Category: events


Startup Drinks April Edition: Next Wednesday

Depending on weather, next Wednesday could be the first “Patio Edition” of Startup Drinks. Hope to see you there and please spread the word!

The details: Startup Drinks at Brutopia (Crescent St, just south of Ste-Catherine), on April 29 from 5:30pm.

Register soon at TechEntreprise!


Students Invent the Future at Young Inventors Conference

Nobody needs to be reminded how important students are to our startup ecosystem. I started my first Web consulting company in the McGill Music computer lab (which was probably against the rules!) along with two friends who were also students. Yet most universities privately admit they’re not doing a great job turning research projects into commercial products or students into CEOs.

It always surprises me that we see so few students at startup events. There are some but just not very many. At ConnectMcGill, a recent student event in Montreal, most students had never heard of the meetups, mixers and startups surrounding them. We need to do something about this!

One group that’s actively helping young entrepreneurs and inventors is Young Inventors International. Founded by Anne Swift, YII’s mission is…

…to work with leading universities, organizations, and entrepreneurs around the world to educate student inventors and entrepreneurs on how to create new ventures and social enterprises, build intellectual property portfolios, and acquire transferable professional skills. With more than 2,000 members who own almost 700 patented and patent-pending technologies, YII is the leading not-for-profit organization providing a comprehensive network for education and skill training specifically for student innovators and entrepreneurs in North America.

I ran a business planning session at their 5th annual Inventing the Future conference

held recently in Pittsburgh at Carnegie-Mellon University. 120 students took part in a gruelling (ok, probably not that gruelling) “commercialisation marathon” that was kicked off by Regis McKenna of Kleiner Perkins fame. You can see some pictures and videos on the YII blog.

One of the highlights for me was something called BrainBuzz(tm) which was a 3-hour intensive brainstorming session. Small teams were formed and each tackled problems e.g. how to design a more effective passive solar energy collector or how to market a dancing robot (click the link, trust me). What’s amazing is the quality of ideas that flow, even from people without training in a particular field. BrainBuzz not only gives students confidence in their ideas but gives them a taste of the idea generation “buzz” that all startup entrepreneurs feel. That’s one way to get them hooked on becoming entrepreneurs.

If you are (or know) a student thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, I highly recommend you join Young Inventors and get involved. You’ll be joining a community already over 2000 strong, and growing.

Imágenes y cultura: Del cerebro a la tecnología (Laberinto Comunicación)

Students to Startups: A great kick-off event at McGill

ConnectMcGill, the inaugural tech entrepreneurship event at McGill was a huge success. Two computer science students, Nicolae Rusan and Ladan Mahabadi

, had the idea of organizing an on-campus meetup for students interested in entrepreneurship. I was immediately interested in getting involved, especially to try to help bring people from the startup scene to mingle with students. We had over 80 participants and a lot of enthusiasm for making this a regular event.

James Duncan (from Joyent) and I gave brief presentations on getting started in entrepreneurship but the real highlight of the event was seeing students mingling with Montreal startup folks. I believe that one of the most important things you can do to encourage students to become entrepreneurs is to give them access to people who are actually doing it. Half an hour spent chatting with a startup CEO is worth 40 hours plugging away at a business plan, in my opinion.

We’ll be organizing our next event with the involvement of students from the other Montreal universities as well. If you are a student, a startup, an investor or a mentor, contact me and we’ll get you involved.


Reminder: Startup Drinks this Wednesday!

Mark it in your calendar folks:  Startup Drinks month at Brutopia (Crescent St, just south of Ste-Catherine), on March 25 from 5:30pm.  Look forward to seeing you there!

Register now at TechEntreprise!


March Startup Drinks – Spring Into Action!

Startup Drinks is back this month at Brutopia (Crescent St, just south of Ste-Catherine), on March 25 from 5:30pm.  Happy hour prices will be in effect and maybe – just maybe – we can get a taste of their terasse.

There are no presentations to distract people from making their own fun.   If you think you’ve got a good idea, this is the place to find a sounding board.  If you want to get a taste of the tech community generally and the startup community specifically, this is your spot.  Everyone is welcome!

Registrations are open soon at TechEntreprise!

Hope to see you there,



Reminder: Startup Drinks this Wednesday

Startup Drinks is back!  Come to local fave Brutopia

(1219 Crescent St, South of Ste-Catherine) on Wednesday, January 28 and bring anyone you think might enjoy kicking back and talking tech.  Drinks start from 5:30pm until you say “when”; Happy Hour prices are in effect until 8pm.

