Fifth Wave Initiative

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FIFTH WAVE INITIATIVE SUPPORTS WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS IN SOUTHERN ONTARIO

Women comprise more than half of Canada’s population, but only 16% of our businesses are owned or led by women. By introducing the first-ever Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES), the Government of Canada seeks to double the number of women-owned businesses by 2025. Not only does promoting women’s business ownership foster gender equality in leadership and the empowerment of women, but WES’s $2-billion investment could also yield up to an additional $150 billion in GDP.

CFC Media Lab is pleased to introduce the Fifth Wave Initiative, a new suite of programs and services designed to accelerate and sustain the growth of women-owned/led enterprises* in southern Ontario’s digital media sector. From the team who founded IDEABOOST, Canada’s only vertical media and entertainment technology accelerator for eight years running, Fifth Wave Initiative programming will bring intersectional feminist business practices to the forefront of Canada’s startup ecosystem. It will weave feminist ideals of equity and fairness into business sustainability and scalable growth.

The Fifth Wave Initiative will support up to 200 women-owned/led enterprises in digital media through a combination of bespoke bootcamps, mentorship, industry networking events, and transformative scale-up opportunities for women-owned/led small and medium-sized companies. 

*inclusive of women-identified and/or underrepresented women


Program Components

The Fifth Wave Initiative has three components:

Fifth Wave Connect: networking events designed to link participants with business leaders, academics and entrepreneurs from CFC Media Lab’s own extensive network as well as other powerful women’s networks across southern Ontario

Fifth Wave Labs: four-month sustainable business growth and/or scale-up bootcamp programs and workshops designed specifically for women-owned/led businesses based on women’s lived experiences

Fifth Wave Outreach: scale-up activities that support the regional and global commercialization of participant products and/or enterprises 


Learn more about  FIFTH WAVE PROGRAMS

Learn more about  FIFTH WAVE PARTNERS

Learn more about  FIFTH WAVE ELIGIBILITY AND APPLICATION PROCESS

Get answers to  FIFTH WAVE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

OR: Write us at  info@fifthwave.ca

Apply now to Fifth Wave Connect

ACCESSIBILITY FOR ONTARIANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT

The CFC is committed to providing accessible practices that are in compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). If you require accommodation at any stage of the application process or have any questions regarding appropriate accommodations please contact Deborah Fallows, CHRO, at: dfallows@cfccreates.com.


Program Partners



Ocadu2



Outreach Program Partner

Program


CANADA’S FIRST FEMINIST ACCELERATOR PROGRAM FOR WOMEN FOUNDERS IN SOUTHERN ONTARIO’S MEDIA ECOSYSTEM

The Fifth Wave Initiative is a year-round program offered by CFC Media Lab and its partners to support the growth and development of women entrepreneurs in the digital media sector in southern Ontario. 

OUR APPROACH IS DIFFERENT

We accelerate organic growth, based on the human needs and lived experiences of women entrepreneurs, while fostering a welcoming, inclusive, intergenerational program culture where everyone can thrive. We support women entrepreneurs as they grow their business their way, with a focus on equitable models for structure and governance.

All participants in Fifth Wave Initiative must first apply to join Fifth Wave Connect, a prerequisite for eligibility for Fifth Wave Labs and Fifth Wave Outreach. Applications to Fifth Wave Connect can be submitted at any time by using the online form available  here.

Companies seeking to participate should be: (1) owned and/or led by women; (2) based in southern Ontario; and (3) focused on tech, tech-enabled products, content and/or services in the digital media sector. 

INCLUSION & DIVERSITY

Fifth Wave Initiative is committed to 30% participation by members of underrepresented groups. These include, but are not limited to, LGBTIQA+ women, women with disabilities, neurodiverse women, Indigenous women, women of visible minorities, women in rural or remote regions, newcomers to Canada, and women from Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs).


