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September 9, 2020
The New Normal: Spark Niagara’s Summer in Review

Covid-19 and government restrictions may have slowed things down but it didn't stop us from doing what we do BEST - help entrepreneurs and support our community!

It would be an understatement to say that life has looked a little different for all of us since mid-March when the COVID-19 pandemic thrust us into a lockdown. For many, our homes became our offices, classrooms, and gyms. For others who worked courageously on the frontlines of the pandemic, life became a lot more stressful and unpredictable.

We at Spark Niagara fared no differently than most. Mandated by governmental restrictions, we had to close our physical doors for four months and only recently reopened them in mid-July. Not being in the office didn’t stop us though from continuing to do what we do BEST while helping our community! Below are some highlights from our summer.

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1. We grew our community

Over the past few months, Spark has been lucky enough to welcome some awesome new founders into our community of entrepreneurs. Some of our new members include:

  • BRRiJ Solutions Inc.
  • Signal 88 Security
  • Socks and Snacks
  • Tishco Networks
  • Cold Block Technologies
  • KnowQuest
  • Anvil Designs
  • Carmine Mastropiero Copywriting
  • SteriPro
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2. We helped businesses adapt and thrive

The pandemic really highlighted the importance of small businesses to our economy and our community. At Spark, we helped businesses adapt to COVID-19 through moving many of our services online to our newly launched Member Portal. These virtual member service include:

  • Booking coaching sessions
  • Business documents, resources and templates
  • A suite of perks and discounts valued at over $11,000
  • Information on upcoming virtual events and workshops

We also worked on supporting our small business community through COVID-19 by working closely with the Niagara Falls Business Improvement Association on various initiatives including:

  • Virtual markets
  • Restaurant week
  • Vendor markets
  • Digital Service Squad and Digital Main Street
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3. We gave back to the community

At Spark, we understand how important it is to give back, especially in a time of need. To support our community, we:

  • Gave frontline workers coffee and cookies from Third Space Cafe as part of our “Pay it Forward FIKA Friday”
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  • Raised over $2000 and provided 700 face shields, 3D printed by BISEP Co., to frontline workers
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  • Helped keep seniors connected and improve their digital literacy through Cyber Seniors tech training sessions
  • Supported our member companies and alumni, Civiconnect and Workbay.net, as they connected young job-seekers to employers looking to hire through Opportunity Niagara’s virtual job fairs

4. We learned a lot from some amazing experts

Despite not being able to host events and workshops in the Spark Event space as we once did, we still had some amazing virtual events. Our webinar series featured industry and in-house experts to discuss various topics relevant to entrepreneurs, such as:

  • Intellectual property
  • Funding and investment
  • Market research
  • Making a business plan
  • Copywriting
  • Social media
  • Mental health

Missed a webinar? No problem! All past and future webinars can be found on our YouTube channel!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCI6NlVo23i6wGe8jcpRkNQ/featured?view_as=subscriber

5. We got to know each other virtually at FIKA Fridays

In this new virtual workplace, we still found ways to keep in touch, meet new people and make new connections. FIKA Friday turned our weekly morning coffee meeting into an exciting networking opportunity. Over 276 people attended our FIKA Friday networking sessions, including Spark staff, member companies, Niagara Falls Ryerson Innovation Hub (NFRIH) cohort companies, partner organizations, entrepreneurs from across the globe, businesses owners and local service providers. Missed a FIKA Friday? No worries — we’ll be running these virtual events through the Fall.

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6. We celebrated our members’ successes

While the past few months have brought many unexpected challenges, we have also celebrated our member companies’ successes and growth. Below are just a few highlights:

  • NFRIH Cohort 1 member companies graduated from the program
  • Get Ready Global created a COVID-19 prevention training program and is helping small businesses across the province
  • Monfriese Rum Cakes opened a new storefront location on Queen Street
  • Zoom became Zoom Now and expanded to include food and essentials delivery
  • Civiconnect won WE’s Next Top Social Entrepreneur Pitch Competition
  • Bisep won the Synapse Life Science Pitch Competition held by Innovation Factory
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7. We planned for the future

We’ve also been working away at bringing our members more exciting opportunities this Fall! Mark your calendars for these upcoming events:

  • Webinar: Business Tools — September 10th at 1:00pm
  • FIKA Friday — September 11th at 10:30am
  • Webinar: Business Proposals — September 17th at 1:00pm
  • Webinar: Law 101 — September 24th at 1:00pm
  • NFRIH Cohort 1 and 2 Demo Day — September 25th at 1:00pm
  • AgriTech Hackathon — November 6–8th

So as you can see, it’s been a very busy summer finding innovative ways to invest and support entrepreneurs and our greater community. What about you? Have you been stretching your innovative muscles? Let us know how! Wanna know more about the services we offer? Reach out!

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Frequently asked questions
What does my membership get me?

Our memberships are all-inclusive pricing which means W.I.F.I, Utilities, Janitorial service, coffee and many other amentities included. They start at 3 months!

How long can I have a membership for?

Unlike many other co-working spaces, Spark is here for you in the long run. You're welcome to participate in our workspace for as long as you'd like.

How is Spark connected to Ryerson University?

We work with Ryerson University and the City of Niagara Falls on the Niagara Falls Ryerson Innovation Hub. This initiative is for tech-based startups in or looking to move to Niagara Falls, Canada to grow and scale their business.

Will Spark invest in my company?

We are happy to help provide guidance on the necessary steps towards receiving external investments. That being said, we will not invest in your business nor are we affiliated as partners in your business.

I am a part of another incubator, can I still join Spark?

Spark stands by the mission of building our future with collective impact. We accept entrepreneurs whether they are affiliated with another incubator or not. We aspire to bring together the best talent in Niagara regardless of background.

Do you have a free trial?

We offer a free 7 day trial for serious applicants only.

We're ready to grow your business
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