After Expa announced that it is expanding Expa Labs with an office in Vancouver, the startup studio is now offering a program option to reach entrepreneurs all across Canada. Entrepreneurs anywhere in Canada and the US can participate in the program remotely, and Expa will fly out startups to one of the three offices (San Francisco, New York, Vancouver) for meetings and mentorship throughout the six-month program.
Founded by Uber co-founder and Calgary native Garrett Camp, Expa Labs supports entrepreneurs in building and shipping their products. Startups selected receive an investment of $250,000 or $500,000 USD, as well as support, mentorship, access to a global network, and help fundraising for 10 percent or 20 percent equity respectively.
“There are many founders who need to remain in their current location while building their company. There are smart people everywhere, who just need a bit of capital and some guidance, and not everyone can easily move to another location for six months,” Camp wrote in a blog post.
Eric Friedman, head of Expa Labs, suggested that this decision opens the lab up to a larger pool of founders.
“It’s a lot more money than most programs and a lot more time, and that gives people the ability to quit their job and hire a team.” – Eric Friedman
“I think if you are a little less risk-averse or maybe you’re settled somewhere, it’s not an option to pick up and move somewhere for a short amount of time or survive on a small amount of money,” Friedman said. “It’s really hard to start a company and break into the tech hubs that have more investors and more access to capital and more access to talent. So they want to make this process just a little bit easier — and they’ve all had to go through it themselves — so I think it’s sort of returning to their roots.”
Friedman said what separates the program from other accelerator or incubator programs is its process; the lab gives founders a structure focused on building the product and a timeline to ship, and giving them time to talk to customers.
“Let us know what obstacles are in your way. I’ll either remove those obstacles or I’m going to find you somebody who can, and that’s a really important distinction to me,” said Friedman. “It’s room to work, room to build your company, and then room to talk to those people that you know are going to be more important.”
The studio also doesn’t have a demo day at the end of the program, instead hosting a series of pitch events throughout the program and bi-weekly breakfasts with experts.
“I don’t have a hundred plus mentors come in and meet with the teams, because that causes this mentor whiplash for folks,” said Friedman. “They’ve been working on something for a year, they know what they’re doing.”
While many companies that come into the program are early-stage, it’s not a requirement. Friedman said they’re focused on strong founders.
“It’s a lot more money than most programs and a lot more time, and I think that gives people the ability to quit their job, hire a team, and build something up versus a lot of other programs. It’s very hard to hire those first few people.”
The deadline to apply for Expa Labs’ June program ends today at 9 p.m. PST.