Networking Tips for Canadian Startup Founders

Christine Mereynis, Marketing Manager
Key Technologies Leading Retail Industry Transformation in Canada

Building a successful startup and keeping it relevant in a highly competitive field is no joke. Doing so without the right connections is practically impossible. Networking not only gets your name out there but keeps your business at the forefront of people’s minds. It also opens up unique connection opportunities to collaborate with other startups or source funds from investors.

This is true for startups everywhere, particularly in Canada. Its tight-knit community hosts regular conferences and events, promotes newcomers, and runs incubators for fresh ideas. As a result, the scene is thriving. It’s vital that startup founders keep that success going. Today, we’ll explain how to do just that—network hard and smart, building up your community and success.

Why Networking is Crucial for Startup Founders

Before we dive into how to network like a pro, let’s talk about your goals with this. As a founder, you should always be on the lookout to grow your business and expand its reach. Networking achieves this by helping you find things like:

  • Funding opportunities.

  • Partnerships.

  • Mentors.

  • Market insights.

Funding is perhaps the most pressing point for many new companies. Getting your foot in the door with a powerful venture capital firm or investor can change things drastically. A high valuation puts all eyes on you and gives you control over the market. So it’s important to look not just for your peers but also those who can fund your tech startup.

However, speaking of peers, they can also have a massive impact on your success and vice versa. Efforts like Canada’s Tech Network have helped 685 Canadian companies expand overseas. Thanks to the fact that it’s all grassroots, community-led efforts, you can become part of it any time you want.

For those who seek a bit more than just friendly recommendations, it’s possible to recruit the help of more experienced CEOs and founders. By participating in local networking, you’ll very likely meet successful business people who can mentor you. This may be wholly informal, or if you wish, you could try to get them on board as an official advisor. Either way, plenty of knowledge to glean.

Lastly, immersing yourself in the local startup scene gives you a better view of the market. You can tell which companies are worth partnering with, what the market lacks, and how you can fill those gaps. With more than 3,000 startups in the country, it’s clear that you’ll have a lot of ground to cover. If you want to see the full picture, it’s key that you network right.

How does one do networking most effectively? Read on to find out.

Networking Strategies for Canadian Startup Founders

While the finer details of your networking may vary based on your location, certain tactics will always apply. Whether you’re in Toronto, Vancouver, or Quebec, the scene always grows in similar ways to accommodate local businesses. Here’s how you become an essential part of that scene.

Attend Industry Events and Conferences

Major conferences like Collision and Startupfest are the prime place to be whenever they’re on. It’s a melting pot of investors, established startups, and people looking to make a name for themselves. No matter what you seek, you’ll find it there. It’s important to be on the lookout for new events, too, as it’s a good chance to hop on board what could be the next big thing.

As for actually attending, you should always come prepared. Remember the golden rule: always engage even if you won’t speak or have a presentation slot. Whether it’s chatting to people or attending talks, make an impression. Prepare a non-official pitch for your business; bring it up when relevant, but don’t overdo it.

Remember that talking to people isn’t the final step, though, as these conferences can be hectic. Make sure to get contact info and follow up with those you find interesting. You never know which chance meeting will end in a collaboration between two companies. Or, perhaps, an investment. The main thing is making these connections last - and using them to your advantage, including online.

Leverage Online Networking

Research states that “Social media is the modern-day linchpin in brand building,” and that is no secret. If you’re not promoting yourself online, you’re practically invisible. That means you need to be reaching customers through platforms like X and Instagram with brand accounts. But you also need to connect with people through your personal accounts to get a headstart.

Connect to all the local industry leaders on LinkedIn, engage with other founders’ content, and be proactive in striking up conversations. There’s obviously a fine line between enthusiasm and spamming but a good founder knows how to interact respectively. It’s also essential to establish your own stream of content, one that’s relevant and encourages engagement.

Find your tone of voice and the best format to keep your audience interested. This can be as easy as speaking about your experiences as a founder. Sometimes, however, a bit of trial and error is required, as you get a feel of the local entrepreneurs and their interest. Simply keep building an audience and connecting to people authentically.

Join Local Startup Communities

Beyond online presence and occasional conferences, it’s important to establish yourself as one of the mainstays in your region. This usually means joining up with a bigger startup community. Luckily, it’s a very reciprocal process and you get a lot of advantages in doing so.

