They say if you can make it in New York City, you can make it anywhere.
The Big Apple is just one of many international destinations where companies have landed as part the Canadian Digital Media Network’s Soft Landing program. As it hits the 100-company mark, the program is putting out another call for applications. This is a great time to look at how far Soft Landing has come since the launch in 2012, and how much of an impact it has had on Canada’s promising startups.
It began with just a handful of companies, as an experiment to address a common problem faced by Canadian startups—scaling.
“It is important for Canadian companies to consider global markets very early on,” says Lisa Cashmore, manager of the Soft Landing program.
Entering international markets is never easy, even for larger companies with greater access to capital, let alone ones very early on in their lifecycle. But when companies are ready to close deals in some markets, “face-to-face contact is crucial,” Cashmore says.
For successful applicants, Soft Landing tries to alleviate some of the pressure when plunging into international waters.
“We’re excited to celebrate that we have helped more than 100 companies reach their goal of entering new markets. By reimbursing up to $4,000 towards transportation and accommodation expenses, we help alleviate some of the risk,” Cashmore says. “ It helps get companies to market faster and with less worry.”
But it’s more than just funds. The program helps set up companies with working space, and makes connections to trade commissions at their destinations.
“The program is also good for the Canadian economy. Companies will travel internationally with the goal of, securing new business and/or investment,” Cashmore says.
Here are some examples of companies that have done exactly that:
Lemonade Game Labs, Kelowna B.C, Accelerate Okanagan
The video game and social application development studio landed in Nuremberg, Germany the first time, and recently in Seattle, Wa., as part of the latest cohort of companies.
“In January 2014, we went to Nuremberg, Germany, and what that allowed us to do was to get a global partner,” said Ted Carefoot, founder and CEO. “What we did in five months paled in comparison to those four months of face-to-face contact.”
SlimCut Media, Toronto Ont., Ryerson DMZ
New York City is the place to land when you’re in the business of monetizing online publishing through a loyalty program.
“Having the freedom to travel back and forth between New York City and Toronto removed a lot of pressure, and that way you’re able to be more flexible with potential partners,” says Damien Véran, co-founder and president. “And it was also good for credibility.”
MRF Geosystems, Calgary Alta, TR Tech
Its mapping software helps governments and the energy industry in decision-making. Initially landing in Sri Lanka and Germany, MRF was accepted a second time for New Zealand and California.
“Going into a new market is always risky, in the sense that we are investing time and energy, and we don’t know that market,” says president Gary Zhang.
Zhang realized Sri Lanka was not the right market, even though it looked promising. He didn’t come up empty-handed: he found a German company to partner with, and received joint funding from the German-Canadian Centre for Innovation and Research and Alberta Innovates Technology Futures.
Even with just half the 100 companies reporting back so far, Soft Landing has racked up impressive numbers:
Offered through all 29 CDMN Hubs across the country, Soft Landing has a promising future.
“I expect this program to continue to grow and we will be accepting companies in fall, winter and spring cohorts. The next 15 companies will be selected from those applications being accepted until Aug. 15,” Cashmore says. “I’m looking forward to seeing what the next 100 companies can accomplish.”
This article first appeared on CDMN’s blog.