Fifth Wave Connect

Fifth Wave Connect participation is provided to qualifying companies without charge. None of the programs of Fifth Wave Initiative provide direct capital investments, nor is an equity stake required for participation. Entry into the program is based upon application and review by the CFC Media Lab team. Companies are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year. Fifth Wave Connect companies may vary the intensity of their participation over time, according to their stage of development and goals set with their advisors.

Key activities for Fifth Wave Connect members include:

  • Bimonthly training and collaboration events in Toronto and across southern Ontario
  • Networking within the Fifth Wave community
  • Structured support from within the Fifth Wave partner, mentor and faculty network
  • Direct services provided by Fifth Wave program and event partners

Fifth Wave Labs

Fifth Wave Labs is a nonresidential four-month intensive bootcamp-style program for 10 companies per cohort each year through 2023. Sessions are customized to capitalize on the expertise of diverse world-class faculty, mentors, advisors, partners and staff. At the orientation session, each founder is paired with a highly qualified, values-aligned lead guide (coach) who helps guide the four-month journey. Fifth Wave companies receive bespoke coaching in business development, market, sales, strategy, partner development, business modeling, financing, planning for scale, staffing, company culture and wellness, and/or various forms of fundraising. All programming is delivered through a feminist lens, focusing on topics such as community impact, ecosystem mapping and engagement, thoughtful disruption and unintended consequences.

Founders within Fifth Wave Labs will also receive intensive coaching on how to fund growth and how to pitch their company to different audiences, including customers and investors. They will receive exposure to CFC Media Lab’s extended investment network in Ontario and beyond. 


Fifth Wave Outreach

A key deliverable for Fifth Wave Initiative is creating and facilitating scale-up opportunities for businesses to increase revenues, including support for commercializing or monetizing a product and/or entering new markets nationally and internationally. The scaling stream of Fifth Wave Initiative programming, known as Fifth Wave Outreach, is specific to our established partnerships and bespoke to the women founders deemed most suitable for each activity. Some examples of this program stream may include:

  • Enterprising Culture, in partnership with the French Embassy in Canada, an immersive exchange program in which French women-owned startups are matched with Canadian women-owned startups for market entry and expansion opportunities
  • Women @ Collision, in partnership with TBA, panel discussions and networking opportunities with women founders and investors from around the world at the Collision tech conference in Toronto (June 2020)
  • Innovation Xchange, in partnership with Global Affairs Canada, which consists of binational workshops with delegations from innovation hubs in Germany, Argentina, Mexico and/or Korea
  • International Roadshow for new market sales and export opportunities abroad on an as-needed basis

Apply now to Fifth Wave Connect

Apply


ELIGIBILITY AND APPLICATION PROCESS 

The Fifth Wave Initiative is a suite of program offerings focused on supporting expansion-ready women-owned/led digital media businesses in southern Ontario. Applicants interested in participating in any aspect of the Fifth Wave Initiative must first apply for review and acceptance to the Fifth Wave Connect program. Adjudication of applications are made on a rolling basis throughout the year.

Each annual cohort of Fifth Wave Labs will be announced on this website, and require an additional application by companies that have already been accepted into Fifth Wave Connect. Other opportunities within the initiative (like Fifth Wave Outreach) are by invitation only to companies in the Connect program.

Click  here to apply now. 


ELIGIBILITY

Companies are eligible to apply to Fifth Wave Initiative if they are:

  • Women-owned/led small or medium-sized digital media enterprises
  • Incorporated and based in southern Ontario
  • Mid-to-later-stage businesses with a product/service in market
  • Content, service or technology-enabled businesses
  • Export-ready

At least 30% of the participants will be drawn from:

  • Women with disabilities
  • Neurodiverse women
  • LGBTIQA+ women
  • Indigenous women
  • Women of visible minorities
  • Women in rural or remote regions
  • Newcomers to Canada
  • Women from Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs)

Key goals for this program include:

