An Olympian Business Conference Delivered with Innovation: The C2-MTL Experience, Part I

by Herbert Lui

The entrance to C2-MTL resembled one of an exclusive Hollywood club. There was red velvet rope leading up towards it, with a dark carpet that shielded your shoes from the pavement.

Two or three volunteers were, there waving and greeting you with a big smile (and checking for passes, of course). The carpet led to a veiled entrance, hidden from the public by a heavy black curtain.

The moment you stepped through the drape, you were effectively blinded. Because of the beautiful sunny weather in Montreal that week, your eyes would need a lot of time to adapt to the darkness.

This first room, as a result, seemed almost pitch black, save for a pedestal with a button in the middle. This room was Moment Factory’s Reset Tunnel, which existed as an unconventional precursor to the rest of the C2-MTL experience.

The pavilion beyond the Reset Tunnel was abuzz with activity. Volunteers in bright pink T-shirts and black vests (probably the sharpest-looking bunch of workers I’ve seen at any conference) flew around to relay information; others were hovering or helping attendees out. From the entrance, you could clearly see a set of pylons stacked out really bizarrely on the wooden flooring.

On a side note, these weren’t just ordinary pylons. Have a look inside: this is great work called Mission Design by Paprika.

The pavilion extended into various rooms on the side, housing what I discovered to be the E-merge Exhibit and various other rooms, and the end of the pavilion led to what appeared to be the exit of the conference. As I walked towards the exit, I realized that the pavilion was just a transition point, and that this exit was indeed an entrance to the C2-MTL village.

Outside the C2-MTL entrance section of pavilions stood the majestic New Gas City building. This historic section of town is still being resurrected and repurposed, and C2-MTL was an experiment in this current process. It reminded me of Toronto’s own Distillery District and Liberty Village.

There were also unusual vendors, like one that would customize a T-shirt for you to serve as a souvenir (in nothing less than the most beautiful designer font, obviously), a shoeshine guy, a series of other food vendors, and a Ubisoft cargo box (which I, split between media opportunities and exploring the other parts of this conference, regrettably never had a chance to enter).

“We wanted to share an intellectual experience, but also an emotional experience,” explained Sid Lee co-founder and C2-MTL chairman Jean-François Bouchard. It was an ambitious and unconventional goal; many conferences aim to blow the minds of their delegates, but this is the first time I’ve heard of trying to appeal to delegates’ hearts as well.

Throughout this series of posts, we’ll be having a look at keynotes, panel discussions, as well as exclusive Techvibes interviews with speakers to give you an idea of what C2-MTL was like. Sid Lee managed to throw an event that was absolutely a spectacular congregative experience, so if you like what you see, you simply mustto check out C2-MTL in 2013.

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Herbert Lui

Herbert Lui

Herbert Lui loves startups, creativity, and innovation. He has been actively blogging about technology and consumer electronics since the summer of 2007, and still enjoys every minute of it. Herbert immerses himself in everything he wants to learn more about. He studies Consumer Behavior at the University of Western Ontario. In whatever spare time he has, Herbert can be found with his friends... more

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