What is the Lazaridis Institute?
Housed in the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada, the Lazaridis Institute combines scholarly research, real-world market analysis, and industry best practices to identify obstacles to global competitiveness and optimize the management of high-growth technology companies.
What is Lazaridis ScaleUp?
Lazaridis ScaleUp is a late-stage accelerator that helps high-potential, fast-growing Canadian tech companies scale and compete globally. We provide founders and their teams the expert support they need to achieve global success. The program combines highly focused multi-day workshops led by industry leaders with twelve months of personalized, one-on-one expert mentoring.
How often do you run the program?
The program is offered on an annual basis to a small group of Canadian companies who complete a highly competitive selection process.
What types of tech companies apply?
Lazaridis ScaleUp works with tech and tech-enabled companies from a wide range of sectors, from hardware to software, medical devices to biotech agtech to entertainment, and retail to energy.
What makes Lazaridis ScaleUp different from other accelerators?
Lazaridis ScaleUp is a growth-stage accelerator. We are national and accept a broad range of tech companies. Thirty-four per cent of alumni companies have a woman founder or co-founder; nearly half of our mentors are women.
ScaleUp is designed for companies with revenues from $2-million to $30-million ARR. We are not a residential program. Founders and their exec teams meet virtually about once a month. We hope to return to in-person meetings in 2022; gathering for 2.5 days in three different cities across Canada and the U.S. Our mentors and speakers have worked for globally successful firms, making their experience a perfect match for your outsized ambitions. Finally, we don’t charge and we don’t take equity. Now that’s different.
What criteria do you use to choose companies?
We’re looking for Canadian companies with high potential to be global category leaders. Cohort companies have met or exceeded the following criteria:
- Headquartered in Canada
- Trailing twelve month annual revenue of $2-million to $30-million
- Rapid revenue growth (>50%/year)
- Sufficient capital to fund fast growth
- Potential to be global category leader
My company doesn’t meet all of your criteria. Should I still apply?
Companies must be headquartered in Canada and you must have a team. Non-Canadian companies and one-person operations will not be considered. The selection panel is looking for a valid indicator of traction in the market (usually revenue and/or investment). If your company is close to our revenue cut off, and/or has attracted significant investment, it doesn’t hurt to apply. We provide feedback to every applicant company, and at worst will let you know what you need to do to be successful next year.
What is the selection process like?
The application is online, and we keep it as short as possible. Applications for Cohort 7 open June 2 and close August 2. We aim to finish our initial assessment by the end of August, after which we announce 20+ shortlisted companies. Shortlisted companies sign up for a date and time to pitch to the selection panel and answer questions via videoconference. The selection takes place over two or three days. Our selection panel is made up of Canadian and U.S. VCs and serial entrepreneurs. We announce the companies selected for Lazaridis ScaleUp the first week of September. Programming begins in November.
How much does the program cost?
We do not charge fees or take equity. All program costs, including workshops, mentorship, accommodation and food during program weekends, are covered by the Lazaridis Institute. We do not, however, cover travel expenses.
Will you provide my company with funding?
Lazaridis ScaleUp does not provide funding. Our goal is to help you prepare for your next round of funding.
How does my company benefit from participating in the program?
You benefit through mentorship, program workshops and peer networks. Recent research shows that people with mentors perform better and experience more work-life satisfaction. The hard part is finding the right mentor and establishing a relationship — that’s where we come in. We connect you to people with the experience and expertise to guide you during the times you need them most. Each company receives 120 mentor hours during the program year.
In addition to acting as mentors, members of our expert network facilitate intensive workshops throughout the program year. During COVID, these workshops have been exclusively virtual. After January 2022, we hope to schedule three in-person sessions, each lasting two days. Locations for the in-person sessions are TBA. During program sessions, companies work through current issues with their executive teams under the guidance of functional area experts, VCs and business leaders.
Our cohort companies tell us that they derive as much value from their peers as from the experts. You will work closely with some of the most talented, passionate, creative and driven men and women across Canada — people like you. The relationships you build in your cohort, and across cohorts on alumni weekends, will enrich your professional and your personal life for years to come.
What happens during an in-person session?
Program weekends generally cover two days and two evenings and are held in different cities across North America. For two days, members of our expert network run workshops, facilitate interactive sessions and participate in panel discussions. We host speaker and networking receptions, breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Throughout it all, cohort companies work through current challenges with the guidance of experts and the support of their peers.
Who are your mentors?
Our mentors are men and women who have played key roles in globally successful companies. Mentors come primarily from Canada, California and New York. Mentors are chosen for their expertise, but must also have the ability to support founders and their teams with excellent analytical and communication skills, energy, compassion and humour. Each mentor is carefully vetted and carefully matched with cohort company executives.
How does my company get matched with a mentor?
Our Chief Mentors, Geoff and Brandon, will interview you at length to understand your needs, priorities and preferences. You are then matched with a Lead Mentor, someone who understands your industry, and who will help you to decide which challenges to address first. Your Lead Mentor will work with Geoff and Brandon to match you with specialists and subject matter experts who best fit your needs and style of working.
Which companies have gone through the program?
You can check out all ScaleUp companies here.
How is COVID-19 affecting the Lazaridis ScaleUp?
Lazaridis ScaleUp has shifted in-person programming to virtual formats. We’ve brought on new resources so cohort companies can continue to access world-class expertise through webinars, topic roundtables, breakouts, private discussion groups and an inventory of digital assets. Our expert mentors have always worked remotely. We look forward to resuming in-person programming and will do so as soon as restrictions ease and we can ensure the safety of our participants.
How can I find out more about your program?
Sign up for office hours, and meet one-on-one with a member of our team. Ask us anything.
How do I apply?
Start your application here. But before that, read through our advice on completing an application.
Advice from our selection panel on submitting an application
Lazaridis ScaleUp is highly selective, accepting on average fewer than five per cent of companies that apply. Over the last five cohorts, we’ve seen hundreds of applications, both good and bad. Before starting yours, read through the following tips from our selection panel on how to submit an application that will get noticed.
Take the time to do it right
Applications for Cohort 7 close August 2. That gives you plenty of time to prepare an application submission that properly answers all the questions. This is a highly competitive program so make sure to provide all the information required. Just remember, we’re here to help. If you run into any questions or issues while submitting, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be clear. Be concise. Be accurate.
We’re not looking for your marketing pitch — although we can help with that if you get into the program. Our selection panel goes through hundreds of applications each cohort. Grab their attention by submitting the most up-to-date and relevant information available using simple language and avoiding hype.
Submit a strong, focused investor presentation
Who are you, what do you do, what sets you apart from every other company pitching to an investor? Make sure your deck is in a format we can open and that all the necessary information is included and is legible.
Funding and revenue are important metrics to know. Be accurate.
No one likes opening their bank account to others. That said, for us to get a clear understanding of your potential, we need to know your current revenue and funding amounts. This information is kept completely confidential.
Let us know what you want to get out of the program.
We’re here to help and support you. We want to make sure your objectives for participating in the program align with what we are able to deliver.
Don’t make us guess what your company does.
We ask about your product, customers, competitive advantage, biggest competitors, challenges, etc. Be specific, and be thorough. Prove to us you know your customer and your competition better than anyone else.
Show us who you are.
It’s all about people. Our cohort companies are alumni for life. We’re looking for people we can believe in -- for the long term.
Who from my company can attend virtual sessions? Who attends the in-person sessions?
Participation in virtual sessions is not limited. Founders and CEOs are encouraged to attend as many sessions as possible. Topics are announced in advance; some will be more appropriate for product people (engineers; product managers and product marketers), others will benefit finance execs or HR professionals, etc.
Up to four members of the company’s executive team are welcome to attend in-person sessions. We strongly recommend the CEO attend every in-person session. The other exec team members in attendance may vary according to the session topics. .