Prominent Canadian and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and investors today announced the launch of a new accelerator program based in Vancouver. GrowLab is a “startup boot camp” for entrepreneurs whose companies can receive up to $25,000 in seed funding, four months of mentorship, free office space and the opportunity to pitch investors at the end of the program for follow-on funding. The program will be based in Vancouver for the first three months: the fourth month will be spent in San Francisco. GrowLab is now accepting applications for its fall program, with five companies to be chosen for the first cohort, which will be starting in August 2011.
“We created GrowLab to provide financing and mentor support to help build tomorrow’s great companies,” says Leonard Brody, President of Clarity Digital and one of GrowLab’s founders. “Our approach is entrepreneur-centric. We’re founded on the principal that if we find and support talented entrepreneurs, their ideas can grow into truly disruptive companies.”
In an effort to continue building a strong start up ecosystem, the accelerator has signed on many high-profile angel and venture investors. Its three lead investors are the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), iNovia Capital and BlackBerry Partners Fund.
BDC Venture Capital VP for Strategic Initiatives, Senia Rapisarda says, “BDC VC has always had a strong focus on early-stage technology development. Accelerators like GrowLab play a pivotal role in providing entrepreneurs with “smart capital” – both financing and expertise. Accelerators mentor entrepreneurs. They also provide them with the introductions and global connections they need to hasten the time to market. BDC is pleased to partner with GrowLab and establish the first accelerator of its kind in the country – one that will formally link Vancouver and Canada to Silicon Valley.”
GrowLab also intends to enter into a strategic partnership with lead investor BDC Venture Capital in which BDC will offer certain graduates of the accelerator program up to $150,000 in follow-on financing (convertible debt) to fund their immediate action plans. Senia Rapisarda adds, “BDC believes strongly in GrowLab’s model and the follow-on financing program demonstrates our commitment to this initiative.”
Other GrowLab investors are the VC funds Rho Canada, Mohr Davidow Ventures, Growth Works and Yaletown Venture Partners, as well as angel investors Chris Albinson and Mike Edwards.
GrowLab was founded by Boris Wertz, one of Canada’s top angel investors and former COO of AbeBooks.com; Debbie Landa, founder of Dealmaker Media and creator of GROW Conference and Under the Radar; Jason Bailey, founder of Super Rewards (sold to Adknowledge); and Leonard Brody, President of Clarity Digital and former CEO of NowPublic. GrowLab’s Executive Director is Michael Tippett, a successful entrepreneur with nearly two decades of startup experience.