firestarter: igniting change for women and non-binary founders in Atlantic Canada 

firestarter, founded by the Pond-Deshpande Centre (PDC) and The Firehood with funding from the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy Inclusive Venture Capital Initiative (WES WIN-VC), is dedicated to supporting early-stage women and non-binary-led startups in Atlantic Canada. We believe every entrepreneur should have access to the community, knowledge, and resources they need to succeed. 

Program goals

Real-life strategy to reach your goals.

By supporting women and non-binary founders, we can unlock tremendous potential and drive growth in the Atlantic Canada region and beyond.

  • Building a community: we know it takes a village to succeed. That’s why firestarter is building a strong community of entrepreneurs, mentors, industry experts, and supporters who believe in our mission. When a woman succeeds in building a viable venture, she uplifts her clients, family, community, and more.

  • Reducing the Gender Gap: our mission is to address the gender inequality in entrepreneurship. By providing tailored mentorship and comprehensive training, we enable women and non-binary founders to access the networks they need to grow and thrive. Less than 3% of venture capital funding reaches these innovators, and firestarter is here to change that. 

  •  Investing in Change: achieving balance in the entrepreneurial landscape is healthy in many ways. firestarter is dedicated to bringing parity in entrepreneurship, paving the way for significant economic and social benefits. 

Program delivery

We’re providing the tailored training and support programs women entrepreneurs need, free of cost. We consider the industry, stage of business, growth goals, and more to offer these customized programs. Upon completion, participants are eligible to receive a certificate of completion.

Apply Today
Virtual Training

August – September 2024
Topics include: Lean startup methodology, pitch coaching, financial literacy, market analysis, product development and legal considerations.

Pitch at Elevate in Toronto

October 2024
The 10 most investment-ready ventures will be selected to attend the Elevate Festival in Toronto.

Beyond the program

Forge connections with top women tech talents in specific sectors, build your network and long-lasting relationships with other founders, investors and partners in the ecosystem.

Committed to Diversity

We are committed to empowering women from all backgrounds,
identities, and abilities. Our programs are designed to foster
supportive community and address the unique challenges faced
by underrepresented founders.

Meet our Mentors

Participants will gain insights from experienced entrepreneurs and seasoned executives in residence.

Claudette McGowan

Bethany Deshpande

Danielle Graham

Miranda lievers

Gaby Fisch

Sarah Stockdale


Dejana Dua

Jeanette Renshaw

Helen Kontozopoulos
Leah Skerry

Roshni Wijayasinha

Layla Freig


Stevie Trim

Temi Odesanya

Kara Leblanc
Daniela Pico

Contact Information

For more information about the program delivery please contact:

  • Danielle Graham – The Firehood:
  • Vanessa Paesani – PDC: 

About The Firehood