  • Helping women-owned/led companies grow, strengthen and become truly financially sustainable
  • Facilitating access to values-aligned capital to women entrepreneurs
  • Supporting organic enterprise growth through bespoke programming
  • Providing a welcoming culture and transformative experience for everyone, including mentors, investors, coaches and partners
  • Enabling thoughtful, intentional disruption
  • Encouraging and leveraging the power of intergenerational learning
  • Creating an environment where women’s earned/learned experiences and insights are valued
  • Improving support and outcomes for women founders by recognizing and valuing their primary caregiving responsibilities (where applicable)

For further information about the program, see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)  here.

OR: Write us at  info@fifthwave.ca

Apply now to Fifth Wave Connect

Partners


PROGRAM PARTNERS

OCAD University’s Super Ordinary Lab looks at near to market or just-in market technologies to understand their social significance and potentialities. Research programs are created on a case-by-case basis, depending on the type of technological acquisition, its market standing, partner interest, community uptake, and curricular possibilities.

Eve-Volution, Inc. is an experienced, lean and innovative intersectional feminist consulting and startup skill-building collective. It serves feminist economy stakeholders, incubators, accelerators, economic development organizations, impact investors, corporate innovation teams and policymakers with a focus on designing incubators and accelerator programs that help human-centered and social innovation-led enterprises grow.

Digital Justice Lab focuses on building a more just and equitable future by engaging with diverse communities to build alternative digital futures. Working alongside technologists, community activists, and policymakers, they shape a better understanding of technology and its impact on communities across the country. Through capacity building, public engagement and continuous collaboration, Digital Justice Lab supports communities in making informed decisions around digital issues.

The Pivotal Point shares its unique model for fostering entrepreneurship to bring insights on innovation, creativity and synergy to organizations developing their own incubators and accelerators. Headed by Valerie Fox, co-founder of the DMZ at Ryerson University – Canada’s leading university incubator, ranked as one of the world’s top three.

Marigold Capital offers strategic consulting and fund management in the private market impact investing space, with a focus on social justice in domestic and emerging markets.

SheEO is a radically redesigned ecosystem that supports, finances, and celebrates female innovators. Launched in 2015 in Canada, this visionary model is emerging as a leading global innovation that is totally unique. Rather than trying to fit women into the existing models and systems and level the playing field, they are creating an entirely new field. SheEO pushes the reset button on how to support women on their own terms and focuses on bringing out the best of women by being radically generous to each another. 


PARTNERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

The Government of Canada’s first-ever Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) has committed $2-billion in order to double the number of women-owned businesses by 2025, fostering gender equality in leadership, the empowerment of women, and a net gain of up to $150 billion in GDP.

Across Canada, business leaders now have the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to the advancement of gender equity, inclusion and diversity and to foster innovation in the accelerator space by providing additional support to the programs involved in the nationwide WES.

CFC Media Lab’s Fifth Wave Initiative offers companies a range of exciting opportunities to get involved, including:

  • Fifth Wave Initiative – PRESENTING Sponsor
  • Fifth Wave Lab – SUPPORTING Sponsor
  • Fifth Wave Connect – HOSTING Sponsor

To learn how your company can support women founders and entrepreneurs in southern Ontario and the many benefits of sponsorship, contact:

Ana Serrano, Chief Digital Officer, CFC
aserrano@cfccreates.com

Nataly De Monte, Associate Director, CFC Media Lab
ndemonte@cfccreates.com


For further information about the program, see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)  here.

OR: Write us at  info@fifthwave.ca

Apply now to Fifth Wave Connect

FAQ


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)


Q: What kind of tangible results does the Fifth Wave Initiative seek to deliver?

A: First and foremost, Fifth Wave Initiative exists to help women-led companies grow and become financially sustainable. To achieve this, we have designed a unique, high-powered program that will strengthen founders’ business skills, generate new insights, accelerate business development efforts (domestically and internationally), grow revenues/monetize followings, facilitate access to aligned capital and to values-aligned, diverse mentors and coaches for women in business. We will also leverage the Government of Canada’s women’s entrepreneurship initiatives, for example, participation in supplier diversity efforts.


