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ScaleUp FAQ

ScaleUp Program FAQ

  1. What is the Lazaridis Institute?
  2. What is the Lazaridis ScaleUp Program?
  3. How often do you run the ScaleUp Program?
  4. What types of tech companies apply to the ScaleUp Program?
  5. What makes the ScaleUp Program different from other accelerators?
  6. What criteria do you use to choose companies for the ScaleUp Program?
  7. My company doesn’t meet all of your criteria, should I still apply?
  8. What is the selection process like?
  9. How much does the program cost?
  10. Will you provide my company with funding?
  11. How does my company benefit from participating in the Program?
  12. What happens during a Program Weekend?
  13. Who from my company can attend the Program Weekends?
  14. Who are your mentors?
  15. How does my company get matched with a Mentor?
  16. Which companies have gone through the ScaleUp Program?
  17. How is COVID-19 affecting the ScaleUp Program?
  18. How can I find out more about your program?
  19. How do I apply?
  20. Advice from our selection panel on submitting an application 

Q: What is the Lazaridis Institute?

A: Housed in the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada, the Lazaridis Institute combines scholarly research, real-world market analysis, and industry best practices to identify obstacles to global competitiveness and optimize the management of high-growth technology companies.

Q: What is the Lazaridis ScaleUp Program?

A: The Lazaridis ScaleUp Program is an accelerator that helps high-potential, fast-growing, Canadian tech companies scale and compete globally. This is accomplished by providing founders and their teams the expert support they need to overcome the challenges of achieving global success. The ScaleUp Program includes a series of highly-focused multi-day workshops led by recognized industry leaders combined with twelve months of personalized, one-on-one expert mentoring.

Q: How often do you run the ScaleUp Program?

A: The ScaleUp Program is offered on an annual basis to a small group of Canadian companies who complete a highly competitive selection process. The program runs October through the following September.

Q: What types of tech companies apply to the ScaleUp Program?

A: The ScaleUp Program works with tech companies from a wide range of sectors, from hardware to software, medical devices to biotech and agriculture, and from retail to energy to natural resources.

Q: What makes the ScaleUp Program different from other accelerators?

A: The ScaleUp Program is national and accepts a broad range of tech companies, both of which add to the diversity of ideas, approaches and ecosystems present in the program. Forty-two percent of alumni companies have a woman founder or co-founder, adding further to the diversity of our networks.

The ScaleUp program is designed for companies with revenues from $2-20M ARR, so we work with larger, later-stage firms than many accelerators. We are not a residential program. Instead, our companies meet up an average of 12 days during the program year, with minimal disruption to their businesses, teams or families. Our mentors and speakers have worked for globally successful firms, making their experience a perfect match for your outsized ambitions. Finally, we don’t charge and we don’t take equity. Now that’s different.

Q: What criteria do you use to choose companies for the ScaleUp Program?

A: We’re looking for Canadian tech companies with high potential to be global category leaders. Cohort companies have met or exceeded the following criteria:

  • Headquartered in Canada
  • Trailing twelve month annual revenue of $2-$20m
  • Rapid revenue growth (>50%/year)
  • Sufficient capital to fund fast growth
  • Potential to be global category leader
  • Potential to play a key role in Canada’s economic recovery

Q: My company doesn’t meet all of your criteria, should I still apply?

A: Companies must be headquartered in Canada and you must have a team. Any non-Canadian companies and one-person operations will not be considered. The selection panel is looking for a valid indicator of traction in the market (usually revenue and/or investment). If your company is close to our revenue cut off, and/or has attracted significant investment, it doesn’t hurt to apply. We provide feedback to every applicant company, and at worst will let you know what you need to do to be successful next year.

Q: What is the selection process like?

A: The application is online, and we try to keep it as short as possible. Applications for Cohort 6 open April 23 and close July 31. We aim to finish our initial assessment by the beginning of August, after which we announce 20+ shortlisted companies. Shortlisted companies sign up for a date and time to pitch to the selection panel and answer questions via videoconference. The selection takes place over two or three days. Our selection panel is made up of Canadian and U.S. VCs and serial entrepreneurs. We announce the 10 companies selected for the ScaleUp Program the first week of September. Programming begins in October.

Q: How much does the program cost?

A: The ScaleUp Program does not charge fees or take equity. All costs, including the program, mentorship, accommodation and food during program weekends, are covered by the Lazaridis Institute, with the exception of travel expenses.

Q: Will you provide my company with funding?

A: The ScaleUp Program does not provide funding. However, through our extensive network of experts, opportunities to access funding may arise.

Q: How does my company benefit from participating in the Program?

A: You benefit through mentorship, program workshops and peer networks. Recent research shows that people with mentors perform better and experience more work-life satisfaction. The hard part is finding the right mentor and establishing a relationship — that’s where we come in. We connect you to people with the experience and expertise to guide you during the times you need them most. Each company receives 120 mentor hours during the program year.

