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MTL NewTech : fueling Montreal's startup community

The meetup

250 programmers, entrepreneurs, investors and journalists champion Montreal startups each month.

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Celebrating Montreal

100+ events organized: newtech demos, hackathons, bug hunts, startup job fairs.

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Since 2008

In coordination with an ever growing network of key community groups and industry partners, MTL NewTech enriches and supports the emerging Montreal startup community

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Latest from MTL NewTech

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How to find a cofounder is probably the most asked question at MTL NewTech. Over the years, we’ve assisted many entrepreneurs, either through the speeding dating cofounders event, or just through informal meetings and coffees. In the spirit of sharing and helping as many entrepreneurs as possible, we’ve laid down this guide, both for technical and non-technical entrepreneurs. 

First, what’s clear is that programmers are more sought-after than business types. Just in Québec, it’s estimated that the province needs an additional 7000 programmers every month, and there are many companies like Morgan Stanley offering substantial salaries to talented programmers. For every 10 business entrepreneurs looking for a technical cofounder, there might just be 2 technical programmers who are looking. The competition means you have to go out of the way to make sure you find a good co-founder. 

Finding a technical co-founder

The most efficient way to meet a technical co-founder is to go to technical events, such as Montreal Python, Montreal.rb, JS-Montréal etc. That’s where the most dedicated programmers go. Pick any week in Montréal and you will find at least 2 to 4 technical events. (see the comprehensive list of Montreal tech events for reference)

Most entrepreneurs don’t have the technical background and would feel out of place in those events, but they are friendly, open, and if you have a curious, enthusiastic and open attitude, it’s fairly easy to meet programmers and know who’s doing what.

Now how do you estimate who would be the best fit? Obviously, cofounders will go through a difficult, if not impossible, adventure, and it’s essential to be with people your personality match with. If there is no “click”, someone will bail out the of venture at the sign of first difficulty. So make sure you can be a good partner with the person.

Another criteria is the technical expertise of the person. Startups are difficult, and as such, you would want to pair up with someone who’s got a track record. From the most important to the less important, here are a few clues that might show a good fit: 

  1. The programmer has released recently a new library or programming framework, that has been acclaimed by its peers
  2. The programmer has released recently a mobile or a web app, with a few notable features
  3. The programmer has a technical blog where he blogs frequently about new algorithms, new projects, or discuss new research
  4. The programmer has won programming competitions or hackathons.
  5. The programmer has presented new work at a technical event (so write down who’s speaking at a local dev event)
  6. The programmer has a github account and commits to several open source projects

Bonus point if the programmer has worked on a project that is similar or parallel to the one you have in mind. 

The next point is how do you get a programmer to join you? Programmers are mainly motivated by technical challenges, by the impact of the project, if they are going to be acclaimed by their peers if they released the project, by the coolness factor of the project. Of course, they also take into account the business solidity of your project. This is where you need to work on a pitch to best present your idea and what you are doing. A very good pitch would be : “I am planning to reach out 100,000 users, process 10 million transactions daily, and by doing so, will save the earth.”. Of course your pitch will be different but you get the idea :D Other smart entrepreneurs bring with them an iPad air with screenshots, mockups, showcase a prototype, which demonstrate that there’s already significant work already done and the programmer can just jump on board. 

If you are lucky enough, there’s a hackathon or a startup weekend coming in a few weeks, and you can propose that you pair up to work on a minimal functional version of the project. The goal is to see if you can work in a relatively stressful environment with the potential CTO, if the person can deliver, and on your side, you need to demonstrate that you can get business and user interest for the project that has been developed. If there’s an interested partner, a few hundreds people signing up, maybe a meeting with an investor, then those are signs that you should go full speed ahead.

Finding a business co-founder

If you are technical, I assume you already have your own project and you want to develop it; not just work on someone’s project, in which case finding a cofounder is trivial.

