Apply now for Fall 2019

Early Bird! Save $350 if you apply before July 1.

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Weave your ideas and skills with the change you want to make in the world and build a socially and environmentally conscious small business.

We believe everyone has something unique and valuable to contribute to the world. This is your opportunity to take your skills and your values and build something valuable from them. You’ll join an ecosystem of social entrepreneurs, small business owners and self-employed people who have found their way to make a positive impact.

Program Content

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Before Groundswell I had a lot of ideas, but never really succeeded in starting something. Groundswell provided me with the necessary structure to get started and more importantly a supportive community of peers and mentors when things got tough.

Chris Schuchmann, 2016 Groundswell alumnus

Structure, accountability, and all the resources you need to build a social business, non-profit, self-employment, or social enterprise, are incorporated into the 5 month BUILD program. 

You'll start each week with a pitch presentation where you update the mentors and your peers on your progress, and get feedback on the spot.  Then you will learn a practical business building block or skill and put it into practice, transforming your idea into a ready to launch venture in real time during the program.  In the afternoons, group and one-on-one mentoring gives you even more personalized support and the collective experience of our diverse team of mentors.  Finally, a guest speaker will present to the week's topic, giving you professional and entrepreneurial experience to learn from and a new contact to add to your network.


The heartbeat of the Build program is the weekly mentorship you will receive with our diverse team of deeply experienced entrepreneurs, executives, and professionals. In addition to one-on-one mentorship with senior mentors, a weekly peer mentorship group will enrich your business building journey with the skills, peer accountability, networks, and creative minds of your fellow cohort members.

Meet the mentors here.


Each week, you’ll learn and apply a business building tool or theme to your own idea, and build your social business hands on, in real time, over the course of the program.

  • Get personalized 1-on-1 mentorship with every aspect of your business planning.

  • Get access to coworking and event space.

  • Showcase your new social business at a celebratory launch event and expand your network and user base.

  • Make a positive social and environmental impact within a strong ecosystem of values-based entrepreneurs who are committed to helping each other.

  • Get preferential access to the Groundswell Test Market and stay connected with our community and resources through Groundswell Membership after the program ends.

You will:

  • Learn within progressive and flexible modules with peer-to-peer accountability.

  • Hone your mission and purpose to set a solid direction for your business idea.

  • Test and validate your idea, product, or service by connecting with the people you want to serve.

  • Determine the viability of your idea and access professional legal, financial, and communications services to help you launch.

  • Explore financing opportunities to find investment and manage your budget.

  • Create a communications and marketing plan, as well as your own promotional materials.

More Expertise

Guest instructors with specific expertise will amplify each week’s theme with additional professional and entrepreneurial experience from the real world. You’ll get connected to experts in startup validation, law, finance, pricing, design, marketing, and more, as well as other social entrepreneurs who love to share their stories and learnings to help early-stage entrepreneurs like you.

Business Validation Sessions

Validation is the process of testing a hypothesis (your business idea) by speaking to the ideal advisory board - your potential customers! You don’t have to be a startup tech company to take advantage of this technique. Groundswell alumni have launched non-profit organizations, design firms, catering companies, textile recycling initiatives, coffee import businesses and more, all using this simple but deep methodology.

Special Bonus Offer : Apply now and pay the non-refundable deposit for the Fall and we will work with you every month, providing you with the tools and exercises to validate your business ideas, giving you a head start in the program.

Sessions start on June 19! Why wait to start your entrepreneurial journey? Apply now!

2019/2020 Dates

November 2019 - Now offering an NEW schedule!

  • April 1: Applications Open

  • June 19: Business Validation Sessions Start (Non-refundable deposit must be paid)

  • July 1: Early Bird Deadline ($350 Off!)

  • October 21: Application Deadline

  • Nov 2: Build Starts!

    • Kick-off Day: Saturday November 2 (10am - 4pm)

    • Mondays and Wednesdays, November 4 (6:00pm-8) - February 26

      (no class Nov 11, Feb 17)

    • Saturday Workshops (Nov 2, Dec 7, Jan 11, Feb 1, Mar 7)

    • Christmas Holidays (Dec 18 - Jan 4)


Financial Aid

Bursaries are available for BIPOC, trans people, people with disabilities, and low-income inner city residents for all three of our social entrepreneurship programs: Explore, Build, and Test Market . Any remaining tuition that is not covered by a bursary is eligible for microfinancing through our partnership with Vancity.

We've created a microfinancing program with Vancity so that Groundswell program participants and alumni can access up to $50,000 to cover their tuition and start-up costs. 

Read more about financial aid here.


Price of Build


The real delivery cost of the Groundswell Build program is $8000, but as a non-profit organization, our funding partners (Thank You!) allow us to make our programs more accessible to more people. 

Explore + Build Package

Explore participants can credit their entire Explore fees toward Build, for example, $3500 - $950 =$2450 Build tuition.

The Explore and Build programs flow together and we encourage people to take them both to make sure you're doing the right thing and to deepen your confidence around your idea and your connection to your peers. 

Read more about the Explore program here.

A big thank you to all our funding partners for subsidizing Groundswell program fess with their generous contributions and keeping Groundswell accessible! 

Get in Touch

If you have any questions about the program, please use this form to get in touch with us and we'll get right back to you. 

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