Community Futures Partners with SFU for Local Accelerator

social entreprise-main

The accelerator program is being facilitated by StartUp Squamish community space.

By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: April 18, 2014

Entrepreneurs in Squamish now have access to a powerful network to launch innovative start up companies.

On April 9, Simon Fraser University, in collaboration with Community Futures Howe Sound, launched Squamish’s first Social Venture Accelerator Program at the StartUp Squamish community workspace.

The accelerator is a ten week program sponsored by Vancity, which is designed so that social entrepreneurs can validate their business ideas to create a successful, profitable, scalable enterprise.

Shawn Smith, Director of RADIUS, SFU’s Social Innovation Lab and Program Instructor explains that “Social Ventures are companies that use a business model, rather than a funding model, to deliver social impact. From recycling to ride-share, entrepreneurs are solving many of society’s greatest challenges.”

Nearly thirty applications were received for the program and eight companies were selected, including seven new start ups. The companies are lead by a mix of veteran and novice entrepreneurs, and will be lead through a program designed specifically to launch new businesses.

 “We are seeing a surge in entrepreneurship and new business creation within Squamish and the Sea-to-Sky Corridor,” says Jeff Dawson, General Manager of Community Futures Howe Sound.

As part of the program, each entrepreneur is paired with a mentor that provides guidance and support while the start up tests and refines their business model.

“The mentors play a critical role,” says Mario Gomes, Co-Founder of StartUp Squamish and former mentor at a UBC accelerator.

“They share their experience and expertise with the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

On June 18,after the completion of the course, the entrepreneurs will pitch their start ups to the public at a Barn Raising event at the StartUp Squamish community workspace.

Companies will then have the opportunity to compete for cash and perks that will help their companies grow and increase their social impact.

David Crewson, co-founder of StartUp Squamish says that “Squamish is overflowing with talent, and our goal is to mobilize the entrepreneurial community through a supportive peer network.

Squamish must create economic opportunities to become a more sustainable and inclusive community, and direct our own social, economic and environmental future.”