L-SPARK Accelerator FAQs
Why was L-SPARK created?
We created L-SPARK in order to help a new generation of software companies flourish in Canada. Our aim is to retain strong talent in enterprise software and build scalable SaaS companies right here in Canada.
What does L-SPARK look for in the startups they work with?
We’re always on the hunt for companies that excel in three categories: people, product and market. We work with founders of B2B SaaS companies who:
- Are ready to scale up with the help of investment
- Want to transition from a services to a SaaS company
- Have deep domain expertise but lack experience in scaling a software company
- Are passionate about building a software product that will change the way our world operates
Typically, we look for the following attributes: strong and versatile founding team members, a market-ready and viable B2B SaaS product with proven market need, traction, a strong reason for seeking entry into the Accelerator, IP ownership, and a determined drive to meet aggressive goals.
Why would a founder choose L-SPARK?
Most companies in Canada are not able to attract risk capital in order to grow into global companies. We created L-SPARK to position companies to be able to build a plan to deploy capital that is raised from institutional investors so that they have a chance to become a global player.
Companies want to participate in our L-SPARK Accelerator program because of its focus on SaaS and its emphasis on revenue generation. We have seen that our focus helps founders navigate the unique challenges of scaling and growing a B2B SaaS startup. In particular, our delivery of SaaS-specific content aids founders in understanding how to become investor ready, reach important metrics and measure growth accurately by outlining accurate KPIs.
We have pulled together a strong group of experienced mentors and advisors who have thrived as software CEOs, sales experts and marketing advisors. They also help founders validate momentum so they can attract institutional investment in order to build globally competitive companies.
When can I apply for the L-SPARK Accelerator program?
L-SPARK does not accept applications on an ongoing basis. Applications are open once per year for approximately three months. During this time, members of the team will visit other tech hubs to meet with potential fits for the programs.
Although applications aren’t continuously open, L-SPARK is keen on getting to know prospective entrepreneurs at any time of the year. We host and attend many networking events in the community and hold open office hours.
How long is the L-SPARK Accelerator program?
L-SPARK offers an intensive six-month program.
We think in terms of actions and results. The L-SPARK program will grow revenue, market reach and opportunities through intensive SaaS workshops, one-on-one guidance from subject matter experts, and interaction with successful SaaS entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs will have an option to continue to engage for an additional three months with a business development executive post program to pursue fundraising and sales efforts.
What do I get access to during the L-SPARK Accelerator program?
Founders have access to:
- A C-level mentor with startup and enterprise software experience for 1 day per week
- Introductions to potential channel partners, clients and investors
- Business development and go-to-market strategy support (access to sales and marketing advisors)
- B2B SaaS workshops, practice pitch opportunities and other programming
- Discounted rates for infrastructure and software services
- Assistance with government grants and programs like IRAP, OCE, NSERC
- Office space, desks, communication services, fully-equipped meeting rooms
- The opportunity to participate in SAAS NORTH, Canada’s leading SaaS conference
Do I get to choose my mentor?
The L-SPARK team will work with you to pair a mentor to your company based on the needs of the startup and the mentor’s skillset and experience.
Do I need to be physically present in Ottawa to participate in the program?
L-SPARK is located in Ottawa, Ontario. In order to fully benefit from L-SPARK’s programs, founders should be prepared to spend some time throughout the program in our space. For founders who are outside of Ottawa, we use Zoom, Slack and other tools to stay connected.
Founders will also join us for three pitch events during the program in Toronto, Ottawa and the Thousand Islands so travel to and from the pitch events on those days will be required.
Currently we can only accept Canadian-based companies.
How much funding do you provide startups?
Today, L-SPARK does not have a fund so we do not invest in the company. In exchange for the six months of intensive services, L-SPARK takes a 3% equity in your company upon selection and your agreement to participate.
What is expected of me if I’m chosen to participate in the L-SPARK Accelerator?
We expect participating startups to be fully engaged in workshops, programming and pitch sessions. The program is intensive so consistent participation in weekly operational review meetings is key to keep track of and meet milestones.
More than this, being in the L-SPARK space is key to networking with peers and accessing advisors who can compliment the guidance offered by your mentor.
Does L-SPARK have a demo day?
Yes. L-SPARK hosts a Demo Day for the entire community in which founders present their progress as they are set to graduate from the program. This event happens in Ottawa and has typically seen 400-500 people attend. We also host a similar event in Toronto that is much more investor-focused and typically sees between 200-250 people at that event. For further details on the SaaS Showcase visit:
Following this broader event, founders get the chance to meet and pitch to investors and close members of the community at a closed event held in Gananoque. For further details on Cottage Pitchfest visit:
I’ve applied, what should I expect?
Once your application is received, a member of the L-SPARK business development team will be in touch to learn a bit more about your company and team.
If your startup is shortlisted for the L-SPARK Accelerator, you will be invited to participate in a bootcamp at L-SPARK. A mentor will be assigned to work with you to help refine the content of your slide deck, and you’ll receive pitch coaching.
The bootcamp culminates in a Pitchfest, where founders present to a selection committee made up of members from leading Canadian Venture Capital groups and Corporate Partners. The committee is responsible for recommending the companies that will be invited to participate in the program.
What happens after graduating from the Accelerator program?
The L-SPARK team checks in with alumni to learn of any developments or news with each company. You will still have access to many of the support systems that you had when you were in the program. We want each alumnus to remain a member of the L-SPARK family, so we host alumni events and will continue to provide invites to closed events on an ad hoc basis.