Starter Company Plus – StarterSpace@TESS
The Starter Company Plus Program @ TESS provides an opportunity for Ontario Works recipients 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 their business.
What Are the Benefits?
Starter Company provides:
- Assistance in developing a Starter Company Plus @ TESS application.
- Training focused on developing and managing their business.
- One-on-one advisory services and mentoring.
- Access to computers, internet and spaces to support business development.
- A grant of up to $3,500 to assist them in starting or growing their business.
Who Can Participate?
You can apply if you’re:
- An Ontario Works participant.
- 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.
To successfully apply to the program, applicants must:
- Consult with their Caseworker to discuss this program option further.
- Complete a preliminary application.
- Attend an Information Session to learn about program requirements.
- Attend a PITCH IT Interview (15 to 20 minutes) with a panel of staff.
- Participants will be selected a week prior to the program start date; cohorts are typically 15 to 20 people.
Once accepted into the program, applicants must:
- 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 a small business advisor.
How Do I Apply?
- Complete and submit the application form.
- Attend an upcoming information session – Registration for sessions is now full, thank you for your interest.
The next Starter Company Plus – StarterSpace@TESS Program will run from December 5th, 2017 until early February 2018. Stay tuned for details about additional training being offered in 2018.
Frequently Asked Questions
We are currently recruiting experienced entrepreneurs to act as mentors to Starter Company Plus participants.
If you are interested in participating, please complete and submit the online application form.
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.
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 $3,500 for a specific business idea (grants will not be given to multiple individuals for the same business idea).
Participants may receive up to $3,500 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 can be waived for Ontario Works clients.
In-kind contributions may not include “sweat equity” (a contribution in the form or effort as opposed to a financial contribution) or loans or other types of loaned support.
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.
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:
- Cash flow
- Other business details as requested
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)
There are enough grants to give everyone who completes the training sessions a grant. However, completing the training program does not guarantee you a grant. Clients need to complete the training program, complete and submit the required business plan, and the plan must be scored by the grant committee to be approved. The goal of the program is to provide everyone who does the training funding – but clients must put in the effort and do the required work. If you do the work, you are likely to be approved.
Yes. Even if a proposal is not selected to receive funding, participants can still utilize the training and mentoring components of the program to help them open a business.
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, 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: 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.
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.
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.
No. 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.
No. If you or your company have already received a grant under the Starter Company program you may not apply to any of the other grant streams that are offered as part of Starter Company Plus.
Starter Company Plus is a Government of Ontario program offered in Toronto by Enterprise Toronto.