12 months later: A successful year for Bonjour Startup Montreal

by Bonjour Startup Montréal
08 January 2020

Launched during Expo Entrepreneurs on 23 January 2019, Bonjour Startup Montreal was born out of an impulse of the Quebec government towards promoting entrepreneurial innovation in the city of Montreal and out of the ambition of the two managers of key innovation-driven organizations in Montreal: Montreal inc. and OSMO.

Bonjour Startup Montreal aims to unify key players of Montreal’s ecosystem and to promote the city as a land of innovation and entrepreneurship by positioning Montreal amongst the best ecosystems in the world according to Startup Genome.

Montreal’s startup ecosystem has improved a lot over 10 years but it is currently at a lower stage of maturity compared to other ecosystems of similar size such as Stockholm, Toronto/Waterloo, Tel-Aviv, Amsterdam. We have lost our rank amongst the top 20 global startup ecosystems since 2016 but we have started working towards regaining it!

As we come closer to the first anniversary of Bonjour Startup Montreal, our team wishes to highlight some of our best moves in 2019 and what is coming in the near future.

Bonjour Startup Montreal: a startup supporting startups

“It was clear from the beginning: in order to innovate as an ecosystem, we needed to adopt the same spirit of those that constitute its heart and lungs: entrepreneurs. As the team came from the startup world, we have built a culture similar to that of the innovators that inspire us: always flexible, agile and driven by collaboration. This led us to undertake ambitious projects in very little time. It also allowed us to earn respect from entrepreneurs”

Charlotte Blouin-Arbour, Director of Communications, Bonjour Startup Montreal

Through this culture of velocity and innovation in iterative mode, we have created real links with startups. This is how we managed to organize in only 6 weeks sending a delegation of entrepreneurs at Collision 2019 in Toronto: from preparation to transportation from Montreal in a dedicated bus to providing support on the ground, we created one of the biggest delegations ever sent by Montreal’s startup ecosystem to an event of international standing.

More accessible and more comprehensive resources and tools

Bonjour Startup Montreal has developed over the past months several tools aimed at providing entrepreneurs with as much information as possible:

  • our website gathers all the calls for applications launched within the ecosystem (currently, it is the most visited page of our website). It is a simple initiative that did not exist anywhere else.
  • the Highlights of Montreal startup ecosystem’s Portrait, a shortened document published in March 2019 that provides an overview of our startup ecosystem, a complete map of the startup ecosystem as well as an index of all incubators and accelerators in Montreal. To develop this document, we have surveyed around 400 startups in a month
  • the State of Montreal startup ecosystem – 2019 Edition was published following a panel organized during Startupfest 2019 and provides an analysis of the key challenges named by startups.
  • the Startup Lexicon published in October 2019 provides clear definitions and specifications on key terms used in the startup world. It allows to clarify the difference between various services provided to them (incubator vs. accelerator).
  • the Entrepreneur’s Journey, a list of tips and tricks for entrepreneurs at the start of their project through different phases (inspiration, pre-launch, launch, growth)

Montreal Startup Ecosystem Map included in the Highlights of Montreal Startup Ecosystem Portrait

“Over the past twelve months, we have built several orientation tools not only for entrepreneurs but also for the whole startup community in Montreal. In addition to launching our website, we have developed a map of Montreal startup ecosystem and the entrepreneurs’ journey, a first orientation tool for entrepreneurs to quickly find accurate resources. As far as the ecosystem is concerned, we have launched in July 2019 the first findings of Montreal Startup Ecosystem Portrait (full version scheduled in February 2020). It is the first time in at least four years that Montreal data is updated. This is a huge amount of work that was developed by 11 organizations and by surveying more than 390 startups.”

