in Canada, Incubators, Montreal, Vancouver

GrowLab & FounderFuel Launch

The Blues Brothers Car
Attribution Some rights reserved by Stig Nygaard

Jake: Here’s the plan: we put the band back together, do some gigs, earn some bread, bang! We’ll have 5,000 bucks in no time.

Seems like I’ve been talking a lot about incubators, accelerators, catalysts, spark plugs, igniters and other programs designed to engage, educate and enable early-stage, emerging technology entrepreneurs. In the past 7 days, we’ve now seen the launch of new incubator/accelerator programs in both Vancouver and Montreal. The are 2 new programs both focused on bringing together the best talent, access to mentors, capital and networks beyond what many founders are capable of doing on their own. (Full disclosure: I am a mentor for FounderFuel).

Vancouver » GrowLab

GrowLabGrowLab has risen out of the ashes of BootupLabs. It includes a spectacular founding team that includes a group of people many of whom I call a friend, and even more importantly they are a group I deeply respect. The group includes:

The deadline to apply to the GrowLab program is June 15, 2011. Accepted startups and founders spend 3 months in Vancouver and 1 month in San Francisco with an intense mentorship program. The program also includes office space in both cities plus up to $25,000 in seed funding.

Montreal » FounderFuel

FounderFuelThe FounderFuel is a new accelerator program with support from the team who started Montreal Startup and Real Ventures. It is a accelerator program that has been seeded with Cdn$2MM and has put together a great mentorship group that includes 85 entrepreneurs, executives, VCs, angels (and me). Ian Jeffery is the General Manager and the Partner at Real Ventures responsible for making FounderFuel work. I first encountered Ian as a competitor to his startup TinyPictures (I was running product at Ambient Vector/Nakama back in 2006). Ian successfully raised a big chunk of money and then proceeded to execute and eventually sell Radar to Shutterfly. I agreed to be a mentor just to personally ensure I get access to the team of mentors. It is ridiculous! The list includes >84 phenomenal leaders, executives, investors, entrepreneurs and people from Montreal and around the world. A sample of the awesome mentors (sorry for every I am leaving out):

The deadline to apply to FounderFuel is July 1, 2011. Instead of a 4 month program, the FounderFuel program is “12 intense weeks”. It is also a cohort based program that provides $10,000/startup + $5,000/founder in exchange for 6% equity. The program provide access to mentors, office space in Notman House, and access to a culture and ecosystem that has bred success in the past.

One Observation

My one observation about both of these programs is that Debbie Landa was the only female listed. It is a really difficult and sad state. There are great number of female tech founders and leaders in Canada. I am disappointed not to see:

These programs need to do better on encouraging diversity and actively seeking out different viewpoints. The good news is that it is easily rectified.

Consider Applying

The deadlines for GrowLab and FounderFuel are approaching quickly. If you are interested in what hopefully is a world-class incubator/accelerator program you should definitely give careful consideration to these.


  1. David,
    Thanks for the write-up. We’re happy to see such activity north of the boarder, and look forward to the continued success of Canadian entrepreneurs.
    GM, FounderFuel

  2. “These programs need to do better on encouraging diversity and actively seeking out different viewpoints.”

    Looking through the “posts by author” listing, one can make the same judgement about this site.

  3. Re some successful tech founder ladies to add to your list, here’s 2 more:

    – Nancy Peterson, CEO and Co-founder of
    – Lauren Friese, CEO/Founder of @LaurenFriese

    Also, Malgosia’s twitter handle is @heygosia:twitter and her blog is

  4. Hey David. Fair enough on the lack of females. Speaking personally, my orientation is to look for people and their experience exclusively with no regards to gender. But as we all know, our industry is heavily male-dominated, both on the startup and investor side. You have suggested some great names and they would make great additions to our mentors.

