Montréal, QC (July 23, 2012)
Strengthening support channels from government, building partnerships between industries, and creating a sense of community amongst local entrepreneurs were some of the key action plan ideas that emerged from Startup Canada’s recent tour in Québec. This is the seventh province Startup Canada has visited as part of its National Tour to celebrate and support entrepreneurship across Canada.
“StartUp Canada’s tour of Québec showed that there are countless Québecers who have an entrepreneurial spirit and are looking to learn more, meet new people and consider new ideas,” said Noah Redler, a Quebec entrepreneur and member of the Startup Canada Quebec Provincial Steering Committee. “We heard from people who wanted to reach markets in other provinces, have easier access to business services and financial support, and be able to connect with and learn from mentors in their community.”
More than 250 members of the local startup and enterprise support sectors gathered for Startup Canada’s events last week in Québec City, Montréal, and Sherbrooke to brainstorm community-led solutions to key challenges faced by Québec and Canadian entrepreneurs.
“This week has been a great kickstarter for promoting a pervasive culture of entrepreneurship in Québec,” said Victoria Lennox, Startup Canada Co-Founder. “I am looking forward to seeing the ideas generated during this tour take shape over the next few months in the local community.”
The tour began in Québec City’s trendy “Nouvo St-Roch” district and brought together nearly 70 members of the local tech startup community, whose strengths are gaming, mobile, business productivity, and applied technologies. Things got off to a spirited start with a panel debate between investor JS Cournoyer of Montreal-based Real Ventures and entrepreneur Stéphane Vigot, Founder and CEO of Quebec-City startup Caristix.com. Cournoyer challenged Québec City startups to aim higher and reach beyond the local market, whereas Vigot countered with a call for investors to lend more support to early-stage product development and to simplify the process of seeking capital. That energized the crowd to dive into the Town Hall portion of the event, co-hosted by Québec International, and focus on two key discussion points: how to improve access to information, support programs, and capital; and how to re-energize the Québec City tech startup community through more entrepreneur-led events and support networks.
“The Startup Canada event in Québec City was an important milestone in weaving together the emerging tech startup ecosystem in Québec City,” said Davender Gupta, Head Coach, FastTrac TechVenture Québec and co-organizer of the Startup Canada events in Québec City. “Startup entrepreneurs from different technology specialties realized they have a lot in common, and that when they come together, everybody wins.”
The next stop of the tour was Montréal, where the Town Hall featured the City of Montréal’s Richard Deschamps facilitating a panel discussion on the emergence of social enterprises, government’s role in supporting entrepreneurs, and the synergy that exists between different industries.
“We greatly appreciated the support showed by the City of Montreal and would especially like to thank Mr. Richard Deschamps, Vice-President of the Executive Committee responsible for economic development for animating the Montreal panel discussion,” said Redler.
Charles Desjardins, Partner at Absolunet, the sponsor of Montréal’s Town Hall event, sees great potential in Québec’s startup sector.
“Absolunet strongly believes that encouraging a culture of entrepreneurship is the best way to create a dynamic and strong economy for tomorrow,” said Desjardins. “Startup Canada plays an important role in bringing together many initiatives, in celebrating entrepreneurship, and in positively influencing the Canadian culture, making entrepreneurship a good career option.”
Events like the Montréal Town Hall are an excellent first step in community-building, said Cliff Pavlovic, Vice-President & Co-Founder of BioTech Annecto.
“Thanks to Startup Canada, we are able to support and promote the vibrant entrepreneurial currents that exist in our cities. As entrepreneurs, it allows us to help others and play an active role as part of a bigger movement,” said Pavlovic.
Startup Canada’s next stop was Sherbrooke’s Town Hall, where the Community Economic Development and Employability Corporation (CEDEC) hosted a panel discussion on rural entrepreneurship, featuring local entrepreneurs Aaron Patella, Ginette Desforges, and Alex Skoropad-Gagnon. Philippe Lapierre, Investment Manager, Sciences & Engineering with MSBi Valorization, facilitated the event.
“Entrepreneurs and the community that supports them have expressed the need to streamline the process for reaching support and funding in various ways,” said Lapierre. “Startup Canada is on the right path to influence how things are done and ensure more people become entrepreneurs.“
For its last stop on the Québec tour, Startup Canada headed back to Montréal to share a tent with Microsoft BizSpark at the International Startup Festival.
“It was great having the Startup Canada team in Quebec and I look forward to working with them to keep Quebec active in a national strategy to create a culture of entrepreneurship,” said Redler.
Since launching its National Tour in March, the Startup Canada team has visited 24 cities and completed more than half of its tour across the country. A national audience is following the campaign through Startup Canada’s interactive website, live web-streamed broadcasts of the tour, and active social media networks. A full events listing can be found at http://www.startupcan.ca/tour
In addition to being championed by patrons such as Brett Wilson (Host of RiskyBusinessTV, former Dragon & serial entrepreneur), Heather Reisman (Founder, Indigo Books & Music), and Dani Reiss (Founder, Canada Goose), Startup Canada has also received support nationally from a number of ambassadors and industry sponsors such as Microsoft, Gowlings and Ernst & Young.
Other sponsors include Best Western Hotels, Artik, VideoBooth, Export Development Canada, the Canadian Innovation Commercialization Program, Kick Ass Media, PubliAir, the Ottawa Technology Transfer Network, the Association of University Research Parks Canada, the Canadian Association of Business Incubation, the Evidence Network, Francis Moran & Associates, FreshBooks, MSBi Valorisation, NextMTL, Podio, Best Western, Backbone Magazine, HootSuite, ITWorld Canada, Paper.li, Sprouter, and Techvibes.