About Startup Global

What is it?

Startup Global connects a pan-Canadian cohort of entrepreneurs committed to growing global businesses with a network of partners committed to their success. This annual flagship program empowers founders to start their business with a global mindset and connect with key industry partners to set up for success.

What can you expect?

Throughout the year, beginning in April, Startup Canada will be hosting several live webinars, a pitch competition, and exclusive in-kind help to support your journey to exporting. All of our Startup Global features can be accessed for free through our Startup Global portal.

What’s New in 2022?

Made just for you

We’re committed to supporting you at every point of your journey to going global. That’s why we’ve built a clear step-by-step guide in our portal that takes you through the fundamental stages when exporting.

Exclusive support to grow your business

We’re ringing in 2022 with the addition of in-kind support for the Top 100 Pitch Competition Semi-Finalists. Provided by our leading global partners, this tailored support includes pitch bootcamps, 1:1 mentor and advisory sessions, as well as partner advisory circles. These advisory circles will offer cohort members exclusive, direct connections to a vast network of private sector experts.

A look inside the portal

Whether you want to participate in our pitch competition, register for a webinar, gain access to exporting guides, meet with expert advisors for support, or simply interested in selling overseas as an entrepreneur, Startup Global is your go-to portal to make your business ready to take the global stage.

This year, we have enhanced the portal experience by providing a straight-forward step-by-step map of an entrepreneur’s journey to exporting. Early-stage entrepreneurs can now easily navigate through the exporting process and find content specific to your needs.

Register Now


Startup Global

Pitch Competition

We’re excited to bring back our Startup Global Pitch Competition to help you grow your business for the world. Check out what you can expect from this year’s competition.

Wild Card Pitch Applications

Missed the first round? From July 4 - July 31, we will be accepting Wild Card applications for the Startup Global Pitch Competition

Pitch Application Criteria

For 2022, pitch competition applications will be open solely to startups (businesses with less than $1,000,000 in revenue or have no current sales as of February 1, 2022) and that have business/operations in Canada.

Adjudication Criteria

Applications will be assessed with the following guidelines: Target market, objective, solution, leadership, traction (if any), competition and ability to go global.

UPS People’s Choice Award

In September, the public will vote for one candidate from the Top 100 who will automatically win $5,000 in cash, plus a spot at the Grand Finale.

Prizes

Win from an overall cash prize pool of $75,000 to help grow your business. Find the complete breakdown of and guidelines for this year’s prizes in the FAQ/portal.


Top 100 Semi-Finalists

Exclusive in-kind support

The Top 100 Semi-Finalists will be given exclusive in-kind support from our partners and sponsors to help with professional development, such as insightful advisory circles and practical pitch bootcamps. Semi-Finalists will also get exclusive access to a private Mentorly page featuring mentors from a range of industries and backgrounds, all aimed at helping the finalists get ready for the Pitch Competition as well as helping with their export readiness.

Partner Advisory Circles

Each co-presenting partner will be given the opportunity to host a 2-hour topic focused advisory circle with the Top 100 Semi-Finalists. Entrepreneurs will be given an opportunity to network with each partner, to learn more about each organization, and to gain advice on how our co-presenting partner can help in the journey to exporting.

Pitch Building Bootcamps

We will partner with support organizations to provide two pitch building bootcamps throughout the year to further aid the Top 100 Semi-Finalists for the Pitch Competition.

1:1 Mentor Support

The 1:1 mentor sessions are intended to provide globally aspiring and operating entrepreneurs with direct access to industry and subject matter experts, fellow entrepreneurs, and private/public sector partners. The sessions are 30 minutes each, facilitated on the Mentorly platform between April and October.

Live webinars

To help demystify the exporting process, we will facilitate four live webinars throughout the year aimed at early-stage entrepreneurs. We’ll be bringing back our Entrepreneurs Going Global Panels, as well as covering topics aligning with our new entrepreneur journey map such as market trends, entry strategies, and digital skills for expanding.

