Starter Company Plus

Starter Company Plus2024-05-22T12:26:07-04:00

Applications are now closed.

The Starter Company Plus (SCP) Program is for business owners operating less than 5 years (market ready and ready to sell), ready to expand (hiring employees, contractors, or getting a location), or buying a business in Waterloo Region.

The SCP Program:

  • The program provides training covering Business Concept, Research, Marketing, Sales, Financial, Operations, and Presentation Skills
  • On completion of the Training, Mentoring, and a Business Plan, you’ll have the chance to pitch for $2,500 to $5,000 in grant funding to kick off or expand your current business.

This program is funded by the Provincial Government.

Read Important Information

Participants’ Required Dates & Deadlines2024-03-19T09:22:20-04:00
Monday, March 4 Applications Open
Sunday, March 24 11:59 pm Applications Due
Thursday, March 28 Participants Acceptance – Email
Wednesday, April 10 9:30 am – Noon Class 1
Friday, April 12 9:30 am – Noon Class 2
Wednesday, April 17 9:30 am – Noon Class 3
Friday, April 19 9:30 am – Noon Class 4
Tuesday, April 23 5 pm – 8 pm Networking Night
Wednesday, April 24 6 pm – 8 pm Mentor Session 1
Friday, April 26 9:30 am – 4:00 pm Small Group Coaching
Sunday, April 28 11:59 pm Online Assignment Due – Inbound Marketing Certificate
Sunday, May 12 11:59 pm Business Plan Due
Wednesday, May 15 6 pm – 8 pm Mentor Session 2
May 13 – 17 Business Plan Review & Feedback
Wednesday, May 29 6 pm – 8 pm Mentor Session 3
Sunday, June 2 11:59 pm Final Submission and Presentation Slides Due
June 4 – 7 Scheduled Pitch Practice
June 12 – 14 Scheduled Grant Pitch

* Participants must complete all training and mentoring, submit a business plan and pitch, to qualify to pitch for up to $5,000 grant.

WRSBC Waiver2023-12-04T12:34:41-05:00

WRSBC reserves the right to disqualify any participant that, in its sole judgment violated the spirit of the program and its guidelines, process and rules. WRSBC and its Judges’ decisions are final.

WRSBC reserves the right to suspend, delay, modify or cancel these terms and conditions for any reasonable applicable law.

**Please note: not all program participants will receive the grant and/or prize money, but all may receive training.

What are eligible and non-eligible expenditures?2023-12-04T12:35:07-05:00

What can I spend the grant on?

The grant must be spent on business expenses. It is considered taxable personal income to the government, so please be advised that it may affect any assistance you may be receiving.

Common expenditures:

  • Tools and equipment
  • Computers (up to $1000)
  • Raw Materials for creation of a product (maximum $2000)
  • Inventory of a product (maximum $2000)
  • Marketing Print Collaterals (maximum $500)
  • Social Media and Digital Marketing (maximum $2500)
  • Business Insurance (max $500)

Ineligible expenditures:

  • Salaries
  • Rent
  • Repayment of debts, including credit card debt
  • Promotional Merchandise (mugs, bottles, bags, pens, calendars, t-shirts etc.)
  • Vehicle purchase/maintenance/insurance
  • Office Furniture
  • Purchases that would be considered personal in nature
  • Industry training, education, or memberships
  • Trade show fees
  • Leasehold improvements
What types of businesses are NOT eligible?2023-12-04T12:35:53-05:00

Businesses not eligible for Starter Company Plus include:

  • Partnerships where the applicant holds a minority share, franchises, commissioned sales, distributorships or affiliate businesses.
  • Business ventures that are continuations of existing commercial endeavours
  • Not-for-profit or charitable enterprises
  • Multi-level marketing ventures
  • A single event such as musical ventures bands
  • Businesses operating outside the Waterloo Region area
What types of businesses are eligible?2023-12-04T12:36:25-05:00

Eligible business are:

    • A sole proprietorship or a corporation where the applicant will be the majority shareholder
    • An independent business venture
    • A partnership where the applicant holds the Majority share
    • Operates at arm’s length from family business ventures in Ontario
    • A business that operates full-time as defined in the business plan and maintains its own books and records
    • Maintains a separate business bank account, following government rules and regulations for operating a business
    • Operates a business in Waterloo Region
Who is eligible?2023-12-04T12:34:01-05:00

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible, the business must:

  • Proposing to start a new business, expand an existing business or purchase a business
  • not be a business that relies on commissioned sales
  • be a legal business in Ontario
  • not be a franchise
  • operate at arm’s length from family business ventures
  • operate full-time as defined in the business plan
  • maintain its own books and records
  • maintain a separate bank account
  • follow all government rules and regulations and applicable by-laws for the operation of the business
  • be sales-ready at the time of funding

Individual Applicant Eligibility Criteria

The Applicant is:

  • is not currently attending school on a full-time basis nor intending to return to school.
  • is a resident of Ontario.
  • is a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident.
  • is 18 years of age or older at the time of application.
  • does not have full-time employment (20+ Hours/Week) outside of the Project at the time of funding.
  • is fully responsible for the on-going operations and decisions of the Project and is the majority partner or shareholder.
  • is not enrolled in other provincial employment or self- employment-related initiatives and programs that include or do not include financial assistance
  • is not currently enrolled concurrently in any self-employment programs offered by government-funded organizations.
  • is expected to match the grant amount they are requesting with 25% personal investment (eg $5000 grant will require $1250 personal contribution in the business)
  • cannot have previously received Starter Company or Starter Company Plus funding in Ontario.


