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Latest from MTL NewTech

This week, we are excited to have Debbie Landa (@deblanda), one of Canada’s most extraordinary entrepreneur for the past 20 years, now working relentlessly to help other entrepreneurs. As CEO of Dealmaker Media and Founder of the Grow Conference, she’s putting startups at the forefront in the GrowLab accelerator or put them on stage in international conferences.

We’re focusing on connecting Montreal and Québec-based entrepreneurs to the BC/Vancouver ecosystem, and looking forward to collaborations and cross-partnerships, for the mutual benefit of both ecosystems.

NewTech (@heri) : We’re hearing about Vancouver & the BC region as a top place for startups. Why do you think it’s the case? 

Debbie Landa : There are quite a few reasons that Vancouver and BC are and have increasingly becoming hubs for both major tech companies and startups.

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Photo credit : GrowLab

The tech talent pool in Vancouver and BC is huge and growing. Not only are local Vancouverites being educated and trained at a high level for tech, but skilled engineers and developers are flooding to the city as tech goliaths like Amazon and Facebook set up shop. Vancouver’s own HootSuite’s meteoric expansion is a testament to what is possible here and, and success stories like that make moving into tech highly attractive to young graduates and anyone considering career moves. Vancouver is also a hub for incubators like GrowLab, Launch Acadamy and Invoke Labs who provide guidance, leadership and opportunities for startups.

Its proximity to Silicon Valley and even Seattle make it desirable for startups and larger companies alike, and obviously the quality of living must be mentioned.

There’s also a strong sense of community in the tech space here, where for the most part, startups want to help one another succeed.

Government support is also a key factor. BC offers lower taxes than most of North America and the Canadian government introduced the Start-up Visa Program, which according to their website, “ links immigrant entrepreneurs with experienced private sector organizations who are experts in working with start-ups.

Beyond Vancouver, startups are popping up in Whistler, like PayrollHero and Lightmaker Group. I’d say it’s a combination of massive talent, an incubating community, and a government climate that makes BC an appealing destination for startups.

NewTech - What are the top 5 startups in BC to watch for currently? 

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1.   Slack

2.   Payfirma

3.   Recon Instruments

4.   www.shoeme.ca/

5.   Build Direct

HootSuite has grown way beyond the startup title now.

NewTech : What are the top resources you recommend when starting up in Vancouver / Whistler ?

Debbie Landa : 

1 . Going to GROW Conference - this annual conference is the perfect collision of innovation, entrepreneurship and technology in a barrier-free, dynamic environment. It allows startups to get in front of venture capitalists and allows venture capitalists to see the next big things. 

2. Check out GrowLab for guidance, networking, mentorship, and a collaborative workspace for an intensive 3 month program. Connecting the best and brightest entrepreneurs from around the world to a global network of top tier investors, mentors and partners. GrowLabs is the perfect launchpad for startups.

3. Launch AcademyPixelcrafters and local Meetups - usually free (or very cheap) and great, casual conversations with founders, other startups and investors.

4. Befriend Rob Lewis - he is the founder of Techvibes, one of Canada’s largest and most influential tech blogs in Canada, covering startups, events, the latest news and breakthroughs. 

5. Startup Weekend Vancouver -  An event that facilitates the creation of a startup company in a weekend, great place to meet likeminded idea makers and understand the startup ecosystem.

NewTech - There’s the Grow conference as well as the GrowLabs. Can you tell us what they are and how are they related?

Debbie Landa : The GROW Conference is something I started 5 years ago as a way to unite startups, venture capitalists and innovators together from Silicon Valley, into Canada. It began in Vancouver but after 4 successful years there, I’ve moved it to Whistler, BC, which is poised to be the most connected resort in the world. GROW explores “What’s Next” in tech, and this year’s focus is on connected everything, from wearables to smart devices, to drones, to apps that will automate your entire home.

I’m the co-founder of Growlab, along with Len Brody, Boris Wertz and Jason Bailey. We founded it right after the first GROW Conference, recognizing the need for such a program. GrowLab is a startup accelerator based in Vancouver that helps entrepreneurs build their companies through a 3 month intensive program. They are helped with seed funding and mentorship in a collaborative workspace. Think of them as a startup incubator. In many ways, the GROW Conference does that too, but on a much larger scale, bringing in the top minds from across Silicon Valley and Canada, together for a collision of innovation. Last year almost $50B in US venture capital came to Vancouver and we’re expecting a significantly higher figure this year in Whistler.

NewTech : This year’s year theme is the Internet of Things, amongst others. Why is it? What makes IoT the next big revolution?

Debbie Landa : The IoT revolution is already well upon us. We are experiencing a massive explosion around the Internet of things, wearables and smart devices. By 2020, some 26 billion “things” will be connected to the Internet.  As IoT and wearable technology become ubiquitous, the amount of real-time data created will provide deep insights for marketers. Early adoption will be driven by industries ranging from health, fitness and medical, to smart home and payments. GROW is an opportunity for attendees to explore what that means, what this IoT world looks like, and what the connected future is. IoT will impact our lives at every level, and impact every sector. We’re trying to navigate just what that looks like and showcase some of the most exciting aspects of it. There’s no better place to explore what wearables, drones, connected consumers, life hacking apps and even robotics than the connected future resort of Whistler, BC, where every visitor is literally a walking beta tester.

NewTech - What should participants expect from the conference? What’s the special sauce?