These panels are a unique opportunity to connect with leading organizations in the industry, and to build the foundation for key relationships when entering new and different markets.


Date: Thursday April 28, 2022

Event Description: Are you an early-stage entrepreneur looking to take your business into a new market? Hear from entrepreneurs who have “been there, done that.” Get a head start and listen to their experience of exporting their business, what they wish they knew before exporting, and save yourself from having to learn the hard way of the do’s and don’ts.

Watch the recording

Date: Thursday May 26, 2022

Event Description: For the last three years, exporting to the U.S. remains as the top market all of our Startup Global participants want to enter. Come listen to four entrepreneurs who have not only successfully brought their product into the U.S. market—but are thriving it in.

Watch the recording

Event Description: So you’ve evaluated your export readiness and developed your export plan. Now it’s time to identify a target market and develop your entry strategy. This webinar will bring you through these steps as well as the nitty gritty details of understanding free trade agreements and the role of trade policy—expand your business internationally with a strong brand presence.

Watch the recording

Date: Tuesday November 15, 2022

Event Description: If the pandemic has taught anything, it’s that getting your business online is the best move to expand your business. But even before 2020, there’s been an increase in businesses going digital and forgoing the traditional brick and mortar. This webinar aims to provide you with best practices for selling online, improve your digital marketing skills, and how to best utilize financing tools to help you scale abroad to get your product into the hands of customers in new markets.

Register Now


Past events

Our favourite highlights

See Startup Global (formerly the Canadian Export Challenge) in action over the years.


2021 Startup Global

Event recap

2021 Canada-Israel Joint Pitch Competition

Event recap

2020 Canadian Export Challenge

Watch Now

2019 Canadian Export Challenge

Watch Now

2018 Canadian Export Challenge

Watch Now

Testimonials

“Thank you so much for this opportunity. We are so incredibly grateful to be sharing our story alongside other incredible companies. With the extra funds it will really help us to continue our mission in eliminating plastic jugs on a global scale so thank you so much for this. We're very proud to be a Canadian company and very fortunate to have a program like startup global to support us. We're going to continue to represent Canadian entrepreneurship and Canadian companies as we continue our journey on this global stage.”

- Angie & Bernard (Kind Laundry) (Scale-up Winner)

“It's really through support networks like these that we're able to get so far, we definitely have a very global mission and could use all of the support from organizations like this that are looking to take Canadian companies global so thank you so much!”

- Myra (Alt Tex) (Startup Winner)

It’s time to go global

Whether you want to participate in pitch competitions and events, gain access to exporting guides, meet with expert advisors for support, or simply interested in selling overseas as an entrepreneur, Startup Global is your go-to portal to make your business ready to take the global stage. Get on the mailing list to be notified by filling the form below and selecting "Startup Global" in the program list.

Register now

Our program partners

Co-presenting partners

National partners

Community partners

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

If you applied to pitch between February 1 – April 11 2022 for the first round of applications and you were not selected, unfortunately, you cannot apply again.

If you were a wild card winner in a previous year, and did not win a cash prize, you are eligible to apply again.

If you were a Semi-Finalist in 2021 but was not selected to be in the Top 10, you can apply again this year. If you were a Top 10 Finalist in 2021, unfortunately, you cannot apply to pitch this year, however, you are welcome to participate in the Startup Global programming i.e. access the portal, attend webinars, etc.

To submit an application for the pitch competition, you’ll simply need to create a free account to our Startup Global portal. No pitch or pitch deck is required to submit your application.

Should you be selected in the Top 100, you will be required to pitch in the semi-finals in September which is a closed-door 90-second verbal pitch in front of a panel of judges. No pitch deck is required for this component.

Should you be selected for the Grand Finale, you will be required to do a 90-second verbal pitch in front of judges and a live audience. No pitch deck is required for this component.

