As an entrepreneur, you’d probably be happy to receive the support, resources and technical expertise you need to help move your business forward. In many cases, these resources are available through an incubator. Incubators are nurturing programs that provide resources including startup funding, coaching, mentoring, physical work space, and networking connections.
Sometimes the help you get from an incubator is even free once it accepts your business into its program. Some incubators may charge fees for services, typically at below-market levels, and some may require an equity position in your company in exchange for ongoing support. The Canadian Business Network and Canadian Association of Business Incubation provide information to help you decide which type of incubator is right for your company.
Incubators are often operated by nonprofits, government entities, colleges and universities, and private companies with the goal of creating and growing fledgling businesses in a particular sector. For example, Toronto hosts a wide array of business incubators, including the Google for Entrepreneurs program, which provides six months of work space in the company’s Communitech Hub. Another Toronto-based incubator is the University of Toronto’s Department of Computer Science Innovation Lab, which incubates the software projects of students, researchers, and startups. Other incubators focus on entrepreneurs from specific demographics, such as the NEET Youth Incubator and The Refinery incubator for women entrepreneurs, both run by the Community Innovation Lab in Ontario.
If you’re trying to build a business and you have limited financial resources, connecting with an incubator in your area can make all the difference. Incubators can often provide access to venture capitalists and angel investors with seed money, and the collaborative environment typically means gives you access to other entrepreneurs and experts who can help you avoid mistakes while you’re growing your company. While you’re starting or growing your business, push the pause button and take a moment to investigate the help available from Canadian incubators in your area, and then take advantage of the support and resources designed to ensure you succeed.