– Laurence Audette-Lagueux, Project Manager, Bonjour Startup Montréal

Collaboration as an engine for innovation

Bonjour Startup Montreal was born out of collaboration by unifying the objectives of dozens of organizations who supported us from the beginning and who made it possible for us to exist. We have developed a structure that facilitates cooperation between different stakeholders within the ecosystem. We have worked in constant and sustainable collaboration with our loyal and passionate partners who have entrepreneurs’ well-being at the heart of their concerns. The work developed over the past 12 months would not have been possible without the unwavering support of the Minister of Economy and Innovation, the City of Montreal, BDC Capital, Fonds de solidarité FTQ, Teralys Capital, HEC Montreal’s Institut d’entrepreneuriat, Montreal NewTech, Mouvement des accélérateurs d’innovation du Québec, and many others.

This spirit of collaboration allows us to:

  • improve the resources we offer on our website for Montreal entrepreneurs
  • organize roundtables on internationalization in order to define a better offer to entrepreneurs
  • highlight key opportunities for entrepreneurs
  • organize workshops, conferences, learning sessions between peers, always with entrepreneurs in mind.

We have also collaborated with many key players within the community to facilitate international networking by participating to three key events: Collision (Toronto), Vivatech (Paris) and the Web Summit (Lisbon). Each of these trips have allowed to create unforgettable memories for the selected entrepreneurs and helped position Montreal and our entrepreneurs on the international scene.

“A strong startup ecosystem is an ecosystem built on collaboration. It is much easier to work on our own because collaboration involves conciliating each other’s objectives, getting along, trusting each other and being responsible for our part. However, the only way we can develop the ecosystem of our dreams for Montreal and for our startups is to promote collaboration at all levels, not only within our local community but also with international ecosystems”

– Liette Lamonde, co-founder, Bonjour Startup Montreal.

Bonjour Startup Montreal, a partner for local communities, online and on the ground 

There are many grassroot initiatives to promote entrepreneurship in Montreal. Some of these are finding it hard to survive as they are often managed by volunteers that cannot be dedicated on a full-time basis to their mission. This grassroot dimension is key: all Montreal initiatives, when put together, act as a foundation that makes the ecosystem more dynamic. We are working hard to provide a common showcase to the diversity of ideas, innovations and offers, and to promote coopetition rather than competition…

Over the past year, Bonjour Startup Montreal has worked with a mission to nurture and promote these initiatives:

  • by partnering with Montreal New Tech to update the Events section of our website
  • by providing financial support to various events organized by Queer Tech MTL, Startup Grind, Startup Drinks, and many more.
  • by promoting initiatives led by these communities on our social media and our website
  • by ensuring we have an official presence to events organized by communities

This had led us to developed communications initiatives to facilitate networking processes between all stakeholders within the ecosystem:

  • A slack channel with 750 members after 6 months which is a perfect tool for the community to share recent news, job offers and general questions
  • Our social media and regular newsletters which cover events and important news of the ecosystem
  • The Connection Squad, recognizable through their “Bonjour Startup Montreal” t-shirts, participates to key events happening in Montreal and helps the networking process in order to facilitate business and collaboration opportunities
  • Information booths during key events such as the opening night of Cooperathon where our booth was a meeting point for participating founders and where our teams promoted networking activities.
  • Sports training (both in Summer and Winter) to encourage entrepreneurs to keep a good work/life balance and think about their health while supporting a good cause (Tough Mountie Race)

Heading towards 2020

“On the eve of the first anniversary of Bonjour Startup Montreal, our team is thrilled and looking forward to the future. Our mission to make Montreal one of the best ecosystems on the planet fits with our startups’ ambition: it is a marathon, not a sprint. We will continue to carry the torch of entrepreneurship and learn from the best to build the ecosystem of tomorrow, focused on impact with priorities such as being more international-driven, getting bigger corporations involved within the startup ecosystem and providing entrepreneurs with access to talents.”

– Patrick Gagné, co-founder Bonjour Startup Montreal

Follow our adventures in 2020, to infinity and beyond, on https://www.bonjourstartupmtl.ca/.

We’re also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin.

Join the community on Slack