Cheesy, I know, but it’s early in the morning and I’m still shaking out the cobwebs.
Extreme Venture Partners, a small Toronto-based venture firm focused on early stage startups, just announced ExtremeU, a 12-week summer program for 4 lucky startups. This looks similar to Y Combinator, Techstars and other similar seed fund incubators.
Kudos to the EVP people for getting this off the ground. If you’re interested in the program, follow Farhan Thawar on Twitter. He’s VP of Engineering at ExtremeU and will be running the show.
On a side note, I hope I can be involved in some way, even just to check out the 4 startups’ pitches during the process!
In Canada, this concept is quite new. (Bootup Labs in Vancouver has or is working on something similar I believe.) And there’s been a lot of discussion about how to implement similar programs effectively. David Crow wrote a great thought piece on the subject, “Incubators, accelerators, and ignition. If you’re at all interested in the Canadian startup scene, check that out.
Dog Patch Labs offers free office space, Internet access and other amenities to startups. What do the startups have to give in return? Nothing. There are no signed, legal papers giving Polaris first rights to invest. Polaris doesn’t take equity right away. Granted, they don’t provide the same level of support as you’d find in other seed fund incubators, but they are available and around to assist.
“…Polaris is practicing a kind of “open source” entrepreneurship. There’s an implicit understanding that the venture firm will have first crack at funding a promising Dog Patcher, but only as what he [Mike Hirshland, GP] calls a “‘first sponsor’ goodwill thing. No economics, no rights/obligations.”
Regardless, for Polaris it’s worth it. They get a hands-on view of the startup world, right down to the nitty-gritty level where all the innovation takes place. As the article points out:
But even if Polaris never funded another resident of Dog Patch, it’s worth the cost. The lab affords an up-close and personal eye on the future to help inform the firm’s other investments. It should also help foster the good will of the entrepreneurs who pass through—making it more likely they will come back to Polaris in the future.
Dog Patch Labs concept is a great idea and could work quite well in Montreal (or elsewhere in Canada, or the US). Startups in Canada definitely need the guidance of experts, veteran entrepreneurs, etc. – more in the mode of ExtremeU or other seed camp incubators – but it would be incredibly smart for a progressive venture firm in Canada to setup something similar to the Dog Patch. Huge goodwill and an incredible, hands-on and deep view into active startups on the ground floor.