Q: What kind of gaps in the startup ecosystem does Fifth Wave Initiative seek to address?

A: Women-owned/led companies are underrepresented in mainstream accelerator programs. Additionally, studies continue to show that women entrepreneurs looking to grow their companies experience additional barriers to success. As a result, Fifth Wave Initiative seeks to help women entrepreneurs access (1) relevant, values-aligned capital; (2) viable, alternative pathways for growth and (3) support for women serving as primary caregivers while growing a company. It also seeks to provide guidance on (1) relationship capital and/or expertise in securing government grants; (2) how to navigate an extreme-growth, ageist, VC-oriented tech culture; and (3) how to leverage, value and support the lived experiences, social roles and insights of women entrepreneurs.


Q: I’m a 50-50 owner of a company with a male co-founder. Am I eligible to apply?

A: While the program welcomes companies that are majority-owned by women, the Fifth Wave Initiative is also open to companies that are led by women, even if they do not own a majority of their company’s equity.


Q: Is my company eligible if we are located outside of Toronto?

A: Companies from across southern Ontario are eligible. The primary location of service delivery will be in Toronto, however, additional venues across southern Ontario will be onboarded to host Fifth Wave Connect events.


Q: What kinds of companies fall within the digital media ecosystem?

A: We are interested in technology or technology-enabled companies that provide content, services, consulting, platforms and/or products in categories including arts, entertainment, information, education, recreation, culture, immersive media and more.


Q: What stages of companies are eligible to apply?

A: Companies may range from early- to later-stages in their development; so long as they are offering a product, process or service that is currently in market and generating revenue when they apply.


Q: What are feminist business practices and how do they inform the Fifth Wave Initiative?

A: Feminist business practices, as they apply to Fifth Wave Initiative, mean learning about alternative enterprise management, design tools and growth strategies, such as feminist business model canvas, ecosystem mapping and inclusive leadership principles. It also means creating sustainable enterprises which value equity, wellness, community, and fairness. We also seek to open up the Ontario startup ecosystem to women founders with a range of definitions of success. We recognize not all successful enterprises depend on traditional private venture capital startup models. In practice, this means that some of our companies will not be seeking rapid growth and market share so much as creating a sustainable business that delivers value to customers and communities, sometimes even niche groups that would otherwise not be served by conventional businesses.


Q: What are the program’s own diversity goals?

A: Fifth Wave Initiative recruitment and selection will emphasize diversity of thought, background, experience, and enterprise stage within the founders participating in each program component, with a particular lens on encouraging underrepresented age groups, LGBTIQA+ women and nonbinary individuals, women with disabilities, neurodiverse women, Indigenous women, women of visible minorities, women in rural or remote regions, newcomers to Canada, and women from Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs).


Q: What if I have difficulty completing the questions in the online application form?

A: You may contact us at info@fifthwave.ca and a staff member will assist you.


Q: What is the schedule for Fifth Wave Initiative in 2020?

A: Here is the general schedule, always subject to revision as circumstances require:

Currently: Fifth Wave Initiative applications are being accepted online


2020 Schedule:

Connect Launch Event 

Applications open for Fifth Wave Labs Cohort #1


Fifth Wave Labs Cohort #1 announced


Fifth Wave Labs Cohort #1 begins 

Fifth Wave Connect Event


Fifth Wave Connect Event


Fifth Wave Labs Cohort #1 final intensive 

Fifth Wave Connect Event


Fifth Wave Connect Event


Bootcamp Demo Fair


Fifth Wave Connect Event

Application Opens for Fifth Wave Labs Cohort #2


Questions? Write us at info@fifthwave.ca

Apply now to Fifth Wave Connect