Startup resources in Toronto: An up-to-date guide during COVID-19 pandemic

Jan 27, 2021 | Startups | 0 comments

Toronto is Canada’s largest city with a population of over 2.5 million people and an annual growth rate of 0.86%.

This is the result of multiple factors like the young talent the city attracts, the excellent canadian education system, and our government’s smart immigration policies which openly welcomes and attracts hard working, educated migrants and supports entrepreneurship.

According to the Financial Post, many immigrant tech workers are purposefully moving  to Toronto to avoid american tech hubs. Thanks to the Trump administrations’ strict immigration policies, including the suspension of H-1B visas in June which are usually given to thousands of skilled tech workers coming from all around the world, every year.

In the tech industry and modern startup culture, talent is everything. Toronto is known for attracting all sorts of talented people from different industries and for it’s world renowned expertise in the finance technology sector.

Not only does Toronto have a hard working, educated workforce, it also has a great business culture: an environment where we can all win together and collaborate to create a better future.

It’s not a suprise why Toronto is becoming the next big tech hub in North America:

  • A booming tech industry
  • A dynamic & collaborative startup culture
  • Many resources for new businesses & entrepreneurs
  • A very diverse & educated workforce

If you’re thinking of starting a business in Toronto, but don’t know where to start, here is a list of ressources for startups in the city: From funding, to getting venture capital, to finding interesting conferences, meetups and student resources. This is the ultimate startup resource for the Greater Toronto Area.

Quick resources for new startups in Toronto

This is a hand-selected short-list of quickly and easily accessible resources that will provide a boost to any new startup in need. Let us know if any of these have been helpful to your startup!

Best Startup Groups & Communities in Toronto (hand-picked)

If you’re just starting out, out still trying to figure out your business concept, here are few key ressources where you can find educational content, marketing resources and communities to meet like minded people.

Toronto Starts: TorontoStarts is Toronto’s Entrepreneur & Startup Community. It offers a strong community, learning opportunities and mentoring programs. Founded by Toronto’s Entrepreneur mentor The Startup Coach, TorontoStarts has grown to over 22,000 active entrepreneurs, visionaries, hustlers, disruptors, hackers and incurable risk-takers.

Startup North: StartupNorth is a peer-to-peer online forum dedicated to engaging, supporting, educating and challenging Canadian entrepreneurs, investors and policy makers. Click the link to join their discussion group, ask questions and meet thousands of other toronto based entrepreneurs.

Toronto Entrepreneurs & Startup Network: Whether you are just starting out in the world of business or are working on business number one-hundred, the Toronto Entrepreneurs And Startup Network’s goal is to help you learn and meet potential business partners, investors, and clients. A great community with weekly events and meetups.

Funding for Small Businesses in Toronto

Access Community Capital Fund: Access Community Capital Fund (ACCF) supports entrepreneurs with viable business plans with financing not available from other sources. The borrower may have no credit history, or may have a poor credit record due to unemployment, illness or unforeseen life events.

The Ontario Catapult Microloan Fund for Social Enterprises: The Ontario Catapult Microloan Fund for Social Enterprises is about enabling social entrepreneurs and innovators to turn their ideas into reality by supporting promising early stage ventures with access to capital. This microloan fund is administrated by the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI).

Futurpreneur: Futurpreneur offers aspiring entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 39 access to up to $15,000 in start-up financing and up to $60,000 in additional financing through a partnership with the Business Development Bank of Canada.

Startup Meetups in Toronto

Toronto’s startup scene is bigger and more active than it has ever been. It’s safe to say there is always something happening in this city. 

Want to meet like minded individuals or potential investors ? Tech meetups are the perfect place for this ! We’ve curated a list of Toronto’s most popular startup meetups: 

TechTO: TechTO is a monthly technology event where you get to meet and learn from Toronto’s tech founders and leaders.

