Fifth Wave Initiative
FIFTH WAVE INITIATIVE SUPPORTS WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS IN SOUTHERN ONTARIO
CFC Media Lab presents 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 radically inclusive 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
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 email@example.com
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Outreach Program Partner
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
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 to Fifth Wave Connect.
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
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)
CFC Media Lab is committed to empowering and supporting diverse women/womxn entrepreneurs within the Digital Media industry, and we recognize that increasing the diversity of our community supports this objective. With this aim, we are focusing Cohort 2 of Fifth Wave Labs on supporting Black, Indigenous and Women of Colour entrepreneurs.
For further information about the program, see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) here.
OR: Write us at email@example.comApply now to Fifth Wave Connect
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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:
Nataly De Monte, Director, CFC Media Lab
For further information about the program, see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) here.
OR: Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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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 email@example.com 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:
Application Opens for Fifth Wave Labs Cohort #2 - Sept. 30
Application Close for Fifth Wave Labs Cohort #2 - Nov. 29 at
Fifth Wave Labs Cohort #2 Announced
Fifth Wave Connect Event
Fifth Wave Labs Cohort #2 Begins
Fifth Wave Connect Event
Fifth Wave Labs Cohort #2 Final Intensive
Questions? Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org