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Validate your startup today

Turn your vision into reality

Establish your minimum viable product, validate your idea and secure customers with the DMZ’s Pre-Incubator program. Plus, get a chance to secure an exclusive spot in the DMZ Incubator after graduation to receive $10K+ in entry grant funding, 18+ months of additional support and exciting perks.

Rolling intakes monthly


How it works

Startups are accepted into the Pre-Incubator on a rolling basis with the goal of acceptance into the Incubator. The DMZ will determine whether startups enter the Training or Execution Phase.

1-3 MONTHStraining icon

Startups accepted undergo online training, 1:1 EiR sessions, and 1:1 Program lead sessions.

Startups are assessed before acceptance into the Execution phase.

3 MONTHS execution icon

Startups that progress to this phase undergo goal-setting and assessment with the board.

Application incubator icon

Startups that achieve set goals, pass due diligence, and meet all other eligibility are accepted into the DMZ’s 18-month Incubator.

The DMZ delivers results


businesses incubated and accelerated


in funding raised


jobs fostered in our

Establish your business

  • 12+ hours of curated on-demand content on 8+ topics
  • Hands-on support, including 1:1 meetings with Experts-in-Residence, curated workshops, progress check-ins, and founder meetups
  • $470K+ in perks from 80+ partners
  • Exclusive invites to industry networking events and workshops
  • Startups with a Black founder receive a $5K grant
  • Startups with at least one Black Co-Founder receive additional support
  • Startups with at least one woman-identifying Co-Founder receive additional support
  • Opportunity to gain accelerated acceptance into the DMZ Incubator to receive up to $10K+ in entry grant funding, 18+ months of additional support, funding, DMZ office space, and more!

Meet the DMZ team

Emily Smiley

Director, Programs & Corporate Collaborations

Justine Clark

Programs Lead

Mohi Sanisel

Sr. Programs Lead

Sherif El Tawil

Senior Director, Programs & Partnerships

Meet your Experts-in-Residence

Take a look at the mentors that support our Pre-Incubator companies. To see all mentors, please visit our Experts-in-Residence page.

Anthony Lau

Product, Sales

Frank Erschen


Hackim Farrell

Cybersecurity, Product

Jodi Echakowitz

Public Relations

Karen Hogg

Customer Success

Meet our Professionals-in-Residence

Through the Professional-in-Residence (PiR) program, DMZ founders have direct access to senior leadership at vetted companies, all under the DMZ roof. One-on-one strategic consultation meetings are pro-bono and any projects or work arising thereafter (at the founder's discretion) is offered at DMZ exclusive discounted rates.

Frequently asked questions

Am I eligible?

At a minimum, applicants must have:

  • An idea dedicated to solving a compelling problem using innovative technology
  • An early minimum viable product
  • At least one dedicated full-time founder
  • An in-house tech lead
  • Potential to transition into the DMZ Incubator after graduation

How does DMZ's Pre-Incubator differ from Incubator?

The Pre-Incubator is a program to validate a business idea and secure first customers. At a minimum, founders should have an MVP. Startups have access to curated online learning material, a day-pass workspace at the DMZ’s head office in the heart of downtown Toronto, hands-on support, exclusive perks from 80+ partners valued at $470K+ and more. Startups in the Pre-Incubator will have the opportunity to gain accelerated acceptance into Incubator.

The DMZ Incubator is for startups ready to launch and grow their business — venture-backable pre-seed and seed-stage companies with a full-time founder, early traction and proven product-market fit. Startups receive up to $10K+ in entry grant funding, 18+ months of additional support and exciting perks. If startups applying to the DMZ are eligible for the Incubator, they do not need to go through the Pre-Incubator first.

Not sure what program is right for you? Check out our programming here.

How long is the program?

Startups need flexibility, which is why the Pre-Incubator is flexible in length. Applications and program intake occurs on a rolling basis, with new startups joining the program at the beginning of each month. Program length for each startup varies based on progress but typically lasts 4 to 6 months and includes a Training Phase and Execution Phase.

Startups that show commitment and growth may be offered a spot in Incubator, an 18-month program with intakes every 6 months. Eligibility is determined case by case.

What are the Training/Execution Phases?

On average, startups spend 4 to 6 months in our Pre-Incubator program. This encompasses both the Training and Execution Phases of the program.

In the Training Phase, startups undergo digital training with access to on-demand curated content. They also partake in 1:1 EiR sessions, 1:1 Program lead sessions, and board meetings. Startups are assessed before moving on to the Execution Phase. The Training Phase typically lasts 1-3 months.

The Execution Phase starts in December and June; it is the final 3-month period before the upcoming Incubator cohort where startups have the chance to scale and prove their eligibility for Incubator.

The Execution Phase begins with a board meeting where startups develop clear goals for the remainder of the program with the help of industry-leading experts.

Am I guaranteed a spot in the Execution Phase?

Startups participating in Pre-Incubator are not guaranteed a spot in the Execution Phase. A Program Lead works with startups to ensure startups set and reach reasonable and achievable goals in the Pre-Incubator program. The DMZ will determine if a startup is suitable for the Execution Phase based on factors such as founder coachability, commitment to the program and future business potential.

Am I guaranteed a spot in the Incubator program after graduation?

Startups participating in Pre-Incubator are not guaranteed a place in the Incubator program. During the Execution Phase, startups must undergo business and technical due diligence and meet eligibility criteria to join the Incubator.

What am I required to commit?

Startups participating in Pre-Incubator can expect to commit between 10-12 hours per month.

Breakdown per month may include:

  • 6 hours for scheduled Friday Founder Meetups
  • 3 hours for on-demand content to be completed based on a founder’s own schedule
  • 2 hours for 1:1 calls with Experts-in-Residence
  • 1 hour for 1:1 meetings with DMZ Program Leads

Startups may also be invited to optional exclusive events and workshops.

Are there membership fees?

There are no membership fees to join Pre-Incubator, but in exchange for this support, the DMZ asks companies selected for the Execution Phase for 2.5% equity in the form of options. The Pre-Incubator Execution Phase graduates that enter the DMZ Incubator program do not provide any additional equity for the Incubator’s 18 months of support.