The Starter Company Plus program provides an opportunity for eligible participants to get training, advice and mentoring to help them build a business. The program also provides an opportunity to apply for a grant to help start or grow a business.

ExpandAbout the Program

What are the benefits?

Starter Company provides:

  • a grant ranging from $2,500 to $5,000 depending on the stream
  • one-on-one guidance from an Enterprise Toronto small business advisor
  • mentoring with successful local entrepreneurs
  • a tailored training program to fit the needs of program participants

Who can participate?

You can apply if you're:

  • A fit to the eligible sector or demographic stream
  • 18 years of age or older at the time of application
  • A Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • A Toronto resident or operating your business in Toronto
  • Not working full-time
  • Not in a full-time education program or returning to school
  • Not enrolled in other Provincial employment or self-employment related programs that include or do not include financial assistance

What's involved?

To successfully complete the program, applicants must:

  • attend an interview to discuss the business idea or expansion opportunity
  • agree to participate in training and mentoring modules over a six-month period
  • create and follow a business plan
  • attend regular meetings with mentors and an Enterprise Toronto small business advisor

ExpandStarter Company Plus - Creative Arts

The Starter Company Plus Creative Arts stream is delivered in partnership with Artscape and provides support for entrepreneurs looking to start or grow an arts-related business, including:

  • A grant of up to $2,000 plus a one-year paid membership to the state-of-the-art Artscape Daniels Launchpad facility (valued at $1,800) that opens in fall 2018
  • Training and support to develop your business model
  • 4 hours of one-on-one business advisory services
  • Access to the Artscape Daniels Launchpad facilities

To qualify for the Starter Company Creative Arts program you must have successfully completed Artscape's Creative Entrepreneurship Program and be:

  • 18 years of age or older at the time of application
  • A Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • A Toronto resident or operating your business in Toronto
  • Not working full time, or can commit 35 hours a week to your business
  • Not in a full-time education program or returning to school
  • Not enrolled in other Provincial employment or self-employment related programs that include or do not include financial assistance


The program and its support from Artscape is a great way to a build successful creative arts business while engaging knowledgeable support and networking with other like-minded entrepreneurs.

Developed and managed by Artscape and opening in 2018, Artscape Daniels Launchpad is a 30,000 sq. ft. one-stop art and design entrepreneurship hub where creatives will have access to a multi-disciplinary environment full of tools, equipment and technology; entrepreneurship programs and activities; and a marketplace of services, resources and opportunities. Its goal is to help artists and designers build thriving careers, organizations and businesses. Details on the application and selection process for the Creative Entrepreneurship Program can be found on the Artscape Daniels Launchpad website.

If you have any questions about your eligibility or would like more information, please contact us.

Ready to Apply?

Complete and submit the online application form.

ExpandStarter Company Plus - Digital Main Street

The Starter Company Plus - Digital Main Street program is focused on helping main street businesses develop and implement a comprehensive digital transformation plan for their business.

The Program provides the following support:

  • A grant of up to $2,500 towards the implementation of a digital transformation plan
  • Training to develop your digital literacy skills and digital transformation plan
  • One-on-one business advisory services to help implement the plan
  • Access to reduced pricing and offerings from Digital Main Street Partners


To qualify for the grant portion of this program you must have successfully completed the 8-course Starter Company Plus - Digital Main Street Training Program and be:

  • 18 years of age or older at the time of application
  • A Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • A Toronto resident or operating your business in Toronto
  • A member of one of Toronto's 82 BIAs


The program and its support is a great way to help your business realize new revenues and efficiencies by incorporating technology. The practical training program is provided by Camp Tech.

If you have any questions about your eligibility or would like more information, please contact us.

Ready to Apply?

Register for one of the upcoming Starter Company Plus – Digital Main Street Training sessions:


Once you complete the training program, submit the online application form.