Projects by technical co-founders are rare but they are often the best. Such is the case of Facebook or Google, with Mark Zuckerberg or Larry/Sergei being the sole programmers of the operation at the beginning. What’s hard is finding a good business person to join in, or convincing a business person that their project sucks and yours has more potential.

The most efficient way to find a business co-founder is to have your website (or mobile app) already out there, perhaps with the beta version tag. It should be a bare-bones app, with just the basic functionality offered to users. This should be enough for a smart business cofounder to see the potential in the app and pair up with you.

On the business side, the best events to go would be MTL NewTech (which currently runs a cofounders initiative), Startup Drinks Montréal, Startup Breakfast Club etc. In the same manner as, you can also estimate who would be the best by judging:

  1. The business person has entrepreneurial success in the past. It doesn’t have to be a tech venture and can just be a simple ecommerce store, but having one successful experience proves the person knows how to attract customers and sell.
  2. The business person has assets (money, network of contacts, partnerships etc.) that can be incorporated in the business.
  3. The business person is fairly apt at generating interest on an event, topic, or venture. Put a landing page somewhere and he/she can drive hundreds of eyes there. The person tweets, and then it seems he’s retweeted by dozens of other people. The more examples, the better.
  4. The business person has a popular blog, attracting thousands, if not millions of readers. This proves one thing : the person can write, which is good for taglines and copy for the venture, but is also a great communicator that can attract crowds. A popular Youtube channel is also interesting although it’s more rare. 
  5. The business person is giving business workshops (marketing, funding, PR etc.) or giving talks on the topic

Of course, the same note applies here : make sure that you partner with someone you can work with! Personality matters. Going to a startupweekend and working on a common project could be a first great step.

If you have any comments or questions, feel free to contact us at demo _at_ mtlnewtech.com ! 

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Because of our position at MTL NewTech, we get asked daily what specific events one should go to. We’ve launched a few years ago the official Montreal tech events calendar, which you can subscribe too. It seems though it’s not enough, so we’ve put up together this unified list of developer, designer and startup events in Montreal. 

Startup conferences and events (for founders, investors, CTOs):

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International Startup Festival is the go-to conference in Montreal, attracting small and big startups and also influencers and executives worldwide. It’s happening early July and by far, the biggest startup and tech conference you should go to. Get a ticket

Montreal NewTech gets the startup community every first tuesday of the month to watch 5 startups demos. It also includes panels and a great opportunity to find a potential cofounders or talent. Since it beginning, it has featured more than 250 startups on stage. 

Startup Weekend Montreal gets entrepreneurs, designers and programmers together for a weekend marathon. Good to find cofounders and test startup ideas.

HackingHealth gathers programmers and healthcare professionals to work on innovative apps to improve healthcare. The model has since then expanded on many levels. 

Founder Fuel Demo Day gathers 800+ attendees for their Demo day. See impressive startups on stage, as they’ve practiced for 3+ months!

Accelerate MTL is a yearly event featuring members of the C100, Montreal and Canadian VC funds, as well as successful startup entrepreneurs. Go Big or go Home ! 

Startup Grind Montréal  is a monthly event, where featured speakers share openly to the public their experiences, success, failures, and how they’ve made it. 

MTL + eCommerce is a monthly event featuring eCommerce experts as well as a large community of eCommerce owners and marketers. 

Startup Drinks Montreal is an informal meetup every last wednesday of the month. It’s good to have beer with bloggers, investors, or other startups and talk about what you are working. One of Montreal’s longest running startup events.

Regroupement Startup is the french-speaking version of StartupDrinks Montreal and attracts a large group of entrepreneurs in Griffintown

Startup Open House Montreal is an opportunity for Montréalers to discover Montreal startups. By opening their doors, it’s a window on how startups work, and perhaps later join them.  

Startup Breakfast Club is a bi-weekly series of themed events, where startup founders pitch their startups to the crowd, along with a good breakfast. Steven Milstein, the founder, also brings in an expert each time to talk about a special topic (export, funding, etc.) 

