Frequently Asked Questions

With the right F.I.R.E. (Funding, Inspiration, Resources and Education), Project Wildfire will incubate youth social enterprise ideas that serve the greater good.

Promising social entrepreneurs can receive up to $25,000 in funding through Project Wildfire, along with a full year of hands-on business mentorship and other support.All participants, regardless of whether they win or not, will have access to a wide range of supports, including free workshops, online podcasts and other resources, and low-interest business loans via our project partners.


Who can enter the Project Wildfire contest?

The contest is open to anyone aged 19 to 29 in the City of Toronto proper. Sorry, but we do not have the resources at the moment to incubate businesses outside of the city of Toronto. In the future we may run similar contests in other areas, but this year we are focusing on Toronto.

Can we enter as a group?

You can enter as a group of up to 3 people, of whom at least 2 must be between 19 and 29 and will be actively involved in the launching of the business.

What sort of initiatives will you fund?

We will fund social business/enterprise ideas only. We will not fund nonprofits, charities, community organizations or community projects. Your idea must be for a business that aims to make a profit while fulfilling a social goal. See What’s A Social Business for examples.

My business is already started/running/established – can I still enter?

Project Wildfire is a project to incubate social business ideas, not established businesses. If you are already running your business, you will not be eligible. We want to incubate ideas from the idea stage to startup and give them a year of funding and hands-on mentorship to help them find their feet.

If you already have a business plan and have done some work in planning your business, but have not yet launched, you are still eligible to enter the contest, although our mentor team may ask you to tweak your business plan to fit the contest criteria.

Do I have to attend a workshop to enter the contest?

No, although we strongly recommend it. You’ll learn more about entrepreneurship and social business at our workshops, and if you attend you’ll received 2 bonus points for your video!

Register for a workshop: http://projectwildfire.ca/workshops

How do I make it to the finals?

To make it to the finals, you have to do two things:

1) Get into the top 20 in terms of votes received. See http://projectwildfire.ca/aboutcontest#spread for tips on getting lots of votes!

2) Have a good enough idea that our jury will give it a high enough score to make it to the final 10 – after that you will work with our mentor team to create a kickass business plan based on our idea and will pitch it to the jury for a chance at $25,000 in funding and a year of mentorship

Visit http://projectwildfire.ca/aboutcontest for more information about the contest process.

What happens if I don’t make it into the top 20 – am I out?

Not necessarily. Our team will review all of the submissions at the close of the contest and pick 5 ‘wildcards’ (videos that we feel are worthy of consideration but for whatever reason didn’t make it into the top 20). These wildcards will then be entered into consideration by the jury, but will not receive a score for their vote count (they will be at a disadvantage but really strong entries can overcome this).

How often can people vote on my video?

Visitors to the website can vote on a video once per day.

How will you ensure people don’t cheat?

We have advanced IP tracking/fraud tracking software that will identify cheaters. If you are caught cheating, we will disqualify your video immediately.

Why videos?

We chose video submissions for several reasons:

1) An important element in the success of a business is the entrepreneur themselves, and his/her passion for the business. Videos help the public and the jury meet the entrepreneur and get a sense of their passion and drive.

2) We hope to encourage as many young people as possible to enter, regardless of neighbourhood, race, socioeconomic background, etc… Video is a medium familiar to most young people (as opposed to a business plan), and most young people have access to a video camera, either their own, through friends, or their local community centre. Those that don’t have their own can attend one of our workshops where we will have equipment available.

3) Videos and social media tie-ins help to spread the word about the project and help us attract as many aspiring entrepreneurs as possible.

I’ve never written a business plan – If I make it to the finals, how much help will I get?

If you are one of our 10 finalists you will work with your mentor team (1 Ryerson Entrepreneurship student and 1 experienced business mentor) to develop a 6 to 12-page business plan based on our template. They will give you hands-on instruction in crafting a great business plan and guide you through the process and point out any mistakes or omissions, but you will still need to do a lot of the work on your own!

Even if you make it to the finals but don’t win, you’ll still have a great business plan that you can use to help launch your business, and we’ll connect you with lots of other supports in the city of Toronto.

What happens if I win – do you write me a cheque for $25,000?

No. The money will be held in trust by the Center for Social Innovation and will be used to fund your startup costs.

How will you ensure the businesses are living up to their social mandate?

As part of the condition of funding and mentorship, you will be asked to create a social contract for your business, outlining how your business will have social impact and setting clear metrics for evaluating its impact.

We will also create an advisory board for your business. They will give you ongoing support and advice and connect you with additional supports for your project. You will be expected to submit quarterly reports on your business, outlining both your financial performance and social impact.

Should your business not be living up to your social contract (ie. social mission) because of issues beyond your control (e.g. the social mission is jeopardizing the financial performance of the business), we will work with you to help address this. Should we find that the business is not living up to its social contract because you have willfully ignored your social contract in order to solely pursue profit, you will be cut off from further support by your advisory board.

Sounds like you’re going to give me everything I need to make my business a success. Do you guarantee my business will be successful?

Even with proper funding, mentorship, education and all of the other supports we can offer you, there is still no guarantee your business will not fail. The vast majority of new businesses fail within the first year – it’s hard work making a business profitable, but we will do everything we can to tilt the odds in your favour!