The DMZ is reopening a New York City office after being forced to close its original space in the city because of COVID-19.
While the new space is simply a coworking office, having a presence in New York City is part of a broader play by the DMZ as the Toronto-based incubator expands its global presence.
“We’re eager to keep growing the DMZ’s international presence and provide more outposts for our founders.”
The DMZ executive director Abdullah Snobar noted that the goal of reopening a New York City office is to provide a space for Canadian companies to connect with their American counterparts and to encourage connections with a variety of stakeholders.
“DMZ NYC will act as a soft landing for startups who are ready for U.S. expansion and are actively looking to meet with potential customers, partners, and investors,” Snobar told BetaKit.
The space is open to both DMZ and non-DMZ member companies, which can apply to use the workspace for a set period of time.
“The world’s 2nd strongest startup ecosystem and a world-leading financial market, NYC provides a competitive and strategic destination for Canadian founders to anchor their American operations,” said Snobar. “We’re working to advance the profile of Canadian startups by making it easier for investors, partners and customers to come north.”
The DMZ first opened a New York City office in 2017, a 25,000-square-foot coworking space in the city’s financial district. According to the DMZ, the location supported nearly 60 startups over its lifetime, before it closed in 2020.
With a home base at Toronto Metropolitan University, the DMZ claims to have helped more than 700 startups overall since it was founded in 2010. After going through structural changes in recent years, the DMZ offers a range of programs, with its incubator program at its core.
The DMZ claims to have offices in Canada, Vietnam, India, and the United States, and a presence in Latin America, Africa, and Asia through partnerships with other startup program providers.
A global reach has long been a goal of the Toronto-based innovation hub. “The benefits of the DMZ’s global ecosystem is twofold,” Snobar told BetaKit. “Not only are we helping our homegrown startups access new markets, but the DMZ is empowering global startups and talent to consider Canada.”
In fact, working with other program providers is one of the ways that the DMZ pulls in revenue – through consulting work with similar organizations around the world.
The DMZ has been increasing that presence over the past couple of years, as the pandemic has led in-person startup programs to rethink the value they can provide in a remote and hybrid world.
Last year, the DMZ made significant changes to its startup programming, including eliminating its “crown jewel” accelerator in favour of a new incubator program for early-stage startups. The move back to the DMZ’s roots was partly driven by a “massive increase” in early-stage companies applying to DMZ programs amid COVID-19 and a glut in the local accelerator space.
Other recent program launches include a proptech incubator with Toronto-based venture capital firm GroundBreak Ventures; a three-month coaching program designed to support Black founders in partnership with the Dream Legacy Foundation; and a blockchain incubator in Bermuda.
The DMZ’s programs also include supports for women founders, artificial intelligence supply chain startups, and Toronto Metropolitan University students.
As it furthers its international expansion, the DMZ is currently considering additional opportunities in the European Union and the Middle East and North Africa regions.
“We’re eager to keep growing the DMZ’s international presence and provide more outposts for our founders to leverage around the world,” said Snobar. “Tapping into global markets has always been one of the biggest challenges facing Canadian startups, and the DMZ is committed to helping more founders become global businesses.”
Feature image courtesy of DMZ. Photo by Natalia Dolan.