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Black Innovation Programs


Empowering the next wave of Black-owned tech startups

Black
Innovation
Connections



Your ticket to the DMZ Incubator

The Black Innovation Connections program is a 3-month, track-based coaching program that puts high-potential Black founders on the fast track to success and prepares them for the DMZ Incubator. Much like the Incubator, this program is customized to meet each founder’s unique needs.

Connections also provides founders with an added layer of support to address the additional business barriers that Black-owned companies often face, including a $5,000 business grant upon acceptance into the program.



How it works

In the program, founders focus on one track to help them achieve their OKRs (Objectives & Key Results) for that quarter. The program involves workshops, bi-weekly Program Lead meetings, and bi-weekly Expert-In-Residence (EIR) mentorship meetings.

The tracks:

Fundraising

Access mentors, investors, pitch deck support, grant writing support and more

Sales

Tap into branding, marketing and sales process support, pricing strategies, customer relations, and corporate pilots

Product

Build a robust tech stack and metrics-backed product strategy

Growth & Hiring

Learn how to lead and scale your team, and how to access hiring subsidies/grants

What you get

Over the course of the 3-month program, participating founders will receive FREE access to DMZ supports and members benefits, including:

  • Bi-weekly mandatory mentorship and coaching sessions from industry experts, Experts-in-Residence (EiRs)
  • Bi-weekly support from a Program Lead to help you track your progress throughout the program
  • Mandatory pitch hours to help refine your pitch
  • Organized peer-to-peer sessions to troubleshoot, share learnings and garner advice
  • Ongoing participation in DMZ’s events workshops, expert panels, and social events
  • Entry grant of $5000 to support startup growth
  • Courtesy of Dream Legacy Foundation, access to:
    • Office, hotel suite, and event space (Dream Suites)
    • A marketing consultant
    • Loan assessment opportunity through RBC
    • Pitch opportunities to a venture committee through Black Innovation Capital, if qualified


Who it's for

Self-identifying Black tech founders who are looking for mentorship on attracting talent, establishing product-market fit, fundraising, and locking in their first sales. Founders and their startups should:

  • Have a tech solution with a unique value proposition
  • Have an MVP that is in-market with pilot/paid users/customers/partners
  • Have a team with at least 1 full-time founder, strong plus if the company has a Black woman founder
  • Ideally, have an in-house tech team
  • Ideally, be located in Southern Ontario

How to apply

If you are interested in partaking in the next cohort starting in August 2022, complete your application by July 6th, 2022.

APPLY NOW

Frequently asked questions

What is the Connections Program?

The Black Innovation Connections program is a 3-month, track-based coaching program that puts high-potential Black founders on the fast track to success and prepares them for the DMZ Incubator. Much like the Incubator, this program is customized to meet each founder’s unique needs. Connections provide founders with an added layer of support to address the specific business barriers that Black-owned companies often face in the early stages of their business.

Who is this program for?

The program is for Canadian tech startups that are majority-owned (at least 50% equity) by Black-identifying founders. Startups must be innovating in tech, with a minimum viable product (MVP) and market traction, i.e. has completed market validation and has a few paying customers or pilots.

What is the structure of the program?

The program is a coaching program whereby founders focus on one track to help them achieve their OKRs (Objectives & Key Results) for a quarter. To support this, founders will be working on a 1:1 basis with an Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) to strategize and execute on their objectives and key results and a dedicated Program Lead for general support. In addition, founders will have access to on-demand workshop content, as well as live workshops and DMZ events. The tracks are as follows:

  • Fundraising: Access mentors, investors, pitch deck support, grant writing support, and more
  • Sales: Tap into branding, marketing and sales process support, pricing strategies, customer relations, and corporate pilots
  • Legal & Finance: Get legal startup support in creating agreements, financial models, and business operation processes
  • Product: Build a robust tech stack and metrics-backed product strategy
  • Growth & Hiring: Learn how to lead and scale your team, and how to access hiring subsidies/grants

What is the fee to access the program?

This program is complimentary for all selected participants. Successful applicants will receive a $5,000 CAD grant as they join the program.

How do I apply?

Interested applicants are encouraged to apply through this link.

Do I get access to funding being part of the program?

Successful applicants will receive a $5,000 CAD grant as they join the program.

Are there additional perks on joining the program?

Being part of DMZ’s network already provides startups with a wealth of value. This includes building new relationships and joining a community of innovative founders, mentorship and coaching, and more. Connections participants will receive additional benefits, some of which include:

  • Mentorship and coaching from industry experts, Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EiRs)
  • Support from a Program Lead helps you track your progress and point you to resources
  • Organized peer-to-peer sessions to troubleshoot, share learnings and advice
  • Ongoing participation in the DMZ’s events, workshops, expert panels, and social events
  • Discounted access to tech and business services worth over $140,000
Courtesy of Dream Legacy Foundation, founders will also have access to:
  • Office, hotel suite, and event space (Dream Suites)
  • A marketing consultant
  • Loan assessment opportunity through RBC
  • Pitch opportunities to a venture committee through Black Innovation Capital, if qualified

I have submitted my application. How soon should I expect to hear back?

Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, and founders should expect to hear back within a week of their application.

How does the selection process work?

Once received, applications are reviewed by the DMZ team. Promising applications will be invited for a follow-up screening, where they are offered the opportunity to pitch their business. Once the screening process is completed, the DMZ team will reach out to each applicant on the status of their application.

Founding Partners




DMZ logo

The DMZ is a leading startup incubator equipping the next generation of leading tech entrepreneurs with the tools needed to build, launch, and scale highly impactful startups. By providing connections to customers, coaching, capital, and a community, the DMZ’s customized approach helps innovators reach the next milestone in their entrepreneurial journey – whatever that might be. Through its award-winning programming, the DMZ has helped more than 600 startups raise $1.48 billion in capital and create 4,500+ jobs. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada with globally-accessible programming, the DMZ has a widely-recognized international presence with offices in Vietnam and India, and partnerships across North America, Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Dream Legacy Foundation Logo

The Dream Legacy Foundation (DLF) is a philanthropic organization that serves as a diversity and an inclusion social thought leader advocating for the millions of talented Black Citizens and historically underrepresented communities. Through collaboration and partnerships, DLF runs innovative programs to boost entrepreneurship within the Black Community. One of its most successful programs is Canada's first Black Innovation Fellowship, a program launched in partnership with leading incubator DMZ, helping Black-founded startups access capital, customers, and a broader entrepreneurial community. Learn more by visiting the DLF website

Supporting Partners



Michalle Jean Foundation logo

This program is brought to you by: Black Entrepreneurship Program Ecosystem Fund



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