While the Starter Company initiative is open to eligible individuals, the training and mentoring are geared towards assisting those in need of business knowledge and support.

Approval into the Starter Company Plus initiative is competitive and eligible applicants may not all be accepted. As the initiative aims to address local and/or regional economic development needs, and prioritized based on specific industries and sectors. Only businesses operating in Waterloo Region will be considered for the grant. You must apply in the municipality where you reside and where your business is located.

General FAQ2023-11-09T10:15:01-05:00

Can I start any kind of business, or are some types excluded?
In order to receive funding, the business can be a new start-up, an acquisition (i.e. the participant is purchasing a business from a retiring entrepreneur) or an existing business that is less than 5 years old.

Can my business be a partnership?
Yes. A business or proposed business may be a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation, but the grant can only be given to one person in the company. For corporations and partnerships, the recipient must own at least 51% of the shares.

How much grant funding is available and do I need to invest my own funds?
Participants may receive up to $5,000 in funding. Participants are expected to match the grant amount they are requesting with 25% personal investment (eg $5000 grant will require $1250 personal contribution in the business). This may include asset-based or in-kind contributions at fair market value, such as equipment or machinery required to run the business, e.g., ladders/scaffolding for a painting company, camera and lenses for a photographer. In-kind contributions may not include “sweat equity” (a contribution in the form of effort as opposed to a financial contribution) or loans or other types of loaned support.

Do I have to open a business or attend mentoring meetings to receive the grant?
Yes. Participants who receive a Starter Company Plus grant must sign an agreement that outlines their responsibilities under the program. If they do not adhere to this agreement, they will be considered in default of the program and there will be every effort to recover all grant monies disbursed.

What is the expected time commitment for Starter Company Plus participation?
In addition to operating their business, participants are expected to attend formal mentoring meetings at least once a month for three months. Participants may also meet informally with their business mentors. During the three month period, participants must provide business reports.

Reports could provide details on: Revenues · Cash flow · Hiring · Insurance · Bank Statements · Other business details as requested

Who decides if I get approved?
A grant committee made up of local business professionals and private sector stakeholders will review final applications and determine which applicants are recommended for the funding.

If my proposed business is not selected, can I still get mentoring and training?
Yes. Even if a proposal is not selected to receive funding, a participant can still participate in the training and mentoring components of the program to help them open a business. This is dependent on the number of seats available in training and mentoring.

Can I participate in Starter Company Plus while collecting Employment Insurance?
Yes. There is no restriction against participants receiving Employment Insurance (EI), however, once you register and start the business you are no longer eligible for EI as a self-employed person.

Can I participate in Starter Company Plus while I am enrolled in another self-employment program?
Those participating in Starter Company Plus may not be enrolled at the same time in the Ontario Works Self Employment Development program, Summer Company, or any other similar programs offered by government-funded organizations. However, it is possible to access these programs sequentially. For example, someone who has started a business through Summer Company may later apply to participate in Starter Company Plus in order to take their business to the next level. Similarly, participants may apply to Futurpreneur (formerly the Canadian Youth Business Foundation) after receiving Starter Company Plus funding and mentoring, provided that they apply in the first year of operation of their business.

I am in school part-time. Am I eligible for Starter Company Plus?
Yes, a potential applicant to the program who is enrolled in part-time schooling or training (part-time is defined as 1 course per semester) is eligible for participation in the Starter Company Plus program. You must be prepared to satisfy program training and mentoring requirements and commit a minimum average of 35 hours per week to run your business.

I am working full-time. Am I eligible for Starter Company Plus?
The intent of Starter Company Plus is to help people launch a new business or expand an existing business where other forms of financing are unavailable. Those working full-time are not eligible. You may work part-time and still apply. A part-time job is defined as no more than 20 hours per week.

I don’t live in Waterloo Region. Can I still apply?
Starter Company Plus is a provincial program, but you must apply in the municipality where you reside and where your business is located.  In Waterloo Region, all applications are submitted to the Waterloo Region Small Business Centre, Kitchener office.  However, business advisors in Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge offices are able to assist with your questions or application.

Selection Process:

Applications are now closed.


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By completing this form and accessing our services, programs, workshops, events or client meetings, you are considered a client of WRSBC. This means that we will follow up with you periodically to see if we can continue to support your business endeavours.
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