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.

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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.


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

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

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.

Watch the recording


Past events

Our favourite highlights

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


2022 Startup Global

Event Recap

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

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Testimonials

“It was amazing! Getting on the stage wasn't easy, but it really helped us communicate our vision and business concisely, and with confidence. This was a really important milestone for us as a business and helped me grow personally. Not only that, but we gained resources that will be pivotal for our business, and connected with some amazing Canadian entrepreneurs that are doing incredible things in so many different industries. I can't wait to follow their journey over the next few years, and I can't wait to see who will be on the stage next year!"

- Julia St.Amand, RetinaLogik, First Place Winner, 2022

"Arbre is so excited to have won 3rd place in the Startup Global pitch competition. We will be using this prize money for R&D for our next sun protection product. Thank you to Startup Canada for organizing an amazing event. It was such a great experience meeting entrepreneurs across Canada, and learning about all the resources available to Canadian startups."

- Stephanie Tien & Kristina Knox, Arbre, Third Place Winners, 2022

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

Sign up for our Startup Global newsletter to be the first to know about other opportunities! 

If you were a Semi-Finalist in 2022 but were not selected to be in the Top 10, you can apply again this year. If you were a Top 10 Finalist in 2022, you cannot apply to the Startup Global pitch this year.  However, you are welcome to participate in the Startup Global programming (i.e. access the portal, attend webinars, and be a sounding board for other entrepreneurs).

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 ultimately answer the question,“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 be eligible for the Startup Global Pitch Competition.

 

Yes! Startup Global is 100% free.

Startup Global has one pitch competition for startups (businesses with less than $1,000,000 in revenue or have no current sales as of April 1, 2023) and that have business/operations in Canada.

No. Every entrepreneur is able to access the portal and its content without pitching. If you’re interested in pitching, the application to register for the Startup Global Pitch competition is located in the portal and will go live in May.

To join you must register for the Startup Global portal. We’ll ask you a few short questions so that we’re adding content that will be relevant to you and your business. 

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