Incubators, Accelerators, and Cyclotrons

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They are lining up like storm troopers.

It looks like a new crop of accelerators, incubators or, as I prefer, cyclotrons have started opening in Toronto. We’ve been talking on and off about Incubators, Accelerators and Ignition since early in 2009.

Here is my list of incubators/accelerators/cyclotrons:

And this is on top of the existing coworking, shared real estate, available to entrepreneurs in Toronto.
There are lots of opportunity for entrepreneurs to find a mix of real estate, services, and cash for equity in their businesses. My advice is make sure you aren getting more than real estate with benefits. Maybe next we need to provide entrepreneurs a framework for making critical decisions about startup things including incubators ;-)
Who did I miss?

OMERS Ventures ramps up with Howard Gwin & Derek Smyth

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It’s has been a long time since Canadians have seen the creation of a new 200MM+ venture capital fund. It was back in June 2010 that OMERS announced the creation of the INKEF fund. OMERS and ABP have since gone their separate ways with ABP running INKEF Capital focusing on high tech startups in the Netherlands. And OMERS creating OMERS Ventures focused on “investments in the Technology, Media, Telecommunications, Clean Technology and Life Sciences sectors in Canada and the US”.

A little more than a week ago, OMERS announced that they had hired Howard Gwin (LinkedIn, @howardgwin). Who I’ve been quoted as saying “he really is the best VC in Canada”, mind you Howard was buying the drinks at the time…

And it looks like they have added fellow Edgestone alumni Derek Smyth (LinkedIn, @derekjsmyth). I’ve heard the announcement is due later today, but OMERS Ventures announced Derek Smyth as part of the team today, Derek’s profile is already part fo the team at OMERS Ventures. Derek is another rockstar going to OMERS. Prior to joining OMERS Ventures, Derek co-managed two VC funds at Edgestone Capital Partners. He also has operational experience that includes his former roles as President and CEO of solutions provider Bridgewater Systems, and as COO of California-based Ironside Technologies Inc.

Derek and Howard were instrumental at Bridgescale in running the Digital Puck and Mentor Monday events that helped connect Canadian entrepreneurs. I’m hoping that these guys continue to invest in connecting, engaging and supporting all entrepreneurs (along with their portfolio). The ongoing support of the C100 and AccelerateTO already show that OMERS has a larger operational budget that allows them to support and sponsor community activities.

The future looks bright for OMERS Ventures.

Startup Life: Trough of Sorrow or Crest of Success?

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Kimchi Ho (LinkedIn, @kymchiho). Kim is an architect by training and has been working to build community spaces in the physical and virtual worlds. Kim’s post, “The Startup Girlfriend” was featured in Forbes Startup Life series. This post was originally published on Kim’s blog on November 16, 2011 and is republished with her permission. 

Entering Startup

Ilya Zhitomirskiy, a cofounder of Diaspora, passed away earlier this week due to unknown reasons, however it is suspected that it was related to his depression and the pressures associated with startup life. Startup culture is as much a lifestyle as it is a very small community. It is not a 9-5 job with the ability to turn yourself into “off” mode. Do people actually get that? Startup mode is always on. It’s fuelled primarily by passion and for those of us who find ourselves working on things we are passionate about, time is not a factor.

But as this taboo topic poses, where is the fine line between madness and sanity? Is the line so far away that it’s a dot?

Fill in the ______

I have the fortune to be surrounded by some good friends who share a love for startup culture. It’s not always pretty, like anything worth pursuing there are troughs of sorrow and crests of success. How do you put one foot in front of the other on those days? In startup culture, it’s a fairly intimate circle of people working on manifesting an idea, these people become your family, it’s a package deal (the good, bad, and the ugly). However, the ability to stay grounded and balanced, while pursuing such unveiled ideas can seem daunting and doubtful while also being awesome and fulfilling. All off these feelings are usually experienced many times a day in startup life. It is only human to have ideas reinforced by others, we are social creatures. However, ironically, the actual work itself is often a solo unsocial pursuit, you just have to get the work done to contribute to the bigger picture. For those hours spent hustling, coding, communicating, leading, experimenting, call it whatever you want, a bit of debt is incurred, maybe in the form of physical (you’re not exercising as much, you’re not eating as much, you don’t care as much) or mental, as in the case of Diaspora’s Co-Founder. Maintaining the optimistic front in light of setbacks and financial stress is not always easy. There is under-rated stressed from publicly press-released information about your start up and there is under-rated stress from the day to day that startup life demands. So how do entrepreneurs win? How do you put one foot in front of the other? Clearly there is a trend, Zhitomirskiy isn’t the first.

Ramen Noodles aka Top Ramen

Take preventative measures. When I socialize with friends who are startup doers, they literally live and breath their business. Can I blame them? Not really, it’s what they love to do. However, we make a point to try to do non-startup-esque things to get away from work, if only for a bit. We go rock climbing. We eat good food, away from our offices. We dance like crazy, also away from our offices. All these things can be great breaths of fresh air and are under-rated solutions that contribute to a healthier state of mind. I’m a firm believe in allotting time to do things that are not related to your start up directly, because the time spent doing those things is actually propelling the productivity and success of the time you do spend working on your startup. All of these ideas are summed up nicely in this Hacker News discussion which was initiated by this key topic: Dealing with Post Startup Depression. I think we can all empathize, startup or not.

Transparent Toaster

Be transparent. There are great listeners who are accountable confidants. It is worth engaging in these conversations. Don’t try to be a hero by holding down the fort. Know when to speak up, it doesn’t have to be closed doors. You know who you trust, speak to those people. Accountability & mentorships go along way. I’ve had some of the best insights when I can get past this threshold and voice my concern for something. We often think we’re the only ones struggling with these internal ideas, but if you speak up, chances are someone else can relate and has some insight. The act of sharing and engaging in someway is the premise of most startup ideas…why not use that same mantra to tackle those problems on a personal level as well?

There needs to be outlets, let’s un-taboo this.


Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Kimchi Ho (LinkedIn, @kymchiho). Kim is an architect by training and has been working to build community spaces in the physical and virtual worlds. Kim’s post, “The Startup Girlfriend” was featured in Forbes Startup Life series. This post was originally published onKim’s blog on November 16, 2011 and is republished with her permission.