Gradient Spaces, a not-for-profit dedicated to members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in tech, has opened applications for the second cohort of its incubator.
Through the 12-week long program, Gradient Spaces aims to increase the visibility, diversity, and impact of 2SLGBTQIA+ founders in Canada’s innovation economy.
John Beckles will lead the 2023 program with support from Jason Robinson.
Applications for the second installment of Gradient Spaces’ Founder Program will close on February 7, with the programming expected to be held from March to end of May.
The Founder Program will focus on several entrepreneurship topics, such as customer discovery, product-market-fit identification, and building a go-to-market strategy. According to Gradient Spaces, it plans to shift to a hybrid approach this year. The organization said it will host a networking event, and have its pitch day at OneEleven’s space, which is one of its partners.
Gradient Spaces was created by former Venture Out team members following a mass resignation in 2020. Lisa Durnford, former founding Venture Out member and one of the co-founders of Gradient Spaces, told BetaKit in an interview in December 2021 that Gradient Spaces is a “natural evolution” of Venture Out’s goals.
When Venture Out members resigned, citing diversity and inclusion concerns about its parent organization, Durnford said they still wanted to find a way to support 2LGBTQIA+ members of Canada’s startup ecosystem.
Fewer than one percent of financing deals in the United States go to queer-identifying entrepreneurs, according to Backstage Stage Capital, and Gradient Spaces aims to change that.
Working towards this mission, Gradient Spaces launched the Founder Program in 2021 with financial support from Toronto venture capital firm Georgian and law firm Fasken. Alongside expert-led educational sessions, the accelerator also provides mentorship opportunities with startup industry veterans, ending with a final pitch day before a group of investors.
The first edition of the Founder Program was led by Surebright co-founder and COO Kai Jia, who worked in an intern role. He left the role in June 2022 to focus on SureBright. A spokesperson for Gradient Spaces told BetaKit that John Beckles will lead the 2023 program with support from Jason Robinson.
Previous participants of the Founder Program are Future Capital, Reconceive App, Rime AI, Bug Mars, Monday Girl, OpenTree Education, and Shipviser. Gradient Spaces said its goal for the 2023 cohort is to double the number of participants from last year to 15 organizations.