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Special sauce - this is the people who attend that make it awesome.

I believe the old school style conferences where everyone sits in a venue all day is over. I believe if you weave in ways to network and build new relationship, that directly affects your business, your longevity and the business/technology community. Being in the mountains gives everyone the fresh perspective they need to start to innovate and get out of their everyday ways of thinking.

NewTech (@heri) : Thanks Debbie, we also found that the best is in the corridor conversations. Don’t miss the opportunity to attend Grow Conference this week

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La Société de Développement Économique Ville-Marie (SDEVM) a une place centrale dans la communauté startup montréalaise. L’organisme a aidé financièrement PasswordBox, Bon Look Inc, Reely Active, Smart Reno, Rodeo FX, tandis que l’organisme affilié Société dInvestissement Jeunesse a supporté Frank & Oak, Moment Factory, Acquisio. Tous des startups qui ont eu un succès local et international, avec des équipes et produits solides. La SDEVM supporte aussi depuis plus de 3 ans MTL NewTech, et on a vu aussi bien Christian Perron (directeur général de la SDEVM) ou Guillaume de Tilly-Dion (directeur de comptes) aller rencontrer les entrepreneurs dans les nombreuses événements startups. 

Nous discutons aujourd’hui avec Guillaume, qui a bien voulu partager avec les entrepreneurs le fonctionnement de la SDEVM et faciliter ainsi leur démarrage.

NewTech (@heri) : Bonjour Guillaume, Peux-tu nous dire ce qui te motive dans l’entrepreneuriat?

La réponse à cette question est simple : J’adore les affaires, les stratégies, les projets et la créativité. En travaillant avec la SDÉVM, j’ai la chance de voir jusqu’à 8 nouveaux projets par semaine. En plus de la finance et le marketing qui sont des sujets qui me passionnent, j’aime penser que je travaille à bâtir un monde meilleur pour les générations futures, en aidant les acteurs du changement que sont les entrepreneurs.

Une autre facette trippante de mon travail est la possibilité d’apprendre sur un nouveau sujet pratiquement à chaque jour. La SDÉVM est plongée dans l’innovation et la création. J’ai l’opportunité de vivre dans le futur. Mes journées sont dédiées à côtoyer des experts dans des domaines variés : Décodage génétique, neuromarketing, Big Data, The Internet of Things, nanotechonologie etc…

Finalement, contrairement à mon ancien travail de banquier, j’ai le droit de prendre des risques et j’adore ça. Je suis extrêmement chanceux de faire ce que je fais, et la SDÉVM me donne beaucoup de liberté dans mes actions.

NewTech : Quels sont les programmes de support à la SDÉVM? Quel est le montant qu’un jeune entrepreneur tech peut espérer?

Nous supportons 5 programmes, (nous vous invitons à visiter notre site Web sdévm.ca ou à communiquer directement avec nous pour plus de détails) :

Pour les entreprises de marché du secteur de Ville-Marie :

  • Jeunes Promoteurs (JP) : Subvention entre 5 000$ et 10 000$ par promoteur de moins de 35 ans, pour une entreprise en prédémarrage.

  • Fond local d’investissement (FLI) : Garantie de prêt bancaire entre 25 000$ et 200 000$ pour une entreprise en démarrage.

  • Fond locaux de solidarité (FLS) : Prêt direct de 100 000$ pour une entreprise en croissance.

Pour les entreprises d’économie sociale du secteur de Ville-Marie (Fonds géré par Daniel Champagne) :

Fonds d’économie sociale : Ce programme vise à supporter le démarrage ou l’expansion d’entreprises collectives (coopérative ou OBNL), rentables sur le plan social et viables sur le plan économique, dont l’établissement se situe ou est projeté sur le territoire desservi par la SDÉVM (CLD).

Pour les entreprises de marché à travers le Québec :

Société d’Investissement Jeunesse : Garantie de prêt personnel de 75 k$ par actionnaire (maximum 3), pour une entreprise en démarrage, pour une acquisition d’entreprise ou pour financer le capital-actions d’un nouvel associé.

Quant à savoir combien un jeune entrepreneur tech peut espérer recevoir en prêt, il s’agit selon moi d’une question piège et relativement complexe qui se résumera à du cas par cas. De façon plus générale, je crois qu’une jeune entreprise tech devrait aller au moins chercher environ 30 000 $ en subventions au démarrage, soit 10 000 $ en Jeunes Promoteurs et 20 000 $ avec la Fondation Montréal inc.

NewTech : Quels sont les critères que vous regardez? As-tu des conseils aux entrepreneurs sur comment se préparer pour présenter leur projet?

Il est impossibles d’établir une liste de critères précis, ni une grille d’analyse systématique pour l’évaluation d’un dossier. Comme chaque industrie et chaque projet ont leurs particularités, il faut faire une analyse contextuelle. Je peux par contre énumérer une série de critères  généraux qui reviennent sans cesse :

  • Est-ce que  le produit répond à un besoin? (opportunité d’affaires)

  • Dans quelle niche est située l’entreprise? (analyse de la compétition)

  • Quelle est l’expérience des promoteurs?

  • Qui sont les mentors?

  • Quels sont les partenariats établis?

  • Est-ce que la traction a été validée?

  • Qui est la clientèle cible? (analyse du marché)

  • Quelle est la stratégie marketing? (modèle d’affaires)

  • Quels sont les accomplissements jusqu’à présent.