Our criteria focuses on answering one important question, “What is your potential to scale globally?” To help answer this question, our panel of judges will assess your business under the following criteria:

Target market | Is there a clearly defined target market? Businesses that have clearly outlined their target audience will be able to identify the potential for scaling globally, such as understanding the current size and potential growth of a target market, the volatility or stability of a target market, or identifying particular characteristics like a high-priced niche.

Objective | All solutions are built to fix an identified problem, but not all problems need scalable solutions. Does your business solve a problem from a short-term trend? Or is there a real long-term need for your solution? Businesses that have the potential to go global have long-run, sustainable business models.

Solution | Businesses with a detailed, innovative solution that has a strong unique selling proposition (USP) will be more likely to scale globally. This criteria assesses your overall product or service for instance price, convenience, uniqueness, innovation, quality, efficiency, and branding.

Leadership | What does your leadership team look like? Does your team, mentors or board of advisors have industry experience, key relationships, and/or prior successes and failures? These are crucial facets in determining whether your business has the support and guidance to help successfully expand globally.

Traction (if any) | A key indicator of being able to scale globally is a detailed assessment of the trajectory of a solution. This includes evaluating the minimum viable product (MVP), and existing partners.

Competition | Going global means stacking up against an international community of innovators and entrepreneurs, how does your business stand out? Why should a customer choose your solution over another?

Ability to go global | This criteria hopes to help our panel of judges to ultimately answer the question of “Do you think this contestant has the potential to scale globally?”

Email us at global@startupcan.ca

You are welcome to participate in Startup Global programming, but your business must be based in Canada to qualify for the pitch competition.

 

Yes! 100% free.

Here’s a brief step-by-step guide to prepare you for the pitching process:

  1. Sign up for the Startup Global portal.
  2. Submit your pitch application in the “Apply to Pitch” section of the portal. 
  3. On April 19th, you will be notified by email if your application made it into the Top 100. The Top 100 Semi-Finalists will then be invited to various business development in-kind support throughout the year including advisory circles with our co-presenting partners, pitch bootcamps and 1:1 mentorship and advisory support.
  4. The Top 100 will pitch at the closed-door semi-finals in September, where pitches will be made in front of three judges and nine other entrepreneurs that have entered the competition. 
  5. The Top 10 Finalists will be announced on September 19th and will be invited to pitch to our hybrid Grand Finale event in Ottawa on October 20th. 

Startup Global has one pitch competition for startups (businesses with less than $1,000,000 in revenue or have no current sales as of February 1, 2022) and that have business/operations in Canada. The Top 100 Semi-Finalists will receive exclusive access to various business development in-kind support throughout the year including advisory circles with our co-presenting partners, pitch bootcamps and 1:1 mentorship and advisory support. We will do ten regional closed-door semi-finals in September.

In partnership with UPS, we’re also organizing a Peoples’ Choice Award where we’re giving $5,000 and an extra spot in the Grand Finale for the semi-finalist with the most votes! Voting will run all throughout September.

The Top 10 will earn a spot at the Grand Finale in October. There, they will compete again for a chance to win an additional $30,000 (First Place), $15,000 (Second Place) and $10,000 (Third Place).

In addition, we are introducing three new prize categories this year, each to be awarded $5,000:

  • Rural Entrepreneur category: For entrepreneurs pioneering new products and services in rural areas
  • Seniorpreneur category (Age 50+): For entrepreneurs aged 50 and older
  • Social Entrepreneur category: For entrepreneurs contributing to sustainable development goals.

When completing your application form, you can declare if you would like to be considered for any or all of these prizes. Adjudication of these prizes will be done during the Semi-Finals in September. These prizes do not apply to startups who place first or second in the Grand Finale.

No. Every entrepreneur is able to access the portal and its content without pitching. If you’re interested in pitching, the brief application is located in the portal.

Register for the portal to join Startup Global, we’ll ask you a few short questions so that we’re adding content that will be relevant to you.

Newsletter

Your weekly dose of entrepreneurship