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People power the future. We empower their vision.

We ignite the global success of companies by developing the leaders behind them.


$600 M+

$1,6 B+
Market Value

Guiding uncharted potential

FounderFuel works to develop both the skills and mindsets of the founders shaping our future through game-changing technology. New founders learn and grow, hone their business models and stories and take their companies to the next level.

Five axes that transform vision into leading companies.

FounderFuel combines the value of Real Ventures’ expertise, experience and networks with an holistic approach that powers a 4-month acceleration with insightful mentors, intensive networking, expert-led seminars, personal development and coaching, culminating in Canada’s biggest Demo Day on July 11th, 2023.

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Leaders inspire people to follow them, while managers instruct people to work for them. A crucial area of founder success relates to personal development and leadership coaching. In addition to developing our founder’s operational skills, our leadership track helps founders expand their self-awareness, develop resilience and ultimately learn soft skills that will help them weather all the storms of company-building through the development of themselves and the people they collaborate with to create value.


A strong narrative is essential to building a venture-backed company. Founders that can communicate a compelling story and gripping vision are more successful in attracting talent, raising financing, and building high-functioning teams. Using techniques honed across hundreds of FounderFuel and Real Ventures companies, our narrative track gives founders the tools to convince others to believe — whether on stage, in board rooms, or even in an elevator.


The startup journey is wrought with endless decision points, feedback loops, and second guesses. We believe founders who embrace curiosity and remain open and excited about challenges will see the opportunities to create disruptive business models. Leaders with bold ambitions will need to nurture genuine cultures where their people can continuously learn and unlearn without fear, which will ultimately develop the resilience required to succeed.


Founders, and the companies they build, thrive when supported by great advisors and a strong diverse community. With hundreds of mentors, alumni, and partners, FounderFuel is a gateway to one of the premier startup networks in Canada. Our network track leverages this uniquely valuable group across 3 of Canada’s most established VC firms through mentor matching, founder talks, and high-value social encounters.


Acceleration is ultimately measured in business results. Using the OKR method as a base, FounderFuel helps participants set and reach ambitious goals while establishing an operational cadence that can scale. Our execution track includes weekly check-ins, mentor goal setting reviews, and expert-led seminars. The FounderFuel program also gets our companies venture investment ready!

Canada’s biggest
Demo Day

FounderFuel culminates with Demo Day, a gathering of 1,000+ members of the Canadian tech ecosystem to hear the cohort’s pitches and celebrate the ecosystem that enables them to thrive.

Four months is a short period of time. High output requires intense focus and execution. Demo Day is the clear deliverable for our work on company narrative, and motivates the CEOs to refine their value proposition and company vision. It’s is also a motivator for driving execution, since great pitches need great numbers!

View Demo Day 2023 Photos

Got questions?

FounderFuel is a mentor-driven venture-backed accelerator founded in 2011 by Real Ventures. With an emphasis on personal development and mentorship, founders gain access to one of Canada’s premier startup networks, engaging in mentor-matching, founder talks, and other high-value programming. FounderFuel has invested in over 100 companies. Our unique 4-month intensive program is supported by a network of seasoned startup founders, investors, executives, as well as the entire Real Ventures’ team. The cornerstone of the program is Demo Day, taking place on Tuesday, July 11th, on the eve of Startupfest, Canada’s iconic startup conference, marking the launch for the cohort’s impressive journeys.

FounderFuel is run by Katy Yam, our General Manager who oversees the program and works closely with each founding team to accelerate their business across product, go-to-market, and financial milestones. She is supported by the Real Ventures operations team who run the day-to-day programming and provide back of house support across finance, legal, and communications. In a first-time partnership in 2023, partners and analysts from Panache Ventures and Inovia Capital will be supporting the program as recruiters, mentors, and speakers throughout the program and to ensure post-graduate success. FounderFuel will be powered by three of Canada’s leading venture capital firms. In addition to the core team, FounderFuel is supported by a network of more than 100 startup mentors and also selected ecosystem partners who bring a depth of expertise from a legal, accounting, banking, insurance perspective to the benefits of early-stage founders.

