Laurier Startup Fund

The Laurier Startup Fund is filling a gap in the Toronto-Waterloo Tech Corridor for tech companies seeking seed-stage funding. Since observing a significant structural challenge in the venture industry, we've earned widespread recognition for the unique student experience we've designed to solve this funding challenge.

The fund was created in 2014 as the brainchild of Mike Stork (BBA ’77), a Laurier alumnus and renowned angel investor in Waterloo Region. Mike and Hennie Stork donated $1 million to launch the fund. This was followed by a $500,000 gift from the Marsland family, who was recognized in 2021 with the Laurier Philanthropy Award for their tremendous contributions to our students and community.

Making Real Life Investment Decisions

The Laurier Startup Fund deals with real-life company and real-life dollars in making investment decisions.

A Solution to the Tech Corridor Problem

The Problem

A gap in seed-stage funding within the Toronto-Waterloo Tech Corridor inhibiting two distinct groups of stakeholders — companies and seed investors.


Even when a company finds a lead investor, syndicating the remainder of a round can be time-consuming and challenging. This results in many promising companies raising less than they need to achieve their Series A milestones, leaving them chronically under-capitalized. Founders are then forced to raise capital at inopportune times, taking them away from having a solid focus on operations and potentially stalling growth.

Seed Investors

The gap in seed funding exists because many investors are simply unwilling or unable to justify performing due diligence or portfolio management given the investment-cheque size. The overhead isn't justified.

The Solution

An angel-investor-designed, seed-stage investment fund that features a select group of top undergraduate and Master of Business Administration students paired with top early-stage investors. Laurier's Lazaridis School of Business and Economics fills the seed-stage gap for investors by providing capital and due diligence "horsepower" required to help fully subscribe around the financing.

In summary, companies have better access to the capital they need to achieve their milestones.


  • Students get invaluable exposure to real-life investments.
  • Seed investors can leverage additional capital and resources.
  • Laurier's capital helps further attract more seed investors to a deal, effectively unlocking meaningful capital for these companies.

An Immersive Student Experience

The Laurier Startup Fund gives students real-life investment experience. 

We have designed a process that allows students to receive a unique immersive educational experience, accomplished investors to receive due diligence support, high potential companies to have an efficient investment decision process, and the fund to find high potential companies in which to invest.

Upside Foundation logo

Upside Foundation Partnership

The Upside Foundation has an innovative model that empowers the early-stage, high-growth startup sector to give back. The model is powerful: early-stage companies pledge stock options or warrants to the Upside Foundation, convertible into a small portion of equity. When the company has a liquidity event (e.g., IPO, acquisition), the Foundation sells its options for cash and donates the proceeds to registered charities in Canada. The Foundation has no involvement in the donor companies’ operations.


Since the launch of the Laurier Startup Fund in 2014, we have invested in 28 companies within the Toronto-Waterloo Tech Corridor. From apps to healthcare tech, we are investing in Canada's innovation economy and helping companies grow by alleviating the financial pressure of sourcing capital.

The Startup Fund Team

The Laurier Startup Fund benefits from the vast and diverse expertise of five seasons investors led by a faculty supervisor and supported by an alumni investment officer.

David Ceolin

David Ceolin, Founding Partner, Innovation Grade Ventures

Aaron Bast

Aaron Bast, Managing Director, General Partner, Graphite Ventures

Frank Erschen

Frank Erschen, Excecutive in Residence, Communitech

Danielle Brewin Graham

Danielle Brewin Graham, General Partner of Phoenix Fire, Archangel Network of Funds and Co-Founder, The Firehood

Jacqui Murphy

Jacqui Murphy, Chief Marketing Officer, Auvik Networks Inc. 

Mike Stork

Mike Stork, Angel Investor

Brian Smith

Brian Smith, Faculty Supervisor, Professor, Wilfrid Laurier University