Startup Canada and Mentorly: Helping Entrepreneurs Get a Head Start


Startup Canada has been a long-time Mentorly customer. They provide entrepreneurs across different industries with the resources and industry experts they need to take their operations to the next level.

What Is Startup Canada?

Startup Canada is a national nonprofit that connects entrepreneurs to the tools and community they need, led by CEO Kayla Isabelle. They find the right people, like industry experts and organizations from local regions and around the country, to advise and guide them in a particular field.

Startup Canada also empowers women and Indigenous entrepreneurs through a formal program so they can become productive leaders and build stronger connections. It provides the infrastructure a small business might need for peer support, advisors, funders, and other vital resources to strengthen the environment for entrepreneurship.

 

Startup Canada’s Mentorship Programs

Kayla Isabelle describes the importance of mentorship:

“We try to connect founders with industry experts, [mentors] in their local regions, formal programming that is designed to help them at a particular stage of their business. So the spirit of mentorship is in everything that we do.”

 This is why Startup Canada partnered with Mentorly in 2021. Together, they designed and deployed these valuable programs using Mentorly’s platform:

  • Startup Women

Women in business have the opportunity to meet industry leaders, subject matter experts, and key figures who can guide and support their business development journey. Community members can easily network and learn through intentional one-on-one connections.

The Startup Women program is powered by the Scotiabank Women Initiative and UPS, and they work together to make it accessible to as many entrepreneurs as possible.

Startup Women began as a one-month event. However, overwhelming demand and ease of scaling it due to Mentorly’s technology, it expanded to a year-long annual program and grew by 140% that year! 

  • Investment Readiness Program

An initiative funded by the Canadian government, the Investment Readiness Program (IRP) deploys $50 million in grants and contributions. It supports social purpose organizations (SPOs) that contribute to solving social, cultural, and environmental issues in the country.

The initiative also aids in strengthening the connection between all IRP Partners and the ecosystem, becoming a crucial source of connection, knowledge, and community support.

  • Startup Yukon

Startup Yukon provides access to valuable resources for businesses based in the Yukon area. Here, Yukon’s leading entrepreneurs can develop and launch their innovative ideas.

  • Startup Global

Startup Global, a flagship of Startup Canada, connects entrepreneurs with a network of global businesses. They can communicate with industry experts, fellow entrepreneurs, and national and international private/public sector partners and ask their burning questions. These sessions aim to support all entrepreneurs registered in the Startup Global Portal.

 

Challenges Faced by Startup Canada and How Mentorly Helped

Startup Canada has been thriving for several years but faced many challenges along the way, especially during the pandemic. Their programming needed methods to scale with ease. 

Kayla Isabelle describes this difficult period: “Team members set up these invitations manually, connecting both the founder and the mentor, and doing so with hundreds of entrepreneurs across the country, all at the same time during one-day events that we were running online. And as you can imagine, this was inefficient. It was often very stressful to get these meetings opened and set.”

Mentorly’s platform has enabled companies to plan, manage, and scale their mentoring programs and leadership development. Startup Canada benefited from this system’s sophistication.

Kayla outlines the benefits of this partnership: “It seemed like really a match made in heaven when we were trying to build this online space to create connections, make it easier for founders to find the right person they want to talk to. And Mentorly was definitely the best platform for us to do that.”

 

Problem: Online Infrastructure
Before the pandemic, Startup Canada often held mentorship program meetings in-person, allowing entrepreneurs and mentors to connect. However, the lockdowns demonstrated the immediate need for robust infrastructure in the online space.

Manual processes resulted in:

  • Inefficiency – Startup Canada soon realized that manually setting up hundreds of online meetings for a one-day event was very inefficient.
  • Lack of data – Online meetings made their team question the limited data they received after every meeting. While general surveys were sent out to participants, core details were often lacking, leading to a lack of information for future operations.

Mentorly’s Impact
Through Mentorly, manual administrative tasks have been significantly reduced. The execution and operation of the mentorship program have become much more efficient. Mentorly provides fantastic, robust tools that have allowed Startup Canada’s team members to focus on other parts of the program.

Their Program Manager says: “Mentorly offers a seamless, user-friendly experience while providing organizations with concrete and impactful ROIs. Many days, the tool saves our team 3-4 hours.”

 

Problem: Bilingual Requirements
Startup Canada’s community across Canada had bilingual needs that the company couldn’t meet. Having the option for a second language not only helps the current pool of entrepreneurs but also accommodates new community members.

Mentorly’s Impact
Mentorly offers English and French, making it an ideal solution for Canadian companies. Soon, there will be more robust multilingual support. This has allowed a wider talent pool to join the platform and benefit from Startup Canada’s resources.

 

Problem: Progress Tracking
Another problem was measurement. Understanding and measuring the number of founders who made successful connections, their experiences, which mentors they liked, what skills were they looking to improve and their insights proved challenging.

Mentorly’s Impact
Tracking and measuring data from the mentorship program can help managers learn where there is a need for improvement and how it can be implemented. Through Mentorly, Startup Canada gained critical insights to tweak subject-specific programs for every new session.

Here are some examples of key results driven in the programs by using Mentorly:

  • Over 750 mentorship sessions have been completed 
  • Top mentors often mentored 33 times in one year, that is almost one session a week!
  • The average rating of sessions is 4.7/ 5, or a 94% satisfaction rating
  • Ratings for Startup Yukon were 5/5 for all sessions, a perfect satisfaction rating!

 

 

Scaling Together: The Synergistic Partnership of Mentorly and Startup Canada

Mentorly’s platform has provided Startup Canada with the infrastructure it needed to thrive during the pandemic and beyond. This increased efficiency and productivity and helped the team focus on crucial tasks like collecting and assessing data and building connections.

Mentorly’s bilingual platform has helped Startup Canada reach a wider audience, creating a larger pool of entrepreneurs and subject-matter experts. Additionally, the data provided led to actionable insights and further improvement.

Mentorly’s dashboard and ease of access are crucial in shaping the startup community’s ecosystem, solving problems one at a time.

With Mentorly’s assistance, technology and supportive team, Startup Canada can now dedicate more time to strategic project planning, as the platform ensures that every member of their community enjoys a meticulously curated, simple, and personalized experience within their mentorship programs. This shift, alongside collaborating with partners and leveraging ecosystem resources, has allowed Startup Canada to channel its work toward building impactful programming for Canadian entrepreneurs. The result is a more substantial and vibrant entrepreneurial community. Advanced technology solutions facilitated this growth, transforming the organization into a larger and healthier ecosystem.