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University of Waterloo

Waterloo, ON

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How to Start a Startup at Waterloo

Student Groups

Entrepreneurship Society - student entrepreneurship group that aims to build inclusive innovation by exposing students of all faculties to Waterloo's entrepreneurial ecosystem

UW Blueprint - building and promoting technology for social good. Blueprint partners with non-profits to provide technology services such as websites, mobile applications, analysis tools---free of charge.

Product Vision Club - student product club that aims to foster product leadership and perspective among engineering-­focused students at Waterloo regardless of their career path.

Data Science Club - UW's community for those who want to learn and talk about data science

UWUX - UW's UX and product design community

CS Club - promoting knowledge and interest in Computer Science at UW

St. Paul's Greenhouse - a community for innovators who want to create social or environmental change.

Hack the North - student organization that runs Canada's largest hackathon

Accelerators and Incubators

Velocity - an exceptional incubator program for early-stage, pre-seed tech startups that offers exceptional resources including state-of-the-art labs and workshops, expert mentors and programming (see Hackathons and Competitions section for more details)

Fierce Founders - holds a bootcamp for female entrepreneurs starting out as well as an intensive track for female founded companies with less than $5 million USD in investment - may qualify to receive matching seed funds of $50k

LaunchPad - Laurier's incubator run by the Schlegel Centre - provides support, mentorship and resources to startups founded by Laurier students, alumni and community members at the Waterloo and Brantford campuses.

Launch Waterloo - a non-profit start-up venture that will create and curate STEAM-powered programming to harness the creativity and curiosity of the community's youngest members. It will include Co-Lab - a youth innovation lab

Communitech - a resource for tech companies in the Waterloo Region that helps them to scale revenue and increase international sales by providing mentorship and connections. Also provides access to a job board and provides assistance in finding funding

Hackathons and Competitions

Hack the North - a 36-hour long hackathon run by a Waterloo student organization - 1200+ students from around the globe travel to Waterloo to hack annually in September.

EngHack - a free engineering hackathon, beginners welcome

StarterHacks - has hosted Canada's first and largest beginner-focused hackathon at the University of Waterloo since 2017

Velocity Concept $5K Grant Pitch Competition - includes a round of semi-finals and a round of finals to compete for a $5K check

Velocity Fund Pitch Competition - Canada's premier early-stage startup competition - Three times a year, early-stage startups compete to receive $50K investments from the Velocity Fund. Early-stage startups in health tech may also be eligible to compete for an additional $50,000 investment from the Velocity Health Tech Fund.

ETH Waterloo - Cryptocurrency hackathon where leading minds from all over the world collaborate together on decentralized applications using Ethereum.

Quantum Valley Investments Problem Pitch Competition - invites teams of up to four students to choose an important industry problem and thoroughly research its history, scope, and impact. Students pitch their findings to a panel of judges to compete for a share of up to $30,000 in grant funding.

Code/Design to Win - annual competition held by Communitech in Kitchener with $12,000 in top prizes

Additional Resources

Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and Business - Entrepreneurship hub at Waterloo

E-Launch Awards - awarded to the winners of a pitch competition among students in the E Co-op program. Up to five scholarships of $5,000 are awarded each term.

Norman Esch Entrepreneur Award - provides a minimum of six awards, ranging in value from $5,000 -$10,000 each, for student teams enrolled in the Faculty of Engineering's Fourth-Year Capstone Design Project. The awards are open to student teams from all departments within the Faculty of Engineering.

Norman Esch Enterprise Award - The Norman Esch Enterprise Co-op Awards are awarded to engineering students in the Entrepreneurship Co-op program. Up to five scholarships of $5,000 are awarded each term.

Norman Esch Capstone Design Award - provides a minimum of six awards, ranging in value from $5,000-$10,000 each, for student teams enrolled in the Faculty of Engineering's Fourth-Year Capstone Design Project. The awards are open to student teams from all departments within the Faculty of Engineering.

Soft Landing Program - help take your business global - the Canadian Digital Media Network's Soft Landing program offers qualified, mature startups and scale-ups exposure to business opportunities outside of Canada. The goal of the program is to support Canadian tech driven companies to open new markets, close international sales, secure investment and connect with new partners abroad.

Notable Courses

BET 100 | Foundations of Entrepreneurial Practice

BET 300 | Foundations of Venture Creation

BET 340/BET 310 | Essentials of Entrepreneurial Planning and Execution

BET 320 | Entrepreneurial Strategy

BET 350 | Customer Experience Design

BET 400 | Early-Stage Venture Marketing

BET 420 | Entrepreneurship for Social Impact

BET 450 | Leadership

Funding

Contrary - University-focused venture fund investing up to $500K in emerging startups launching from the university scene

Velocity Graduate Student Startup Fund - a unique opportunity for graduate students to turn their research into a startup - first place is $20k, second place is $10k, and third place is $5k to help take your research to market

Open Sky Ventures - for both tech and non-tech companies - provides consulting, mentoring, and funding to high-potential entrepreneurs and startups

Quantum Valley Investment - Focusing on the commercialization of breakthrough technologies in Quantum Information Science

Front Row Ventures - student-run fund backing Canada's most promising student founders

Student Venture Fund - SVF will allow students to evaluate founding management, complete market research, value companies, conduct thorough due diligence, recommend and make investment recommendations, work with other angel and institutional investors, and manage a portfolio of investments in early stage companies.

Romulus Cap - early stage fund focusing on deep tech companies


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