Originally published: July 24, 2017
You may have a great business idea, and the passion and drive to see it through. But you might need some help taking it to the next level. Where do you turn?
For eight lucky entrepreneurs, there’s twelve-week bootcamp starting soon which will give them the foundational knowledge they need to help their business succeed. GrindspaceXL Kingston, a business acceleration program for high-potential technology startups in Eastern Ontario, is now accepting applications for its fall cohort. The program is offered by the Queen’s University Office of Partnerships and Innovation and Launch Lab, a regional innovation centre that is part of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE) funded by the Ontario government.
“GrindSpaceXL is an important part of the programming offered at Innovation Park to support the innovation ecosystem in Eastern Ontario, aligning with our efforts to mentor and guide entrepreneurs to bring new products to the market,” says Jim Banting, Assistant Vice-Principal (Partnerships and Innovation).
GrindSpaceXL is designed to connect budding first-time entrepreneurs with advice, mentorship, and support from seasoned business leaders, coupled with a full suite of services available through Queen’s University – from shared lab and office space at Innovation Park, to the expertise and services of the Office of Partnerships and Innovation, to legal services from the Queen’s Business Law Clinic, to name just a few.
The program is open to incorporated companies headquartered and operating in Canada and commercializing technology-based products. Successful applicants are coached from prototype to product to revenue through a customized bootcamp designed to prepare them to compete in the world of business. Entrepreneurs do not need to be affiliated with Queen’s University in order to participate.
“More than 40 companies have graduated from GrindSpaceXL, with many experiencing growth and success thanks in part to the coaching they received during their time in the program,” says Rick Boswell, Assistant Director, Industry Partnerships and Innovation Park. “With this fall’s new cohort of entrepreneurs set to begin soon, we look forward to adding to our growing list of successful alumni.”
Each GrindSpaceXL cohort is tailored to its participants who often ‘don’t know what they don’t know’, adds Mr. Boswell. Topics covered can include developing a business model, building marketing strategies and product positioning, forming a corporate structure, and crafting a compelling pitch for prospective investors and for media. The content is delivered one day a week, allowing the business founders time to continue running their business and to apply the lessons in between workshops.
At the end of the program, the entrepreneurs graduate and are given the chance to pitch before a panel of leaders and investors from the local startup ecosystem.
“From customer discovery to product validation, from business model canvas development to due diligence consideration, intellectual property information, finance and investment thoughts, and pitching help and practice, this program was just what I needed,” says Lisa Hallsworth, Co-Founder & President, Rillea Technologies Inc., an organization focused on chemical safety that was a 2016 participant in GrindSpaceXL.
Though the program itself lasts 12 weeks, the support doesn’t end there. Mr. Boswell says once the bootcamp is complete, participating companies are still able to connect with all of the same services such as Launch Lab, the Office of Partnerships and Innovation, and the Queen’s Business Law Clinic. They can connect virtually – as one of last year’s participants did – or become a client within Innovation Park’s physical incubation space, where seven of last year’s GrindSpaceXL participants chose to locate.
This fall’s bootcamp begins September 11. There is no cost to apply or to participate.
GrindSpaceXL is funded by Queen’s University which receives partial reimbursement through the Canada Accelerator and Incubator Program.