Lean Startup Machine is the business version of Startup Weekend. No programmers, no designers, just entrepreneurs testing the validity of their ideas. It happens every year or so. 

Montreal Girl Geeks features talks, workshops and discussions featuring women in tech. One of Montreal’s notable startup community group! 

Keep Marketing Fun workshops are organized by the Brendans & Brendans and are focused each time on a specific startup topic. 

MTL App Talks is a regular events focused on mobile apps, such as mobile UX, marketing, development. 

SEO Meetups gathers every month the local SEO community and features the best SEO experts. 

Developer events (for programmers, sys-admins, makers, devops, security)

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Pycon has been this year the largest developer conference, brought to Montreal thanks to our friends at Montréal-Python. It’s an international conference, with attendees coming mainly from the USA. 

Confoo is a yearly developer conference, started first as a php conference and now also covering other languages as well as professional workshops. 

CUSEC is a yearly computer science conference, with an impressive line-up of speakers. It’s notable also for its connections to universities (Montreal and as well Waterloo etc.)

RECON is a yearly security conference, with speakers and attendees coming from all over the world to talk about the latest developments and meet their peers. 

NorthSec is a yearly applied security competition event, gathering students, hackers and programmers to hack on various challenges and systems.

Montreal mini maker faire is a yearly fair featuring hardware hackers, makers and artists meeting the public and expose their works. Fun for everyone! 

#hackmtl is a series of hackathons for front-end and back-end programmers. Students welcomed ! 

BuildSomething is a yearly hardware hackathon at Foulab.

Ladies Learning code is a series of workshops with teachers and mentors assisting students throughout the day.

JS Montreal gets together every month front-end and back-end javascript programmers. 

Montreal Python has a large community of Python developers centered around its monthly friendly meetups. The group organizes workshops, PyLadies and is also working on Pycon. 

Montreal.rb is one of Montreal’s longest developer group, about ruby, rails 

php Québec has monthly meetups at ETS engineering school. 

Cocoaheads MTL - a meetup for iOS and mac developers, every month in a Montreal pub

Perl Mongers meetup gather perl devs :D

Android Montreal gathers monthly Android and Google developers. Android Montreal also organizes DevFests hackathons.

Big Data Montreal gathers every month at RPM Startup Centre talks about managing & processing Big Data, as well as the latest developments.

Hacks/Hackers Montreal brings together Journalists and programmers to bridge technology & media

DevOpsMTL gathers dev ops, sys-admins, developers every month to talk about the latest tools, technologies and cloud developments. 

MTL Data gathers developers looking to work on data analysis and vizualisation.

The R User group features workshops and talks by R experts

mtlsec gathers every month computer security practicioners, consultants, hackers

WordPress developers meetups gathers themes developers and wordpress plugins developers 

Vimtl gathers vim users and fans

OWASP Montreal gathers a community of developers working on software security

HackMcGill is a large student hackathon, with hundreds of programmers coming into town. 

Montréhack is a series of challenges focused on security. 

PyLadies is a more focused group of Montreal-Python, with monthly meetups. 

Linux meetup gathers Linux fans :D

Foulab hacker space has open doors events every Tuesday evenings. It’s a great opportunity to talk to other hardware hackers and share what you are working on. 

Helios maker space has their open doors every thursday. Discover the tools and the team

YulDev is a language-agnostic developer group, to meet other developer friends. 

HackerNestMTL is the developer version of Startup Drinks. No keynotes, just drinks! 

Designer events (for UX, UI, graphic designers, front-end designers)

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Tout le monde UX - A meetup for UX designers and creatives to exchange on UX topics. 

Dribbble meetup - an informal meetup for designers and creatives hosted by Kevin Clark of Shopify

Behance Meetup - bringing members to present and get feedback on their work, hear from experienced professionals.

