On Friday, July 5, the IDEABOOST Accelerator’s Cohort 8 wrapped up the last of their four-sprint session.
Over five years and eight cohorts, IDEABOOST has grown its community membership, alumni and mentors into what it is today: more than 90 companies are still actively engaged in the network, and we have more than a dozen mentors, many of whom have been with us all five years, including IDEABOOST’s managing director Ana Serrano, who built this program from the ground up.
“IDEABOOST has been about continuously growing this family of entrepreneurs and advisors,” Serrano shared in the sprint’s close. “It’s a privilege, luxury and magical to be able to create a space for a family this diverse to grow, and to see everyone take the time they need to experiment, make mistakes, learn, pivot, grow and then come back for the sole purpose of giving back to the new members of the community. Once an IDEABOOST member, you become part of this family, you’ll always have our support and a place.”
This open-ended closure was evidenced by community members, past and present, who came together for a founder-to-founder insights exchange, in a closing circle to reflect on the program before enjoying a BBQ social.
“I feel so grateful that this group exists. There’s no ego,” shared Alison Phillips, an IDEABOOST mentor since 2016. “We’re all in the same boat and we come together to share our skills and knowledge. We create ties starting with IDEABOOST, the Accelerator then on to the larger Toronto startup community.”
The feeling of community was echoed by Kevin Bache, founder of Medistream, a Cohort 8 company. He noted that “the open ended nature of what the CFC Media Lab does is really special. I think the peer groups were amazing, and I’m coming away with new connections and new friends.” And as Alannah O’Neill, cofounder of Cohort 8’s Origami XR, added, “There’s a lot of support in the startup world that we didn’t fully know how to navigate before IDEABOOST.”
As Ken MacNeil, cofounder of Cohort 8 company Capsule Media, put it, “I’m in awe of the diversity of mentors. In 30 years I’ve never had such a variety of mentors I can call on for insights.” MacNeil’s cofounder partner, Michael Bellman, said, “The hard questions and insights we have received have been invaluable, and fundamentally changed how we go about growing our business.”
During the closing session, alumnus Jonathan Gagne, who founded Cohort 6 company Masterpiece VR, reflected on his time in the Accelerator. “The first day was listening to us, the second day was ripping us to shreds, and the third day was helping us build back up. They really care about you and want to help you succeed. Our journey isn’t a straight line. It’s a winding path, and every time you come in, you see the same people who’ve been following your progress. The CFC Media Lab is a fantastic touchpoint as we move forward.”
From mentors to startup founders, past to present and into the future, IDEABOOST has built a significant presence in the wider startup ecosystem.This desired ‘snowball’ effect has had a tremendous positive impact on the growth and sustainability of our network as a whole, a network that stands together and never really says goodbye, only “Onwards!”
Photos by Brian de Rivera Simon.
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