Lazaridis institute’s ScaleUp program helps take Canadian tech companies to global stage

Photo by Darien Funk

The Lazaridis Institute for the Management of Technology Enterprises’ ScaleUp Program helps Canadian tech companies  scale and compete globally. This is cultivated by contributing founders and their teams the professional assistance they need to survive the challenges of accomplishing global prosperity.

 “The program focuses on making the highest potential Canadian startups globally competitive,” Kim Morouney, associate professor; managing director at Lazaridis Institute for the Management of Technology Enterprises said.

“We address what we think is a key constraint for Canadian entrepreneurial companies. We provide them the access to very senior talent who have had experience in growing companies to a global size.”

 The ScaleUp Program customizes everything they do to the companies in the cohort.

“We customize everything we do to the companies in the cohorts. We use workshops, peer support groups, and personalized mentorships that support their needs. We work with the founder or CEO and their whole team,” Morouney said.

“We don’t take equity and we don’t charge and we’re a national program.”

“We match them with mentors from companies like Apple, Facebook, Twitter … We give them access to very experienced senior people, who help them to grow more quickly by avoiding mistakes and making costly choices that aren’t going to work for them,” she said.

Seven people are actively working full-time for the Lazaridis institute in the school of business and economics. “We are like a department or a unit within this organization,” Morouney said. . 

The program impacts student life as well. ScaleUp provides grants and awards for people who are doing research in this area.

“We want to strengthen our school offerings for students who are interested in tech or interested in high gross companies,” Morouney said.

“We have worked with co-op students in the past and we are definitely interested in working with co-op students in the future. We promote Laurier Co-op to our companies.” 

This year, the ScaleUp Program has shown tremendous success as this is the program’s biggest cohort ever. In terms of measuring a company’s growth, Morouney said it’s not always in terms of revenue. “We look at investment, we look at gross rates and the promise of a company, but we do look at revenues among other things.”

Their companies had come in between two million and 22 million dollars in revenue. “This year we’ve got three companies that are at or above $30 million. The reason that we’ve been able to attract such really successful and powerful companies with so much promise, is because our companies have shown great results,” Morouney said.

In less than four years the 50 companies, who have been through the program so far, have raised over $600 million in New Capital. “We’re very customized and only work with a small cohort of companies at a time, but we are very careful to customize to what they need when they need it.” 

The process for selecting companies is easier than one may think. “We use a panel and have every company apply online. All the panel members go through the online application and rank applications.”

The panelists get together and create a shortlist. This year’s shortlist was close to 30 companies from across Canada. The panelists then have to interview those companies. Morouney said, “Panelists have to argue and negotiate and pick the top companies.” 

There are 13 companies that were selected. One company included is BlueDot Toronto, which uses AI and human intelligence to predict the spread of infectious diseases. This company was also among the first to spot COVID-19. Another company, O2 Industries, which is based in Kitchener, Ontario, provides premium respiratory protection. 

There has been a positive and negative impact on companies since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. “Some companies had an increase in demand because of what they were already doing but in general, we see both. We see companies that went to 0 revenue and we see companies that started to grow by more than 100 per cent a month,” Morouney said.

The ScaleUp Program fortunately supports those companies who have been positively and those who have been negatively affected by the pandemic. Morouney said, “We support our alumni companies. We try to provide the support that we can to all of our alumni companies. For companies that are not in our program, we are offering webinars to companies that have applied.” 

This program is also a supporter of the Black Lives Movement. “For black founders, we provide mentorship, even though they are not in our program.” 

“We are trying to expand our offerings. Now, we are reaching out to create programming for ‘non-tech’ industries who want to use the lessons of tech to grow more rapidly, to understand how you use data to help improve your business,” Morouney said. 

The ScaleUp Program is a big support for women entrepreneurs. The program has had promising results in the number of women founders who have applied, and founders who have been in the program.

Morouney said that they are always looking to do more. ScaleUp is developing programming that is for women founders. “We want to begin to offer that programming for free.”

“We are also launching a free program that is funded by the Ontario government. Once we get this program off the ground, then we’re going to put together some programming for women founders.” 

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