In addition to acting as mentors, members of our Expert Network facilitate intensive, multi-day workshops six times over the program year. During these sessions, companies work through current issues with their executive teams under the guidance of functional area experts, VCs and business leaders.

Our cohort companies tell us that they derive as much value from their peers as from the experts. You will work closely with some of the most talented, passionate, creative and driven men and women from across Canada — people just like you. The relationships you build in your cohort, and across cohorts on alumni weekends, will enrich your professional and your personal life for years to come.

Q: What happens during a Program Weekend?

A: Program weekends generally cover two days and two evenings and are held in six different cities across North America. For two days, members of our Expert Mentor Network run workshops, facilitate interactive sessions and participate in panel discussions. We host speaker and networking receptions, breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Throughout it all, cohort companies work through current challenges with the guidance of mentors and the support of their peers.

Q: Who from my company can attend the Program Weekends?

A: Up to four members of the company’s executive team are welcome to attend each weekend. We strongly recommend the CEO attend every weekend. The other exec team members in attendance usually vary according to the weekend’s theme, for example, the CFO will want to attend the Finance weekend while the CTO should be present during the Product weekend.

Q: Who are your mentors?

A: Our mentors are men and women who have played key roles in globally successful companies. Mentors come primarily from Canada, California and New York. Mentors are chosen for their expertise, but must also have the ability to support founders and their teams with excellent analytical and communication skills, energy, compassion and humour. Each mentor is carefully vetted and carefully matched with cohort company executives.

Q: How does my company get matched with a Mentor?

A: Our Chief Mentors, Geoff and Brandon, will interview you at length to understand your needs, priorities and preferences. You are then matched with a Lead Mentor, someone who understands your industry, and who will help you to decide which challenges to address first. Your Lead Mentor will work with Geoff and Brandon to match you with Specialists, subject matter experts, who best fit your needs and your style of working.

Q: Which companies have gone through the ScaleUp Program?

A: You can check out all ScaleUp Program cohort companies here.

Q: How is COVID-19 affecting the ScaleUp Program?

A: Lazaridis ScaleUp has shifted in-person programming to virtual formats. We’ve brought on new resources so cohort companies can continue to access world-class expertise through webinars, topic roundtables, breakouts, private discussion groups and an inventory of digital assets. Our expert mentors have always worked remotely. These global tech leaders, VCs, and functional specialists from Silicon Valley, New York City and across Canada, continue to provide their guidance and support to Canada’s most promising tech companies.

We look forward to resuming in-person programming, and will do so as soon as restrictions ease and we can ensure the safety of our participants.

Q: How can I find out more about your program?

A: Start by visiting our website

Q: How do I apply?

A: Start your application here. But before that, read through our advice on completing an application.

 

Advice from the selection panel on completing your application

The Lazaridis ScaleUp program is highly selective, accepting fewer than five per cent of companies that apply. Over the last five cohorts, we’ve seen hundreds of applications, both good and bad. Before starting your’s, read through the following tips from our selection panel on how to submit an application that will get noticed.

Take the time to do it right.

Applications for Chort 6 close July 10, 2020. That gives you plenty of time to prepare an application submission that properly answers all the questions.This is a highly competitive program so make sure to provide all the information required. Don’t sweat it though, we’re here to help. If you run into any questions or issues while submitting, send an email to lazaridisinstitute@wlu.ca.

Be clear. Be concise. Be accurate.

We’re not looking for your marketing pitch — although we can help with that if you get into the program. Our selection panel goes through hundreds of applications each cohort. Make it easy on them by submitting the most up-to-date and relevant information available using simple, matter-of-fact language.

Submit a strong, focused investor presentation

For most companies, this will be our first introduction. Make sure it stands out. And by stands out, we mean it contains a strong representation of who you are, what your company does and what sets you apart from the hundreds of other applications we’re going to see. Make sure it's submitted in format that we can open and that all the formatting, text and visuals are legible. Also important is to follow tip #2.

Funding and revenue are important metrics to know. Be accurate.

No one likes opening their bank account to others. That said, for us to get a clear understanding of your potential, we need to know your current revenue and funding amounts. This information is kept completely confidential.

Let us know what you want to get out of the program.

We’re here to help and support you. We want to make sure your objectives for participating in the program align with what we are able to deliver.

Don’t make us guess what your company does.

We ask a bunch of questions about your product, customers, competitive advantage, biggest competitors, challenges, ect… This is where you really showcase what your company does and what makes it better than the rest. Make sure you’re being specific in your claims — we’ll take narrow specificity over broad genericism every single time. Also, remember tip #2.

Show us who you are

At the end of the day, companies are only as good as the people running them. Cohort companies build strong peer relationships, which rely on our bringing together an absolutely awesome group of individuals in each cohort. Bonus points for applications that showcase a little of who you are as people.

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