Kitchener-Waterloo has become somewhat of a high tech startup hotbed, and for us long-time residents it is no surprise. With a number of exceptional schools for both the humanities, technology, science and business, the KW area was bound to reap the benefits eventually.
With both local post-secondary talent and external entrepreneurs; the local scene is full of epic startups and business influencers. Which, consequently, has lead to the emergence of local support organizations aiming to help all aspiring business dreams. If you’re one of those dreamers, below are some fantastic resources you can tap into to help increase your startup’s chances to become a long-tenured, thriving organization:
The (AC) Accelerator Centre is your one-stop shop for all things growth with respect to launching a startup. From attracting funding to growing your customer base; you can find a program that is perfect for any stage of your startup in virtually any industry. The AC provides in-house mentors that can provide crucial guidance at the right times.
Communitech originated back in 1997 in an attempt to raise the region’s profile with high tech companies. Boy, did they succeed! Today Communitech can help tech companies attract talent, acquire customers, provide a workspace among many other services.
Plus being located the Tannery building at the heart of Kitchener downtown startup core, it is a great place to get started and run into fellow techies along the way!
Waterloo Region Small Business Centre
With three locations (Waterloo, Kitchener, Cambridge), the Waterloo region Small Business Centre is a great place for all small businesses to get started. From the basics to mentors providing the right guidance your startup.
There are plenty of learning modules/classes available for all sorts of functions (who doesn’t like coding, am I right?!) as well.
Velocity (University of Waterloo)
Velocity is located in UofW and has a number of programs that help entrepreneurs in various aspects of getting started:
- Velocity Residence: a dorm for University of Waterloo students who wish to learn more about building a startup or work on their current companies.
- Velocity Alpha: a series of workshops, panels and sessions that runs each term to help educate people about building a successful business.
- Velocity Science: a partnership with the Faculty of Science to provide a discovery lab, mentoring and coaching for any student with a life or materials science startup.
- Velocity Fund: created to provide seed funding and pitch experience to companies.
- Velocity Garage: a 7,000 square feet of free workspace and a peer community for more than 30 software startups.
- Velocity Foundry: a 11,000 feet of free workspace and a peer community for more than 30 hardware startups
Innovation + Entrepreneurship (Wilfrid Laurier University)
Laurier’s Innovation + Entrepreneurship program provides courses, classes, mentorship and other resources to help great business ideas take off. As a WLU graduate myself I recall being thrown into the ring of entrepreneurship during my first year of studies; there were mandatory entrepreneurship competitions for all Business & Economics students.
The Lazaridis Institute program partners with the Accelerator Centre and Communitech organizations in order to provide free workspaces and events to it’s members. A neat thing about this is that school Alumni are used as mentors of exemplary entrepreneurship. It is no surprise since some of them have founded well-recognized companies of today: Steam Whistle Brewery, Challenger, Auvik Networks and Voices.com.
Centre for Entrepreneurship (Conestoga College)
Similar to the above mentioned universities, Conestoga College provides similar resources to it’s students looking to build on their entrepreneurial dreams. Start-up funding, mentorship and a number of useful resources are all available through this program.
The Centre for Entrepreneurship partenrs with RBC, BMO, Scotiabank and Great West Life to provide external resources of information to ensure a comprehensive offering to any aspiring entrepreneur!
There you have it! I hope this list can help you narrow down the right resources right for your business. As always let me know if there is something I missed. The more resources we can provide to each other the more likely a startup is to make it long-term.