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.
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.