Competition for Seed Funding
The steps for entering in the 2023 competition are outlined below, for reference.
Top prize of $10,000 sponsored by Elina Chow, UTSC alumni.
Requirements: at least one women founder on the team.
There are five awards of $5,000.
In this annual event, seed money is awarded to residents in The Hub - promising students and recent alumni - who have taken concrete steps to create new businesses and launch a new business initiative. It is an entrepreneurial competition. Think "Dragons' Den" but without the need to give up any equity; The Hub does not take equity and there are no payments owed to the facility for its services. You are simply pitching your idea for some much needed initial seed funding. This year, residents in The Hub can win one of five awards of $5,000 (cash, plus up to an additional $5,000 in Amazon Web Service and/or Google credits).
- Is your idea well formulated?
- Do you know how you stack up against competitors?
- Do you have a complete team to undertake your idea?
- Can you create revenue within the coming year?
- Are you ready to commit time to building your idea?
We encourage you to join The Hub as early as you can - to take advantage of our workshops and also to get our advice in crafting your business. But you must take residence in The Hub by November 30, 2022 (deadline for consideration in the competition), to allow us sufficient time to help you shape your materials for submission in the competition.
Participants who are interested in creating a startup should know from the outset, that unlike the Dragons’ Den TV show and other incubators and accelerators, The Hub does not take an equity stake in your idea. Your purpose of joining The Hub is to get you started. That said, it is also not just pie in the sky. Your ability to do what you intend, your passion for your idea, and the capability of your team to deliver will all prove vital. You will need to convince the judges that you indeed can do what you propose!
Please note: unlike previous years, it is required that you take residence in The Hub by Nov 30, 2022 and complete a set of requirements to then be eligible for the competition (see below). During the period of University closure and pandemic, residence is met through regular meetings online, via ZOOM.
Eligibility is restricted to residents in The Hub.
Criteria for residence:
- must be University of Toronto students or recent alumni (up to 2 years from graduation) - OR - must have a member of their core team who meets this qualification.
- must have a member of their core team who is a University of Toronto Scarborough student or recent alum - OR - must have an exception from The Hub's Director, based on fit with The Hub.
- may include students and recent alums from other universities or colleges as part of their core team, but moneys cannot be awarded to such founders directly.
- must state if other entrepreneurial funding has been previously received.
- must state if in residence at another incubator and status of such residence as of January, 2023.
- must be either full-time or part-time students, or recent graduates of their institution.
- may include those who are taking a break from their studies, so long as the break has not exceeded 3 consecutive years.
- must only be participating as a core team member of one proposed startup.
Considerations for residence:
The Hub has supported a wide range of startups and startup ideas. It has also supported those who are building a small business, as well as those creating a larger venture. It has supported companies involved in manufacturing, as well as those involved in providing service. Overall, startups:
- can span a full range of possibilities; previous startups in The Hub have manufactured car wax, converted organic waste to biodegradable plastic, provided food delivery, offered freelance creative services, programmed apps, and a great range of other ideas.
- may be either "for profit" or "not for profit" but must present a commitment to launch a business idea - product or service - within 12 to 18 months.
- may be either "scalable" or "sustainable" to qualify for support.
- must present as part of the University's Startup Showcase, usually held in March.
- must allow the University to promote them via social media channels and online communications, so long as it does not violate or threaten their unique startup advantage, i.e. such communications will not reveal a company's "competitive advantage" - what is called your "secret sauce" for success.
- must only include founders who meet the eligibility criteria, stated above.
- must take "residence" in The Hub as a requirement of the award; during the period of University closure and pandemic, residence is completed online, i.e. participate in regular meetings with coaches, take part in events of The Hub, and participate as part of The Hub's entrepreneurship community.
Founders who are resident in The Hub may be deemed ineligible for the competition if they:
- have previously won an award from The Hub's annual intake competition in excess of $1,000.
- have received funding from another incubator/accelerator in excess of $5,000.
- will be in residence at another incubator/accelerator as of January 2023.
- are part of a startup that has received funding investment in excess of $100,000.
