Entrepreneurs from across Canada can soon connect via a new Web site from Startup Canada – one that’s slated to be an online community for finding support, mentors, events, workspace and funding.
The site for Startup Canada Communities will launch May 2, says Startup Canada co-founder and CEO Victoria Lennox. There is already a Startup Canada Web site, but the Communities site will allow local entrepreneurs to meet with each other online, have discussions, organize events and see what other communities are doing in their respective cities.
Lennox said she hopes Startup Canada Communities will be “the place to go” for entrepreneurs looking to meet their similar-minded fellows, as well as a place to tap into mentors’ expertise.
“What Startup Communities is really looking to do is to take those little pockets and clusters of entrepreneurs and kind of unify them nationally,” Lennox said. “So they see that they’re not alone and that they’re part of the bigger community of entrepreneurs and startups that are looking to do great things.”
The past year has been a busy one for Lennox and a few other members of Startup Canada. Some members of the team criss-crossed the country for about six months to visit startup communities in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. The team ended up attending about 200 events over the course of the year.
While many major cities in these provinces already have thriving startup scenes, Lennox said she hopes Startup Canada Communities will strike a chord with a different kind of demographic – smaller towns like Lethbridge, Alta., Smithers, B.C., and York Region, Ont.
Those are places where startup culture is smaller and perhaps not as well-understood, Lennox added.
“If you live in Toronto or Vancouver or Waterloo, it’s frankly very easy to engage in your community,” she said. “And that’s not the reality for most of Canada … In [smaller communities], there simply isn’t that infrastructure, there isn’t that critical mass there, there isn’t that group of startups who are building their community and their startups together.”
Lennox said a major concern for smaller communities is one of succession – as boomers retire, many of their children are moving to bigger cities to pursue their careers. Yet smaller towns can be a hotbed for entrepreneurs too, she said. Startup Canada Communities aims to help those particular entrepreneurs navigate their local banks and link up with angel investors in their area.
Last year’s cross-country tour helped spark 12 new hyper-local projects like Ramp Up Manitoba and Co-Working Cape Breton, products of networking between entrepreneurs in their own regions.
May 2 will also mark Startup Canada’s one-year anniversary. Over the course of the day, Startup Canada will be holding Twitter chats at #startupc2c with people who are active in their city’s entrepreneurial hubs. There will also be a Google Hangout with National Post columnist Rick Spence, Global Entrepreneurship Week president Jonathan Ortmans and Startup Genome founder Bjoern Herrmann. The hangout is scheduled for 6 p.m. EST, Lennox said.
“What I’m hoping that May 2 will achieve is that people who tune in on our Twitter chats and our Google Hangout will be able to see why it matters to local communities, [and] to be able to see some really cool best practices that are already happening.”
Startup Canada put together a video featuring Canadian entrepreneurs discussing the need for community. The video is below: