One of the biggest challenges for student entrepreneurs in building a business is capital – it costs money to develop a prototype, pay for professional services such as legal assistance, and then market the product or service to customers.
Enter the Desjardins Startup Prize.
“This award will mean that the University of Toronto’s best and brightest entrepreneurs will be able to secure funding for their startups without giving up the equity in their business,” said John French, Director, U of T Entrepreneurship (UTE). “More than $100,000 in non-dilutive prize money will be awarded.
The competition is open to all teams with at least one full-time U of T student or recent graduate, and awards will be presented during Entrepreneurship Week, which runs from March 6 to March 10, 2023.
“Entrepreneurship Week is the university’s annual celebration of innovation, with events across three campuses – and the perfect place for competitors to showcase their startups,” said French.
Finalists will be divided into early-stage and late-stage categories based on criteria, including funding to date and current revenue. They will each have five minutes to present to a group of investors, entrepreneurs and other business leaders before being asked questions in a format reminiscent of the CBC. Dragon’s Den. The prize money will be split between the two categories, with the top three in the early stage sharing $30,000 and those in the late stage sharing $70,000.
“Entrepreneurial engagement at U of T is growing rapidly,” said French. “There are nearly 500 teams each year who are building innovative solutions to the world’s problems, and this support from Desjardins gives them the critical resources they need to grow and succeed.”
The Desjardins Startup Prize is part of a larger three-year commitment as a lead partner for UTE that will also offer a financial literacy workshop for founders and the Desjardins Speaker Series – inspiring thought leadership events that address topics relevant to the UTE community.
“Entrepreneurs are critical to Canada’s socioeconomic development. They create jobs and new opportunities, they develop innovative solutions to our challenges while serving the needs of our communities,” said Guy Cormier, President and CEO of Desjardins Group.
“Supporting entrepreneurs means investing in the vitality of our communities.” That’s why we’re so proud to partner with the University of Toronto to support entrepreneurs and bring their dreams one step closer to reality.”