- are part of a startup that has established revenue streams in excess of $50,000 annually.
- have taken a break from their program of study for more than 3 years.
- are not students or alumni of the University of Toronto; such founders may participate on a team, but cannot themselves receive awards.
- are proposing an idea that does not align with the mission of the University of Toronto.
Qualifying for the competition
In order to qualify for the competition, all Hub resiidents must complete the following workshops offered by The Hub (either as a group class or individually, one on one):
- how to create a startup
- how to create a business plan
- how to validate your value proposition
- how to create a marketing plan
- how to pitch your business
In addition, they are encouraged to complete workshops that are offered via the Library:
- industry research for startups
- company and competitor research
- data resources for entrepreneurs
All entering contestants for the competition must also complete and submit the following for qualification:
- The Hub's eligibility questionnaire
- a 3-minute video pitch (see below)
- a business canvas
The Hub specifically encourages applications from a diverse body of founders, specifically with the interest towards increasing The Hub's gender and cultural diversity.
Step One - Qualifying Round (video pitch) * required
- Become resident in The Hub by November 30, 2022 * required
- Buy a free ticket on Eventbrite by December 10, 2022, * required
- Having bought a ticket you will receive an email from The Hub (sent manually, not automatically) that asks for you to submit several documents
- email confirmation, *required.
- Hub onboarding form, *required.
- business model canvas, *required.
- Having bought a ticket you will receive an email that instructs you how to submit your video for consideration. You will be asked to upload your video on Google Drive and to share it with The Hub. *required
- Your 3-minute video to The Hub for Round 1 of the competition should include:
- name of your startup.
- problem being addressed.
- why this problem "belongs" to you, i.e. your passion and/or competitive advantage.
- market analysis, i.e. what is the demand for the product or service you are proposing, includes social impact if applicable.
- market share, what is the share of the market that you propose to acquire.
- your proposed solution.
- your team.
- your proposed timeline.
- Submission of your 3-minute video must be made to The Hub on or before 11:59 pm, December 10, 2022: * required
- Videos will not be released publicly; their sole use is for the award competition; they are destroyed after the competition; please keep a copy for yourself.
- The preferred method of sharing your video is via Google Drive. Upload your video, and then share with The Hub by setting the option "anyone with the link" and then sending your link to email@example.com.
Step Two - Finalist Round (live pitch) * Updated for 2022-23
- The Hub will notify all entrants regarding their status for the Finalist Round:
- The Hub will select the top 18* entrants from the Qualifying Round to proceed to the Finalist Round.
- submitted materials, plus the submitted video are used to determine selection.
- please note, a failture to be selected for the Finalist Round does not mean that you leave The Hub; it simply removes you from consideration of initial seed funding.
- Finalists will be asked to pitch their business, * required
- Length of the pitch for semi-finalists is three minutes (maximum four minutes), followed by a two-minute Q&A from judges*
- The pitch should include the following elements:
- the problem and why you are ideally positioned to solve it (storytelling component).
- the value proposition.
- the competitive context.
- the market opportunity.
- the business model (whether for-profit or non-profit), i.e. who are your customers, what are your revenue streams, etc.
- how you plan to approach the market.
- your team and skills.
- your timeframe.
- optional video component, up to 60 seconds on a technical aspect of your business, e.g. app or software working - only one video component allowed.
- The pitch date is Jan 22, 2023
- The outcome of Finalist Round will be announced by end of day.
- Please note: your pitch will be made in front of all entrants to the competition, as well as the judges and The Hub staff; it is not open to the public at large.
- Those who did not make it to the Finalist Round are welcome to attend the Finalist Round of pitch competitions.
Subject to Change
The Hub reserves the right to change any and all of the criteria of this competition at any time, without advance notication, and also reserves the right to cancel the competition for any reason whatsoever should it be deemed, to The Hub's sole discretion, to be necessary.
Judges may award all, some, or none of the award moneys, based on their decisions regarding the competition results.
Details posted here are subject to change.
Please check back periodically for updates.
Last updated January 20, 2022