ExpandStarter Company Plus - Fashion Business

The Starter Company Plus Fashion program is delivered in partnership with the Toronto Fashion Incubatorand provides support for entrepreneurs looking to start or grow a fashion-based business, including:

  •  A grant of up to $5,000 towards a one-year residency at the Toronto Fashion Incubator
  • Training and support to develop your fashion line
  • One-on-one business advisory services and mentorship
  • Access to the Toronto Fashion Incubator Resource Centre

To qualify for the Starter Company Fashion Business program you must be involved in an early-stage fashion company that has been accepted into the Toronto Fashion Incubator Residency Program, and be:

  • 18 years of age or older at the time of application
  • A Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • A Toronto resident or operating your business in Toronto
  • Not working full-time
  • Not in a full-time education program or returning to school
  • Not enrolled in other Provincial employment or self-employment related programs that include or do not include financial assistance

The program and its support from Toronto Fashion Incubator is a great way to build a successful fashion business while engaging knowledgeable support and networking with other like-minded entrepreneurs.

If you have any questions about your eligibility or would like more information, please contact us.

Ready to Apply?

Complete and submit the online application form.

ExpandStarter Company Plus - Food Venture

The Food Venture Program is delivered in partnership with Food Starter and provides support for entrepreneurs looking to start or grow a food processing business and take their food products to market, including:

  • A grant of up to $5,000 towards the use of Food Starter services
  • Training and support to develop your food business
  • One-on-one business advisory services
  • Access to production space at Food Starter


To qualify for the Food Venture Program you must have successfully completed the Food Starter's Market Feasibility Boot Camp and be:

  • Involved in a food processing company (restaurants and catering do not qualify)
  • 18 years of age or older at the time of application
  • A Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • A Toronto resident or operating your business in Toronto
  • Not working full-time
  • Not in a full-time education program or returning to school
  • Not enrolled in other Provincial employment or self-employment related programs that include or do not include financial assistance


The Food Venture Program and its support from Food Starter is a great way to build successful food company while engaging knowledgeable support and networking with other like-minded entrepreneurs.

If you have any questions about your eligibility or would like more information, please contact  Food Starter.

Ready to Apply?

Complete and submit the Food Starter online application form.

ExpandStarter Company Plus - Small Business

The Starter Company Plus – Small Business program is focused on helping entrepreneurs start or grow traditional small businesses (i.e. trades, consulting, retail, etc.).

The program provides the following support:

  • A grant of up to $3,500 to assist in starting or growing your small business
  • One-on-one business advisory services and mentoring
  • Co-working space with access to computers, internet and meeting rooms


To qualify for the grant portion of this program you must have successfully completed the 10-course Starter Company Plus – Small Business Training Program and be:

  • 18 years of age or older at the time of application
  • A Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • A Toronto resident or operating your business in Toronto
  • Not working full-time
  • Not in a full-time education program or returning to school
  • Not enrolled in other Provincial employment or self-employment related programs that include or do not include financial assistance


If you have any questions about your eligibility or would like more information, please contact us.

Ready to Apply?

Register for one of the upcoming Starter Company Plus – Small Business Training sessions:


Once you complete the initial mandatory training program, submit the online application form.

ExpandStarter Company Plus - StarterSpace

StarterSpace provides a space for Ontario Works clients to build and grow their businesses.

If you are an Ontario Works client looking to start a business, StarterSpace can provide the following support:

  • A grant of up to $3,500 towards starting your business
  • Assistance in developing your Starter Company Plus application
  • One-on-one business advisory services
  • Co-working space with access to computers, internet and meeting rooms


To participate in the StarterSpace program you must be:

  • An Ontario Works client in Toronto
  • 18 years of age or older at the time of application
  • A Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • A Toronto resident or operating your business in Toronto
  • Not working full-time
  • Not in a full-time education program or returning to school
  • Not enrolled in other Provincial employment or self-employment related programs that include or do not include financial assistance

StarterSpace  is a place to build your business, while engaging knowledgeable support and networking with other like-minded entrepreneurs. 

Ready to Apply?

Complete and submit the online application form.

ExpandStarter Company Plus - Technology Startup

Working with The Founder Institute, the world's premier idea-stage startup accelerator, the Starter Company Plus - Technology Startup program is focused on helping early-stage technology companies develop their business concept and activate it within a 14-week training and mentoring program.

