Startup Intake

Competition for Seed Funding

The steps for entering in the 2021 competition are outlined below, for reference.

In this annual event, seed money is awarded to promising students and recent alumni, who want 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, you can win up to $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?

You are free to work with The Hub prior to the next competition, to have us help you shape your materials for submission. In fact, we encourage you to join The Hub as early as you can - both to take advantage of our workshops and also to get our advice in advance of preparing your submission materials. The best time to come and see us is now.

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: in the event that you are successful in winning an award, you and your team are required to take a "seat" in the facility. During the period of University closure and pandemic, this requirement is met through regular meetings online, via ZOOM. In winning an award, the funds may not be taken elsewhere, and the release of funds is linked to startup performance.

 

Eligibility

Founders must reveal and declare to The Hub in writing that they meet the following eligibility criteria; founders:

  • 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, 2022.
  • 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 the one proposed startup.

 

Ineligibility

Founders must reveal and declare to The Hub in writing that they are free of the following ineligibility criteria; founders are ineligible if they:

  • previously won an award from The Hub's annual intake competition.
  • received funding from another incubator/accelerator in excess of $5,000.
  • will be in residence at another incubator/accelerator as of January 2022.
  • 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.

 

Criteria and Requirements

Startups

  • must focus on an idea that fits with the overall mission of the University of Toronto and The Hub.
  • 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, built freelance businesses, 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.

Awards

  • are issued as stipendiary awards issued to startup founders; the amount is up to $2,500 per undergraduate student, up to $3,500 per graduate student, and up to $3,500 per recent alumni, up to a maximum of $5,000 per startup.
  • may be divided into more than one payment, and the full amount of the award may be reduced if a startup abandons their project or fails to make significant progress towards completion of key goals, as specified:
    • registering their business.
    • branding their identity.
    • completion of business plan.
    • completion of wireframe (if software) or outline of minimum viable product or service (if not software).
    • completion of market validation.
    • completion of market research.
    • participation in The Hub, attending coaching sessions along with key workshops and events.

All projects are expected to have reached the above key goals by end of August 2022, with a launch of business establishing revenue from at least one client or customer by that time.

 

Specifically Encouraged

Founders

  • who increase The Hub's gender and cultural diversity. 
  • are new to entrepreneurship.

 

Process

Step One - Qualifying Round (video pitch) * required

  • Buy a free ticket on Eventbrite: * 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
  • 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, November 15, 2021: * 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 thehub@utsc.utoronto.ca.

Step Two - Semi-Finalist Round (live pitch)

  • The Hub will notify all entrants regarding their status for the Semi-Finalist Round:
    • The Hub will select the top 15 entrants from the Qualifying Round to proceed to the Semi-Finalist Round.
    • submitted materials, plus the submitted video are used to determine selection.
    • please note, a failture to be selected for the Semi-Finalist Round does not mean that you cannot join The Hub; it simply removes you from consideration of initial seed funding.
    • all selected entrants will be required to reconfirm their intention to proceed and an acceptance to The Hub's residence, if successful:
      • it is anticipated that the physical space of The Hub will reopen by Winter 2022.
      • residence includes an obligation to work regularly with coaches, and attend The Hub's events and workshops - physically OR virtually (online streamed).
      • residence also includes an obligation to report routine statistics to The Hub on a quarterly basis, i.e. generated revenue, investments and awards, size of team, and general performance.
         
  • Semi-Finalists will be asked to pitch (either live or virtually live if we are in lockdown) their business, * required
    • Length of the pitch for semi-finalists is 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 is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, January 29, 2022, place, time and date to be confirmed, * required.
  • The outcome of the Semi-Finalist Round will be announced after lunch, and Finalists will be asked to prepare for the Finalist Pitch Round.
    • In the event that there are only 10 teams or fewer qualifying for the Semi-Finalist Round, all participants will proceed to the Finalist Pitch Round.
    • In the unlikely event that there are no teams deemed to qualify for the Finalist Round, the competition will be suspended.
       
  • 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 Semi-Finalist Round are welcome to attend the Semi-Finalist  and Finalist Round of pitch competitions.

Step Three - Finalist Round (live pitch)

  • The Hub will notify all Semi-Finalists regarding their status for the Finalist Round:
    • The Hub will select the top 15 entrants from the Qualifying Round to proceed to the Semi-Finalist Round.
    • previous scores are NOT included in the calculation of the Finalist Round.
    • please note, a failture to be selected for the Finalist Round does not mean that you cannot join The Hub; it simply removes you from consideration of initial seed funding.
    • all selected entrants will be required to take residence in The Hub, if successful:
      • it is anticipated that the physical space of The Hub will reopen by Winter 2022.
      • residence includes an obligation to work regularly with coaches, and attend The Hub's events and workshops - physically OR virtually (online streamed).
      • residence also includes an obligation to report routine statistics to The Hub on a quarterly basis, i.e. generated revenue, investments and awards, size of team, and general performance.
         
  • Finalists will be asked to pitch (either live or virtually live if we are in lockdown) their business, * required
    • Length of the pitch for finalists is five minutes, followed by a three-minute Q&A from judges.
    • The pitch should include all of the elements of the semi-final pitch, with additional attention given to:
      • the market opportunity.
      • the business model (whether for-profit or non-profit), i.e. who are your customers, what are your revenue streams, etc.
      • your team and skills.
         
  • The pitch is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, January 29, 2022, place, time and date to be confirmed, * required. It will be held the same day as the Semi-Finalist Round.
  • The results of the Finalist Round will be announced at end of day.
    • In the unlikely event that further deliberation is needed, judges may indicate a need to announce results the following 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 here periodically for updates.

Last updated October 7, 2021.