Register now on at TechEntreprise



StartupDrinks Jan 28 – Mixing Startups with Pleasure

Networking, community building, socializing – call it what you will – it’s what we’re doing.

Raymond told me about an interesting observation on the part of some Torontonian delegates at Startup Empire last year. By their accounting, one thing the Montreal tech community is definitely doing right is staying connected through regular meetups and events. Montrealers are famously sociable so I guess it’s not surprising but it’s nice to know it’s not gone unnoticed. Judging from the ebullient mood and strong turnout to CelebrateCamp last month – as well as the calls to do it again – I think we’ve got some momentum.

Since November last year, Flow Ventures

has been working with Heri on Startup Drinks for the sole purpose of making sure we’re doing our part to keep the community wheels in motion. The next one is slated for Wednesday, 28 January at Brutopia from 5:30pm.

For the uninitiated, Startup Drinks was started by Heri and Alok as a pretext for getting people working in technology in the same room to have an informal drink and generally shoot the breeze. I went to my first Startup Drinks on a balmy June evening at Cafe des Eclusiers and was impressed by the lighthearted, spirited conversation. Now, you don’t necessarily have work at a startup; it’s just called that.

Startup Drinks is open to anyone who wants to get a snapshot of what’s going in the scene; who’s working on what and where. The way I see it, the more diversity of perspectives, the better: you could be a student of computer science, a programmer working for a large corporation or someone like me who is focused on administration. Everyone has a unique perspective worth exploring over a pint. If you want to come, make sure to REGISTER over at!



StartupDrinks Montreal

Startups and drinking are both positive influences in my life so I never miss an opportunity to combine both. Heri at TechEntreprise has announced the next StartupDrinks Montreal which is happening next Wednesday (Nov 26) at Reservoir. It’s on Duluth just east of St. Laurent

(head up to the second floor). Festivities start at 5:30pm though no one will judge you if you decide to start drinking earlier. You can always blame “the market”.

If you’re an entrepreneur or you’re thinking of becoming one, please register at TechEntrepreprise and come on out. Funders, students and service providers are also welcome. It’s exactly the kind of event I like: lite on presentations and heavy on networking.


StartupEmpire Roundup

Hats off to Jevon, David, Jonas, Michele and the StartupNorth team for putting on StartupEmpire last week. Startups do not exist in a vacuum and a better community means better startups.

There’s not enough space to mention everyone who was there but it was nice to see early stage funders out in force (JLA, Growthworks, iNovia, MontrealStartup, Sigma). It was especially nice meeting the 10 entrepreneurs who won the StartupEmpire contest, sponsored by Austin Hill and Flow Ventures. The packed audience was full of entrepreneurs and there was a real buzz about the event that comes with having 300 people simultaneously give each other elevator pitches all day long. Truly inspiring.

There were 3 important takeaways from my perspective:

1. Just Do It – I was really pleased to see the focus of the event NOT be on fundraising. I don’t think we need another event teaching people how to pitch VCs. But we do need more events that help entrepreneurs take those crucial first steps in their ventures. Bootstrapping seemed to be the word du jour.

2. Idea vetting – The pitch panel, where entrepreneurs gave elevator pitches, was a great way for entrepreneurs to learn that there’s no substitute for harsh criticism when honing your pitch. Entrepreneurs are always pitching, to co-founders, customers, funders, and many don’t take the time to practice until it’s perfect.

3. Finding Co-Founders – Many entrepreneurs I spoke with are looking for co-founders. Some are developers looking for businesspeople with specific industry expertise. Others are experienced in a particular field but aren’t programmers. We have to come up with a better way to match co-founders together.

Next week we’ll be at the NACO Co-Investment Summit where there will be 20+ funded startups pitching an audience of Angels.


Winners of StartupEmpire Contest Announced

Thank you to everyone who submitted entries to the StartupEmpire giveaway. The quality of the writing and thinking was excellent and it was inspirational hearing so many people wanting to further their entrepreneurial careers. Our hats off to all of you.

We only had 10 tickets to giveaway unfortunately so Austin and I had to make some tough choices. The good news for anyone who wasn’t selected is that there have never been more entrepreneurial events happening across Canada. I hope to meet all of the companies at one of these events at some point in the future.

So here is the list of winners (in alphabetical order):

Congratulations everyone. We’ll see you all at the conference in a few days.