Startup Weekend Takes Montreal Next Month

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Startup Weekend, the global, grassroots community that put on 54-hour marathon events where entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs can find out if startup ideas are viable, is bringing its act back to Montreal. This marks the third time Montreal has hosted a Startup Weekend.

The party goes down February 7-9 at HEC Montreal.

“Behind every startup is an idea and an entrepreneur with good teammates and advisors,” wrote the student organizers from HEC, the independent affiliated business school of the Université de Montréal. “The Startup Weekend is a one time opportunity to enable the inner entrepreneur in you ! Project leaders, web professionals, entrepreneurs and innovation experts, students, investors, marketing gurus, jurists or finance professionals, everyone has their place.”

Like every Startup Weekend event, February’s will begin with a “pitchfire”, where attendees bring their best ideas and inspire others to join their team. Over Saturday and Sunday teams focus on customer development, validating their ideas, practicing “LEAN Startup Methodologies” and building a minimal viable product. On Sunday evening teams demo their prototypes and receive valuable feedback from a panel of experts.

Co-organizer Julie Salomon said that they’re expecting three to four hundred onlookers to watch the closing ceremonies on Sunday night, while about 120 participants are expected to show up on Friday. Close to $80,000 of in-kind services are up for grabs, including $10,000 worth of legal services from Fasken Martineau.

Largely though she said it will be three days of solid networking and good vibes among startup enthusiasts. “We hope that all of the participants will get a lot out of the weekend. We want them to learn and network a lot because we’ll have some well-known mentors, coaches and judges,” she told BetaKit. “We want them to build their network and of course for the ones that win, we hope they’ll go far with the prizes.”

Some of the startup veterans that she alluded to include speakers like iNovia Capital’s David Nault, Busbud CEO LP Maurice and Dax Dasilva, CEO of Lightspeed. Judges include Nicolas Darveau-Garneau, head of performance marketing at Google, FounderFuel general manager Ian Jeffrey and startup consultant Alexander Lynn, previously of Sid Lee, Techstars and TEDxMontreal.

Given that over 36 percent of Startup Weekend startups are still running after three months and 80 percent of participants plan on continuing working with their startup after the weekend, it looks like these mentors can help in a meaningful way.

To co-organize a Startup Weekend one must have volunteered at a previous event. Salomon volunteered at the first event that Montreal hosted two years ago and had no idea what to expect.

“I saw how intense it was. It was crazy how people work non-stop to create a startup,” she said. “So why not organize it to allow students and others to attend? We need people to make sure that entrepreneurs can have a shot at this.”