  • Finalement, tous les aspects financiers démontrant la viabilité de l’entreprise.

La meilleure façon de se préparer à présenter un projet est selon moi, de valider les hypothèses du plan d’affaires par l’expérimentation. Trop souvent, les entrepreneurs restent dans le théorique sans tester leur marché. Je conseille aux entrepreneurs d’aller sur le terrain et de se lancer dans l’action rapidement, pour bâtir un plan d’affaires autour de leurs expériences.  

NewTech : Quel est le meilleur moment pour demander un financement? 

Il n’est jamais trop tôt pour entreprendre des démarches de financement avec la SDÉVM. J’invite tout le monde à prendre contact avec nous, peu importe où ils en sont dans leur projet. Ceux qui me connaissent savent que je suis accessible. Débuter la relation de financement tôt dans le processus, vous permettra de mieux comprendre nos attentes, et ainsi, il vous sera plus facile de nous convaincre. Contrairement avec un VC ou une banque, il est impossible de se brûler avec nous. Nous savons que vous êtes à vos débuts et il n’y a aucune erreur que nous ne pardonnerons pas.

Il faut bien comprendre que notre raison d’être est de vous venir en aide. Nous n’avons aucun objectif de rentabilité monétaire. Notre but premier est le succès de votre entreprise, peu importe le temps que cela nous prendra. Alors, venez nous voir sans gêne.


NewTech : Peux-tu nous dire en détail comment se passe le processus? Et en combien de temps est-ce que l’entrepreneur peut espérer avoir son financement, à partir du premier contact? 

Il n’y a pas de délais prescrit et je ne veux pas créer de fausses attentes. Le processus idéal va par contre comme suit :

  • Rencontre avec le client

  • Préparation du dossier

  • Présentation à notre comité (environ 4 à 6 par année)

Le dossier est accepté ou refusé le jour même du comité. Certains dossiers prennent 1 mois, d’autres peuvent prendre 1 an.  

NewTech : Travaillez-vous avec d’autres organismes de financement, comme les anges, VC ou Fondation du Montréal Inc.? Quels conseils as-tu pour un entrepreneur qui recherche le plus de financement? 

Nous aimons avoir plusieurs partenaires financiers sur un dossier pour y diminuer notre risque. De plus, ces partenaires, tout comme nous, vont user de leur réseau de contacts pour promouvoir l’entreprise. Il se dégage un effet de synergie évident à la concentration de nos efforts.

Le meilleur conseil que je peux donner à un entrepreneur qui recherche du financement est de segmenter son financement par étape. Si l’entreprise réussit à franchir chaque étape avec succès, les bailleurs de fonds seront plus enclins à avancer les sommes.

NewTech : Merci d’avoir partagé ces conseils Guillaume. Entre nous, qu’est-ce que tu aimerais voir se faire plus à Montréal?

J’aimerais que Montréal adopte plus rapidement les technologies développées au cours de la dernière décennie. Nos centres d’achats, nos restaurants, notre centre-ville et même nos festivals sont pratiquement identiques à ce qu’ils étaient en 1990. J’aimerais que l’on donne plus de mandats aux firmes technologiques travaillant dans l’expérientielle. Nous avons une renommée internationale dans cette industrie que nous exportons à travers le monde, mais étrangement la ville n’a pas cette même réputation. Certains veulent que Montréal soit la ville la plus intelligente au monde. Moi je veux que Montréal soit la ville la plus cool au monde.

 

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In the past year, we’ve had Now In Store, Decode Global, Nexalogy, Busbud, Datacratic and many other Montréal startups go back and forth between Montréal and New York City. What was once a purely financial and media capital became the go-to-place for new and growing startups, just after Silicon Valley.

New York NewTech Meetup is probably one of the drivers as well as the best example of the NY’s success - a leading event that gathers 800+ entrepreneurs each month. We’ve talked with Andy Saldana (@CholoCouture), senior manager at NY NewTech Meetup, on what makes NYC so successful and how you can join in too.

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Photo by Craig Williston / Qool Foto

NewTech (@Heri) - Hi Andy, Can you present yourself, what NYTM does, and what do you do?

NY Tech Meetup is a 501c6 Non-Profit organization that supports the Tech Economy in NYC by connecting, developing, diversifying and advocating for its citizens.

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Our flagship event is our monthly meetup that takes place at the beginning of every month at the Skirball theater at NYU. The program includes live demos from 9 companies and one to two “Hacks of the Month” every month. We sellout every month with over 800 in attendance. Each month a networking after party follows and allows attendees to interact with the demoing companies and NYTM Sponsors.

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As the Senior Manager of Events and Development, my main role is to manage our full event portfolio, including sourcing and prepping demoers for the monthly event. In addition, I manage our sponsor relationships and manage partnerships with other organizations and brands.

NewTech - How big is the NY startup scene currently? Do you have numbers in terms of total # of startups, number of investments?

It’s difficult to estimate the exact size of the NYC Startup scene as it is growing very quickly. This spring, NY Tech Meetup collaborated with Association for a Better New York, Google, Citibank and HR&A to conduct a study examining the economic impact of New York’s Tech Ecosystem. The findings conclude that “Tech is not a silo” but is “infused throughout the city’s diverse economy.” It also finds that there are 291,000 jobs in the NYC tech ecosystem. You can find more details about the study at http://www.nyctecheconomy.com/.

