Research shows that networks of interconnected businesses, also known as incubators, report an 18 percent increase in revenue and employment – a rate that is higher than non-clustered small businesses.
The North Forge Startup Program has seen many entrepreneurs walk through their doors and leave with a successful startup on their hands. Although the program has had many success stories, North Forge continues to improve its program, adapting to an ever-changing market and new provincial mandates.
“To meet our next set of goals and our new provincial mandate (as an economic strategic partner) we needed to rethink how we could deliver the same or better quality at a provincial scale in a manner that worked for Manitobans,” says Teresa Dukes, President of North Forge.
The revamped Startup Program incorporates market-first best practices, combined with regional wisdom and international experience. The four-stage startup program supports and guides entrepreneurs as they formulate their ideas, develop their products and services, launch their business and grow their companies.
Companies interested in the new Startup Program can complete an application online. From there, the startup director will meet with the company within five business days to assess coachability and fit to determine the most suitable program. Companies will then be streamed into one of four programs;
If you’re an entrepreneur with an idea, you need to gain an in-depth understanding of the opportunity, the market and critical supports before investing money. This stage features entrepreneurship essentials, validation cycle, communications tools, peer-to-peer events, workshops, market intelligence and grant application support. The primary outcome is confirmed market traction.
This stage includes everything from the first stage as well as access to the UX, Advanced ICT and Fabrication labs. At the end of this stage, you will have a minimal viable product and early customer interest or sales.
If you are a startup who has already confirmed product/market fit and you’re ready to develop your idea into a minimal viable product, this is the stage for you. This three-month stage will help you gain a clearer idea of the funding sources that are available and will help you fine-tune your financial plan. The outcome of this stage is customer growth and an investment-ready product/service.
If you’re a startup with a rapidly growing customer base and revenue, the Accelerate stage is for you. During this stage, you will meet your mentor council who will help you realize scalable growth, connect you to investment and help you access an accelerator if that’s the right path for your business.
Although the new Startup Program is focused on high growth and investment businesses, there are also variances of the program that support bootstrap/lifestyle businesses, social entrepreneurship, rural programming and inventors.
“Entrepreneurs told us, they want help with building their company better, faster and cheaper than if they were to do it on their own,” says Dukes. “They guided us in the design of the new program, one which we can customize based on the needs of the entrepreneur and their company objectives.”
Learn more about the North Forge Startup Program here.