders get past the initial hurdles of starting their company, such as developing their business plan, getting funding, and connecting with investors.
Here are a few of the groups and programs you’ll want to know about as a new founder:
- Co.Labs: Saskatchewan’s first technology incubator, Co.Labs provides early-stage tech startups with the skills, mentorship, and support required to navigate the path from idea to $1M in annual revenue. Their four programs—Co.Learn, Co.Launch, Co.Link, and Co.Lead—operate as a funnel that meets founders wherever they are at in their startup journey to transition into the next stage.
During the early stages, Co.Labs teaches founders what they need to know, from market validation to product to sales to reducing costs and more. As participating companies move along, they are provided with everything they need to scale, such as office space, expert services, mentorship, and a community of other top founders, mentors, and supporters in the Saskatchewan and global tech ecosystem.
- Cultivator: Cultivator is Canada’s 1st Credit Union-led incubator powered by Conexus Credit Union. As a business incubator, they aim to help high-growth companies launch, grow, and scale from here in Saskatchewan by offering coaching, mentorship, and several other services. Cultivator’s three signature programs—START, GROW, and SCALE—cater to the different stages that startups go through.
Within the programs, companies receive support in many areas like legal advice, access to financial experts, mindfulness training, HR support, and marketing—all in residence. They also offer discounts for business tools and access to mentors and investors.
- WESK Founders Table: Founders Table is a mentorship program that brings together female technology entrepreneurs to gain new business skills, knowledge, and create industry connections. Throughout the six-month course of this group, female founders meet monthly to cover topics like building your dream team, connecting design thinking principles with product development, deep-diving into the world of digital marketing, and learning how to pitch funders with the utmost confidence. Women in the program get the opportunity to meet and pitch some of the biggest equity, angel, and venture capitalist funders in Saskatchewan.
Hosted in partnership with Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan (WESK), Innovation Saskatchewan, and Economic Development Regina, Founders Table is propelling the growth of women-led technology companies in the province.
- The Agtech Accelerator: Seeing as Saskatchewan is home to a vibrant startup culture and a strong ecosystem of world-leading agriculture and food companies, the Agtech Accelerator is designed to lead the growth of agtech in Canada and beyond. This venture capital-backed accelerator is open to agtech and foodtech companies across the country, with one cohort recruited every fall. Participating startups are provided with mentorship, resources, programming, and funding to help them take their startup to the next level.
The Agtech Accelerator is an initiative launched in partnership with Cultivator powered by Conexus, Economic Development Regina, and Emmertech venture capital fund, with Innovation Saskatchewan coming on board as a funding partner.
- Valhalla Angels: Bringing founders and investors together, Valhalla Angels are one of Canada’s most active angel investment groups that provide valuable tools for startups. Founders involved with Valhalla Angels have the opportunity to present at their investor forums and seek mentorship at their BaseCamp events.
Valhalla BaseCamp is an exclusive interactive investment seminar and pitch night for founders who are building and growing their business, actively seeking capital, or considering it in the near future. During a BaseCamp event, an experienced investor or founder from the Valhalla Private Capital team will walk founders through the ins and outs of raising capital while providing insight from the investor perspective about how to pitch business opportunities.
These are some of the big incubators and programs available to founders, and don’t forget to take note of the opportunities and initiatives we have listed at Innovation Saskatchewan. We’re always keeping a pulse on the technology sector and the best ways to support startups in Saskatchewan. There’s nothing we love to see more than big ideas succeed coming from right here in our province!
As your company heads into the incubation process, you’ll inevitably be thinking about your funding options next. We’ll be covering investments, where to find them, and how to secure them in our third instalment of “How to Start a New Tech Company”!