Demystifying Startupfest: What’s new and what’s changed

Startupfest is just five weeks away, and this year’s event is promising to be different than all the others.

With a plethora of new “Premium Fests” offering curated programs to specific people, it could get complicated understanding exactly how everything will go down July 13-16.

Luckily, we spoke to Startupfest founder Phil Telio and his team, who gave us all the details on the new changes.

What are the “Premium Fests”?

Premium Fests

All Startupfest tickets will get people into the main festivities, starting Wednesday July 13 at 6:00 pm until Friday July 15 at midnight.

This year though, Startupfest has created five additional mini-festivals, called “Premium Fests” targeting different groups of people within the tech ecosystem. Four of the five Premium Fests will take place on Wednesday July 13 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, before StartupFest kicks in the evening at 6:00 pm. These are: AcceleratorFest, FundFest, AngelFest, ScaleupFest.

The last Premium Fest will be HackerFest, which will run for 24 hours from Friday July 15 to Saturday July 16, just after Startupfest concludes.

It’s important to note that anyone can buy tickets to these Premium Fests, but the costs are completely separate from a Startupfest ticket.

Premium fests


Why is Startupfest hosting the “Premium Fests”?

Telio told MTLinTECH that historically, Startupfest has been able to effectively target and captivate two main groups of people. One group is seed-stage or new startups looking to gain connections and advance themselves. The other group makes up executives and founders of larger, more successful companies who can come to make connections and see keynotes from big-name speakers, like Alexis Ohanian (reddit) Dave McClure (500 Startups) and Adeo Ressi (Founder Institute).

One group that Startupfest wanted to target was perhaps the small to medium-sized companies who might not consider themselves seed-stage anymore. They’ve proven themselves, they’re growing and they come to meet the right people. For those types, Startupfest’s ScaleupFest is an “exclusive gathering for founders past the initial seed round, growing a foundational team and ready to take everything to the next level. ScaleupFest will illuminate what is often unaddressed – candid war stories, hard advice, the science and art of startup growth and more.”

Those heading up startup accelerator programs, investors at larger funds and angel investors all need love too. Thus, AcceleratorFest is a specialized event designed for those who run accelerators, while FundFest is a 2016 special edition of the BDC FUNDamental Principals events that will be hosted at Startupfest. FundFest will “bring together over 100 fund managers and investors from across Canada and abroad to discuss the hot topic of fundraising.”

Meanwhile, AngelFest is a one-day event “dedicated to exposing what’s next in early-stage startup investment.” Held in collaboration with the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO), this event brings together seasoned and prospective angel investors.

The only Premium Fest that takes place after Startupfest has closed its doors is HackerFest, an event for those who maybe aren’t affiliated with a startup or web company, but would still enjoy coming to an environment like Startupfest.

HackerFest is a 24-hour, outdoor, multi-topic “innovation marathon” for developers, designers, inventors and all-around creators, and will cost $15.

Which things will stay the same?

All of the traditional favourites that Startupfest has built itself upon will return.

Let’s start with the awards: the Best Onstage Pitch award and the $100,000 Investment Prize are back.

The always famous Grandmother’s Choice Award will pick one startup that has earned the affection of the always intimidating Grandmother judges.

The Videotron/MAtv Prize will give out $30,000 in services and visibility for a startup, including a promotional campaign on MAtv, a banner announcement in the Journal de Montréal and free access to Notman House’s office spaces for 3 months.

The Media Pitch Prize will earn a featured spot on a CBC Montreal program, while the FounderFuel Prize will give one startup an offer to the Montreal-based accelerator program.

Finally, the Next 36 Young Entrepreneur Award will give any senior post-secondary student or recent grad spot in the 2017 Cohort of The Next 36 accelerator program.

The Tent Villiage will be prominent again, with themed sectors, to demo spaces, pitch competitions and geographic divisions.

The Keynote Stage is the only stage that runs from 9am to noon, hosting “famous founders,” with “phenomenal stories of inspiration” in 20 minute increments, both Thursday, and Friday morning. \

The “How-To” stage will teach founders smart shortcuts, powerful tactics, and how to avoid common pitfalls in marketing, fundraising, development, staffing, and more. The “Future-Of” stage will look into how the future “will change business, society, and even humanity.” And finally, the “Interacive” stage is part workshop, part interview, part Ask Me Anything, a “chance to go one-to-one with some of the startup world’s smartest minds and deepest thinkers.”

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