FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
+ Q.Who is the ideal candidate? What business stage should they be in?
A. The ideal candidate - for any of the four award categories - will have evidence for success (e.g. sales results) and can show a passion for their business.
You should be able to demonstrate a strong business plan and convince the judges that your business is viable. You should be able to illustrate a market need for the product or service, and explain the need for financing to create sustainable growth. It is important to tell your personal story, as well as present the market research and initial sales results , or proof of interest.(i.e. written statements or contracts).
+ Q. Can I apply in more than one category?
A. Yes! You may apply in more than one category you identify with and meet the criteria for. If you make it to the finals, our review team will place you in the category we think you would best compete in.
+ Q.What is a credit score, and how do I obtain mine?
A. A credit score is the number assigned to a person that indicates to lenders their capacity to repay a loan.
The score is based on, among other things, a person's past credit history. It is a number between 300 and 900 - the higher the number, the more creditworthy the person is deemed to be.
We recommend getting your credit score from Equifax Canada.
+ Q.What if my credit score is under 650? Can I still apply?
A. Yes, you can! We have a special category (Start Me Up) for entrepreneurs whose credit score is below 650. We will also consider special circumstances for the other categories. The review committee, however, will require that individuals explain the reason for your low credit score and what you are doing to improve it.
+ Q.What if my personal income is above $50,000. Am I still eligible to apply?
A. You are not. In order to be eligible for the grant money and loan portion of this competition, an income level of $50,000 or lower is required. This is the income stated on your CRA Notice of Assessment for the previous financial year.
For those who have had a recent change of financial circumstances, exceptions can be made.
+ Q.Where can I find what my income was from last year?
A. This is personal income before taxes as reported on your previous year’s tax return. You can check the status of your refund at the Canada Revenue Agency’s webpage.
+ Q.Why is the competition not open to freelance businesses?
A. Ignite Capital focuses on helping entrepreneurs who are interested in growing their businesses, ultimately providing employment for themselves and others. This not only benefits the business but also contributes to the health of the Canadian economy.
A freelancer is someone who gets paid for their work by the hour or perhaps by the project. Whether their business is to write, design, consult, advise and do taxes, freelancers generally are a one-person team. Their business model is not meant to generate employment.
On the other hand, entrepreneurs build businesses that are bigger than themselves. Entrepreneurs focus on growth and on scaling the systems that they build.
To understand if you are a freelancer or an entrepreneur? Read what this expert article on the American Express open forum says. In case you are in doubt, you are free to contact us. In all cases, the decision of the review committee will be binding and final.
+ Q.What if my business is a partnership? Do other members have to fit in the eligibility criteria?
A. If you are the majority owner of the business, then only you have to meet eligibility criteria.
If your business partner is equally invested into the business, then that partner or partners must meet the eligibility requirements associated with the chosen award category.
+ Q.What if my business is registered outside of Ontario?
A. The Ignite Capital competition is open to Ontario businesses only.
+ Q.What if I applied last year? Can I apply again?
A.Yes, you can! If you were not a finalist in any of the previous years, you are eligible to submit an application for this year's competition as long as you continue to meet our criteria.
+ Q.What if my business was registered more than five years ago?
A. Eligible businesses must be registered for fewer than five years. Exceptions may be made in case of businesses that have been dormant (without sales or activity) for a period of time.
+ Q.What if my business has a social mission?
A. To qualify for the Ignite Capital competition, your business must be for-profit. That said, we welcome participation from businesses that are for-profit, but also have a social mission. However, such businesses will be judged equally against those businesses that do not have a social mission.
+ Q.What points should I note before beginning the application process?
The eligibility section also lists the documentation you will need to accompany your application.
Next, we recommend you read the Apply page, which explains the application procedure in an easy way, and follows the steps listed there. Ignite Capital uses an online integrated workflow creation and management platform for reviewing submissions.
Please take note that certain stages of the application and presentation process requires a time investment on your part. Just like running a business!
+ Q. What makes a good application?
- A good application has all questions adequately answered in full sentences.
- It focuses on how the award money will help them grow the business.
- Your cash flow projections should factor in the probability that your business will receive the funding, making it easy for our reviewers to understand how you intend to apply your winnings to your business.
- Tell your story, show your passion -- stand out from the crowd!
+ Q. Does Ignite Capital hold information sessions that help us through the pitch process?
A. Yes, we do hold various information sessions to help shortlisted candidates prepare for the key stages of the competition, including the live pitch. They two-hour interactive sessions are held in Toronto. You are strongly encouraged to attend them.
Ignite Capital will be emailing all accepted applicants on the schedule and other details of each information session.
+ Q.Will I receive feedback on my submission from the review team?
A. When requested and wherever possible, Ignite Capital is happy to provide feedback to business plans submitted by shortlisted applicants only.
BUSINESS PLAN APPLICATION
+ Q.Can I save my work as I go?
A. Yes you can. You will have a login that allows you to work on the submission as you please. Just remember to submit before September 2nd, 2017 at midnight!
+ Q.Can I print my application for my records?
A. Once you submit your application, you will receive an email of your full submission that you can print for your records. You will also be registered in the system and can go back and edit up to the time you submit.
+ Q.How do I know you received my application?
A. Once you hit submit, you will receive a confirmation email from us. If you do not receive, just give us a call on (add number) and we will assist you.
+ Q.When can I expect to hear back from you?
A. Our review team will meet in September to review all submissions and finalists will be notified by approximately mid-October.
+ Q.What does the prize structure consist of?
A. The Ignite Capital prize structure which includes grants and loans, has two levels: The category level and the grand level.
Please view the prize section to learn more.
+ Q.If I win first prize, am I obliged to take the loan part of the prize? Why?
A. The first prize in each category awards up to $16,000 in funding which is composed of $6,000 in grant money, and $10,000 in a loan format. Ignite Capital makes it obligatory for the winner to take up both parts of the prize since it represents an advantageous opportunity for the entrepreneurs.
Debt-financing is a fundamental component of business growth. In order to reach your next development phase as a business, you will likely need to borrow in order to acquire the assets necessary to scale. Ignite Capital believes this combination of grant + loan creates the right flexibility to provide start-ups with sufficient capital while still allowing recipients to learn to manage debt effectively.
For the second and third place winners, there is also a grant portion and the loan will provide much needed capital to launch and/or grow your business.
It is often difficult for emerging entrepreneurs to obtain the capital they need from traditional financing for a number of reasons. The amount of loans awarded provide an opportunity for businesses to obtain that capital and the business can incorporate the loan expenses into their day-to-day operations.
+ Q.What else is included in the prize package?
A. In 2016, our prize package included;
- One-year of co-working space
- Legal counsel
- Mentorship support We’re continuously building our prize package, stay tuned for updates!
+ Q.How is the grant money disbursed?
A. For the grand prize winners in each category, the grant is administered as an operating loan, e.g. expense invoices or purchase orders are submitted for approval.
The loans for the first, second and third place winners are administered by Alterna Savings, for which winners will be required to go through a simple procedure of opening an online account with them. Winners must access the loan before the grant becomes available
+ Q.Who will be judging the competition?
A. Different judges are chosen each year, but typically comprise a panel of experienced business leaders and entrepreneurs.
+ Q.Who supplies the grant money?
+ Q.Where does the pitch take place? And how does this affect the prize package?
A. Ignite Capital is based out of Toronto, Ontario. As such, the pitch competition and prize package has been created with the generosity of local partners. Because of this, the pitch competition is held in Toronto and prize package contents will likely be comprised of Toronto-based products and services.