The Montreal startup community’s holiday bash, TechNoel, is just around the corner. Beers will be clinking, handshakes and hugs exchanged and a good time for all will be had.
But the impact of this annual party goes far beyond the startup community.
Just ask Kate Arthur, the founder of Kids Code Jeunesse, a Montreal-based non-profit dedicated to teaching children how to code. This year again, proceeds from TechNoel will go towards building the ‘KCJ Fund,’ which helps bring programming to girls and underprivileged communities in Montreal.
The tickets range from “The Startup,” a $10 entry now completely sold out, all the way up to “The Zuckerberg” price tier of $100. That and more will go towards Arthur’s team, which relies almost entirely on volunteers and a few paid coding teachers to go into schools.
But the feeling she gets while seeing children learning how to code for the first time is worth all the hard work.
“It’s awesome. It’s really what keeps me going, definitely not the salary,” said Arthur. “It is so rewarding to see any kid who didn’t realize that this was something that they’d be able to do, and they realize how many creative opportunities it opens to them to be able to express and play around. I wish I could show it to every teacher so they understand how important it is.”
Arthur, a former english lit major who entered the tech community through the communications and marketing route, said coding is the new reading and writing. Once more children understand this new language it opens the door to opportunity and, one could argue, more economic equality throughout different regions.
She started Kids Code Jeunesse in 2013 while she was running her own IT company. Gradually the side project became her full-time concern.
Events like TechNoel will help provide the funding that the non-profit needs to keep afloat.
“We have no government funding to support us to bring our programs into the schools,” Arthur told MTLinTech. “It means that when a school in Verdun or Lasalle contacts us we can say yes because we have the funds to be able to pay our instructors.”
As for the event, last year was Arthur’s first time at TechNoel. She enjoyed the diversity of the event, noting how it wasn’t simply startup-affiliated people celebrating with each other. Coding nerds, lawyers, tax specialists, venture capitalists, students, CEOs and more all converged for a night of merry ale and laughs. “It was a lot of fun,” she said.
Phil Telio feels the same way. He’s the founder of the International Startup Festival, a long-time familiar face in seemingly everything startup-related in Montreal and one of the original people involved in getting TechNoel off the ground.
Telio said everyone has their own company parties they need to attend during the holiday season, but TechNoel is a place where everyone can come together and celebrate.
“Christmas parties are about uniting corporate culture,” said Telio. “But we’re all little cultures in startups and together we make one big corporate community, if you will.”
Along with that, the Startup Fest maestro said it’s simply a time for tech folks in Montreal to unwind and spend a nice night within a friendly setting.
“It’s a pure social opportunity with people where there’s no expectation of pitching and there’s no expectation of talking business,” said Telio. “It’s really just truly going and having a beer with people.”
Tickets to TechNoel are available at TechNoël.ca