Sonder( 2014 cohort), a global short-term rentals company, went public on the NASDAQ in January 2022.
Paper (2015 cohort), a personlized online tutoring platform, was recently valued at $1.5B and featured on CNBC.
Mejuri (2014 cohort), is a modern everyday fine jeweler valued at over $1B. Founders Noura and Majed are a couple and raised their $23M Series B while pregnant.
BenchSci (2016 cohort), an AI-assisted reagent platform works to bring new treatments to patients faster, raised a $50M USD Series C in January 2022.

Many other companies have raised strong Series A rounds and more including Transit, Unsplash, LoginRadius, XpertSea,, and Opencare. Another 20+ companies have raised seed rounds or have reached profitability, and 10+ companies have had exits. All of the portfolio companies together have raised over $600M in financing.

An accelerator is built to iterate your business faster than one would be able to do on their own. Founders often describe being able to do 3 years’ worth of work in under a year given the density of feedback from founder mentors and market experts. Founders waste less time getting to product market fit and secure funding quicker through the established network of capital. Our 16-week program is designed to help you shape a compelling narrative, tighten your product and go-to-market strategies and get you prepared to properly unlock venture funding. FounderFuel also believes that good humans build great companies, as such the program is designed to develop thoughtful leaders with deep self-awareness to adapt to and influence the world around them. Founders we select fundamentally want to positively impact the world through their company’s culture, products, and services.

FounderFuel’s program is built around five key pillars – Leadership, Narrative, Learning, Networks, and Execution. These building blocks work together to provide a comprehensive foundation for accelerated growth for early-stage founders. In the first few weeks, founders will spend considerable time on discovering leadership and learning styles, on cultivating self-awareness to design personal development paths and on determining key company milestones to achieve during the program. Then Mentor Spints follow where founding teams are matched with 30-40 mentors for one-on-one meetings to receive feedback on their personal, product, go-to-market and financial goals. Founders will also facilitate a group of mentors to discuss their startup. Based on these meetings, the company selects a small group of mentors with whom they work closely with throughout the program. Expert talks by experienced founders and ecosystem leaders on how to build and scale key domains such as product, sales, marketing, fundraising etc are included, some founders will speak on their biggest mistakes in addition to their successes. All teams will have weekly check-ins with the cohort and also with the General Manager to track progress, unlock challenges and address issues. As the program advances towards Demo Day, Pitch Prep and Narrative Building will commence with dedicated instruction and coaching by John Stokes, our Mentor-in-Chief and Katy Yam, our GM who is also experienced in coaching TEDxtalks, in crafting compelling narratives for their on-stage pitch. Lastly, the final weeks will be dedicated to help founders structure and prepare to fundraise their first pre-seed rounds, learning the dos and don’ts to close a successful round of financing.

The 2023 program will run from Monday, April 17th, 2023 to Friday, August 4th, 2023 with our iconic Demo Day on Tuesday, July 11th, 2023 on the eve of Startupfest (July 12-14).

The 2023 FounderFuel program will be a best-of-both-worlds hybrid program. The majority of the 16 week program will be remote with the exception of 6 to 8 weeks of in-person programming at the iconic Notman House in Montreal. Tentatively, the in-person weeks for all founding team participants will be from April 17th to 28th, from July 3rd to 14th (Demo Day on July 11th), from July 31st to August 4th with two more weeks to be confirmed as programming is confirmed, they’re likely to be one in May and June.

We have secured dedicated workspace at Notman House for the in-person weeks of the programming, the rental costs will be confirmed shortly and shared with shortlisted applicants. Companies can choose to extend their stay at Notman after the program ends.

We look for teams that meet the following requirements: A founding team of at least two people, open to coaching and personal development. At least one technical co-founder. All key members founding team members need to commit full-time by the start of the program. Founders will need to travel to Montreal during the weeks of in-person programming (see required dates above). For the record, it is possible to be accepted without meeting all of these requirements, but your chances are far better if you fit the above profile.

While many factors are considered, we’re particularly focused on a few aspects: Team – Do we think the founders have the right mindset to build a massive company? Market– Is the company attacking a venture-scale opportunity? Product – Can the product deliver 10x value vs. existing options? Stage – Is the company at the right stage for acceleration?

