Saskatchewan Leaders in Profile – Co.Labs and Cultivator, Pacesetter

Co.Labs (left - photo by David Carter Photography). Cultivator (Right - Photo by Shane Luhning).

Co.Labs – Saskatoon

Co.Labs is Saskatchewan’s first tech business incubator and accelerator. Designed to accelerate the development of Saskatchewan’s technology sector, Co.Labs helps high-potential startup founders and take their technology from an idea to market. In four years of operations, Co.Labs has incubated 123 startups that have collectively raised more than $9 million in private investment, generated over $16 million in revenues, and created 255 new high-quality positions.

SafetyTek, SkillShark, Croptimistic, Rivercity Innovations, Offstreet, and Immigrate are just some of the Sask-founded tech companies incubated in Co.Labs that have moved onto great success in the market.

What’s the most important risk your organization took?

“The biggest and most important risk Co.Labs has taken was launching in the first place. In the early stages of Co.Labs’ conception, it was unclear if a tech incubator could thrive in a prairie city of 250K people. We had many individuals, including some prominent tech leaders, oppose the idea and question Co.Labs’ long term viability.

The members of our community have gone against all odds to build this organization from the ground up. Our current team echoes these sentiments by constantly innovating and raising the status quo.”

How do you generate great ideas in your team?

“We have a multitude of ways we generate ideas. The most direct way is having conversations with our founders and addressing their needs. We also have an amazing group of experts, board members, mentors, and supporters we consult with to affirm our direction.

Internally, our team works as unique components in a well-oiled collaborative machine. We uphold this standard through group and individual brainstorming sessions and thoughtful iteration.”

What’s your favourite thing about doing business in Saskatchewan?

“It has to be the people. When you ride the elevator or walk the halls, everyone says hello. There is a unique sense of comradery knowing we are all connected. It comes down to the amazing sense of community and how residents really love this place. They’re always willing to give back to the community and find ways to work together. And although it might get to -40°C, it’s just a dry cold ;)”

Cultivator – Regina

Cultivator powered by Conexus (Cultivator) is Canada’s first credit union led business incubator, helping local startups launch, grow and scale their companies right here in Saskatchewan. Since launching in 2019, it has incubated and provided resources, mentorship and space to over 50 startups. Located in Conexus’ head office building in Regina, Cultivator uses 15,000 square feet of the space including working space for founders and teams, a pitch space, and connection to the Darke Hall atrium.

What’s your favourite thing about doing business in Saskatchewan?

“The connectedness and size of Saskatchewan makes it the perfect place to build a high growth tech company. From the government support (Canada’s top angel investor tax credit), to the talent coming from our post-secondary institutions, to the investors (VC and active angels), to our high quality incubator/accelerator programming and mentorship. Saskatchewan is big enough to enjoy the benefits of a larger ecosystem, but small enough to stay agile, connected and best serve founders.”

How do you generate great ideas in your team?

“We continually look to be a catalyst and leading edge in the Saskatchewan and Canadian startup ecosystem. We ask ourselves if the work we are doing is accelerating the growth and success of Saskatchewan’s fastest growing tech companies. This motivates us to continually lead the way by delivering founder-first programming, cultivate a high performance community, and pushing the boundaries as to what success can look like for a SK tech startup. We want to ensure founders have everything they need to succeed globally from wherever they are located whether that be Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Yorkton, anywhere.”

How do you measure successs for your organization as a leader?

“We focus on a sustainable success via high growth tech companies for the province of Saskatchewan and our country as a whole. Our goal is to provide the right programming, support, mentorship and community connections to help accelerate the success of our companies, resulting in a positive impact on our economy whether that be job creation, revenue earned or capital raised—when our companies succeed, we succeed.”

From Someone Who Knows

“Regina is fast becoming an impressive talent center for rapid growth startups. The supportive ecosystem of founders, mentors and investors connected via Cultivator is making it easier than ever to succeed. Nobody can do it alone and the community of like-minded companies in Regina means you won’t have to.” – Karim Ben-Jaafar, President of Beanworks