Written by David Silverberg
Launched in 2017, YSpace is an innovation and entrepreneurship centre in Markham focusing on helping budding entrepreneurs turn big ideas into concrete businesses. More than 20 startups call the hub their home, and many startups have also gone through the program to help learn about the various facets of running a company, from funding models to scaling successfully to marketing strategies.
“A community that is supportive, that offers training programs to develop skill-sets, co-working space, and facilities to build prototypes and even products, is essential if we are going to support entrepreneurs and give them the best opportunity for success,” said York University Vice-President Research & Innovation Robert Haché in a press release.
Yspace has also partnered with the Markham Small Business Centre, Vaughan Business Enterprise Centre, Richmond Hill Small Business Centre and the York Region Small Business Centre for a 13-week educational program call Founders Fundamental. It also hosts workshops with angel groups, venture capitalists as well as local organizations such as MentorWorks, OCE, and York University’s IP Osgoode Innovation Clinic.
Muhammad Rashid, CEO and co-founder of digital mortgage platform Moregidge, remembers the first piece of advice he received from David Kwok, the Entrepreneurship Manager at YSpace, “was the most important considering this is our first venture.”
He goes on to say, “We were evaluating incubators and accelerators we wanted to join and during our initial meeting with David, when we explained we were raising funds at a $1 million valuation, his advice was to grind and hustle for a few months to sign up users in an effort to raise our valuation so we weren't giving away a large chunk of the company to early. Fast forward to three months after joining YSpace, and we raised a portion of our round at almost double our initial valuation.”
Jimmy Feng, CEO of Phyxable, a video app offering tips on injury-prevention, says he found valuable several tips on security authentication and ensuring his business was HIPPA-compliant, which sets the standard for protecting sensitive patient data.
Also, Feng says it is inspiring to be around so many forward-thinking entrepreneurs. “To be in a beautiful space with so many people gung-ho and ready to change the world was perfect for us,” he adds.
He also appreciates the ability to “hop on a Slack channel and get advice from those who have been down that startup path before.”
Another startup incubated at YSpace was Smart Cocoon, which created a device to improve air circulation in residential homes. CEO Sean Cobham says, “What we found valuable was that Yspace provided us with exposure to multiple services and entrepreneurs in residence to let us test ideas and help us with areas like marketing, where we didn't have a lot of experience.”
Cobham adds that to be in the same facility of so many entrepreneurs “that have gone through what we are going through, or will experience, has been so helpful because it lets you know we're not the only ones facing a certain challenge or obstacle.”
Photo credit Zlatko Cetinic, Images Made Real