Other indicators of the size of the startup scene is our “Made in NYC" list, and the city’s "Made in NY" list. Both sites list companies that base 75% of their development here in NYC. Each list has over 600 and 1000 companies listed, respectively.

NewTech - For a very long time, everyone has been talking about the Valley and Boston. Now NY is BIG and bold. What’s the NYC difference? What makes it so successful, as opposed to other cities?

I think what sets New York apart from other cities is the existence of such a strong world economy with diverse industries populations and problems. New York is and has been a major world capital for big industry sectors like the Financial, Media, Advertising and Fashion industries. It is also the most diverse and densely populated cities in the US. This comes with a unique set of problems that need solving and I’m finding technology is playing a huge part. I also have to mention the beauty, creativity and community is nurtured here and really provides a perfect place to create, test, iterate and produce amazing apps.

NewTech - Let’s say a Canadian startup wants to move to NYC. How would you accelerate the process? Any insights on meeting investors, potential partners, getting new customers?

I would definitely suggest checking out our Monthly event and our website! Second, they should check out as many of the tech and entrepreneurial meetups found on meetup.com and events such as Creative Mornings, Internet Week, Social Media Week or any of the number of conferences that happen monthly and annually in the city. NYC is thriving with coworking spaces such as WeWork that also encourage community and collaboration and are great places to work! The NYC EDC also runs some great programs focused on entrepreneurs that many startups can take advantage of. Here’s the link . In addition there are great programs like VentureOut NYC that connect startups with investors in NYC. If startups are ready to look for Angel funding, AngelList and Gust are great tools places to start.

NewTech - Can you highlight names of individuals or organizations that are a must in New York? For a growing startup.

In addition to some I mentioned in my previous responses here are a few resources that are a must. Subscribing to the NYTM newsletter, Gary’s Guide, StartupDigest, This Week in NYC Innovation are all great newsletters for trends, events and community news. AlleyWatch, AlleyWire, TechCocktail are great sites for startup news funding and general content. General Assembly, Flat Iron School and New York Design and Code Academy are great places to learn and hire local developers. There are a ton of resources out there for anyone new, looking to relocate, expand and collaborate in NYC. We at NY Tech Meetup are always happy to help as much as we can!

NewTech : thanks Andy! We’re looking forward to do collaborations between NYC and Montréal. 

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Précédemment, nous avons parlé à Caroline Pelletier d’Anges-Québec, et Alex Lynn de Real Ventures. Cette fois-ci, c’est au tour de Sylvain Carle de nous parler du pourquoi et comment d’un “accélérateur” startup. 

Sylvain, longtemps impliqué dans le développement de l’écosystème des startups à Montréal, travaillant actuellement pour Twitter au Silicon Valley, vient d’annoncer son retour à Montréal pour prendre en charge un des plus renommés accélérateurs au Canada : FounderFuel. Nous profitons donc de l’occasion pour éclaircir le sujet, pour ceux qui se demandent ce qu’un tel programme pourrait les apporter, et aussi comment travailler quand on y est accepté. 

NewTech (@Heri) : Bonjour Sylvain. Peux-tu te présenter, nous dire ce qui te motive, et ce que fait FounderFuel?

Sylvain Carle ( @sylvain ), nouveau directeur général de FounderFuel, un accélérateur de startups de Montréal. Cet automne nous accueillerons notre 6ème cohorte

J’ai joint FounderFuel (et Real Ventures comme associé) parce que j’ai toujours été un fan des startups de Montréal. Je pense que le niveau de maturité de l’écosystème est à un point de bascule, on a enfin atteint une certaine masse critique. Je suis confiant et optimiste pour Montréal. Je suis heureux de contribuer à mettre en place ce que j’aurais aimé trouvé quand j’ai lancé mes startups. Ça va des évènements que j’ai organisé (avec plein d’autre monde), à la maison Notman, à FF et Real.

NewTech :  Y a t-il une différence entre incubateurs (comme le CEIM, Founder Institute et autres incubateurs d’universités) et accélérateurs? Si oui, laquelle?

Honnêtement, c’est assez difficile à comparer, puisque peu de compagnies en font plusieurs. Je dirais que chaque accélérateur à son type de programme et ses forces et faiblesses, sa culture, ses obsessions. C’est certainement une question d’atomes crochus entre les gens qui y sont, autant ceux qui y appliquent que l’équipe de chaque programme, combiné avec les mentors du réseau et les co-fondateurs des cohortes précédentes (qui sont de plus en plus important avec le temps et l’age d’un programme). Chacun optimise pour des objectifs différents, chez FounderFuel c’est de vous faire passer à un stade de maturité qui va vous permettre d’aller chercher une ronde initiale (seed round) en étant bien équipés et conscient de vos propres forces et faiblesses. Après c’est à chacun d’y mettre les efforts nécessaires.

NewTech : Quelle est l’avantage principale d’aller dans un accélérateur comme FounderFuel? Comment une jeune startup peut-elle être sûr que c’est la meilleure option pour eux?

