They come looking for mentors or seed money. They come to scale or seeking feedback on an idea. They come to network or to be inspired. Whatever their reason, Montreal’s Start Up fest is full of bright young (and old) things with a thirst to improve the world with technology.
On the Grand Quay, the attendees mill about, drinks in hand, pink badges flapping in the breeze. Everyone is talking to someone or alternatively on their phone texting someone. This is no event for the introvert! But it’s hard not to get caught up in the enthusiasm these budding entrepreneurs have for their projects. The diversity of attendees is something to note — while at one time, the event was largely composed of young white young men, there are many women and people-of-color, ranging in age from university student to grisly bearded Gen Xers.
The fest gives all these brilliant minds a chance to find out about accelerators and venture funding, and also to grab some pretty cool swag, including ice cream, custom printed macarons, hats, t-shirts, and more. Bring the swag!
A highlight of the festival is pitching your idea to win one of the not-so-insubstantial monetary and recognition prizes available, whether that is the $100K Best of the Fest Investment Prize, the $100K Black Entrepreneurship Investment Prize, the $100K Women In Tech Investment Price, the $50K Student Entrepreneurship Prize, the Next AI Prize, or the Grandmothers’ Choice Award (no monetary prize, but much good advice). The founders wait in line to spend a few minutes pitching their idea. We asked several entrepreneurs what they were pitching and what they hoped to get out of the experience.
Valentin Kravtchenko from Grey-box at the Student Entrepreneurship Pitch
Kravetchenko is pitching for Grey-box, a social innovation startup that brings free WIFI internet access to educational resources to people who don’t have access. The company builds a portable device that connects with phones and is already deployed in 12 countries.
Puja Puchchigar from Capm AI at the Student Entrepreneurship Pitch
Puchchigar is a founder and engineer whose company improves gastroenterological diagnostics for capsule endoscopy using AI powered solutions. She’s a Masters Student in surgical engineering.
Julien Fillon from Vega BioImaging Waits to Pitch the Grandmother Judges
Fillon is pitching Vega BioImagining’s breast cancer diagnostic tool that aims to reduce error rates to the Grandmothers.
Frederic Coulombe from Jericho Laboratory Inc. Waits to Pitch the Grandmother Judges
Founder and mechanical engineer Coulombe is making it easier for people to access scientific equipment. Jericho Laboratory wants to bridge the open source, and off-the-shelf use (open source is traditionally more DIY). This will make the equipment more available, cheaper, and easier to use.
Technology that Looks at Urban Planning and Climate Change
Prototype for Converting Combustion Engines to Hydrogen Powered Vehicles
The concept of the circular economy is used to convert combustion engines to hydrogen powered vehicles. His hope is to make a MVP if he wins a prize from his pitch.
Lara Emond with Iris + Arlo, a Company Offering Menstruation Products
Iris + Arlo used crowdfunding to help get started and offers sustainable products for menstruation. Getting rid of plastic and harmful chemicals in menstrual products is one of their goals. Subscriptions, an educational platform, and helping schools and workplaces keep products are available are part of their offerings.
StartUp Fest 2023 takes place annually in Montreal. This year, the event takes place July 12- 14 in the Grand Quay of the Old Port. For details about next year’s event, click HERE.