Home » About Us

About Us

ELLA is run by YSpace, York University’s innovation hub, and is made possible through partnerships with Small Business Enterprise Centres across York Region and funding from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

Who We Are

A community & accelerator

ELLA was created by York University's Innovation York with funding from The Government of Canada's Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES). The Government of Canada is advancing women's economic empowerment with the first ever Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES), a nearly $5-billion investment that seeks to double the number of women-owned businesses by 2025.

Tied to our core

York University has led the way in social justice since its inception, in 1959. Having had its first woman president in 1993 and still having a strong women presence in upper management, pushing for change to provide equal gender opportunity is truly tied to the university's core values.

Our Mission & Why

Our mission is to reduce the gap of gender inequality in entrepreneurship. We believe every woman entrepreneur should have access to the community, information, and resources they need to scale their business.

$150B opportunity

Having a world in balance is healthy in many ways. Only 16% of Canadian small and medium-sized businesses are owned by women. Bringing parity in entrepreneurship, i.e. bridging the gap between having 16% of women founders compared to 50%, leads to $150B in opportunity for the Canadian economy.

For women, by women

Studies show that businesses with women founders raise more money and build better results. Yet, women often dismiss entrepreneurship as an option due to its impact on their family lives and its high risk. ELLA shows women possible paths to success, proven by women founders who have already embarked on them, and gives them the support of an outstanding community.

Committed to diversity

We are committed to empowering women and we welcome women of all backgrounds, identities, and abilities. We are proud to build programs that are inclusive, are created and hosted by women, for women, and have a highly intersectional reach.

What we do

Here's how we're doing it:

ELLA Community

We know it takes a village. That's why we're building one.

We're bringing together entrepreneurs, mentors, industry experts, and supporters that believe in our mission of helping women rise in entrepreneurship. When a woman succeeds in building a viable venture, she lifts her clients, family, community and more along with her. Imagine this success on a broader scale, with many women entrepreneurs getting the individualized support they need to be successful in their fields. The benefits to us all are boundless.

Visit our community page to learn more about the ELLA Community and how you can help.

ELLA Accelerator Programs

We're providing the tailored training and support programs women entrepreneurs need, 100% free of cost. We've considered industry, stage of business, growth goals and more to offer these customized programs:


ELLA Express

ELLA Express is a 2-week intensive bootcamp-style program that helps product and service-based businesses at pre-revenue stage, build a solid foundation for growth. Through this program, entrepreneurs can expect to leave with practical knowledge and tools they need to make smart decisions from the start. 

Program Duration:
September 12-23, 2022

Learn More


ELLA Ascend

A 5-month program for women-led ventures that have paying customers and sales of over $50,000. Entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to connect with a network of experts and entrepreneurs, and learn the skills needed to take their business to the next level.

Program Duration:
March - July

Learn More


ELLA Altitude

A 4-month program for women-led ventures that have sales of over $200,000 and are looking to scale rapidly. With one-on-one advice and support, entrepreneurs are able to get the resources they need to bring their business to the world stage.

Program Duration:
October - January

Learn More

The ELLA Team

ELLA is run by Innovation York, the innovation office for York University. The office also manages York University’s entrepreneurship program, YSpace and incubator space, YSpace Markham. Innovation York works to facilitate and maximize the commercial, economic, and social impacts of research and innovation, and to create a culture of engaged scholarship and experiential learning. The ELLA Team is committed to Innovation York’s mandate by providing the tailored support women entrepreneurs need to be successful. Our team consists of experienced professionals with diverse backgrounds in business and entrepreneurship, working together to create lasting impact. It’s our mission to close the gender gap in entrepreneurship.

David Kwok

Associate Director, Entrepreneurship

David joined York University in 2017. David is a driven leader with an extensive background in strategic planning, innovation program creation, and partnership development.

Since joining York University in 2017, David has Co-Founded York University’s first physical incubator space, YSpace in York Region and Ontario’s first Food & Beverage Accelerator focused on growth stage CPG ventures.

In addition, he now oversees the ELLA Women Accelerator program focused on supporting 70 women entrepreneurs to scale and grow annually.

Prior to joining York University, David led the transformation of DMZ Sandbox into a renown startup and talent creation hub for Ryerson University. He also co-founded ZerotoStartup, an educational venture focused on creating curriculum for maker spaces upon graduation. He also served as an Advisory Board member for Pledges for Change, a community-based nonprofit focused on youth empowerment through volunteerism.

Marlina Ramchandran

Entrepreneurship Manager, ELLA

Marlina Ramchandran is extremely passionate about working with entrepreneurs. She has over 20 years of experience in the service industry.

She has in-depth experience in building city based entrepreneurial ecosystems, consulting academic institutes on campus ecosystem development, designing rewards and recognition programs for stakeholders and digitizing entrepreneurial learning content. 

She has served on advisory board of Indian Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship’s YUVA Project which aimed at introducing outcome-based entrepreneurship education to 3000 academic campuses in India.

Marlina has completed her Bachelor’s in Arts degree from St. Xavier’s College, India and Master’s in Business Administration from Gujarat University, India

Judy Chang

Program Advisor, ELLA & YSpace

Judy has over 20 years of experience in the food industry, with leading multiple businesses with Kraft & Modelez, and working at a Nielsen Company as a VP in Analytics.

She is an entrepreneur, with experience growing two divisions through double digit growth in revenue and fast-growing teams to support.

She has created and grown a pan-university educational entrepreneurship program, developed and manages two start-up accel Judy is also the Founder of Pivot Perspectives, a coaching and mentoring company for leaders and entrepreneurs. She is passionate about supporting startup companies to refine their business plans, creating a vision, and developing a high performing and engaged team to lead the charge.

Sudipra Saha

Entrepreneurship Program Coordinator, ELLA

Sudipra has been a prominent leader in the York University Community for over three years. She has extensive experience working with students and alums of York University. She is passionate about entrepreneurship and particularly women in entrepreneurship.

She worked hard to ensure that vulnerable students have access to education. She has mentored and guided many students within her role at York University.

She is a recent graduate with innovative ideas, which makes her well-suited for this role at YSpace – York University’s entrepreneurship hub. Her passion for women's entrepreneurship and her extensive experience accelerating growth through change-making brings her to this role to support women entrepreneurs all over Southern Ontario in their journey to achieving their entrepreneurial goals.

Sign up for our newsletter!

Stay up to date and receive newsletter updates about ELLA.