5 a 7 UX-MTL is a UX informal meetup

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A lot has changed since 2008 when the first MTL NewTech was organized. Where there used to be a few dozen people in a pub now there are hundreds of you coming ot our monthly events. Our startups now benefit from pitch mentorship, presentation spaces, media, video outlets and more.

What haven’t changed is the passion of the Montréal startup ecosystem, a space full of engineers, programmers, students, business people and designers all full of entrepreneurial spirit, or the vision of MTL NewTech.

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As an organization, we have to be perseverant, entrepreneurial, generous, and above all focused in our long-term vision. It is this that allows our team to eagerly give dozens of hours every month in gathering the community to celebrate Montréal startup achievements. Here are the principles driving us and MTL NewTech forward, since the beginning : 

- Our first priority is Founders. We cater first for entrepreneurs, doers, change-makers, and those who want to leverage technology to launch ambitious ventures. Our measure of success is the number of startups launched in Montreal each year, and if you like that goal, we can work together.

- Our second priority is Community. We believe the key is to foster a vibrant startup community. We are working in strengthening that community through frequent challenges such as hackathons, showcasing the best at MTL NewTech, and facilitate connections by linking various communities. We will also work on strong interactions/cooperation with other ecosystems, such as San Francisco, NYC, London (and by extension Europe) etc.

- Our third priority is Montreal. We believe Montreal has its place in the global startup ecosystem. We will innovate, shake things up, and work relentlessly towards putting Montreal on the map.

Thanks to those 3 priorities and principles, we believe MTL NewTech can effectively support the launch of early stage startups. We have ambitious plans for the MTL NewTech events in itself, for startups & founders, and also for each talent in the community. Now, we’re backed by SDEVM, EY, Fasken Martineau who have the same vision, and soon we would involve as well everyone in the community who’d like to be part of the adventure. 

Montreal, here we come ! 

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Unbounce demo - MTL NewTech May 30th

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Certimail Demo - MTL NewTech May 30th

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Wordlink demo - MTL NewTech May 30th

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Fasken Martineau has a long history with technology startups, similar to MTL NewTech’s involvement. They were in fact the first to support the idea of a first Startup Weekend in Montreal in late 2011, a bold idea at the time by collective minds from MTL NewTech and SRA from HEC Montreal.
We met with Jean-Nicolas Delage, partner, and Johann Gest, patent agent, who were entrepreneurial minds, eager to go out of their way to enable tech entrepreneurs reach their goal. Startup Weekend in Feb 2012 was a success, with Fasken largely supporting with their networks.
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StartupWeekend launch at Fasken Martineau, End of 2011

Since then, MTL NewTech has collaborated in small and large initiatives. Because of their commitment to Montreal startups, entrepreneurship, their friendly Startup Program, and of course proven expertise, we have recommended Fasken Martineau to early-stage and growing startups.

As explained in our previous post about our EY partnership, we are now growing MTL NewTech and looking at trusted partners.

We are now excited to work with Fasken Martineau on the next generation of Montreal startups. Along with supporting the events, Fasken will host work sessions before the monthly MTL NewTech events, to prepare startups. Fasken Martineau has a large network that we hope to benefit MTL NewTech startups. Quoting Jean-Nicolas Delage, partner :

"Fasken Martineau and its Start-up Program are proud supporters of MTL New Tech, a key catalyst of the Montreal Start-Up ecosystem. We feel privileged to be a part of the growth of MTL New Tech and of dynamic start-ups developing exciting new technologies. "

To Fasken Martineau, we say Thanks, from the Montreal Startup community !

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The Wallrus demo - MTL NewTech May 30th

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MEMO App demo - MTL NewTech May 30th

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Jam Motion is an interactive multimedia prototype, allowing users to play music together by connecting to a local sound server and using the motion of their smartphones. Built in under 10 hours at HackMTL, and winning later that evening first place, it had to face interesting technical and logistical challenges, that shaped its architecture and mission.

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