Startup accelerators are effective at taking startup projects to the next level (at least the good ones are). A healthy startup ecosystem has a core group of accelerators aiding early stage companies to achieve growth. The first official accelerator program was created by the great American entrepreneur and investor Paul Graham, who called it Y Combinator. Since then, these types of organizations have sprung up wherever a strong startup ecosystem can be found. An argument can even be made that a strong group of accelerator programs activates the startup ecosystem.
Let’s start off with a basic definition of what an accelerator program consists of as they often get confused with startup incubators. Startup accelerators are fixed-term, cohort-based programs, that include mentorship and educational components and culminate in a public pitch event or demo day.
Here is a short-list of some of the most recognized startup accelerator programs in Montreal (in no particular order).
Backed by Real Ventures, one of Canada’s biggest Venture Capital groups, Founder Fuel FounderFuel is an intensive 12-week mentor-driven startup accelerator that will help your startup increase traction, secure partnerships, and get to revenue faster, all in effort to help you raise follow-on funding. The accelerator provides seed funding and access to a network of investors (VCs and Angels), experienced entrepreneurs and top executives, all to help early-stage founder accelerate the success of your business. You must be a team of two or more, and the more technical founders you are, the better your odds of getting in.
Défi Montréal is one of the largest program in Quebec for the acceleration of high-growth innovative companies with 600 graduates since 2009 and more than 75 companies supported each year for their financing and business development. Défi Montréal entrepreneurs benefit from a large network of successful entrepreneurs, experts and investors (venture capital funds, angels and private individuals) who share their experience to transmit the skills and tools essential to financing and to growth.
This organization offers both an accelerator and a venture fund. They hold a strong mission dedicated to help grow clean technology start-ups. Ecofuel was launched by Cycle Capital Management, a Montreal based leader in cleantech venture capital to fill a gap in the financing ecosystem. The program, which has accelerated over 40 companies to date, includes financing from Ecofuel’s investing partners in the form of convertible loan, an investment vehicle frequently used in the industry for this type of investment.
Launched by Concordia University, District3 leading innovation hub in Montreal open to all. Startups use the D3 space during their startup programs, while many other people use it to make prototypes, get mentorship, and have a co-working space located within a university. The program also assists high potential startups with finding funding. This accelerator doubles as an incubator and has already worked with close to 500 startups and held over 300 events and workshops.
Centech is an incubator for technology companies dedicated to hardware and advanced technologies. The organization was created in 1996 by the École de technologie supérieur (ÉTS), and located in the heart of the Quartier d’innovation of Montreal. Their Acceleration Program is a 12 week intensive program destined to help technology startups lift off the ground. The program aims to bring technology entrepreneurs move from the earliest stages of development to a viable business model with real world validation.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, just some of the more notable ones. Visit their respective websites to view more details about their accelerator programs.