WLU’s Lazaridis Institute Scale Up program targets FounderFuel, Communitech grads

A new post-accelerator program is travelling across the country looking for Canada’s best young tech companies to participate in its first cohort.

A part of Wilfred Laurier University, the Lazaridis Institute’s Scale Up Tour will hit five Canadian cities to promote its new Scale Up program that will “position the very best Canadian tech companies for exponential growth.” They’ll visit Montreal’s Notman House on August 25 in partnership with the FounderFuel accelerator program.

The other dates on the tour will be in Waterloo, Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver.

The institute’s first program this fall will target startups that are past the pre-seed stage. In fact, Sarah Burt, the program’s director of marketing, told us they’ll actively try to attract graduates from programs like FounderFuel, Kitchener-Waterloo’s Accelerator Centre and Communitech, Toronto’s OneEleven and Ottawa’s LSpark.

“The people who have graduated from FounderFuel would be the appropriate targets for this. We see them as prime candidates for this program and we’re working together to identify who are these high-potential companies and how we can help take them to the next level,” Burt told MTLinTECH.

No equity or cash will be exchanged, but future cohorts will have to pay a fee. The first cohort will be free.

“Considering the calibre of the experts and mentors we’re bringing into this, thats a pretty good deal,” Burt told MTLinTECH.

The mentors are “mostly being pulled from Silicon Valley.” Most have either sold a company or played a large role in a company’s management, according to the marketing director.

At Notman House on August 25th, two of Lazaridis Institute’s mentors will give talks. They are Chris Burry, an industry fellow at the University of California Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology and Bill Reichert, the managing director of Garage Technology Ventures in Silicon Valley.

The program will run six months in length. Rather than an in-house experience, teams are only expected to spend weekends at the Lazaridis Institute. During those weekends, mentors and “proven experts” will spend time with companies hyper-focusing on one aspect of their business. Each module lasts two to three days, one weekend per month. Some of the weekend names include “Leadership Weekend,” “Product Weekend,” “Customer Acquisition Weekend” and more.

“We know companies are unique. Each company will have unique challenges as they’re looking to grow and so our program is designed to give them a mentor to both suit their challenges and provide them with the content they need,” said Burt.

The startups that join the program don’t have to be linked to Wilfred Laurier University, rather they just need to be a Canadian tech company.

The Kitchener-Waterloo area has long been seen as one of Canada’s more tech communities, particularly through the University of Waterloo’s work with tech startups. The university achieves this through its strong academics in engineering and sciences, its Velocity program for startups and its larger entrepreneurship focus.

Burt said the Lazaridis Institute won’t be competing with U Waterloo. On the contrary, it has a strong partnership with the cross-town school.

“Everyone knows their incredible reputation for engineering talent and what they’re doing with their students,” said Burt. “We at the Lazaridis School of Economics produce exceptional business graduates. We feel it’s a great collaborative relationship between Waterloo and us in that companies in Canada can benefit from strong graduates with both engineering and business skills, all residing in the same community.”

But what about the fact that the Lazaridis Institute program will try to attract Canada’s best seed and post-seed companies. Will the upstart program be able to shine bright enough in its own community and Canada as well in its bid to attract these companes? One can bet those same companies are being targeted by US muscle like YCombinator, Techstars and 500 Startups as well.

It’s simple, said Burt. By partnering with Canadian programs like FounderFuel, Lazaridis Institute is building up its own reputation while relying on the expertise of other Canadian pillars.

“We’re planning to take them to significant scale and we’re prepared to mentor them to get them to a really good point.”


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