Startup Fest isn’t your typical, stuffy business convention. Yes, you’ll find all your tech industry heroes here running workshops and teaching seminars. Beyond that, Startup Fest is a breath of fresh air for participants. From 15-year old inventors to big name startup founders, the convention offers an experience as innovative as the companies that come to participate. It’s tradition fused with fun, with inspirational stories, interactive stages, upbeat music and boozy networking events.
“It has so many elements of a music festival, but it’s for startups,” says Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit.
And that makes sense. Startup Fest is all about providing a fresh perspective on the startup landscape, with the goal of inspiring innovation and stimulating creative ideas. Here is your guide to Startup Fest 2017 in Montreal.
Startup Fest Details
Startup Fest 2017 takes place in Montreal, Canada from July 12-15. The conference is set along the river in Jardin des Écluses near the Old Port.
The conference is a four-day event filled with speakers, activities, competitions and more. The official kick-off party is on Wednesday night, July 12th, and the full festivities begin the following morning with keynote speakers. See the full Startup Fest schedule.
Startup Fest Speakers
This year’s speakers include Melinda Ritcher of Johnson & Johnson, David Brown of TechStars, Joy Johnson from Apple, Jen Mellon of Trustify, Harper Reed of Braintree and many more superstars from well-established companies, tech industry darlings, and companies you may not have even heard about yet. Check out the list of all of the speakers for Startup Fest 2017.
Startup Fest Tickets
There are three levels of attendance for startups:
1. Demo Tables – Startups can purchase a table that sits inside Tent Village, a prime area during the conference, to demo their product. The Demo Table ticket gives access to a 2’x2’ table for two days plus a four-day festival pass.
2. Starving Startups – Startups under 2 years old with less than $250,000 in funding can apply for the Starving Startups program. This program offers scholarships funded by “Patron ticket” purchases.
3. Startup Ticket – A startup ticket is much like general admission. It provides access to all workshops, seminars and networking events for all four days. This is the most common way to attend the festival.
Tickets start at $499 for Startups and $249 for students. Get your Startup Fest tickets here.
Premium Fest is a one-day, pre-conference event that takes place the Wednesday before Startup Fest kicks off. This event provides content and workshops exclusively for five subgroups of attendees: French speakers, Accelerators, advanced startups, Angel investors and hackers.
Tent Village is one of the main attractions of Startup Fest. Its sole purpose is to help attendees make real connections. In Tent Village, speakers and presenters have designated areas where anyone can ask questions and introduce themselves. Competitions, pitches, and demos also take place in Tent Village. It’s a networking space unlike any other!
Startup Fest Competitions & Prizes
The conference allows startups to compete for a number of prizes, including awards, recognition, and money. Startup Fest 2017 competitions will be announced at the event; however, here are some of the opportunities from last year.
$200K Investment Prize – Startups can pitch their ideas to a select group of judges for the chance to win.
Grandmother’s Choice Award – Ever tried to explain your startup idea to your grandma? It’s the best way to practice your pitch to a consumer. The winner receives the coveted title and bragging rights.
Best Onstage Pitch – A dozen startups will be selected (during the application process) to compete for the honor of this title.
Videotron Prize – The best pitch will win $30K in services and visibility on MAtv, print advertisements and more.
Media Pitch Prize CBC – The top media pitch will be featured on CBC Montreal.
FounderFuel Cohort – Winners will receive a mentor and join a startup accelerator, plus $100K in funding.
Where to Stay for Startup Fest
Startup Fest is attended by thousands of people every year, which means hotels are always at a premium. If you haven’t yet chosen from the slim pickings, or are looking into alternative options to save some money for you and your team, check out Airbnbs in the area.
There are many other affordable options nearby: Have a look. Just make sure to snag them before they’re all booked up!
Getting to and from Startup Fest
Air – Participants flying Air Canada into Montreal Airport can use their 15% discount, courtesy of Startup Fest with the code TRDVYQN1.
Bus – Startup Fest has partnered with Busbud to offer a 10% discount. Book here.
Bus + Carpool – Every year, Bus.com has chartered buses to Montreal for Startup Fest that participants can hop on if there’s room. Get to know people ahead of time and save some money.
Startup Fest Pro Tips
Startup Fest will be a dynamic experience. It blurs the lines between festival and conference, so be ready for the unexpected. Here are a few pro-tips to prepare:
- Be ready to socialize your tail off between mixers, networking, happy hours and brunches; there are no breaks
- Even if you don’t seal the deal on funding, you’ll definitely make some good connections and gain valuable insights
- Don’t let the grandmothers fool you- they are some tough judges
- You never know who you’ll meet or where, so talk to everyone and be genuine
- Of course, have your pitch prepared and rehearsed- you’ll be saying it a lot