We get pretty nerdy about the problems our founders are solving. Our values of Creativity, Collective Ambition, Growth, Intelligence, and Radical Curiosity shine through in our weekly individual meetings and the many group meetups, fireside chats, lunch and learns, and Founder Real Talk (these are the best!).
"Founders build the right skills to be in the driver’s seat of their ventures. By the time you complete the program, you will know how to scale your tech company...”
In 2003, business leaders Gerry Pond, Curtis Howe, and Jeff White wanted to jump-start the Information, Communication, and Technology sector in New Brunswick and Propel was born. However, they knew they needed a made-in-Atlantic Canada solution. Collaboration was a critical success factor.
As for private investment, venture capital investments in Atlantic Canada were almost non-existent at the time; big venture capital firms rarely looked east of Montreal for ideas. Gerry and his partners knew financing would come through the development of strong relationships with would-be angel investors primarily in Saint John, the financial center of New Brunswick, and with investors outside the region with whom they had strong relationships.
In its first 36 months, Propel nurtured 21 southern New Brunswick startups. Some of its earlysuccesses were: Brovada, a market leader with its business software for the insurance industry; ShiftEnergy, which develops real-time energy use analysis; and Ambir Technologies, an ICT consulting firm. In 2006, Propel hosted Atlantic Canada’s first Angel Investor Summit to promote a startup culture in the region, anchored in Saint John. Out of this was born a classic angel investor network to help finance startups. In 2008, due to market demand, Propel went province-wide.
In 2011, it shifted once more, an intensive accelerator program serving New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and PEI. The goal of the program was to launch 36 Maritime start-ups in 36 months - they actually launched 40.
Propel launched its virtual accelerator Incite in 2018. The program eliminated geographic boundaries which means they can work with any company in any location. Propel is grateful for the funding provided by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
“I’d love to see 100 baby unicorns in two years,” says Propel CEO. “Is that a crazy, audacious goal? Yes. But companies are cutting sales time and increasing sales while reducing costs, so more and more companies are poised for investment and ready to scale.”