Ah summer in Montreal! Visitors from around the world rush to our shores and the streets come to life with our signature festivals. One of my favorite things about this city is that we are in continuous movement. There are activities for every taste and we radiate a creative energy that allows for constant innovation. So it is no surprise that startups thrive here. Now, how does the city reconcile its creative festival culture and its unique entrepreneurial spirit?
The answer is: Montreal Startupfest. This year, the international festival is taking place from July 10 to July 14 at its new location, the Parc de Dieppe. The theme: Infinite Possibilities. For anyone who is working in the industry or interested to do so, this place is for you.
Already in its 8th year and constantly growing, the Startupfest mission has always been “to inspire the global startup community through the unforgettable and unconventional”. I believe there is no better place to accomplish this.
Did you know that last year Montreal was the top Canadian city in raised venture capital? Let me throw a few impressive numbers your way. In 2017, companies based in Montreal raised over US$800 million in venture capital and since 2016, the city has seen a 64% increase in financing activity . And since the likes of Google, Facebook and Microsoft are investing in AI labs right here in the 514, you know we mean business .
The five days of the festival are jam-packed. There are conferences, parties, demos, and startups competing for the investment prize of $100k and various other accolades. The festival has two main parts: the Startupfest programming and the Premium Fests. You can get a pass to all the Fests or just to those of your choosing.
Startupfest will feature over 150 speakers on eight stages. The “Future-of” and the Keynote stages compel me the most. I like to be up to date with the newest trends in tech and business, and I love to be inspired by the journeys of industry pioneers. A tour in the Tent Village is a must of course. There will be 30 tents. Some will be for the competing startups, some for demos (exciting!) and some will be dedicated to cities with a strong startup culture.
This is also the place to consult industry leaders about the different stages of your new business whether it is about financing, AI, intellectual property protection, you name it. Another must for any entrepreneur would be the “Interactive” stage since the speakers will be answering all your questions AMA-style (just like Reddit’s Ask Me Anything threads).
As for the Premium Fests, the AIFest and SciFest were the ones to pique my curiosity. AIFest focuses on the use of artificial intelligence in all business aspects and SciFest focuses on the relationship between innovation, business, and academia. Check out the schedule for all Fests below.
Startupfest is also a leader when it comes to sharing knowledge with everyone. The three features that stand out for me are:
- Open House Day: On July 14, the festival is open to the general public so that everyone can discover the newest innovations. Curious about the festival but not sure if you are ready for the full experience, this is the right place to start.
- Inclusion Initiative: Entrepreneurs who are usually underrepresented and who can’t always participate in such festivals can qualify for a discounted ticket to the entire event. You can find more details on the Initiative’s page here.
- Women in Technology Bootcamp: Has the purpose to connect female entrepreneurs in tech with the best resources to help them take their business to the next level. You can register for the Bootcamp here.
With all it has to offer, the festival presents amazing opportunities for learning and connecting with interesting people within the extended startup community. Startupfest makes this very simple. With e180’s Braindates, you have a tool helping you book face-to-face meetings/knowledge exchanges with other participants at the Braindate lounge. This new age platform is becoming more widely used (C2 also uses it) in similar conferences/festivals and we love it.
To see what Montreal is made of and to immerse yourself in the world of global startups, I invite you to join me at Startupfest 2018. You can learn more and register for a pass on their website here. There are six ways to get to the venue including by boat! You can follow the Startupfest Transportation Twitter page right here for live updates on schedules.