About Us and Our Team: Queer Tech Montreal

All about our goals, vision and mandate. Contact us and contribute to the cause.

Image by Jason Behrmann

Founded in September 2016, Queer Tech Montreal is a volunteer-run community advocacy group for gender, sex and sexual minority (LGBTQ) professionals in the technology sector. Our mandate centres particular focus on the needs and activities of LGBTQ tech-entrepreneurs implicated within the start-up ecosystem of Montreal. We embrace diversity and inclusion as core guiding principles, so Ally and non-Queer professionals are always welcomed with open arms into our network of fun, astute and benevolent members.

Our community congregates monthly at different venues located in our home town that has witnessed a recent flurry of growth within its tech industry. Here we outline initiatives we advance at our monthly events and present the team that has grown Queer Tech Montreal into a prominent advocacy group at the intersection of geek, fabulous and today’s tech economy.

But first, we explain our raison d’être.

What’s the problem?

Technology continues to supersede many industries as the primary source of rewarding employment and economic opportunity. The growth of the tech sector, however, is out of step with providing equal opportunities to members of minority communities. Compared to other industries, the tech sector is well-known for its paltry levels of diversity. Few women, visible minorities, people with disabilities and LGBTQ people enter and remain in the tech sector; fewer still occupy leadership positions at prominent tech companies. To secure the future economic empowerment of these marginalised communities, we must act now to promote greater diversity and inclusion in the tech sector. We at Queer Tech Montreal heed this call and mobilize the LGBTQ and Ally communities to change the face of tech for the better.

Visibility and community building

No one likes to feel alone, but as a minority in tech, feelings of isolation and exclusion are all-too-common. Within small and medium-sized tech companies, chances are that an LGBTQ employee will be the one and only. When attending popular start-up and technology events, being pulled into a riptide of “bro culture” is a familiar sentiment. By providing a space for LGBTQ tech professionals to meet, we enable our members to network and form a sizeable community that shows that we are never truly alone.

We strive to partner with fellow diversity and inclusion advocacy groups in order to advance mutual causes and promote a united vision. By collaborating with members of Start-up Mosaic and Lesbians Who Tech, to name a few, Queer Tech Montreal aims to build strength in numbers amongst tech-loving minorities.

Promoting the visibility of our members is central to our mandate; so rest assured that you will see our organisation march at our annual Pride festivities.

Advocacy and policy development

Raising awareness of the particular needs and challenges faced by LGBTQ tech professionals is of utmost importance. Our board members have taken on the role of being representatives that speak on behalf of Montreal’s Queer tech professionals at prominent conferences and business gatherings within the city and across Canada.

From literature reviews and on-the-ground research, our organisation develops and disseminates policies and guidelines aimed at promoting greater diversity and inclusion in the tech sector.

Social activism and community empowerment

We advance a growing number of initiatives to empower the LGBTQ community. Employing our tech skills to support local charities and NGOs has taken centre stage. From events and by hosting hackathons, we conduct assessments of the tech capacities of fellow LGBTQ community groups. Using the latest digital tools, our tech-savvy members then set up solutions to streamline the operations of local charities so that they can better serve those in need.

Promoting economic opportunities, in the form of jobs and investment, are additional focal points for our civic engagement activities. Queer Tech played an instrumental role in establishing a Montreal chapter of the Gaingels syndicate, being a network of LGBTQ angel investors that invest in LGBTQ-owned start-ups. Companies looking to diversify their workforce know that Queer Tech is ready to promote their job offerings amongst our members.

Leadership and mentorship

Starting out in the tech sector or launching a new business can feel daunting. To further motivate us and reinforce our confidence, we need inspirational role models, admirable community members that achieved great success as a minority in tech. By looking up at these leaders, we see a reflection of our future selves. We at Queer Tech Montreal thus strive to encourage entrepreneurship in the LGBTQ community by hosting LGBTQ tech leaders as keynote speakers at our events. As a cohesive community, our members are ready to lend a helping hand and guide each other in our entrepreneurial journeys.

Our team

Naoufel Testaouni

Naoufel is our founder and President, as well as the Executive Director of Montreal New Tech, a leading organisation representing the startup tech ecosystem of Montreal. His professional network runs deep, which provides the essential connections we need to secure speakers, space and sponsorships for our diverse events.

Jason Behrmann

Jason is our Vice-President and Chief of Communications. As a researcher, literary ninja and passionate public speaker, he is the voice of our newsletters, blog, interviews, media relations and social media pages. He’s always on the move to publish engaging stories at the intersection of Queer and tech.

Baptiste Laget

A local tech-startup entrepreneur, Baptiste is a software engineer and co-founder of OctHuber, a company specialising in data analysis and marketing. As our Chief of Technology, Baptiste is our go-to person for tech solutions who oversees the IT, website, and digital communications infrastructure for our organisation and at our monthly gatherings.

Pholysa Mantryvong

Founder and CEO of the artificial intelligence start-up, Enkidoo Technologies, Pholysa’s radiant personality makes him a natural social butterfly and our Chief of Partnerships. His welcoming arms connects us with leaders in the finance, legal, business and philanthropic communities.

Contact us and join our community

Whether you reside in Montreal or abroad, we welcome Ally and Queer-identified persons to join our network.

  • You may follow our activities, news on LGTBQ tech issues and the latest on diversity and inclusion initiatives on our Twitter and Facebook pages. Send us a message on social media and we will respond typically within one business day.
  • The best way to know of our monthly events is to join our MeetUp group. Please note that we require participants to register for most gatherings to help guide us in event planning. Almost all of our events are free.
  • To reach all members of the team, feel free to email us at jason@queertech.ca. This communication channel is best for media and business communications.

Contribute to Queer Tech Montreal

Partaking in our monthly and special events is great; but for those wanting to be more active members of the LGBTQ tech community, we offer additional means for you to share your voice and advocate for causes dear to hearts.

First off, you can write for our blog. Here you can share your opinions, research and experience with like-minded folks. Check out our guidelines and simple submission process here.

Second, you can request to be a keynote speaker at our monthly gatherings (simply send us a request via the contacts above).

Third, you can join our board and acquire a central role in the planning and execution of our monthly events and advocacy work.

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