July 21, 2015 | Matt Kanas

The Best Festival I’ve ever been to? Startup Fest Montreal

I’ve been to plenty music festivals in my day, and while they’re pretty fun, my mind was thoroughly blown last week when my Intuit Canada colleagues and I attended Phil Telio’s Startup Fest, in Montreal.  Certainly there are tremendous differences between a music fest and something like a startup fest, but never have I been to an event with so much positive energy, valuable knowledge sharing, and great camaraderie between all attendees. It was simply awesome. And if you’ve never been, Montreal is an AMAZING city…especially in the summer.

Celebrating it’s fifth year,  Startup Fest has grown in a big way year over year. Speaking to the founder, Phil Telio, this was the first year where he saw 30% growth over the previous fest, and the first year where he had to close the registration – they hit full capacity for the venue – over two thousand signed up to attend.

Certainly this volume of attendees played a huge role in the awesome vibe of the event. Everyone from Shopify and national law firms to developers-for-hire and bootstrapped startups were there, continuously speaking with each other, sharing and determining how they could work together. It was a visceral example of how a community can truly help and support itself with a singular purpose: achieving a prosperous future for Canada’s startup community.

So what were we up to, to this end? As a sponsor, we had three core objectives in mind: (1) raise aware of the need for startups to take financial literacy seriously, and raise awareness of our cross-Canada FinLit boot camps; (2) speak to developers about our open QuickBooks Online API and the amazing opportunities Intuit presents as a global small business operating system; (3) educate Quebec-based startups about our commitment to their success, and our newly launched French-language QuickBooks Online.

Each day, from 9-6, our Fin-Tastique Account-Tent (our home base at the festival) was crowded with attendees. True, we had great SWAG, but when you boil it down, all our conversations were about why were there, how we’re supporting Canada’s startup and developer community and what we were doing to ensure future success. And most everyone who left our tent, either signed up for a financial literacy boot camp course, or found a quiet corner at the festival and started playing in our API sandbox.

The best part, every now and then a current customer would come up to us and tell us how much QuickBooks has helped them succeed. They were so passionate about the product it really hit home that what we do at Intuit everyday matters. Whether we’re helping a startup, or any entrepreneur, figure out their finances, or helping a developer connect to QuickBooks, and giving them a global marketplace to sell their app, or teaching a young entrepreneur about burn rates and balance sheets, we’re making a difference.

My two takeaways from Startup Fest: first the Canada startup community is alive, well, maturing and invested in its future success. And second, we need to come back next year!

 

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