Vancouver-based tech incubator Launch Academy, and its co-founder and CEO Ray Walia, have announced plans to provide $100,000 CAD in scholarships to up to 300 aspiring entrepreneurs that have been impacted by COVID-19.
These scholarships involve free access to Launch Academy’s self-paced “Launch Your Startup” program, a $300 USD, step-by-step guide designed to help entrepreneurs launch their new businesses in weeks.
The scholarships target aspiring entrepreneurs who have faced unemployment or reduced hours due to the pandemic.
The initiative is targeted towards people who have faced unemployment or reduced hours due to the pandemic and “are ready to make a career change and start their own business but need training to learn how.” Applications for the scholarships are now open.
“This has been a difficult time for a lot of people, but in particular for the younger workforce,” said Walia.
“Fortunately, a few of these workers have started to explore entrepreneurship and are aspiring to launch their own startups,” said Walia. “Launch Academy, which is for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs, is stepping in to help.”
“I’ve seen firsthand how some of my friends in hospitality and tourism have been affected by COVID and the challenges not only for them but for their staff,” Walia told BetaKit. “Some staff that had reduced hours turned to creating content and entering the creator economy, and others toying around with app ideas in their idle time.”
The CEO added that Launch Academy simply “wanted to make sure they had the right tools to help them get on the right path for entrepreneurship.”
Launch Your Startup includes online training videos guided by a startup growth roadmap framework that combines parts of the lean startup ecosystem and expert learnings, as well as a variety of other tools and resources.
Through these scholarships, Launch Academy aims to help entrepreneurs validate their startup idea and determine whether it is worth pursuing, learn how to pitch to investors and customers, improve existing business or product ideas, while developing their understanding of the startup world.
Founded in 2012, Launch Academy’s alumni network includes Koho, FansUnite, Klue, Victory Square, Later, Thinkific, Lighthouse Labs, and Picatic. Since 2012, Launch Academy claims it has incubated more than 6,000 entrepreneurs, 300 of which have grown to the seed and Series A-stage and secured over $1.2 billion in funding.
The Launch Your Startup program was built on Vancouver-based Thinkific’s course creation platform. Thinkific, a Launch Academy graduate, recently went public on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX), raising $184 million CAD in gross proceeds.
UPDATE (05/18/21): This article has been updated to include comments from Ray Walia.
Photo of Ray Walia from Launch Academy