FounderFuel va vous prendre ou vous êtes et idéalement vous faire progresser beaucoup plus vite que si vous étiez seuls de votre côté. Ça dépends beaucoup d’ou vous partez, à quelle stade de votre progression vous êtes rendus, mais aussi de votre capacité à absorber tout ce qui sera mis à votre disposition et à le mettre en pratique. Les conditions idéales, ceux pour qui c’est la meilleure option: vous avez une équipe de 2-3 co-fondateurs, vous êtes prêts à travailler à temps (plus que) plein sur votre compagnie et vous avez une bonne idée de produit et du marché. Monter une startup, c’est entre autre savoir raconter son histoire, savoir expliquer clairement ce qu’on fait, pourquoi, comment. Le focus sur la journée de présentation (demo day) est important pour cet aspect. Mais ce n’est qu’une des facettes sur lesquels vous allez travailler pendant 3 mois. Il faut aussi être prêt à s’embarquer dans un modèle de financement par capital de risque. C’est surtout ce type de compagnies qui appliquent à FF. Il est possible d’avoir une OSBL (non-profit) ou d’être financé à même vos fonds/profits (bootstrap) mais c’est plus rare.

NewTech : Quel est le profil idéal des startups pour FounderFuel? Que doivent absolument connaître les fondateurs d’une startup, s’ils désirent rejoindre l’accélérateur?

Idéalement, il faut arriver à FounderFuel avec une bonne idée du produit qu’on veut développer et une hypothèse sur le marché, sur les utilisateurs types. Il faut être capable de réaliser les majorités des tâches nécessaires pour développer son produit et son marché soi-même. Avec une petite équipe de 2,3 4 personnes, ça prends des gens qui ont plusieurs talents, ou du moins savent se débrouiller pour faire avancer les choses. Certaines idées vont changer pendant le programme, ou on va ajuster le marché qu’on vise, ou raffiner l’offre, ajuster la technologie, améliorer le design, le branding, l’interface utilisateurs… tout est à construire, ça sera le modus operandi des années à venir, pas juste pendant FounderFuel, c’est le lot de la vie d’entrepreneur!

NewTech : Pourquoi certains startups comme Lagoa ou Breather n’ont pas eu besoin d’aller dans des accélérateurs? Ils ont eu de suite un investissement majeur.

Ce qui fait la valeur d’une startup, c’est la combinaison de l’équipe, le produit et le marché. Atteindre la bonne combinaison est difficile. Plus on est avancé dans ce processus, plus on a d’expérience passée, de perspective, de savoir-faire, plus on peut aller vite. Si on va déjà vite, on a pas besoin d’être accéléré encore plus. C’est le cas de Breather et Lagoa, entre autre. On a jamais vraiment terminé d’améliorer son équipe, son produit et sa position dans le marché, pas tant qu’on est une startup. Ça peut prendre 3, 5, 7, 10 ans…

NewTech : Quelle est la place des fondateurs techniques dans les accélérateurs? On sait que les fondateurs de profil “affaires” sont accaparés par les exigences du programme.

C’est définitivement quelque chose que je veux améliorer. Je pense qu’il est beaucoup plus “payant” (et facile?) d’apprendre à des co-fondateurs technique toute la mécanique d’affaires des startups que l’inverse. Par contre, ça prends quelqu’un qui connaît le marché, c’est cet équilibre qui est vraiment difficile à créer. La culture de l’ingénieur qui se lance en affaire, c’est celle de la silicon vallée, je m’inspire beaucoup de celle-ci, je veux l’adapter au contexte spécifique de Montréal. La technologie est essentielle. Tout le monde peut avoir des bonnes idées, la technologie c’est de mettre ces idées en systèmes qui fonctionnent et qui peuvent croître de manière exponentielle.

NewTech :  Lors du programme, comment est-ce qu’une startup devrait au mieux travailler? Par exemple concilier entre le développement technique, ce qu’indique le marché, et les multiples (et parfois divergentes) avis provenant des mentors, partenaires et directeurs d’accélérateurs.

Il faut savoir être à l’écoute, recevoir les conseils et les idées des autres, mais il faut être déterminé et avoir une bonne idée de la direction qu’on veut prendre. C’est vraiment une question d’ouverture et d’équilibre. Apprendre à mieux raconter son histoire, à clairement expliquer ce qu’on fait, ça fait aussi partie du processus critique, ça amène à un autre niveau de maturité. Expérimenter, découvrir, recommencer. Une startup n’est jamais complètement en équilibre, en fait c’est probablement une des seules constantes! La vie d’entrepreneur est comme un tour de montagnes russes… FounderFuel, c’est le premier des manèges époustouflant de la ronde des startups.

Pour ceux qui regardent de près le programme, jetez un coup d’oeil au site de FounderFuel. Vous pouvez aussi discuter avec Sylvain sur les médias sociaux ou en Septembre en personne  à Montréal 

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Alexander Lynn, who recently joined early-stage VC fund Real Ventures, is putting together a free community event called Breaking into Startups, targeted at young hopefuls with entrepreneurial drive who wish to join local Montréal startups.

The event is Tuesday Aug. 5th from 5 to 9pm and you should definitively join if you are interested in startups, or wish to meet the good folks from Busbud, Frank & Oak or PasswordBox. it’s nearly sold out, but you can still RSVP with this special link for NewTech readers

Having this kind of event questions the state of startup employement in Montréal. How do you exactly join startups? There isn’t exactly a process so to speak, and we’re eager to discuss with Alex Lynn the matter. The discussion was meant to get insights, for current and future job seekers. Here we go: 

NewTech (@heri) : Hi Alexander, can you present yourself, what motivates you in the startup world, and what organization you represent?

