C2 x AccelerateMTL Recap: Building Unprecedented Reach for Technology Founders

Credits: C2 Montreal

Last week, 5,000 decision makers and creative minds descended upon Montreal to experience the unexpected, leave their comfort zone behind, and explore the relationship between commerce and creativity as well as its potential to redefine business, all in the visually stunning C2 Montréal village. AccelerateMTL has a six-year history of celebrating technology startups and connecting tech influencers from Silicon Valley, Canada and beyond. For the first time, AccelerateMTL partnered with C2 to bring a group of 50 highly talented startup founders from across North America to connect with some of the sharpest minds in the technology ecosystem.

Like the incredible team behind C2, we believe in serendipity and collision. We believe there is strong value for founders to connect with Fortune 500 executives, marketers, designers, artists and creators of all sorts. It’s all about elevating the conversation. Combining the two events was an attempt to break the silo of traditional events that are purely focused on technology startups. We wanted to allow founders to fully experience the diversity C2 has to offer. Our startup contest winners were treated to an impressive roster of high-profile speakers and panelists. Over three jam-packed days, founders attended private sessions about the topics that matter most in building a technology business but also had the chance to build relationships beyond the technology world.

In anticipation of the exciting week ahead, the 50 participants had the opportunity to connect and network before the event at a Welcoming Cocktail, courtesy of Deloitte, held in the astonishing decor of the Crew Collective and Café, in Montréal.

Katherine Hague (Founder and CEO, Female Funders) laid out how to build relationships with value-add investors, while Tuan Pham (Managing Director, SVB) explained the ins and outs of venture debt, while VCs Jonathan Libov (Analyst, Union Square Ventures), Nan Li (Principal, Obvious Ventures), Antoine Nivard (Associate, iNovia Capital), Jeff Clavier (Founder and Managing Partner, SoftTech VC), and Chris Arsenault (Managing Partner, iNovia Capital) pulled back the curtain and shared frank insights on raising venture capital.

Elizabeth Tobey and Nan Li during a breakfast fireside chat
“When you are on a mission to do something important, it’s amazing how much support you can get.” — Nan Li

Our speakers devoted extensive time to the topics of branding and community building. Jeff Gadway (Director of Product Marketing, Vidyard) helped entrepreneurs map out a foundational brand blueprint for their company messaging, while Rory Capern (Managing Director, Twitter Canada) gave tips on leveraging social media to support your brand. Ethan Song (Co-Founder and CEO, Frank and Oak) shared war stories on how the F+O community was built while cruising down the Lachine Canal, and Mikael Cho (Founder and CEO, Crew) and Steven Abrams (Partner, BDC Capital) talked about the team’s experience building Unsplash.

Jeff Gadway (Vidyard) leading a workshop on brand positioning
“If you removed your company name from your brand positioning statement, would you still be able to identify it as uniquely you?” — Jeff Gadway

Anthony Rosen (Chief Financial Officer, Adore Me) and Dave Sherry (Chief Financial Officer, Lightspeed) spoke about the importance of startups’ operational backbones and building a metrics-driven team.

Left to right: Antoine Nivard (iNovia Capital), Anthony Rosen (AdoreMe), Dave Sherry (Lightspeed)

Jennifer Holmstrom (Talent Partner, Highland Capital Partners) laid out the specifics of crafting a talent strategy (and attracting that talent), while Gerrit De Vynck (Reporter, Bloomberg LP) spoke honestly about the necessity and best practices of speaking with the press.

Jennifer Holmstrom during her workshop “Talent Strategy for Startups”
“When you can’t compete on dollars for talent, you have to compete on passion and personal touches” — Jennifer Holmstrom

Finally, we examined the industries of the future alongside Mike Yapp (Founder and Director, The ZOO at Google) who spoke about hypertelling and VR, Elizabeth Tobey (Head of Community Engagement, Medium) who laid out the future of media and community integration in product development, Joshua Landy (Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer, Figure1) who shared how mobile is transforming healthcare, and Jeremy Barnes (Founder and CEO, Datacratic) alongside Andy Mauro (Co-Founder and CEO, Automat.ai) who cut through the noise to share the true potential (and limitations) of AI.

Elizabeth Tobey during her talk at the Big Top
“Communities are the beginning and the end of your company; without them, your product has no purpose.” — Elizabeth Tobey

In addition to these fantastic speakers, attendees had access to the incredible C2 roster of speakers, brain dating like-minded innovators, and even a ball pit to relax in! Montreal is a high-growth, relatively young startup ecosystem, drawing a strong parallel with the 50 startup contest winners who attended C2xAccelerateMTL. Combining these two high impact events connected startups with potential clients, ignited ideas that span industries and company stages, and inspired lasting value for the Montreal technology community. The C100, AccelerateMTL, and iNovia Capital believe in encouraging bold ideas, building relationships, bridging geographic divides, and sharing honest lessons. We think that C2xAccelerateMTL embodied all of the above, and we hope that our attendees share that belief!

C2xAccelerateMTL 2016 Cohort

If you attended the event, we’d love to hear your thoughts on how we can improve next year! If you’re interested in getting involved in C2xAccelerateMTL 2017, please reach out! Thank you to our organizers (Camille Pfeiffer of iNovia Capital, Terry Doyle and Andee Gardiner of C100), sponsors (Deloitte Canada, Fasken Martineau), and community partners (Real Ventures, Rho Canada Ventures, BDC Capital, Founder Institute, MTL NewTech, Interaction Ventures, Credo, and La Gare) for putting together a phenomenal event! Pictures can be found here and our official website is located here.