North Forge’s Highly Customized Founders Program Sets Businesses up for Success
Sixteen startups have geared up for growth as they entered Ascent, the third stage of the North Forge Founders Program. Ascent helps startups develop a minimum viable product (MVP), take their product to market, scale up their revenues, and expand their customer base. This unique stage of the Founders Program is highly customized to meet each business’ exact needs as they prepare themselves to take their business to market. Ascent’s unique design also allows startups to take note of their strengths and weaknesses and use them to further improve their business.
“Never have we needed unique programming for tech-enabled companies and innovators like right now. Entrepreneurs and the community are seeing that there needs to be a shift towards digital transformation in our province. We’re currently seeing this in Manitoba with the incredible number of applications that we have received for this new program,” says Joelle Foster, CEO of North Forge.
For the next year, these sixteen companies will have access to over 20 webinars and subject matter expert sessions, ongoing entrepreneur-in-residence support, and a lead mentor who has been assigned to each one. However, getting access to this stage is not a given, companies must pitch their business to a panel of judges at North Forge to be accepted into this stage of the program.
“Our first 16 companies in the Ascent stage are an incredible example of the talent that we all know exists in Manitoba. These sixteen businesses mark the beginning of a transformation in the tech sector across the province and represent the vast talent that we all know exists here” says Joelle.
When Founders get accepted into Ascent, the first course of action is to do a gap analysis with their entrepreneur-in-residence. The gap analysis compares the actual performance of the company with the desired performance of the business, this is critical to shaping the program experience for each founder. From there, mentors, experts, and entrepreneurs-in-residence can help founders bridge the gap between their current performance level and their desired growth targets.
“When we were designing the program, we wanted to make sure that we were providing startups with all the resources they will need, when they need them,” says Elaine Greer, Director of Programming. “We have a founder first strategy- which means that everything we do puts the founders at the core of our operations. Our program is not a one-size-fits-all, each individual startup is going to be different, they will have different needs as they go through the program. We try to modify our program to reflect that and to ensure that no two experiences at North Forge are ever the same” says Elaine.
It is not just the staff that sets the North Forge Founders Program apart from any other incubator/accelerator programs, the community plays an equally vital role in the success of the organization. Participants in the program are encouraged to connect with fellow founders in all fields to learn from each other. “The North Forge team’s extensive business-building knowledge and connections to local resources paired with the lived experiences of the entrepreneurs-in-residence have been helpful in guiding my company’s decisions and next steps. I am grateful to be a part of the North Forge Ascent program and their motivated community of founders” says Melanie Derwin, Founder of Serenity Productions.
It takes a community to raise a business. With North Forge’s years of proven, on-the-ground-experience in entrepreneurship, a team of driven staff members that are determined to succeed, and a strong entrepreneurial community, the Founders Program will start a chain reaction of tech innovation in Manitoba.
For more information or to apply for the Founders Program, click here