Hi I’m Alex Lynn, Director of special projects at Real Ventures - Canada’s largest and most active seed stage venture fund.

I stumbled into venture capital at a pretty exciting time in it’s life. The industry is living through structural changes that are redefining the rules of the game, all while making it easier for entrepreneurs to build better businesses. It’s a pretty exciting thing to awake to every day. On the one hand I get to see the future before it fully materializes and on the other I get to help people bring it about.

NewTech: You are organizing an event titled “Breaking into startups”. Does that mean entering startups is difficult, if not impossible?

Getting a job in a startup has never been easy - largely because founders are extremely careful about their first hires (since mistakes can literally cost them their company). But the high ceiling to entry is not the real problem. Great jobs across all industries have always been hard to get. The problem we’re faced with here is actually one of supply. There remains too few people that are choosing startups as their career path. The world doesn’t have a scarcity of smart people, it has a scarcity of smart people that are willing to take on the risks that come with startups. Events like ‘Breaking Into Startups’ wont single-handedly solve this problem, but they’ll shed light on the issue & deepen the conversation. Eventually all these incremental steps will add up into materiel change.

NewTech: What are the main differences between working for a large profitable company and a startup? Can you tell us of examples or stories you’ve encountered illustrating this?

The biggest differences have to do with speed and responsibility. Traditional top down management structures make for environments in which a person’s ability to do something is directly linked to his/her ability to get permission for it. Unfortunately, this means change can only materialize as quickly as the chain of command’s ability to assimilate it.

In startups, the organizational constraints are quite different. Change doesn’t happen from the top down, but rather from the bottom up. At the earliest of stages, no one is there to tell you how to do your job. This means your ability to have an impact is directly dependent on your ability to take initiative.

Facebook’s infamous motto: “move fast and break things” perfectly encapsulates this idea. On the one hand, it says: ‘let’s move quicker than our competition’ and on the other it says: ‘the only way you’ll move quicker is by taking matters into your own hands and conquering the fear that you might be wrong’. It’s obviously done wonders for them.

NewTech: Working for startups involves long hours, stress, precarity, mixing personal and professional life, without necessarily getting equity or compensation like the salaries you get when you work for Morgan Stanley. Why would any sane student or talented person want to work for a startup?

For the sheer feeling of purposefulness that comes from making a dent in the universe.

Working in a startup is to acknowledge that the world is malleable. It’s to acknowledge that everything that surrounds us was built by people just like us. It’s to acknowledge that the future remains to be built.

Our time on earth is counted and the way we spend it is important. Most of our lives are spent living in systems that were built by others in the past, and it’s inspiring to think that some of us - those of us that choose - get to build the systems that others will depend on in the future. That’s what startups are about. Creating the future. From scratch.

NewTech: Let’s say I’m interested in working for a startup. How do I get prepared for this? How do you recommend approaching a startup so as to maximize chances?

The primary thing to remember is that startups are resource constrained organizations. Any person they bring onboard literally closes the door to somebody else. As such, hiring anybody that isn’t essential simply becomes out of the question.

If you’re thinking of joining a startup, make sure you spend significant time thinking about what you bring to the table and why this matters to the company. If you aren’t able to communicate this in a clear way, you simply won’t make the cut. Remember, you’re either essential or you aren’t. It’s a binary outcome.

If I’m currently in school or university, what do you recommend me to study or do so I can be qualified for a startup later on?

People often confuse schooling for education. It’s important to remember that schooling is a means by which one obtains an education, but not the only means to do so. One’s ability to join a startup has little to do with what one studied in school and everything to do with the skills one chooses to develop along the way.

If you have discipline and work ethic, you can pick-up any technical discipline on your own. In fact, the web has probably become the best possible place to do so. It just requires you put in the time. More importantly, this means that for the first time in history, what you choose to do in school comes at little cost to your career.

For those of you that are diligent, this is great news. It means your choices are wide open and you can choose to study subjects that’ll help you develop skills that are hard to pick up on your own: like critical thought. You’d get this by pursuing any humanities degree for instance.

If you’re not very disciplined, things become trickier. At this point, your schooling and education are very likely to be one and the same thing (and your choice becomes a lot more important as it’ll dictate your possible futures). As such, I recommend you think long and hard about which industry you want to join and reverse engineer the most direct path to it.

NewTech : Thanks Alex. For all, the link to RSVP is here. 

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The face of Anges-Québec in the Montreal startup ecosystem, Caroline Pelletier gives us today essential tips and insights how angel investing works. Read them if you are looking for funding and support for your tech startup. 

Caroline Pelletier says she would love to see more Montréalers “thinking big and being at the forefront of new innovations”; which we totally love! 

NewTech (@heri)  : Can you tell us a little bit of yourself, what you are doing currently and what is Anges Québec?

I am responsible for business development, marketing and investor training at Anges Québec. Anges Québec is a 150+ member angel investor network. Our members are experienced and successful entrepreneurs with the desire to bring an added value to the companies they’ve invested in. We have made 50 investments up to date. We invest in innovative companies across all industries and most of all, in promising entrepreneurs.


NewTech : If both give funding to startups, what’s the difference between an angel investor and a VC?

VCs generally manage funds for other investors whereas each individual angel investor manages his or her own portfolio of investments. Anges Québec is not a fund but an organization that seeks out the best opportunities for its members who then make their own investment decisions.

