Startup Canada, the grassroots organisation that spent six months consulting entrepreneurs and their support ecosystem about what was needed to foster a stronger entrepreneurial culture in this country, Tuesday issued a sharp clarion call to make Canada one of the top five entrepreneurial economies in the world.
In a series of six news conferences across Canada, including a national version that I MC’d in Ottawa, Startup Canada released its Startup Blueprints, an ambitious web platform that summarizes what the organisation heard this past summer, and sets out what needs to be done to put those ideas and reflections into concrete action.
A key finding of the tour is that there is a wealth of resources that entrepreneurs in individual communities can tap into but that those resources are not well connected where they do exist, and are not equally distributed across Canada, meaning many communities lack the necessary support structure. Startup Canada’s solution is the first part of a three-part action plan. Startup Canada Connect will be a free, highly social online meeting place that will connect and support Canadian entrepreneurs with the tools and resources needed to build more successful businesses.
At the community level, more needs to be done to link fresh entrepreneurs with the necessary resources and with the experienced mentors who can show them how best to use those resources. Startup Canada Communities will be a national entrepreneurial strategy founded on vibrant local communities led by existing entrepreneurial champions. Building on the network created through its 40-city national tour, Startup Canada will encourage the development of strong local networks that will create the conditions necessary for entrepreneurial growth and success locally and nationally.
And finally, Canada needs to create a culture wherein entrepreneurship is celebrated, where entrepreneurs are recognized for the tremendous contribution they make to job and wealth creation, and where entrepreneurship is positioned to young people as a viable career choice. Startup Canada Campaign will answer the call that Startup Canada heard from entrepreneurs across the country that they need more role models and more access to stories of successful Canadian innovators and entrepreneurs. The campaign will use mainstream media, social media and key national institutions to celebrate and tell the stories of Canadian entrepreneurs, providing authentic case studies to inspire and motivate new generations of startups.
I am proud to have been a small part of Startup Canada’s journey from its very inception. When asked to contribute, I couldn’t say no to such a much-required and ambitious effort, and I advised founders Victoria Lennox and Cyprian Szalankiewicz on marketing and communications when they were just starting their journey. My involvement accelerated through the late summer when I helped with events in Kingston, Ontario, and in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. I saw then the full impact that Startup Canada could have in communities as it organized its own town hall meetings and acted as a catalyst, as a change agent, for many other events. As the whole Blueprints strategy and Plan of Action coalesced over the past several weeks, I had a ringside seat as I edited all the documents and recorded a pile of video clips.
My involvement has been negligible compared to that made by an army of volunteers at the national and local level that Lennox recruited to her cause. Her success at marshalling so many passionate and committed supporters speaks as much to her personal powers of persuasion and leadership as it does to the enormity and importance of the task. And, having seen first hand on many occasions just how incredibly hard Lennox and Szalankiewicz worked, especially their marathon sessions over the past fortnight as they pulled everything together for this week’s big launch, I stand in awe of the unbelievably massive effort these two inspired young entrepreneurs have put into their dream of starting up Canada.
We will continue to cover Startup Canada as it moves into the action stage of its early life. It will take considerable resources to make these ambitious plans a reality. Some of that will come from established funding sources and some will come from sponsors. But if Canada’s entrepreneurial community genuinely believes in what Startup Canada is proposing, we all need to get behind this effort with hard work and hard dollars.
To get involved, visit Startupblueprints.ca
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