13 Things You Need to Know About Notman House and the OSMO Foundation

by Ben Yoskovitz on January 19, 2011

Notman House
At the beginning of the month there was an announcement that the municipal government had committed over $400,000 in funding to Notman House. Since then things have continued to move quickly and there’s a lot more to share about Notman House.

For starters, there will be a session during tomorrow’s Startup Camp Montreal 7 unconference where some of the people behind Notman House will be presenting information and taking questions. So if you have questions and want to learn more, go to the unconference presentation.

OSMO Foundation logoIn preparation for that, we’ve got the news about Notman that you need to know, along with the organization that’s driving Notman, which is called OSMO Foundation. So here are 13 things you need to know about Notman House & OSMO Foundation:

  1. The OSMO Foundation is a non-profit entity that was put into place very quickly in order to make an offer on the Notman House property. Although their website is pretty bare for now, it will have much more information soon.
  2. OSMO Foundation’s driving mission is to fund grassroots initiatives that support community building and networking (within the tech space). This is important because OSMO will eventually (hopefully!) be able to fund activities beyond Notman. For now, OSMO is solely focused on Notman, but the ultimate goal is to make sure that Notman runs profitably and that those profits are re-invested into community and networking activities for the tech industry. That means that there will eventually be a way of soliciting OSMO for funds.
  3. OSMO is a funding entity, not an organizing committee. Their role is not to run events or even run Notman House. Their role is to raise the necessary funds from private investors (of which they have some already from the venture community), government (all levels), etc.
  4. OSMO will fund collaboration and networking activities within the local community but also outside of it as well, to build bridges with external tech communities.
  5. Currently, OSMO has 5 people on its Board of Directors. Eventually they will have a total of 9. The people on the board include: Alain MacIntosh, John Stokes, Bruce McNiven (Partner Heenan Blakie & Board Member of Heritage Montreal), Phil Telio and Sylvain Carle. They will be adding additional members in the near future.
  6. Notman House has a separate Steering Committee with 12 people. This isn’t a legal entity; it’s a group of community leaders that believe strongly in the Notman House project. The chairperson is Mark Bruneau. The others are:
    • Alan MacIntosh, Partner at Montreal StartUp and Real Ventures
    • Bruce McNiven
    • Andre Brosseau, Founder of Avenue Capital Markets, Board Member at Prestige Telecom and Aptilon
    • Marie-Claude Johnson, Senior Partner at MRCNR
    • Sylvain Carle, Co-Founder of Praized Media, board member of Alliance numerique
    • Martin Leblanc, Partner at Sid Lee architecture
    • Patrick Tanguay, Co-Founder of Station C
    • Robert Gervais, Founder and CEO of Zerofail
    • Phil Telio, President at Embrase, Co-Founder of Startup Camp
    • Daniel Drouet, Partner at Montreal StartUp, Founder of Ajah
    • John Stokes, Partner at Montreal StartUp and Real Ventures
  7. The Steering Committee is focused on 4 things – (1) soliciting community involvement & input; (2) attracting private & corporate sponsors; (3) solidifying government funding and support; and, (4) keeping things moving. Although that last point sounds obvious it has some very real implications (see below.)
  8. OSMO has leased Notman House for 6 months. This is the house itself, not the back building that’s attached. They have yet to buy the building, but they’re working on it. The goal of leasing the space and “keeping things moving” is to create a microcosm of what Notman can be in the future.
  9. People have moved into Notman already. The Real Ventures team is there now. They’ve started making improvements as well: painting, plumbing, getting electrical working, cleaning, etc.
  10. Notman will be available very soon (within 1-2 weeks) for startups or individuals from the tech community to rent desks on a short-term basis. The folks at Station C (Patrick Tanguay is a Steering Committee member) are working with OSMO on how to set this up. So if you need some temporary space and want to hang out with and collaborate with others from the tech community, Notman will be open for business very soon.
  11. Once Notman is launched completely, they expect to continue offering temporary office / workspace, but not permanent space. There will be permanent residences there, but for tech people or startups it’s designed to be temporary for a maximum of 6 months or so. They may offer permanent space to local user groups.
  12. There will be an open “cafe” space (although it won’t have a cafe in it initially) with tables, seating, couches, etc. This should be ready within 1-2 weeks. They hope to have it open from 7:30am-7:30pm for anyone to come, hang out, network and connect.
  13. Notman House is getting an updated website and it will include sign-up forms and contact forms for people interested in temporary office space. They’ll also be looking for volunteers to help run the place; things like opening doors and closing doors on certain days.

Notman House is a huge initiative. Lots of moving parts, very ambitious and with lots of potential to shape the early stage tech industry in Montreal for years to come. What’s clear is that Notman is just one piece (albeit a big piece!) of the puzzle. The OSMO Foundation is the overarching entity that’s working to realize Notman, but also has plans and hopes to provide even more value into the community through funding of activities that spur networking, collaboration and openness in Montreal and beyond.