SalesToronto: SalesTO brings together Toronto’s sales leaders in the tech industry, innovators, and enthusiasts for monthly events

Toronto Account Based Marketing: A place for B2B marketers to learn and grow their accountbased marketing strategies.

Customer Success Toronto: Since 2013, Customer Success Toronto has provided a forum for Customer Success professionals to network, learn, and share. 

Open People Network: Bringing together Entrepreneurs & Investors. Creating a community of sharing, inclusion & collaboration for growth and financial success.

Toronto Product Management Association: Founded in 2001, the Toronto Product Management Association (TPMA) facilitates learning, mentoring, & networking opportunities

Product People: Product People provides an opportunity for Product Managers in Toronto to exchange ideas and experiences about Product Design, Development and Management

Conferences and Annual Entrepreneurial Events in Toronto

Toronto is Canada’s most important city and the amount of annual events and conferences it gets really reflects that. If you’re living in the GTA, don’t miss out on these types of opportunities: Most tech conferences invite investors and reserve pitch sessions for startups & new businesses. This is a golden opportunity for entrepreneurs to get funding or to meet potential clients. If nothing else, it’s a wonderful platform to practice your pitch and get feedback. 

Here is our list of Toronto’s most important yearly events & conferences for entrepreneur:

Toronto Tech Summit (Oct 22, 2020 – Virtual)

CIX Digital Summit (Oct 19-21 – Virtual – starting from $125)

Dx3 Canada (March 2021)

Global Ventures Summit 2020-2021: Silicon Valley tours the world, Toronto (June 18-19, 2021)

If you’re only in Toronto for a limited time, check out StartUp Here Toronto’s and TECONF’s event lists which are updated weekly with new all types of smaller meetups and events for the entrepreneurial community:

Startup Here Toronto: Meet Like-Minded People. Get All The Information You Need to Start Your Company Today! Every Meetup, Training And Event For Toronto’s Startup Community In One Place

Toronto Entrepreneur’s Conference: TECONF has been designed to provide Toronto Area Entrepreneurs with the opportunity to expand their professional network.

TorontoStarts: TorontoStarts is Toronto’s Entrepreneur & Startup Community. Founded by Toronto’s Entrepreneur mentor The Startup Coach, at the beginning of 2015 as Startup Toronto, TorontoStarts has grown to over 22,000 active entrepreneurs, visionaries, hustlers, disruptors, hackers and incurable risk-takers.

Startup Competitions in Toronto

Startup Competitions are a great way to gain funding as a company without giving up ownership or shares. These types of competitions  you loads of feedback, can provide you funding and also can get your company lots of free exposure. Here is our list of startup competitions in the city !

Dragons’ Den

The Queen’s Entrepreneur Competition

University of Toronto Scarborough Startup Competition

Unlock Your Big Idea Pitch Competition

It’s a Start Pitch Competition

The CNE Innovation Garage

Telus Small Business Competition

FinTech Cup

Lion’s Lair

Pitch for the Purse: Women Entrepreneurs Canada

Synapse Life Science Pitch Competition

Toronto’s Startup Accelerators and Incubators

Out of all the major cities in Canada, Toronto has the most amount of startup incubators and accelerators. Some are affiliated to universities, while a majority of them focus on specific industries. 

What is a startup incubator ?

A startup incubator is a collaborative program for startup companies — usually physically located in one central workspace — designed to help startups in their infancy succeed by providing workspace, seed funding, mentoring and training.

What is a startup accelerator ?

A startup accelerator, sometimes referred to as a seed accelerator, is a business program that supports early-stage, growth-driven companies through education, mentorship and financing. … The assistance of an accelerator ends with a “graduation” or demo day, when startups present their work and proceed independently.

Depending on the stage of growth of your business you might consider either of those options. Here is our complete list of startup incubators/accelerators in the city of Toronto !

Creative Destruction Lab: Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) is a nonprofit organization that delivers an objectives-based program for massively scalable, seed-stage, science- and technology-based companies.

