As I spend more time working within Toronto’s vibrant startup community, it is always surprising – in a good way – to discover “tween” startups.
These are startups with a product(s), a solid group of customers, and 10 to 20 employees. They’ve graduated from being early-stage startups with only a few employees and a good idea, but they have yet become small businesses, leaving them as “tween” business.
Stumbling upon companies such as Uberflip and Viafoura is exciting because it means there are startups that have gained enough traction to move beyond being interesting ideas or concepts, or products searching to fill a need or attract customers.
As much as we celebrate entrepreneurial spirit and the willingness to launch a startup, a key metric within a startup community’s health is how many early-stage startups can take things to the next level.
The more startups “graduate” means there are more companies that have a chance to establish themselves as fast-growing businesses that create good paying jobs and, at the same time, support Canada’s startup and digital economies.
A key part of nurturing startup graduates is having enough financial support to support and accelerate their growth. Without access to series A financing ($2-million to $5-million), many of these tweens could see their growth slow or stall, leaving revenue, jobs and opportunities unrealized.
Another important ingredient is having experienced entrepreneurs who can take drive growth to structure and position a startup to go from being a tween to being a medium size business with 30, 40 or 75 employees and global customers.
One of the upsides of the last few years is a growing number of people have gained invaluable management experience even if their startups have not been successful. Without this experience, they wouldn’t have the insight and knowledge to make the right decisions with the next startup.