Montreal’s Ambitious Plan to Strengthen Local Connectedness
Post author is Patrick Gagné, co-founder, Bonjour Startup Montréal
Local connectedness is a key success factor for startups - being part of local networks and leveraging what they have to offer. It is also a key indicator of ecosystem liveliness. This is why we created Bonjour Startup Montréal a year ago: to unify key players of Montreal’s ecosystem, and to promote the city as a land of innovation and entrepreneurship.
Montreal’s startup ecosystem has improved a lot over the past decade but is currently at a lower stage of maturity than other ecosystems of similar size such as Stockholm, Toronto/Waterloo, Tel-Aviv or Amsterdam. Once in the top 20 of the world’s best startup ecosystem (in 2016), we’ve lost that position and are working hard to regain it.
Here are a few examples of what we did over the past 12 months and what we have in mind for Montreal’s startup ecosystem in the future.
Bonjour Startup Montreal: built by startupers, for startupers
It was clear from the beginning, in order to innovate as an ecosystem, we needed to adopt the same spirit of those who at the center of it all: our entrepreneurs. We assembled a team of entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs from the startup world, and built a culture similar to that of the innovators that inspire us: flexible, bootstrapped and driven by collaboration. This has led us to undertake ambitious projects in very little time. It also allowed us to earn respect from entrepreneurs.
Through this culture of velocity and innovation in iterative mode, we have created real, strong connections with startups. In 2019, Montreal created one of the biggest delegations of entrepreneurs ever sent by the city to an international event during Collision 2019 in Toronto...
Relevant resources and tools made more accessible
Startups will successfully connect with their peers only if they first have the appropriate communication channels. Over the past twelve months, we have built several orientation tools not only for entrepreneurs but also for the whole startup community in Montreal and more are coming in the near future. For example, we were the first to gather all calls for applications across the ecosystem (currently, it is the most visited page of our website). We also produced a handful of analytical reports. Montreal’s startup ecosystem’s Portrait is a unique attempt to provide an overview of our startup ecosystem, a complete map of the startup ecosystem as well as an index of all incubators and accelerators in Montreal.
Montreal Startup Ecosystem Map included in Montreal’s Startup Ecosystem Portrait
Collaboration as an engine for innovation
A strong startup ecosystem is a community built on collaboration. It is much easier to work in silos, but we go further together. In order to be successful, we need to get along, build trust and be accountable for our actions. The only way to build tomorrow’s ecosystem is through collaboration at all levels, not only within our local community but also with international ecosystems.
Bonjour Startup Montreal was born out of the desire to unify the goals of several organizations who supported us from the beginning with a common will to collaborate with one another. Since then, we have developed a structure that facilitates cooperation between different stakeholders within the ecosystem. We have worked in constant and sustained collaboration with our loyal and passionate partners who share a deep desire to contribute to our entrepreneurs’ growth and well-being.
Unifying grassroot initiatives to build stronger entrepreneurial communities
There are many grassroot initiatives actively promoting entrepreneurship in Montreal. Some of these are finding it hard to survive as they are often managed by volunteers who cannot be dedicated on a full-time basis to their mission. This grassroot dimension is key: all Montreal initiatives, when put together, act as a foundation that makes the ecosystem more dynamic. We are working hard to provide a common showcase to the diversity of ideas, innovations and offers, and to promote coopetition rather than competition…
Over the past year, Bonjour Startup Montreal has worked with a mission to nurture and promote these initiatives (Queer Tech MTL, Startup Grind, Startup Drinks) as well as to facilitate networking processes between all stakeholders within the ecosystem.
Heading towards 2020
As we celebrate the first anniversary of Bonjour Startup Montreal, our team is thrilled for what’s coming up and we’re looking forward to the future. Our mission to make Montreal one of the best startup ecosystems on the planet is fully aligned with our startups’ ambition: it is a marathon, not a sprint. We will continue to carry the torch of entrepreneurship and learn from the best to build the ecosystem of tomorrow through more information tools (an updated Montreal Startup Ecosystem Portrait, a brand new data platform). We will keep focusing on impact creation with priorities such as being more international-driven, getting bigger corporations involved within the startup ecosystem and providing entrepreneurs with access to talents.
The work we did developed over the past 12 months would not have been possible without the unwavering support of the Minister of Economy and Innovation, the City of Montreal, BDC Capital, Fonds de solidarité FTQ, Teralys Capital, HEC Montreal’s Institut d’entrepreneuriat, Montreal NewTech, the Mouvement des accélérateurs d’innovation du Québec, and many others.
Follow our adventures in 2020, to infinity and beyond, on https://www.bonjourstartupmtl.ca/.