  5. Very disappointing indeed. Hard to understand too because most of the Founder Fuel guys (and yes, they are ALL guys) are very connected. I am getting tired of pointing these out and not having a solution handy besides explaining that you need to do a bit more research, reach out to the community or perhaps create your own list of women to keep an eye on – believe me they are there! So I am going to make a suggestion that I know I will regret as I run a software firm and have no time, I am going to build a little list of women to watch in technology and point you to it every single time. NY is doing an awesome job at that:

    But in the mean time: Founders Fuel: I am calling you to action: get out there and fix that mentoring bad boys image of yours! And Grow Conference: I love you but zero women speakers at a growth startup/tech conference is …. oh how do I say that without swearing? I can’t: so fix that too please. Now.

  6. Fantastic. I got a domain name already. Working on format. Let’s grab a coffee and get this thing going. This is very tiring. I just don’t understand how anyone explains this to their daughters or any women in their life. I mean I am surrounded by smart women in science, technology, mathematics and yet they seem invisible. 

  7. More Canadian Incubators, sweet. I think Toronto could use a couple more as well, hint hint ;)

  8. As a proud Hamiltonian, all I can add is YES! We too are gaining momentum with the startups and DemoCamps and the like here too…and our RIC – the Innovation Factory is helping all of our entrepeneurs to get traction too! And yup, many of us here are looking at the start here of a Hamilton based Incubator too!

  9. Nothing to hide. We have engaged and invited female authors. There are 37 authors listed in the system. There are only 3 female authors ( @371118b673279a69ea89e1de3ce6e352:disqus   @aprildunford:disqus @alyssajrichard:twitter ) that only gives us a terrible 8.1% authors and even smaller number actively posting. Part of this is that  April has her own following at Leila has an original member of the DemoCamp founding team and has moved on to great events like HackDays 

    We have reached out. We haven’t been as thorough in following up or republishing content. 

    We will do better.

  10. I can’t believe this is still happening.  As I mentioned on Twitter, I’ve keynoted 100+ events over the past couple of years and I’d say 90% of the other speakers are male.  It’s unbelievable.  Young women need mentors and role models, and there are a lot of us out there but we keep getting passed over at events, etc.

  11. Great points, as a community we need to *actively* recruit diverse participants. Immigrants, women, young, old. This is not a public service message, there is lots of value to unlock in the process!

  12. I agree, it’s really shocking in 2011, that this is the case. Clearly something has to be done. I hear people try to justify a 25%/75% mix of men and women speakers at tech conferences, and those are the good ones, as being representative of the community. I call B.S. But there is something seriously wrong when the number of women participants in a tech event or venture falls to 0%.

  13. Another amazing woman to add to the list:

    Louise Guay – (had lunch with her today. OMG, she is super connected and brilliant)

  14. Hey Mark,

    I am a huge fan of the work you and the @RealVentures team have been doing in Montreal and across Canada. You guys are leaders and such everyone follows and looks up to your example. The impact of initiatives like FounderFuel will be huge, and I hope that we can increase and improve the efforts. I am excited to work with you guys. And I know any company will benefit. And I hope that we can get a few more people like @371118b673279a69ea89e1de3ce6e352:disqus @aprildunford:disqus @missrogue:disqus @4b69215a96f4971e1a2f814f0c470597:disqus and others involved. 


  15. Another person who would be amazing is Carol Leaman.@carolleaman:disqus After the PostRank deal with Google this week she’s now got a couple of great exits under her belt. :) 

  16. Please update my company name to Buyosphere. Since this has been picked up in many places, it’s bad press for my company to, well, not be my company. :/

  17. I’m a week late to this, but still want to chime in (and thanks for including me in your list, David – I’m in great company!)

    I’d actually like to reframe this as a discussion about innovation. For
    an organization that was established to foster innovation, FounderFuel appears to be remarkably unaware of how important diversity is in that process. This post ( from *2008* speaks specifically to the power (and importance of) diversity in innovation:

    “Economic research on the creative power of groups demonstrates that
    teams composed of smart people alone may not generate innovative
    solutions to technical problems. According to Scott Page, Professor of
    Complex Systems, Political Science, and Economics at the University of
    Michigan, diversity within those groups leads to a diversity of
    problem-solving approaches and drives the power to innovate.”

    So nevermind “boys vs. girls” – let’s talk about who wants to get the best results.

Comments are closed.


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