Entrepreneurship Hatchery: The Entrepreneurship Hatchery provides a comprehensive suite of programs and services designed to help students with entrepreneurial ambitions form teams, develop new competencies and launch their companies. 

Health Innovation hub: HIB’s a health startup accelerator with the goal of creating culture, infrastructure and momentum that translates discoveries and ideas into problem-solving designs, services and products and to foster the success of 100 companies over the next 10 years.

ICUBE: ICUBE is a hub for idea exploration, early-stage business development, and co-working. We provide expert support, resources, and access to opportunities for entrepreneurial students and community members across all industries.

YEDI: Accepted participants undergo an intensive 16-week program, including formal academic lectures by Schulich Executive Education Centre instructors, workshop-based training in entrepreneurship, and mentorship by key industry leaders.

LaunchU: Comprehensive program designed to build, launch and scale high potential ventures.

Ella Accelerator: ELLA is a COMMUNITY and an ACCELERATOR for women, by women. Our mission is to reduce the gap of gender inequality in entrepreneurship.

DMZ: The DMZ Accelerator is an intensive 3.5 month sales execution program designed for high-potential tech startups looking to grow and scale their business.

Science Discovery Zone: The SDZ connects both with members of Ryerson and the broader community to teach evidence-based innovation by providing experiential-learning opportunities. We also work to support ideators and startups in their early stages of growth and validation.

Joe Fresh Centre: The Social Ventures Zone is the home of social innovators at Canada’s most entrepreneurial university.  We work with students, alumni, faculty and people from the broader community to build social ventures that create real impact. 

DMZ Women Founders Accelerator Program: This intensive four-month accelerator program, in partnership with Scotiabank and Tangerine, will help Canada’s top women-led startups grow by achieving their product market fit and securing early revenue.

The Next36: Every year, we select 36 of the most entrepreneurial undergrads and recent grads from coast-to-coast who we believe have what it takes to build Canada’s next narwal.

Digital Media and Gaming Incubator: The Digital Media and Gaming Incubator supports the city’s digital sector by providing affordable space, business and professional services and technology to startups.

Toronto Fashion Incubator: The Toronto Fashion Incubator (TFI) is an award-winning and highly-acclaimed non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and nurturing Canadian fashion leaders & companies.

Edge Sheridan College Mississauga: EDGE is the place where entrepreneurship and innovation thrive at Sheridan. If you want to learn how to develop a business or social enterprise idea, EDGE has the resources to get you started. 

Ideaboost: IDEABOOST is a Toronto-based business accelerator and startup community for companies that are building the next generation of technology-based media and entertainment products, services, and brands.

Ontario Brain Institute: Build Your Neurotech Venture: The ONtrepreneurs (Ontario Neurotech Entrepreneurs) Program is Canada’s single largest award that catalyzes early stage entrepreneurs to commercialize brain-related technologies by accessing funding and support to launch or grow their neurotechnology ventures.

Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QICSI): he Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QICSI) is a 16-week, fixed cohort incubator program where founders receive no-cost training, mentorship, and office space to launch their own venture.

Parkdale InnovatesParkdale Centre for Innovation. Canadian non-profit incubator & accelerator for entrepreneurship & media. Launch your startup, or start a podcast with us online.

FACIT : We transform the most promising oncology innovations into highly competitive opportunities that benefit patients, researchers, investors, and Ontario’s economy.

gBeta: gBETA is a program of nationally ranked startup accelerator gener8tor. gBETA is a free, seven-week accelerator for early-stage companies with local roots. Each program is capped at five teams, and requires no fees and no equity. 

Parkdale Centre for Innovation: The Early Stage Program supports entrepreneurs with a focus on preparing for user growth, team growth, revenue growth, and fundraising.

Y2 LabsY2 Entrepreneurship Labs is an incubator that works with teens and pre-teens who are interested in entrepreneurship, or have a business idea that they want to develop.

