Start It, Grow It, Pitch It, Fund It

Montreal Start-Up Accelerator Program Sees Third Cohort Graduate

A wide-ranging group of members from Montreal’s start-up community flocked to Monumental National for the third Founder Fuel Demo Day on Nov. 8.

Founder Fuel is a start-up accelerator where teams of young entrepreneurs selected from a pool of applicants are given access to seed funding and experienced mentors.

Over a twelve-week period, eight teams went through start-up boot camp. They coded, they developed business plans and marketing plans—all while rushing to present their work at Demo Day.

Four of the eight teams came from Montreal, with other successful applicants hailing from Ontario, the United States and South America.

The event is a show of the ever-strengthening Montreal start-up community.

“I’ve never seen anything of this scale—not in Canada, not in North America,” said Ian Jeffery, general manager at Founder Fuel.

Demo Day plays the dual purpose of presenting the start-ups’ ideas to the community and attracting investors. Each team presents its ideas in carefully articulated five-minute segments.

Unified under this heading of entrepreneurship, well-established start-ups, investors and struggling ‘wantrepreneurs’ intermingle.

“We have to support the next generation of entrepreneurs,” said Cassandra Girard, co-founder of Buyosphere. “I have to be here, it’s a pleasure to be here.”

John Molson School of Business student Mostafa Elhefnawy was there to hear new ideas and spend an evening with like-minded people. He hopes to see the community of entrepreneurs at Concordia develop more.

“I’d say there’s no start-up community [at Concordia] at all,” said Elhefnawy.

Which is not to say that Concordia is not a fertile breeding ground for start-ups.

Vincent Archambault graduated from the design program back in 2008 and is now part of a start-up company. He credited Concordia’s willingness to embrace alternative ideas.

“That’s what creates the greatest ideas—different people, brainstorming and coming up with the next big thing,” he said.

Van Tram, founder of a young start-up, came for the pulse of the start-up community—and to network. Still, he thinks the event features only a sampling of the entrepreneurial ventures that are out there.

“The vision is very software-oriented, it’s very social-oriented,” he commented.

He’s not the only one who sees it that way.

“I think there’s too much software entrepreneurship and not enough hardware entrepreneurs these days,” said Frédéric Morin, an École de technologie supérieure student in attendance.

As evidenced by the popularity of buzzwords like “cloud” and “socially driven” at the event, the trend is software-centric businesses that scale rapidly.

Morin’s opinion echoes that of a faction of the start-up community that is interested in focusing on improving the devices that social networking occur on, rather than making do with existing hardware.

“It would be nice to see more start-ups going the hardware way,” said Morin.

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