Starter Company Program

Launched by the Province of Ontario in 2014 to support young people aged 18 to 29 to start their own businesses, the Starter Company Program provided training, mentorship and a grant of up to $5,000 to launch and run their business.

The development and delivery of the program in Toronto was led by Chris and his team at the City's Small Business Centres. Through Chris' leadership, the team at the City of Toronto exceeded its targets and assisted 275 young people to start businesses.

Chris' management of the program involved developing the programming, overseeing its delivery, administering a grant fund of over $1 million, and developing a back-end technology platform on Salesforce to manage the program.

Digital Main Street Lab

Working with his team, Chris worked to develop the Digital Main Street Lab - an testing ground for new retail technologies in Toronto.

Leveraging Toronto's diverse and vibrant main streets, the Digital Main Street Lab connects retail technology companies with local business improvement areas allowing them to pilot new technologies.

The purpose of the Lab is to assist Toronto's main street businesses in adopting new technologies, while also encouraging the growth of Toronto's retail technology sector.

StartUp HERE Toronto Cafe

Looking to connect Toronto's entrepreneurs with networks of mentors and advisors, Chris led an initiative to develop a mentoring platform in partnership with other business support organizations in Toronto.

The StartUp HERE Toronto Cafe facilitates connections between entrepreneurs and mentors through online engagements, in-person coffee meetups and monthly group mentoring events.

The StartUp HERE Toronto Cafe has a membership of over 2,000 entrepreneurs and mentors - and grows every week - that results in over 500 coffee meetups between entrepreneurs and advisers each month.

Digital Main Street

Responding to the need to assist main street businesses adopt technology, Chris led the development of Digital Main Street Program.

Focused on helping main street businesses grow their businesses through technology, the program provides a number of supports, including:

  • A web platform that allows entrepreneurs to complete a digital assessment and get recommendations to improve their digital adoption.

  • A digital service squad that assists main street businesses in setting up basic technologies (i.e. Google My Business, etc.).

  • A range of training programs aimed at helping entrepreneurs build their digital literacy skills.

Digital Main Street was funded by a number of key partners, including Yellow Pages, Mastercard, Rogers, Google, Shopify, Microsoft and Canada Post.

StartUp HERE Toronto

Bringing together key stakeholders from Toronto's innovation community, Chris led the development of the StartUp HERE Toronto brand and web platform as way to better tell the story of Toronto's innovation community.

Managed by an editorial board comprised of representatives of local technology companies and business support organizations, such as MaRS and the DMZ at Ryerson University, the StartUp HERE Toronto web platform aggregates and curates all of the news and events from Toronto's innovation community. In addition, the web platform provides a directory of business support resources, including incubators, accelerators and coworking spaces that are available for entrepreneurs.

Beyond aggregating resources, StartUp HERE Toronto also produces its own unique content focusing on profiling entrepreneurs from Toronto's innovation community, while having them share their story on why Toronto is a great place to build a company.

Food Starter

Toronto's food processing sector is the city's largest manufacturing sector and the second largest food hub in North America. However, the challenges facing early stage food companies face are many - from the high capital cost of food grade production space and manufacturing equipment, to the regulatory requirements to sell to large markets.

To address this Chris led a team to create a food production incubator called Food Starter. Food Starter is Ontario's first food incubator focused on baking, hot and cold fill and ethnic food products. Providing a 20,000 sq. ft. production facility, Food Starter features shared manufacturing equipment and space, training and mentorship focused on helping early stage food companies bring products to market.

Chris' role in the project included securing funding, managing the construction of the facility, developing a not-for-profit and board of directors, hiring staff and overseeing the launch of the facility and its programming.