What does a cohort of innovative change-makers look like in 2020?
ICUBE UTM is excited to show you.
Massive gaps persist in representation for intersectional leaders in mainstream entrepreneurship hubs. From programming that ignores women (read P.K. Mutch’s story here), to facilitators who aren’t knowledgable about alternative business structures, we think it’s time for accelerators to speed up their own development and start offering the diverse programs entrepreneurs need! ICUBE is taking bold leadership with the launch of it’s newest Start Up Cohort.
“What a breath of fresh air” – ICUBE participant
ICUBE is an incubator and accelerator focused on making ideas happen. We provide a values-based approach to entrepreneurship that does not compromise on the quality of learning and mentorship. Our deliberate design is maximizing multidisciplinary interaction and the diversity of voices at the table. This is the place where compelling ideas are nurtured and great leaders are strengthened.
This incredible group of creators, disruptors, and innovators is leading the way for ICUBE’s bold vision. Click here to learn more about their ventures. Together we are investigating what it means to build sustainable businesses that are adaptable, inclusive, and meaningful. How are we doing it?
1. By acknowledging the facts.
- Only 16% of incorporated enterprises are women-led
- The types of businesses that intersectional entrepreneurs gravitate towards (including culture-making, education, health and wellness) are not perceived as innovative and are typically excluded.
- Some business owners pursue self-employment because they see no other options, not because they identify an opportunity to make it big. We get that!
That’s why in our start up 2020 cohort:
- 53% members run female-led ventures
- 50% identified family-life balance as a barrier to starting their venture
- 56% self-identified as a visible minority
2. Interrogating our own practices.
No one has all the answers to fixing the current landscape; however we are constantly asking questions and testing meaningful solutions. We want our teams to reach the goals that matter to them. What are the metrics we are using to measure our wins? Who is contributing their perspectives?
In our 2020 start up cohort:
- 65% of applicants said forming a strong network with other entrepreneurs was their primary goal
- 65% intend to make a social impact with their venture
- 100% of ICUBE facilitators are experienced womxn-identifying entrepreneurs
“Wow. Such an inspiring and supportive group. New ideas and perspectives are still percolating in the back of my mind” – ICUBE participant
3. Changing the message.
Ever notice that in every advertisement related to innovation and entrepreneurship, the graphics include gears, space ships, and men in suits? We are so over that. We know that many diverse leaders do not identify with the word “entrepreneur,” and that creative businesses can develop solutions outside of these narrow fields. That’s why we are working to make sure our messaging is clear: we are here to work with creators, change-makers, innovators and leaders with compelling ideas that tackle wicked problems, no matter the industry.
Our 2020 start up cohort features:
- 26% arts and culture-making industries
- 26% mental health and wellness focus
- 40% educational component to the business
- 66% are using technology to solve a problem
4. Curating exciting opportunities.
At ICUBE, we believe that if programming is happening live, it better provide the type of opportunities that can only happen when entrepreneurs get together and jam. We are hiring diverse, womxn-identifying instructors to deliver exciting programming that doesn’t just regurgitate the information you can find with a Google search. ICUBE is excited to offer unique and diverse perspectives from experienced entrepreneurs, and provide a platform for insightful conversations and connection to happen.
What we are Learning
Our first Start Up Cohort launched this February with a two day boot camp. Together, we explored:
- What does entrepreneurship really mean, and who gets to hold this title? How about innovation?
- How to start from “why;” work from our strengths, and get clear on the values that drive our ventures
- Design thinking: What it is, and how to use it for innovative business design
- Identifying and defining who our customer is, and what their underlying needs are
- The business model canvas, how to use it, and began building our own
Throughout the semester our cohort will continue building their skills with a series of workshops in topics that range from revenue growth to storytelling.
Why We Are Doing It
Some incubators and accelerators focus on discovering and growing the ventures they identify as most promising with a principle of feed the winners, starve the losers. As such, they allocate all their resources to trying to build the next big household names.
Meanwhile, studies show that evaluators still prefer business pitches presented by male entrepreneurs compared with pitches from females, even when the content of the pitch was the exact same (Brooks et al, 2014). We believe that brilliant ideas and powerful entrepreneurs are being left outside in a system with lagging ideologies and limiting markers of success that determines who gets through the gate!
While creating one tech unicorn might be sexy, think of the impact of producing dozens of sustainable businesses with arts graduates facing underemployment! In the current gig economy, preparing students for creating their own work is not only responsible – it’s necessary. ICUBE is focused on harnessing entrepreneurship education for massive socio-economic change, not by starving out the losers, but by levelling the playing field so that more ventures can grow.