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An Overview of the Start-up Visa Conversation with Designated Organization Launch Academy

Ray Walia | Start-Up Visa

It was a pleasure hosting the founder of Launch Academy, Ray Walia, on our latest webinar: The Start-Up Visa: A conversation with Launch Academy.

In this webinar, Ray walked us through the concept of Launch Academy, and gave us a brief overview of what a Start-Up Visa program is, the pricing, and the phases of the entire process. Our host and Global Director of Sales & Marketing, Marianella Manzur, discussed with Ray the requirements of applying for the Start-Up Visa along with the profile of an ideal candidate for Launch Academy. 

You can watch the entire webinar below.

If you are interested in hearing Ray’s responses to our questions, you can also read transcripts and listen to the mini audio clips that we have selected from the webinar below.


Even though Joorney only focuses on creating business documents, and is not a registered immigration professional, we are thrilled to bring professionals, like Ray Walia, to share their expertise so that we can work together to improve and grow immigration in Canada!

Q: Can you tell us about Launch Academy?

A: We’re a non-profit. So that’s one of the things that makes us a little bit unique is that we don’t take equity in the companies that we work with. Launch Academy started in 2012. It was myself and my four other co-founders. We were building our own tech companies and we just wanted to be around each other because we knew how much we could teach each other through relationships and experience and, as they say, misery loves company. 

When you’re an entrepreneur, it’s a very tough journey. And so we wanted to be around people that understand what we’re going through, that we can leverage and work off of. We started in 2012 with just 12 desks. 12 months later, we had over 12,000 square feet filled with entrepreneurs. In the last 10 years, we have worked with more than 6,000 entrepreneurs of which 300 have raised up to $2 billion now, and that number keeps going up. We run Traction Conference, which is one of the top 10 tech marketing conferences in North America, as well as private CEO dinners from the tech industry.

Q: Can you give a brief overview of what a Start-up Visa program is?

The Start-Up Visa program has 3 tiers:

– The venture capital tier – A certain designated venture capitalist invests more than $200,000 in your company, then they can give you a support letter and you can go get your work permit and permanent residency.

– The angel tier – the angel investor or group needs to invest a minimum of $70,000.

– The accelerator incubator stream – requires that you’ve been accepted into a program that has been approved by the Canadian government to be a representative of the designated Start-Up Visa provider.

When you look at the type of companies that have venture capitalists or even angel investors, this has always started off as a tech stream. When you’re looking at the venture capital around and even at the angel around those companies have a lot more substance to them. Venture capital is going to invest in a series A or series B round, which means that the company has traction. It’s got validation, it’s got a proven business model. That is why it passed a business plan, whereas the angel investor may make earlier stage investments, and after a business plan has been done.

Q: What are the program’s basic requirements and what is a Start-up Visa looking into to bring in that?

A: This is a Start-Up Visa – the government program that everybody is ultimately adhering to. When you look at the accelerators and incubators, even the venture capitals and angels, they all have their own business models of how they work with companies. Let us not confuse the two. We will talk about the Maple Program, which is our program, but the Start-Up Visa is one component of that. From my discussions around the world, a Start-Up Visa is probably one of the most powerful programs in the world, because it applies to up to five founders plus spouses and children that can access work or study permits, typically within the 4- to 8-month time frame.

What you have to accomplish is to make sure that whatever the number of the founders, those founders need to own a minimum of 10% of the Canadian company, and collectively more than 50%.

If there are 6 founders, and 5 of them are applying for the Canadian visa, and the sixth founder is not, you still need to make sure that the five together collectively own more than 50% of the company. 

They also need to be active participants of the company. This does not apply to investors that are making investments and trying to skirt along and get the residency; it does not apply to employees that just recently signed up with the company.

All of them need to meet the regular immigration requirements, that’s the economic thresholds, the savings threshold, the [criminal background], health, and all the other requirements.

Q: What are the 5 phases of the process and what is the cost?

A: It is free to apply online. You will go through a 4 step screening process. If you get accepted, you will get invited into the program. 

You will go through Phase 1 which lasts roughly one month, and it’s really about us making sure that you know what you’re getting yourself into and you’re ready and prepared for this journey. The cost is CAD 5,000. 

Phase 2 is where the real work begins. You are going to identify which immigration path you are going to go down. You’re going to start your Canadian company incorporation, and you’re going to build your roadmap. The cost is CAD 5,000, as well. 

In Phase 3A you are going to apply for your work permits and to continue the due diligence process with the launch phase. Phase 3B is the family soft landing program. During this entire time, you are getting access to our launchpad program where you are getting access to online mentors, advisors, AMA sessions, and lots of programming that we have in place. The cost of it is CAD 5,000 for 3A and 3B, respectively. 

Phase 4 is the actual landing in Canada. Once you’ve got your work permit, that will be either in the January, May, or September cohort. That is three months. The cost of it is CAD 5,000 per month, plus desk fees for your team. 

Phase 5 represents the 12 months of continued support, resources, and online content while you are waiting for your permanent residency.

Q: What are you looking for in the profile for Launch Academy?

A: The companies that we are best suited to support are companies that already have funding or revenue or that they are financially stable through other means, whether that’s a personal investment or some other value in IP that they have or something else. The company is likely working in emerging tech sectors like quantum computing, blockchain, VR, AR, cybersecurity, health tech, FinTech, AI, machine learning, etc.

We will make exceptions for entrepreneurs that have a previous history of success – an entrepreneur that has either exited a company or has been part of a team that’s done something innovative.

We would like to, once again, share our appreciation to Ray for being part of our webinar and sharing his knowledge. Ray is a serial entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in both the entertainment and technology sectors. Ray has invested in over 30+ startups either personally or through his funds and was named Entrepreneur Mentor of the Year for 2014 and 2015, BIV Top Forty Under 40, G20 Young Entrepreneur, BC Tech Person of The Year Finalist 2018, and one of 500 Most Influential Business Leaders in British Columbia for 2021.

Our team of consultants and business plan writers will help create custom business documents for you or your client. We are not immigration consultants, lawyers, or advisors but work with them to construct professional documents to help in applying to a designated organization or the Start-Up Visa application itself.

Contact us for more details.

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Disclaimer: Joorney Business Plans Canada is not an immigration consultant, lawyer, or advisor and cannot be held responsible for damages incurred from the use of this information. If you require more information about a program, please contact a registered immigration professional.

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