Whether you are funding or financing a startup, it can be daunting and scary, especially if you have no previous experience. Many entrepreneurs dream of that one angel investor who gives their startup that stepping stone, but in the real world this is not always that case. In truth, there is an abundance of alternatives to get a startup rolling and this blog will explore some of these alternatives. Here are 5 ways to jump start your own startup.
Take a Loan
Loan options are plentiful in Canada but be wary as it is very easy to get into uncontrollable debt. As a student, one has access to a much safer and lenient network of loan options. A safe loan program for Canadian entrepreneurs is through Futurpreneur Financing Program. In addition to providing mentoring and expertise to get your startup off the ground, they offer collateral-free loans at better interest rates than most banks. They offer up to $15,000 per business and can provide up to $30,000 through their partnership with BDC if more is needed. In addition they offer a very useful Operational & Financial Planning section on their website which provides crash courses and financial templates.
Another highlight of Futurpreneur is that they have a Spin Master Innovation Fund. The fund helps young innovators by having them compete for up to $50,000 in financing. The partnership with the Spin Master Innovation Fund offers financing, mentoring and expert-led workshops for up to 10 young entrepreneurs who meet their criteria for innovative business ideas.
A path to secure financing can take long for many entrepreneurs. A way to speed up the process while further outreaching your brand is to network. Both the RIC Centre and MaRS Discovery District offer a plethora of networking events many hosted at their respected locations. Networking may not be the easiest way to fund/finance a startup but it provides an opportunity to do more than that. Networking provides entrepreneurs a chance to learn more about their respected industries, grants from other business professionals, and find partners and ultimately if they are lucky – meet someone who knows that angel investor who believes in them.
Contests provide entrepreneurs an opportunity to showcase their skills and talents to the world in addition to competing for a cash prize. A great example of a contest would be the BDC Young Entrepreneur Award. The award recognizes outstanding young business owners from all over Canada in between the ages of 18-35. With a grand prize of $100,000 and a second prize of $25,000 in consulting services, winners will take a large stepping stone towards reaching their dreams. Whether the contest be big or small entering one can provide not only the funding needed to help your startup but allow for a chance to promote yourself, your business, and network with likeminded people in a variety of different fields.
Join an Accelerator
Being a part of an accelerator is an excellent way to get the assistance needed, and potentially fund your startup. Though for more established accelerators in Toronto there is a very vigorous application process. An example of one of the well-established accelerators is the Creative Destruction Lab. Accelerators provide entrepreneurs not only with help raising capital, but the guidance, and knowledge to grow as well. If accepted into one of the prestigious accelerators such as the Creative Destruction Lab, raising working capital for your venture will be made easier through the accounting and planning of your company as well, as many accelerators offer workshops on how to properly manage and account for working capital.
Finally, grants provides a secure and easily obtainable funding path for startups. Many networks such as OCE SmartStart Seed Fund, Talent Edge, and Funding Portal all provide Ontario students with opportunities to apply for grants of with multiple eligibilities. Through the grants recipients are expected to grow their companies and make them investment and customer ready. Funding portal allows companies to search and explore various avenues to find funding sources. For example, opportunities such as their Government Funding Service matches teams with Canada’s top expert grant writers to help prepare a winning funding application. OCE SmartStart Seed Fund has two funds to help start-ups one that is targeted to youth aged 18-29 and a transition fund that helps entrepreneurs aged 30+ transition their startups from product development to market entry and company building. The main objective of the SmartStart Seed fund for youth is to launch and build their own enterprises and business ventures. The SmartStart Seed Fund applicants will be eligible for a non-repayable contribution toward direct eligible costs of up to $70,000 per start up to help grow their businesses. Finally, Talent Edge offers two streams of internships and fellowships either being 4 or 12 months. Through the Internship Program applicants will be eligible up to $10,000 in grant funding while the Fellowship Program applicants will have access up to $42,500 for a twelve month post-secondary fellowship. (Note Fellows must hold a PhD in any discipline within the last 5 years to apply.