Guelph to Montreal: Startup Train to make its fourth consecutive trip to StartupFest


Guelph-based startup ThreeFortyNine Coworking will organize its fourth consecutive Startup Train trip to Montreal’s International Startup Festival in July.

“Sometimes the journey is the destination,” said ThreeFortyNine cofounder Brydon Gilliss. He’ll accompany roughly 100 eager startup founders, workers, investors and business reps on the lovely five hour journey from Toronto to Montreal.

The train will take off from Toronto’s Union Station on the morning of July 15th, the first day of Startup Fest. Last year the train took 80 people, but this year Gilliss is working on expanding that number to 130. Toronto’s Digital Media Zone at Ryerson University is back as a primary sponsor, as is ViaRail. A new sponsor will be band of coders, an Atlanta-based team of product managers, software architects, and developers who partner with business executives to build their next successful product.

For Gilliss, he’s learned what has work and what hasn’t worked over the past three years. The objective of the train is simple: to get people to meet each other, talk with each other and form contacts entering the festival. “Our main focus is just trying to get everybody connected who are on the trip together. Obviously we want to do something of value on the train and when we get everyone connected they feel more comfortable and they have lots of people to hang out with,” said Gilliss last year.

This year ThreeFortyNine is organizing a pre-train event at the DMZ on June 9. It’ll be a night where potential riders can learn more about the train, while “Train Alumni” from the past three years can re-connect.

As for the train, Gilliss told MTLinTech that this year’s tagline rings true. “I’ve learned that our tagline of ‘sometimes the journey is the destination’ is more true than we knew. In fact, we have many people planning to join us on the train even though they can’t actually attend the entire conference in Montreal.

One of the founder’s fondest moments while riding the Startup Train came from 2013’s trip. Via BetaKit, here’s what Gilliss had to say.

I asked Gilliss what his favourite memory has been over the first two train rides, and he told us about two BlackBerry reps who came on the train. They organized a pitch contest at the back of the bar car and the winning pitches received new BlackBerry phones.

An early investor and early board member of the company then referred to as Research In Motion, Jim Estill, decided to get in line and pitch his idea. He’s also an active angel investor and a primary investor in the Hyperdrive accelerator at Kitchener-Waterloo’s Communitech Hub. The thing is, the BlackBerry reps seemed to be oblivious to how important the person pitching them was to the existence of their employer.

“I found it fascinating that he got in line and pitched a mobile app to the BlackBerry guys and I have a feeling those guys had no idea who Jim was,” said Gilliss.

We’re sure this year will bring some moments just as entertaining and meaningful. As well, the Startup Festival has also announced that it will take over a new event space in Montreal’s Old Port district this year. “Surrounded by water, with an amazing view of the Montreal skyline, Le Jardins des Écluses is the perfect home for 2015’s theme of Masters & Models” wrote Startup Fest in a promo email.

Startup Fest assured us however that while the venue has changed, other rules haven’t. “the dress code hasn’t changed; shorts, flip-flops, and a cold beer in hand are highly recommended.”

For more information on joining the train this year, head to the Startup Train’s website.

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