Helping you start, expand or purchase an early-stage, non-tech business

Starter Company Plus

Starter Company Plus is a 4-month cohort-based training program. It’s designed for Ottawa entrepreneurs building businesses that are early-stage and non-tech.

This year, the program will focus on supporting founders who are Black, Indigenous and/or People of Colour (BIPOC). BIPOC people face significant barriers in accessing resources necessary for starting and growing successful businesses. We acknowledge this gap and are committed to adapting our programs to help establish equity in our local entrepreneurial landscape.

Priority for acceptance will be given to Black founders, Indigenous founders, and founders of Colour, including individuals who identify as womxn, people with disabilities, and as 2SLGBTQ+. Learn more about why we chose to support BIPOC as Starter Company Plus’ 2020 priority.

Program participants receive:

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Dedicated business mentorship

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Curated workshops

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Week-long training program

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A chance to pitch for up to $5,000

A Smart Start

The program begins with a training week, where participants will learn the fundamentals of developing a business plan. Topics discussed throughout this week include: starting and validating your business idea, market research, tax planning for sole proprietors, branding, digital marketing, networking and pitching skills.


Build Your Business

Following the training week, participants will be introduced to mentors who have the expertise and experience that most closely match your business. They will guide you as you apply learning from the training week to building your business fundamentals. During this time, you are expected to develop the following deliverables:

  • A functional business plan
  • A realistic cash flow forecast
  • Milestones defined for your business
  • Pitching skills and experiences

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Two female entrepreneurs having a brainstorming session



Funding Potential

Upon completion of the program, participants will have an opportunity to pitch their business to a panel of committee members for a chance to be awarded a grant of up to $5,000.

Not all program participants will receive a grant. However, the training for building your business will be invaluable and is at no cost to the participants.


Who Should Apply

You should apply to the program if:

  • You are 18 years of age or older
  • You are operating your business from Ottawa, Ontario
  • You are an Ontario resident and Canadian citizen (or permanent resident)
  • You are not attending school full-time or returning to school
  • Your company is an early-stage product or service-based business
  • You are not enrolled in a provincial or government-funded employment, self-employment program or entrepreneurship training program (with/without financial assistance).

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Spots fill up quickly!

  • Apply for Starter Company Plus

    If you are applying after the program deadline, you will be placed on a waiting list for the next cohort. Once applications are open again, we will contact you with further instructions.

Important Dates

October 7 - Applications open

November 4 - Applications close

November 17 - Cohort announcement

November 23 - 27 - Orientation & training week

November 30 - Mentor introductions

November 30 - January 29 - Build your business

January 25 - 29 – Pitch week

February 8 - 12 – Announce grant recipients and begin to disburse funding

Frequently Asked Questions

Why did Invest Ottawa choose to support
BIPOC as Starter Company Plus’ 2020 priority?

At Invest Ottawa, we know that diversity, inclusion and belonging are critical success factors for globally competitive organizations and are required to drive sustainable wealth creation and prosperity across our region. As an organization that doesn’t simply accept differences, but celebrates and supports it, we prioritize the creation of an inclusive culture and infuse diversity into our programs, operations and governance. As has been widely identified, racialized people face significant barriers in accessing resources necessary for starting and growing successful businesses. In a 2017 survey on ownership demographics of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in Canada, data shows that only 13.6% of businesses are majority-owned by BIPOC. Of this 13.6%, only 3% of businesses are majority owned by BIPOC women. We at Invest Ottawa have recognized this gap, and as such are delivering Starter Company Plus 2020 to specifically help address the needs of racialized people and help close the equity gap in our local entrepreneurial landscape

What is 2SLGBTQ+?

2SLGBTQ+ is an acronym used to refer to people, as a group, who identify as Two Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Pansexual, Trans, Gender Independent, Queer and Questioning. The plus sign acknowledges the many sexual and gender minority people who don't see themselves in the umbrella acronym and prefer other identity terms such as pansexual, gender-free, or intersex.

Why “womxn”?

The word "womxn" is an alternative term to the English language word "women." We use this term to explicitly include those who identify as women, transgender women, women of colour and non-binary individuals. This choice supports our concerted effort to create a culture of belonging.

This program is made possible through funding from the Government of Ontario.

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Proud Premier Sponsors of Invest Ottawa