For example, a community like the Canada Startup Association (CSA) offers help with getting a Start-up Visa, mentorship events, and hours of lectures on getting started. Having industry veterans guiding you during your first company launch is a major boon. Learning the ropes alongside other newcomers will build camaraderie and help you set connections for years to come.

Similarly, TorontoStarts hosts a bunch of drink meet-ups where you can mingle in an informal setting. It’s a good opportunity to see the market without feeling too pressured to pitch yourself. Another resource from this community is mentoring sessions, where experts offer consulting services.

Most importantly, such communities do everything possible to entice collaborations. You meet other founders, learn their ethos and ideas, and, if you “click,” you can work on a joint project. This strengthens startups and promotes an inclusive space where diverse ideas can thrive. Becoming part of it means giving yourself a stronger platform to start from.

Participate in Accelerators and Incubators

It’s no secret that working with an accelerator is one of the most straightforward ways to get funding. Such initiatives pair up new startups with mentors who can lead them to initial success and angel investors keep an eye on the most prominent companies in the incubator. As a result, it’s entirely possible that getting into the right incubator will determine your trajectory.

Canada is rife with good accelerators, such as Toronto’s Creative Destruction Lab, which prioritizes diverse approaches to guidance. This place centers around companies that merge science with technology, offering courses on AI implementation.

Then there are mainstays like Communitech, which has been growing startups from ideas for 25 years now. Their programs uplift female founders, connect people through growth coaching and informal meet-ups, and much, much more. The incubator has more than 13,000 participants and runs an absolutely massive community that’s all about growth.

Surrounding yourself with experts pays off, as illustrated by MaRS. Numerous startups from their crop have pulled in millions in funding as a result of steady mentorship and advice. It’s much easier to prove your worth when you’re immersed in a space where the brightest minds come together.

Engage with the Investor Community

You’re likely to see the biggest impact from networking when you start to connect with investors. After all, their interest in you and your work can help your startup reach major funding goals. The only question is how to meet them and interact the right way. For that, you can join incubators that have investors as mentors or visiting lecturers. However, you could also go straight to the source.

Companies like Bluesky Equities and Brightspark invest heavily in promising tech companies. However, reports indicate that only 6% of startups get funding from angel investors. It’s quite a competitive market that requires you to be proactive.

The easiest way to contact a VC firm directly is to meet one of its members at an event or, if you luck out, get a private meet-up with them. Regardless of the circumstances, you need to have a good, honest pitch ready. Outline your strengths, what your company has already achieved, and where it can go from here with the right level of funding.

Most investors will only truly pay attention to a company that already has an active product. But what you’re truly pitching isn’t your product or your ideas, it’s the return on investment. Angel investors may be looking to help but they want to make sure their money makes an impact. Don’t talk about why you’re revolutionary, explain why they will be part of that revolution.

Lastly, be ready for harsh feedback. An investor’s time and resources are invaluable. It’s better for them to be blunt, even when giving overall positive thoughts. This is why you might hear some responses that don’t feel great but give you a path to follow.

Leveraging Government and Industry Resources

As businesses worldwide outsource software development to Canada and the startup scene booms, the industry starts to uplift its own. This is why you can sometimes take advantage of grants and state programs to help you network and build your company.

For example, initiatives such as NRC IRAP provide major investments into technologically advanced companies. So, if you’re working with modern solutions, such as personalization in AI or sustainable solutions, you can expect a lot of support. And it’s just the tip of the iceberg, as you can find state programs for any kind of financial support, including loans and wage subsidies.

The industry is also buoyed by projects like the Canada Digital Adoption Program, aimed specifically at small businesses and startups. Couple that with accelerators such as NEXT Canada, which helps companies with mentorship and funds and you have plenty of opportunities. Growth is simply a matter of networking and getting in touch with these organizations.


As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities to network in Canada. You can take things slow with conferences and casual events or dive right in by joining an incubator. Regardless, your goals should always be clear: growing your company and getting your ideas out there. Thanks to networking, you can find collaboration partners or even secure funding to gain momentum in your business.

You know where to turn if you need further consulting on the Canadian market or some dedicated developers to beef up your team. Integrio’s 24-year track record shows that we always keep our hand on the industry’s pulse. Whether it’s keeping up with the latest technologies or knowing where the market is headed, our team does it and does it well. Get in touch to start our collaboration.


Networking Tips for Canadian Startup FoundersWhy Networking is Crucial for Startup FoundersNetworking Strategies for Canadian Startup FoundersLeveraging Government and Industry ResourcesConclusion

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