• Founders First. RFI focuses on driving customer acquisition for proto-type & market ready solutions.

    RFI will provide up to $80,000 in funding and $30,000 in benefits to successful companies.

  • Located in Toronto, RFI is in close proximity to clients, financial partners and talent to accelerate success.

  • RFI puts Founders First, focusing on driving customer acquisition for proto-type & market ready solutions.

    RFI will provide up to $80,000 in funding and $30,000 in benefits to successful companies.

RFI accelerates innovative and highly scalable technology startups, providing world-class strategic and tactical guidance, network access and seed stage financing.

Ryerson Futures helps start-ups, innovative brands and investors tap into the research and resources of Ryerson University and its heritage of entrepreneurial success.

How it works

Ryerson Futures offers a founders-first accelerator program focused on product validation and customer acquisition.

We constantly evaluate early stage technology companies, bringing them selectively into our program on a monthly basis.

We bring in a combination of pre-accelerator companies that have strong teams and ideas. We launch a working due diligence process to gain a deeper understand of the team, technology and market viability. This happens while the startups operate in our office space so we get a hands-on detailed evaluation prior to funding.

Does your company have what it takes ?

Great Founders

Relevant industry and/or technical expertise, with a willingness to build a world-class team solely focused on the opportunity.

Demonstrated passion and ability to execute at startup speed.

Complementary skills (business, technical, design).


Mobile and web based startups that can massively scale and create a viable product in a rapid iteration.

Proprietary or first mover products, backed by intellectual property with a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Companies that solve an expensive problem well.


GTA and Southern Ontario.

May or may not be Ryerson led.

What you get

Ryersn Futures companies receive mentorship, operating resources and more valued at $25,000+ per two person team in downtown Toronto.

Ryerson Futures companies “live” in the DMZ space and have access to the DMZ operating resources + specific accelerating services such as:

  • Focus on prototype through launch – finding the MVP and product/market fit
  • Consideration and working due-diligence for seed investments (ability to provide $50,000 to $100,000 in capital), plus the opportunity for matched funding
  • Access to Ryerson Futures management team with first hand startup, angel, VC, IPO and exit experience
  • Regular “one-on-one” check-in meetings with Ryerson Futures management
  • Dedicated access to on site and paid advisors and mentors
  • Priority introductions to key industry connections, tours and business development introductions
  • Higher resident advisor to member ratio
  • Six months worth of space, infrastructure and professional services
  • Priority access to students for business development, focus groups and internships
  • Opportunity to present to later stage funders and investors at quarterly events with the distinction of being selected for RFI

Ryerson Futures is located at Ryerson University so startups can benefit from programs such as OCE Market Readiness, which provides a variety of funding options.

Ryerson Futures companies can apply for services from Amazon Web Services through their AWS Activate program which includes:

  • $10,000 in AWS credits valid for two years
  • Free access to web-based and instructor-led training (normally ~$600/course), plus tokens for multiple hands-on labs (normally ~$30/lab)
  • One year of premium AWS Business Support (not to exceed $5,000)
  • A new Startup Forum for knowledge sharing among startups
  • Special offers from other companies that help startups: initial partners include Opscode, AlertLogic and SOASTA.

Success Stories



What type of businesses does RFI fund?

We fund web, mobile and other software based technology companies that can scale.   Due to the nature of the program offered, the investment amount and our timeframes, we do not fund service based, locally focused, or capital-intensive businesses such as biotech.  Think of it this way, can you show enough traction in the program to attract paying customers and/or your next round of financing.

How do you decide who is invited into the RFI Founders First Accelerator Program?

We look for great founders, who are proposing real solutions that can scale, to real problems.  It helps if you have rounded out your team, have thought enough about your product that you have something to show, and can prove you are committed.

How does this fit in with the Digital Media Zone Incubator at Ryerson University?

We are able to draw upon the DMZ Incubator community and the resources available.  We may even be able to offer a spot in the Incubator after you graduate, if it makes sense for both sides.  We have profitable and funded business running out there right now, and would be happy to have more.

It’s just me so far, how can I find a co-founder?

In a word, networking. Go to start up events, reach out to the community.

Will RFI make follow on investments?

We will introduce you to VC’s, Angel Investors and many other sources of follow-on financing, but our mandate is to provide seed financing only at this point.  Investors in our fund however have the rights to lead or follow on in your subsequent rounds and we will make every effort to assist you in preparing for your next step, and making sure you get there.

Do I need to be based in Toronto?

During the program, yes. We will be offering many events here at the Digital Media Zone, and in order to best take advantage of this, you will need to be in Toronto.  We are located in the heart of the city with everything you’ll need nearby.

Am I too far along, or not far enough to apply?

We are like a minority co-founder bringing capital to the table. As a result, we typically get involved when businesses have been formed, and are still relatively small.  There are no hard and fast rules, but a typical company might be pre-revenue, with a business idea, mockups or prototype and a small focused team of 2-4 people.   If your business is 10 people, we are probably not the right type of funding source for you.

How much does The Seed Fund invest?

We invest up to $80,000, plus the potential for other matching funds for eligible companies.

What are the benefits of the RFI Founders First Accelerator Program?

In addition to the financial investment that is made, you will benefit from all of the perks available to members of the Ryerson Digital Media Zone.  As part of the Accelerator, you will also have extensive access to our investor network.

Do I have to be a Ryerson student or graduate?