In our experience, startups have a much higher chance of success if there are at least two co-founders involved in the business. Co-founders not only share the enormous workload associated with startups, but they also help each other through the tough emotional challenges that are inevitable on the startup journey. The intense environment created by an accelerator makes it even more desirable to have a co-founder. While we have accepted single founders before, co-founding teams are strongly preferred.

FounderFuel works with companies across all sectors that use technology to create new business models that generate outsized value in large target markets. While we view technology-powered innovation broadly, we focus primarily on companies that have software and data as part of their core technology.

Yes, we do. Some examples include Mosaic Manufacturing, XpertSea, Nectar, YPC Technologies, Locketgo and One Silicon Chip Photonics (OSCP). Whenever we invest in hardware, we prefer that the technology also has a software or data component to potentially generate a diversified revenue stream.

FounderFuel works best for companies that have: A functioning product or prototype with an early user base or pilot and who have not yet raised capital outside of friends and family or a preseed round north of $1M+ and who are aiming to raise a financing round in next 12 months following the program to continue its accelerated growth trajectory. Companies that fit the above description are best positioned to maximize the value inherent to the program.

Quite possibly. We do not consider the amount of time you’ve been working on the company as a key factor. What matters most is whether the company is at a point of time today where our accelerator can be impactful.

If your company has raised financing via friends and family, angel investors or micro VCs then the program could still be an excellent fit. Many of our most successful companies had already raised before joining the program. If your company has raised a full institutional seed round north of $1M, then it is less likely to be a fit. When in doubt – apply!

The 2023 FounderFuel program will be a best-of-both-worlds hybrid program. The majority of the 16 week program will be remote with the exception of 6 to 8 weeks of in-person programming at the iconic Notman House in Montreal. Tentatively, the in-person weeks for all founding team participants will be from April 17th to 28th, from July 3rd to 14th (Demo Day on July 11th), from July 31st to August 4th with two more weeks to be confirmed as programming is confirmed, they’re likely to be one in May and June.

FounderFuel is a bilingual program supported by a bilingual team. Our programming can be tailored to cater to both French and English speaking applicants.

FounderFuel invests $120K CAD into each company that participates in the program. It is made up of a $100K SAFE with a 20% discount and a post-money valuation cap of $4M, as well as a $20K equity investment for 5% of the company in founder shares (all in CAD).

FounderFuel’s non-cash benefits are the most significant part of overall value provided by the program and the principal reason our past founders chose to participate. We teach founders the foundation required to build successful and longstanding companies that create value in the world and the people they serve. Key benefits include: Mentorship – Direct access to Canada’s largest VC and founder networks across Real Ventures, Panache Ventures & Inovia Capital. Direct Support – Intensive weekly support from the FounderFuel and Real Ventures team. Coaching – Personal development workshops, team and one-on-one coaching. Investor exposure – Intros and engagement with our extensive investor network, and participation in Canada’s largest Demo Day. Fundraising prep – Deep and focused work on the company’s narrative, product roadmap, go-to-market strategy and fundraising plan. Training – Talks from top founders and experienced practitioners.

Applications for FounderFuel’s 2023 cohort open on Tuesday, February 14th, 2023.

Applications will close 4 weeks after they open, on Sunday, March 12, 2023, at midnight.

Selected applicants will be asked to participate in a preliminary call with an investment analyst from Real Ventures, Panache Ventures or Inovia Capital to review their application. Those who are advanced to the next stage will meet with an Investment Partner for a second call. After which, the Top 20 finalists will be invited to pitch to the Investment Selection Committee before the final selection of 8 companies are confirmed for this year’s cohort.

Final offers will be presented during the week of April 3rd, 2023.

Our target cohort size is 8 companies for our 2023 program.

FounderFuel is hiring an operations intern to support the program from March until August. If you are interested in working for one of Real Ventures’ portfolio companies, please check out our job board. If you’d like to stay up-to-date about Real’s activities in general, please sign up for our newsletter here or check out our blog, Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter pages.

FounderFuel can only help startups who get accepted into one of our cohorts. The best option is to apply for the next program!