The Program provides the following support:

  • A grant of up to $5,000 towards starting your technology business
  • A 14-week training program that includes group engagement, one-on-one advisory support and mentorship

 
To participate in the Technology Startup Program you must be:

  • Involved in an early-stage technology company that has been accepted to and graduated from the Founder Institute 14-week training and mentoring program
  • 18 years of age or older at the time of application
  • A Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • A Toronto resident or operating your business in Toronto
  • Not working full-time
  • Not in a full-time education program or returning to school
  • Not enrolled in other Provincial employment or self-employment related programs that include or do not include financial assistance


Ready to Apply?

Complete and submit the Founder Institute online application form.

Clients that are accepted and graduate from the Founder Institute 14-week training program will be provided further details on requirements for qualifying for the grant.

Frequently Asked Questions

ExpandCan I start a business of any kind, or are some types excluded?

In order to receive funding the business can be a new startup, an acquisition (i.e. the participant is purchasing a business from a retiring entrepreneur) or an existing business that is expanding to create new jobs.

As long as the applicant is fully responsible for the on-going operation of the business and/or is the majority shareholder in the case of a corporation, most types of businesses are allowed under the program.

To be eligible, a business or proposed business must:

  • be an independent business venture
  • be a legal business in Ontario
  • operate at arm’s length from family business ventures
  • operate in Ontario
  • operate full-time as defined in the business plan
  • maintain its own books and records
  • maintain a separate business bank account
  • follow all government rules and regulations and applicable by-laws for the operation of the business.


Non-eligible businesses are those that:

  • rely on commission sales
  • are part of an existing franchise operation
  • are based on a pyramid scheme.

ExpandCan 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 more than 50 per cent of the shares. The Starter Company Plus recipient must be responsible for the ongoing management of the firm.

In addition, if there are two partners only one is eligible to receive the Starter Company Plus grant of up to $5,000 for a specific business idea (grants will not be given to multiple individuals for the same business idea).

ExpandHow 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 contribute 25 per cent of the grant amount they are requesting. This may include asset-based 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.

The 25 per cent contribution may be waived in exceptional circumstances (including but not limited to individuals with special needs or those that have faced personal set-backs).

Participants will receive up to 75 per cent of the total eligible funding upon grant approval. The final amount of the grant will be paid out when the participant has reached the mutually agreed upon milestones and targets established in their business plan.

ExpandWhat 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 six months. Participants may also meet informally with their business mentors. During the six month period, participants must provide business reports to Enterprise Toronto. Reports should provide details on:

  • Revenues
  • Cash flow
  • Hiring
  • Other business details as requested

ExpandWho decides if I get approved?

A grant committee made up of City of Toronto staff and private sector stakeholders will review applications and determine which applicants are accepted and the amount of funding a proposal receives. Acceptance decisions are based on:

  • feasibility of the proposed business
  • proposed business's potential for job creation
  • start-up budget and financing needs of the proposed business
  • cash and in-kind contributions of the applicant
  • applicant's entrepreneurial aptitude (based on interview)

ExpandCan I participate in Starter Company Plus while collecting Employment Insurance?

Yes. There is no restriction against participants receiving Employment Insurance (EI), Ontario Works, Ontario Disability Support or other income support funding while they are in the Starter Company Plus program.

However, young people participating in Starter Company Plus may not be enrolled in another self-employment program that may permit EI funding to the participant. See related question below.

Note that if selected to participate in the program, funds received through Starter Company Plus might affect other entitlements. Applicants should check to ensure that participation in Starter Company Plus does not affect the supports received from other programs.  

ExpandCan I participate in Starter Company Plus while I am enrolled in another self-employed 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. In this case they must have a concrete, tangible plan for the expansion of their business that would include job creation – for example, a program participant going from part-time to full-time work, or hiring additional employees.

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.

ExpandI 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 can include in-class, on-line or distance studies) 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 running your business.

Starter Company Plus is a Government of Ontario program offered in Toronto by Enterprise Toronto.