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Dare to Dream

Receive up to $15k in funding

The Dare to Dream Program through Centre for Entrepreneurship, Innovation & Social Impact (CEISI) at Smith School of Business is designed to encourage and enable entrepreneurs in launching their new ventures. The program is specifically focused on providing critical resources to help Smith graduates turn their new venture business plans into reality. Each award provides up to a total of $15,000 over a three month period.

Many students create new ventures while in their program, yet upon graduation, they are faced with a tough dilemma: take a full-time job in order to pay for rent and/or student loans and sacrifice the opportunity to bring their business to fruition versus pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams while bootstrapping to make ends meet.

The Dare to Dream Program was created to make it possible for graduates to pursue the latter, by not only covering expenses, but also providing other critical resources such as space and access to the invaluable Queen’s network of contacts.


Founders/Co-Founders must be in their final year of study for a degree or diploma program at Smith School of Business or have graduated from a Smith program in the Fall of the previous year

Key dates & deadlines

Task Date
Applications Open Mon, Feb 5
Applications Close Fri, Apr 12 @ Noon (ET)
Pre-Screening Judges Deliberations Mon, Apr 15 - Sun, April 28
Winners Announced * Mon, Apr 29

*Due to the number of entries, only the winners will be informed

Guidelines and templates

Please read through the guidelines carefully

  Guidelines and Criteria

  Lean Canvas Model

Criteria to submit

  • Your venture should be in the start-up stage (well beyond ideation)
  • A clear explanation of the product or service and the pain point/problem you are solving that answers the ‘so what.’ - build the emotional attachment to ‘why should we care?” and ‘how will this make life better for the target market?’
  • A clear explanation of the product or service and the pain point you are solving
  • The opportunity and solution (i.e. why is now the right time for this business)
  • Proven research and market validation, including a strong understanding of the total addressable (TAM) /service available (SAM)/serviceable obtainable market (SOM)
  • Your target market (i.e. size, structure, archetype)
  • Your competitive advantage(s)
  • CRITICAL - The economics of the business – e.g. business model, revenue model (pricing strategy), COGS, profit margins etc
  • The value proposition of your team
  • The ask!! Why are you pitching to the judges,, will you use money, and what value will it add?
  • Sources of funding – how are you funding the business now, and show any additional finances raised
Michelle Romanow

“…the Dare to Dream Program allowed me to do exactly what it said it was going to do. It allowed me to dream. It allowed me to not just have to look inside the box of having to get a job because I had to pay for my education. It was to really go out there and test an idea and see if I could build a business.”

Michelle Romanow, BSc (Eng) ’07, MBA’08
Dragon on Dragons’ Den
Co-Founder & Executive Chairman, Clearco

2022 Award Recipients

Active Learning - Leila Seyidova

$15,000 Donor: Valerie Mann (BCom’86)

For the child who needs to be prepared for the 21st century, Kids Escape is a mobile and virtual educational escape room that prepares your child for the future through collaboration, ideation, leadership, empathy, and innovation at school and home.

Carbon Trace - Lisa Anchalia

$10,000 Donor: Dany Battat (BCom’78) and the late Gia Steffensen (BCom’78)

Our AI-focused SaaS solution helps businesses optimize carbon emissions and makes computing and forecasting their carbon footprint effortless. Our advanced NLP-based algorithm is trained to automatically pick and drop relevant fields from the customer's ERP/CRM to the appropriate missions category.

Pulse Financial - Nick Ponari

$15,000 Donor: CIBC

An AI CFO companion for your business to help you make the best decisions for your business while teaching you corporate finance and cash management.

Good Weather - Malaika Thompson

$15,000 Donor: RLS Foundation

Providing the best sneakers and clothing for the best price can connect many people based on their love of urban street culture; our store embodies many aspects of the sneakerhead streetwear culture. We are the only black-owned sneaker and streetwear boutique in Toronto.

SnapSmile - Kartik Balasundaram

$15,000 Donor: Sinkinson Family Dare to Dream Award

An app that helps dentists stay engaged with their patients' oral care journey, which is critical in maintaining a relationship. We do all the work for the dentist by delivering personalized content, helping their patients easily schedule appointments, and viewing all their oral health records.