It is a time of change and growth for the regional accelerator, Propel ICT.
As it undergoes changes in senior management with the departure of St. John’s-based CEO Gary Dinn and Halifax-based Entrepreneur-in-Residence Ying Tam, Propel ICT is preparing for its first cohort of 2016 with a broader geographical reach than ever before. And it is working on doing more to support the companies that have graduated from its programs.
Propel said Friday that it is looking for a new Chief Executive Officer following the departure of Dinn, the St. John’s-based executive who headed the organization since June 2014. And in an interview today, Chairman Dave Grebenc confirmed that Tam is no longer with the accelerator.
Meanwhile, it is now accepting applications for the next cohort, a 12-week program that will be offered in six cities. The Launch program, an introductory course, will be offered again in St. John’s, Fredericton, and Halifax, and for the first time in Sydney and Charlottetown. The Build program, for more experienced companies, will be offered in Moncton. [Full disclosure: Propel is a client of Entrevestor.]
The moves come at a time when Propel has just completed what all parties consider one of its best cohorts ever. Twenty-seven companies went through the recent Launch program and six through Build, and a total of 12 of these companies pitched at the recent demo-day. Now the organization is gearing up to take on as many as 45 teams in the first cohort of 2016.
“In the last year, we really made Propel pan-Atlantic in every sense of the word,” Dinn, a former sales exec with St. John’s-based Rutter, said in an interview.
During Dinn’s 15 months overseeing Propel, the accelerator replaced the Launch 36 format, a single program offered to all participants, to a two-tiered system. He added that during the time the organization quadrupled its budget and developed its structure in the three largest provinces while preparing to move into P.E.I.
Grebenc said both Dinn and Tam did a “phenomenal” job with Propel and thanked them for their services.
In the case of Tam, he said Propel could only have one Entrepreneur-in-Residence and it chose Gillian McCrae, who joined the organization as a vice-president earlier this year.
“In Halifax, we had two great candidates … and we chose Gillian,” he said. “This has nothing to do with performance. It’s just that we were changing our business model and streamlining it.”
A serial entrepreneur, Tam is also the CEO of Halifax startup Mindful Scientific and has been mentoring for years with the Dalhousie University Starting Lean program. With a background in marketing and small businesses, McCrae is the former CEO of Launch36 grad GetGifted.
Propel ICT is continuing to grow and earlier this month held its first Alumni Weekend, in which the companies that passed through the accelerator got together to socialize and continue to support one another. Grebenc said this will be the beginning of more structured programing so that Propel can continue to support alumni.
“We’re looking at being with the companies through their lifecycle,” he said. “We want it to be like a St. Francis Xavier University ring – once you graduate you’re a member for life.”
Applications for the coming cohort are now open and applicants can register on the Propel website. The deadline for applications if Jan. 15. The accelerator is holding the following information sessions for anyone interested in applying:
- Halifax – Volta, Wednesday, Nov. 18, 5:30-6:30 pm;
- Saint John – ConnexionWorks, Thursday, Nov. 19, Noon-1 pm;
- Fredericton -- Planet Hatch, Monday Nov. 23, Noon-1 pm;
- Moncton – Venn Centre, Friday, Nov. 20, Noon-1 pm;
- St. John’s -- Genesis Centre, Wednesday, Nov. 25, Time TBA.