A Startup’s guide to Startupfest 2018

Maximize your festival experience this year with a little planning. We’ve made it easy.

Having a plan, whether for your startup or in your life, is always a good idea. It’s what keeps you focused and maximizes efficiency with your precious time. With so much happening this year at Startupfest, it can be a little overwhelming attempting to plan how to take it all in. Relax, we’re here to help.

Our plan with this guide is to help you get the most out of your Startupfest 2018 experience. Think of it as a roadmap for the festival, helping you decide which events, speakers or prize opportunities are a must to include on your checklist.

First things first: The Premium Fests. From ScaleupFest, to AI, there’s 8 premium fests onsite this year. You must have a pass for the specific premium fest you’d like to attend in order to have access! If your ticket says “Startupfest”, you only have access as of Wednesday (July 11th) at noon. You can email info@startupfest.com if you’d like to add a Premium Fest to your pass.


The Onstage Content

With a total of 8 stages, and over 150 speakers, it’s important you plan the sessions you want to attend. See our detailed agenda here sorted by day and stage, and use our add to calendar feature to plan your days.

$100k Investment Prize

Is your startup looking for some serious funding? Of course it is! Well, this is the big prize that you’ll want to take back to the office (or garage) to help propel your business forward.

Besides the six figures, what also makes the 100k Prize so special is that it’s open to any startup at the event. That means no pre-registration required.

Just track down one of the designated investors/judges wearing a blue lanyard or find them in the $100k Tent (hint: you can also see the list of investors here). You have until end of day Thursday to pitch to them. Each investor will shortlist one startup. Make the cut, and you’ll be contacted that evening and invited to a private breakfast Friday morning where you’ll pitch to the entire group of investors.

Grandmothers’ Choice Award

You might want to file this event under can’t miss. Open to any startup, it’s one of the festival’s most popular, and beloved, events. On Thursday and Friday afternoon from 12 to 5pm, you’ll find these startup savvy seniors in the Grandmother Judges Tent in the Tent Village. Simply put your name on the list and line up to pitch to the grannies. Be warned, their sweetness masks a BS radar finely honed from decades of experience.

This may be a non-cash prize, but it does come with a 14 day stay at Startup Embassy in Silicon Valley!

CBC Media Pitch

This pitch event that’s open to all can result in some potentially priceless media exposure for your startup. Spaces to pitch to the CBC fill up fast, so look for the iconic CBC logo in the Media Tent in the Tent Village and book your time slot quickly, starting Wednesday evening at the kickoff party (you have until Thursday afternoon to sign up). The top pitch chosen will be featured on CBC Montreal.

Accelerator Zone

This is the place to learn about and connect with accelerator programs, such as TechStars and Creative Destruction Lab. There’s a variety of prizes and opportunities in this zone:
Next36 Young Entrepreneur Award: Canada’s premiere program for developing young entrepreneurs – will also be there. On Thursday, any senior post-secondary student or recent grad can pitch (in two minutes or less) to their alumni and mentor judges for the chance to win an exclusive founder spot in their 2018 Cohort.

NextAI Cohort: Pitch to NextAI alumni and mentor judges for your chance to win an exclusive spot in the 2019 Cohort of NextAI.
Diagram Ventures wants to award you a prize worth $50,000 to leave your desk job and come join then on their quest to find the next Canadian global leader in fintech. Whether you are a seasoned professional or an aspiring entrepreneur, they want to hear from you on how you think you can transform the financial services industry.
Apply here!

Creative Destruction Lab: CDL-Montreal is offering up a spot in their upcoming cohort! This comes with deep links into Montreal’s AI Ecosystem, opportunities to raise funding, objectives-based mentorship, Biz Dev Support, access to Silicon Valley, 1:1 meetings with mentors like Patrick Pitchette, ex-CFO of Google and more.

The Investor Zone powered by the DMZ

New for 2018: The Investor Zone. Startups and Investors will be pre-selected and matched based on industry, type of funding you’re looking for, etc. All startups must pre-apply and a limited number will be chosen to have an afternoon of meetings with leading VC’s and angels on Friday, July 13th onsite at Startupfest. APPLY HERE to reserve your spot!

CIO + Mentor Tent

Don’t miss the roster of mentors in the Mentor + CIO Lounge. It’s where you’ll find Chief Innovation Officers from some of Canada’s top companies, including the CIO of Canada, Alex Benay, and Canada’s most active angel investor, Tom Williams (BetterCompany).

To tap into this source of major brainpower, simply check the schedule online, posted the week prior, note who you’d like to approach, and then drop by (first come, first served) on Thursday and Friday to meet.


Networking opportunities are a big part of the Startupfest experience, and where the magic often happens. But connecting with the right people is something that’s often left to chance, and randomly going up to someone for the introduction isn’t for everyone. Braindates changes that.

This year, we’ve harnessed the power of Montreal’s e180 and their Braindate platform to make hooking up one-on-one with the people you need to, easier than ever.

With your Startupfest registration, you automatically receive your Braindate invite. Create your profile by telling us a bit about yourself. You can then create offers to share knowledge with others, and book braindates with fellow participants based on interests or topics most pertinent to you. Braindating is fun, you’ll learn a ton, and walk away with new and potentially invaluable connections.


Think your startup has a story that needs to be told? This year be on the lookout for journalists from TechCrunch, TechVibes, BetaKit, Globe and Mail, VICE, and more.

Onstage Content

So many world-class speakers, so little time. Check the schedule for talks, and map out who you want to see. The agenda is officially live, so you can start planning your day accordingly!

The Tent Village

The tents are filled with opportunities, so spend some time sifting through all of them. You’ll find products that could help your own business, lots of demos and programs available for startups. Beyond the prizes listed above, we’re hosting an Ecosystem Support tent showcasing service providers and government resources with a lot of free programs, bursaries, and more for your company. You can find the complete list of tents here. From our partners at Banque Nationale, Videotron, BDC Capital, and more, you can find a variety of prizes, opportunities, mentors, and even popsicles.


Not all the action happens on-site. A range of organizations run their own,
“Off-Events” (these are not organized by Startupfest and we aren’t responsible for their content or format). Off-site parties, product launches and demos, are a great way to experience other startup-related events and they lend a true “festival” air to the week.

Thursday evening is party filled, and a great way to get a taste of some of the nightlife Montreal is famous (or infamous) for. You can see some of what’s happening on our off-events page.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to stay in the know. We can’t wait to show you what we have in store for 2018.