Montreal will host a Startup Weekend for the second year in a row with the 54-hour collaborative marathon to happen on February 8 through 10.
Startup Weekends are events where developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products and potentially launch startups. It originated in Seattle, Washington in 2007.
Last February marked Montreal’s first Startup Weekend. Sergio Escobar served as one of the co-organizers and continues to mentor this year’s organizers. While he admits that Quebec typically lags behind in comparison to other provinces in entrepreneurship performance, he says Montreal is fast asserting itself as a hub for startups. Startup Weekend, he says, is another piece to the puzzle.
“In Montreal, if we want to build a long-term sustainable entrepreneurial community, we need effective leaders engaging with the community,” explained Escobar. “I believe Startup Weekend is a great way to generate new leaders coming from the community.”
HEC Montreal, a university business school associated with the Université de Montreal, is hosting this year’s event. It kicks off on Friday night with a “Pitch Fire,” where participants are given 60 seconds to pitch an idea for a business. The best ideas are voted on and multidisciplinary teams are formed around the concept of their choice. It’s during this stage when Escobar says he’s seen “the craziest ideas ever.”
Teams have 54 hours to develop a unique product (apps, mostly) to be presented to an experienced panel of judges on Sunday evening. Throughout it all the teams benefit from conferences and feedback from coaches, mentors and past participants.
The perks for winners are impressive to say the least: entry into Faskin Martineau’s Startup Program; three months co-working space at Espace 360; five hours of consulting from SAJE Montreal; tickets to Montreal GROWtalks on February 19th and more.
Co-organizer Julie-Anne Larose called the weekend “intense,” celebrating it as a truly collaborative event. “Just to see them all excited and to work for these 54 hours is what drives us the most,” she noted. “And the results are the most exciting I think.”
Larose said that Thursday evening’s Google Boot Camp was another reason why this year’s Startup Weekend is set to surpass expectations. All registered designers and developers were invited to Google’s downtown Montreal offices for a training session by Google developer and Startup Weekend Coach Mathieu Perreault.
Having volunteered for last year’s Startup Weekend as well as participated in November’s Startup Weekend in Quebec City, Komary Ly is also co-organizing next week’s event. She said she became hooked after realizing how positive and fun the event was.
Ly also thinks at some point down the road Montreal could even see Startup Weekends twice every year. “We want this to be bigger and bigger each year,” she said. “We want the Startup Weekend to be much more than just an event, to integrate that event with the whole community.”
“The support from the community has been incredible,” added Escobar. “So far, everything indicate us we could easily handle two events per year. The demand seems to be there.”