Typically, angel investors invest earlier than VCs in a startup’s lifecycle. Angels invest smaller amounts earlier, and VCs invest larger amounts as the company’s capital requirements grow. Angel investors take greater risks, but the potential reward is also larger.

Angels are also typically more hands-on and will spend time, when needed, getting involved with the companies they’ve invested in. They bring their solid business experience and impressive business networks to the table.


NewTech : What’s the best way to interest an angel investor in a startup? Is it about the entrepreneurs, the business potential, the technology or other?

Explain what pain or problem you are aiming to solve, and why your solution is the best way to go about doing it. Angels are looking for high ROI and to achieve that goal, they invest in companies that are seeking high-growth.

Why do you have the best team to accomplish that goal? Your team is crucial to the deal; otherwise perfect deals can and do fall through because the angel(s) aren’t confident in the team.

The deal itself is important, but if the angel strongly believes in you and your business model, you’ll usually find the angel is more flexible on deal parameters.

NewTech : When’s the best moment to go meet an angel investor? Is it at the idea stage, or later when you already have something going on?

The best time to approach an organization like Anges Québec is when your business is starting to gain some early traction. Other angels may invest at the idea stage, but that is not what we’re looking for at Anges Québec.

NewTech : Let’s say there’s interest from both parties. Can you give us an overview on the process, how long it lasts on average, what kind of documents are needed, what can the entrepreneur can do to facilitate the process? Do you expect the entrepreneur to continue working on the growth of the business, or you would rather prefer him to focus on the funding?

At Anges Québec, the process lasts anywhere from 3 to 5 months. It’s important that the entrepreneur continue to run his or her business, though we understand that raising money can take some attention away from day-to-day operations.

We receive applications through our website (documents to submit: business plan and/or pitch deck and financial projections). We then invite the most promising companies to come pitch our investors at one of our monthly meetings, and then, if there’s interest, we will typically present a term sheet sometime in the following month. Due diligence can take more or less time depending on each case. Sometimes there are skeletons in the closet and other times the process is more straightforward. You can simplify the process by ensuring your company and documentation are well-structured and up to date, from your company minutes to your accounting books to your cap table. Small things like making sure your employees and contractors sign contracts giving the company ownership of the intellectual property will save some headaches when fundraising.


NewTech :  How do you become an angel investor? Is it an official title given by a professional association or anyone can become an angel investor?

There is no professional designation or title. Angel investors are accredited investors, a notion that defines the minimal financial means the investor must have to be legally allowed to invest in private companies. In Québec this means having at least $1M in financial assets (cash and securities) or a gross salary of at least $200K. All of our members meet this definition.


Thanks Caroline! For entrepreneurs and startups, you can contact caroline.pelletier _at_ angesquebec.com or you can meet Caroline in tech entrepreneurial events such as the monthly MTL NewTech, Startup Weekend, and many other initiatives such as AngesQuébec free pitching events. 

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In its mission of sustaining a strong Montreal startup ecosystem and strengthening connections between community members, MTL NewTech has organized a social event and party Thursday July 10th where 250 people from Montreal and worldwide were invited to celebrate successes.

The event was organized with LA COMMUNE, a beautiful coworking space located in Old port, brand-new startup Graffmap which presented world-renowned graffiti artist Omen at the event with a live mural, Montreal photo startup XAngle with artist Éric Paré & his team, as well as Molson Ventures.

The event was an opportunity for those who don’t go to regular startup events to meet the startup crowd, as well as an opportunity for existing community members to meet friends. We also had in the room community leaders such as Steven Milstein from Startup Breakfast Club, Noor Elb from Startup Weekend, Gabriel Sundaram from Startup Drinks, Julien Brault from LesAffaires, Ian Jeffrey with teams from FounderFuel, Roger Huang from CodeLove / Shout Now, faces from Fasken Martineau, Noah Redler from Notman House and of course the whole MTL NewTech team. We had as well the International Startup Festival that week, and welcomed many entrepreneurs worldwide who had a taste of the Montréal spirit. 

We thank volunteers Tanguy & Matt Conti, as well as everyone involved in making the event a success. Having this kind of social event creates the foundations for the future and we are proud to bring it to Montréal. Go #Montreal Startups!

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Thanks to a partnership with the US Consulate, MTL NewTech & MTL Girl Geeks are excited to announce an exceptional event on Tuesday July 8th just in time for International Startup Festival. The event will feature, exceptionally, a keynote speaker coming all the way from the Golden State; as well as showcase female-led startups, minds & cutting-edge innovations that are transforming tech industry in Canada and beyond. The event will highlight successful entrepreneurs in Montreal but, most importantly, show the participants the huge world of possibilities and support in Montreal’s startup scene.

If you have an idea, a startup, and are looking for access to customers, capital, peer support or if you just want to learn more about the innovative projects in Montreal, this is the event for you!

RSVP : Eventbrite

Meet Cofounders & Talent
The evening will both start and finish with a networking time to meet co-founders for new startups projects: programmers, mobile & web entrepreneurs as well as Tech professionals are part of the attendees. If you’re looking for engineers, journlalists or investors to take your startup to the next level, this is your chance! 

5 inspiring startups on stage
5 startups will pitch to the 300-strong crowd. We carefully curate startups that will demonstrate their innovation through live demos. The startups line-up will be Vain Pursuits, Breather, Workland, Decode Global, and Fabule. Presentations will be exactly 5 minutes each, followed by a Q&A. We aim to benefit, challenge and inspire the community by featuring these female-led startups.