Startup Funding Ressources in Toronto

Startup funding is perhaps the most important challenge any early-stage startup will eventually face. With so many investors and opportunities in a city like Toronto, it might seem hard to find the right fit for your business. We decided to help you through this process by compiling a list of the most important startup funding resources in the city ! Check it out !

Market Readiness Investment Program is designed to support early-stage companies that are an academic spin-off that was created for the purpose of commercializing Intellectual Property (IP) developed from research conducted in an Ontario-based academic institution (university, college, and/or research hospital).

Summer Company: Learning how to run your own student business is one of the best summer jobs you can have. You get to be your own boss while learning what it takes to manage a business. 

Starter Company Plus: A program for new or existing small businesses can get advice, support and information on government regulations.

SmartStart Seed Funding: The SmartStart Seed Fund (SmartStart) program supports new ventures led by Ontario’s next generation of entrepreneurs to help transition their start-ups from product development, to market entry and company building. 

Canadian Digital Network: The Canadian Digital Media Network offers needed support and programming that provides tech companies with national and international opportunities to help bring more digital media solutions to market, creating jobs and wealth in Canada.

Embedded Executive Funding Program: Funded through the Business Acceleration Program (BAP), Embedded Executive Funding helps place a C-level or other senior-level executive with an Ontario-based technology venture to support achieving their next growth milestone.

Embark Funding Program: Embark Funding helps place a young professional (aged 22-29) with an Ontario-based technology venture to accomplish specific goals or milestones. Ventures can receive up to $20,000 towards the cost of the Embark candidate’s salary.

SDTC: We support Canadian companies – clean technology trailblazers – who are leaders in their efforts to develop and demonstrate new environmental technologies that address climate change, clean air, clean water and clean soil.

Women Entrepreneurship Fund: The Women Entrepreneurship Fund is a $20 million investment which aims to assist women entrepreneurs to grow their existing businesses and enable them to mature to a state where they can pursue opportunities in domestic and global markets. 

Venture Capital Firms

What are VC firms ?

Venture capital is a form of private equity and a type of financing that investors provide to startup companies and small businesses that are believed to have long-term growth potential. Venture capital generally comes from well-off investors, investment banks and any other financial institutions.

Here’s a list of all venture capital in Toronto: we’ve arranged this list mostly for startups in the finance tech & software industry.

OMERS Ventures

Version One

Relay Ventures

Rho Ventures

Golden Venture Partners

iNovia Capital

Real Ventures

Georgian Partners

Impression Ventures

Klass Capital

Gibraltar Ventures

Tandem Expansion Fund


Women in Technology Fund

Panache Ventures

Lumira Ventures 

Dream Maker VC

Luge Capital

Angel Investors

What are angel investors ?

Angel investors are typically individuals who have spare cash available and are looking for a higher rate of return than would be given by more traditional investments.

Here is a list of Angel Investment Groups in Ontario

Here is a list of well known, reputable angel investors in the city:

Alex Norman @alexandernorman

Hussien Fazal @hussein_fazal

Ameet Shah @ameetshah

Ken Nickerson, iBinary @kcnickerson

Chris Ye @cye

Mike Serbinis @mserbinis

Dennis Kavelman @dkavelman

Andrew D’Souza @andrewdsouza

Ameet Shah @ameetshah

Alkarim Nasser @alkarim

Derek Szeto @derekszeto

Alex Black @WaterlooAlex

Fahd Ananta @fahdananta

Randall Howard @randallh

Dominic Bortolussi @dombort

Daniel Debow, @ddebow

Jevon MacDonald, @jevon

Jonas Brandon @jonasbrandon

Ben Yoskovitz, @byosko

David Ossip, @dossip

David Stein @dstein

Nick Koudas @koudas

Anand Agarwala @anandx

Chris Eben @ceben

Tom Williams @tomwilliams

William Mougayar @wmougayar

Chris Carder @KineticCafe

Todd Finch @toddmfinch

Albert Lai @albertsupdates

Jennifer Lum @lum

Nigel Stokes @MindAngler

Marzio Pozzuloi @MarzioPozzuoli1

Mark Ruddock @MarkRuddock

Brian Sharwood @bsharwood

Funding for Indegenous Entrepreneurs

Waubetek Business Development Corporation: Waubetek Business Development Corporation delivers business financing and economic support services to Aboriginal entrepreneurs and First Nation communities.

Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund: Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund (NADF) offers a variety of services to support Aboriginal business and economic development, including financing, business support, community planning, and workshops and bookkeeping training.

Women Entrepreneur Resources in Toronto

Toronto women have always been among the leaders in the struggle for equality in Canada. It’s safe to say that Toronto not only supports women’s rights but also encourages and empowers them in many ways.

Here is our list of ressources for women entrepreneurs in the city !

Connections Silicon Valley

Women in Technology Fund 

Women Entrepreneurship Fund

RBC Women Canadian Entrepreneur Award

Women of Distinction Award YWCA

DMZ Women Founder Accelerator Program 


Girl Geeks Toronto

Ella Accelerator

Government Funded Programs

Our government in Canada is very supportive of our youth and our entrepreneurs: Here is a list of the most important government funded resources for startups and small business owners.

Starter Company:

  • An entrepreneurship program for Ontario youth aged 18 to 29
  • Get guidance, mentoring, business expertise and funding to start your own business
  • Applicants must not be attending school full time
  • To qualify for funding of up to $5,000, you need to be able to contribute at least 25 % (in cash or in kind) of the grant amount

Strategic Community Entrepreneurship Projects:

  • An entrepreneurship program for young Ontarians aged 15 to 29
  • Get training, resources and money to start your own business
  • Applicants must be ineligible for other self-employment programs

Youth Entrepreneurship Fund (Youth Investment Accelerator Fund):

  • Apply for investment capital ($100,000- $250,000) to help your business expand
  • Your business must not be beyond the seed capital stage, with revenues under $500,000
  • Strong potential to attract follow-on financing

Youth Entrepreneurship Fund (Youth Business Accelerator Program):

  • Get $5,000-$20,000 to help grow your innovative tech-sector business
  • Access to valuable market intelligence and network support

School of Social Entrepreneurs:

  • A 6-month fellowship at the Daniels Centre of Learning in Toronto
  • Support to help you develop and secure a social venture that can benefit your community (e.g., fair trade products)
  • Cost: $1,500 (including course materials and school fees)
  • Scholarships and bursaries available, in some cases

Student Organizations

Toronto’s universities understood that today’s top students are tomorow’s leaders ! Many schools are now organizing student organizations and entrepreneurship clubs to help students turn their ideas and passions into businesses and meet liked minded individuals.

If you’ve just started school in Toronto, check out our list of student entrepreneurship clubs and events !

Rotman Entrepreneurship Organization

UTM Entrepreneurs Club

REVCA University of Toronto

Ryerson Entrepreneurship Association

Entrepreneurship Development Association YorkU

Schulich Startup Night


Entrepreneurs Awards

Being an entrepreneur is no easy job: Hard work, long hours, and not much recognition. Take some time off and sign your team up for some entrepreneurship awards. Many of these contest offer an opportunity to meet other entrepreneurs and to win cash prize to further boost your entrepreneurial drive !

Enactus Student Entrepreneur

Ey Entrepreneur of the Year

RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award

Vision to Reality Award PWC

Women of Distinction Award YWCA

Wise 50 Over 50

Did we forget anything ? Let us know and we will update the list as soon as possible ! In the meantime, we hope this list helped you find the ressources you need to start, fund and grow your business!

Would you need more personalized information or simply some guidance ? At Yamm Software Inc., we build high quality, intelligent mobile apps, software and IoT connected devices. Feel free to book a free 30-min call with us to discuss your project !

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