Keynote : « Key Investment Criteria for Entrepreneurs » By Monica Dodi, emceed by Aleece Germano
We will continue the evening with a compelling interactive keynote : « Key Investment Criteria for Entrepreneurs » delivered by the international entrepreneur Monica Dodi, Co-founder of MTV Europe and Women’s Venture Capital Fund. The Montreal-Based entrepreneur Aleece Germano, Emcee, is also part of this interactive keynote that aims to deliver the benefits of gender diversity and what investors are looking for in startups.


Schedule 

  • 5.30pm Doors open. Meet cofounders & Talent
  • 6.30pm Startup Demos
  • 7.30pm Keynote : Key investment criteria for entrepreneurs with Monica Dodi (Women’s VC Fund, MTV Europe)
  • 8.15pm Stay for networking. Featured speaker and startups will be there, as well as many other entrepreneurs. 


Hashtag
The hashtag for the event is #MTLTechGG. We will also be using the official #mltnewtech hashtag for all things startup!

 

Event partners

EY     

 

Fasken

Sponsors

orckestra

 

Startupfest

 

Community partners

We also thank the following community partners :

This event is also supported by

SOS WEB

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Today, Stéphane Goyette has been named as director of the new Smart City initiative. It bodes well for the city’s future; in the same year that City is named the theme for Startup Fest.

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Becoming a smart city has unique challenges in smart uses of energy, transportation, education, as well as open use of data collected and published. In our position at MTL NewTech, we’re equally focused though on startups. How would the concept of Smart City create more and better startups? Would it create more jobs? Will we have more successful startups? What are the possible business models for tech startups if they want to contribute to the Smart City vision?

When answering those questions, we can refer to the existing list of Montréal startups. It appears the most successful are divided in 3 groups. 

The first successful group are the social startups, best represented by Flightfox, Vanilla Forums, E-180, Wikitravel, or green startups like Plantcatching. They thrive mainly because of Montréalers’ (and Québecers’) interest in all things community and social, best represented by the various social movements that moves the population. If craigslist or Wikipedia weren’t launched in San Franscisco, we believe Montréal would be the 2nd most fertile ground for those platforms to grow. As such, anyone with a new social and progressive startup, perhaps grounded in the Smart City initiatives, would easily thrive in Montreal. What’s not clear though are the associated business models and monetization to keep such platforms afloat.

Creative startups, best represented by BeyondTheRack, Frank & Oak, Clyde (available for pre-order since monday), Breather, Lagoa, Bonlook, MixGenius (see Forbes cover), Bandzoogle, are also one of Montréal’s best asset. Their success comes from strong and indie art communities in Mile-end, as well as a solid creative industry (cinema, video games, television production etc.) and the diverse festivals throughout the year. Artists, photographs, directors, musicians, writers, even if they don’t understand the startup world, can add creative energy to startups and give them a unique advantage on the market. Those creative startups can offer new solutions and ideas to problems that plague Montréal for years. 

The last successful group of startups are technical and scientific startups, coming straight from Montréal’s vast pool of researchers, pHDs and technical geniuses. Hexoskin (new Android app this week) came out of University of Montréal’s labs, AdGear handles millions and billions of data points, PasswordBox researches security issues, plot.ly can visualize scientific data to replace one day MatLab. In the case of smart city, this proves that in Montréal we have the technical talent to handle, analyze and visualize the enormous quantity of data that Montréal could generate. 

Between those 3 groups (social, creative, technical), there are a few startups that manage to do all three, such as Busbud or the Transit App, which proves that we have all the resources to support new smart city startups.

At MTL NewTech, we are looking at Copenhagen for its smart city efforts; but we are also equally looking at New York City with its friendly startup program, and also its new tech campus. On a country-wide level, it’s good to take a hard look at programs like Startup Chile which put the developing in the forefront of startup ecosystems. One only has to take a clear view of the strengths of Montréal and what are the leading initiatives worlwide to put the city on the map. Congrats to Stéphane Goyette and the team at the city of Montréal, and we’re looking forward to see the new developments!

PS : if you are looking for jobs, EY is hiring tech talents. See the position of specialist tech researcher here and here

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MTL NewTech is hyper-focused on Montreal, as explained in detail in this article. However we view the crucial necessity of being part of the global innovation ecosystems, such as New York City, San Francisco, London, and many other cities worldwide. We also view the equal importance of being linked to universities, especially those having a strong Computer Science / Computer engineering program.

University of Waterloo is a good inspiration on how universities can contribute in propulsing innovation forward. In the recent global SUMMIT conference, it gathered entrepreneurs, CEOs, investors on the idea that innovation can change society for the better and bring prosperity. 

Watch how a Waterloo-born startup is now ensconced in Silicon Valley:

Learn how the Global Startup Revolution initiative perceives the global scene

This panel showcase how Canada can have a new global competitive advantage as a “globally connected” investment network:

SUMMIT is a great conference which brought new ideas and new deals to the Waterloo / Kitchener startup ecosystem - congrats to the university and the organizers team. 

In Montreal, we are now building bridges with other cities, such as Toronto, NYC, and hope to also bring those conversations. It’s important for Montréalers to be aware of global conversations and raise the bar, when reaching out to investors, partners, and audience. Prepare to be challenged!

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