It’s tough to be a part of the startup world. Aside from difficulties actually involved in starting a company, the networking can be hard to manage for those who may not have a lot of money or opportunities.
Startupfest realizes these challenges and is looking to remedy them with a brand new inclusion initiative. The famous Montreal conference brings in thousands of founders, investors and partners, and now it will offer free and/or discounted passes to women in tech, Indigenous entrepreneurs, and innovators from underserved communities.
In addition to this new program, Startupfest has enlisted the help of its first-ever diversity emissary, Martine St-VIctor, to help make sure the programming is accessible to and better serves all kinds of Canadian entrepreneurs.
“I could not be prouder to have assumed the role of Startupfest’s first Diversity emissary,” said St-Victor. “Startupfest has an altruistic approach to entrepreneurship. This is not a one-time tactic; it’s the continuation of a sustained effort the conference has always made—but now we’re taking it to a new level.”
The first part of the inclusion initiative involves offering passes to women in the technology sector passes at a 90 per cent discount—that means a $50 pass as opposed to a $500 one.
On top of that, the next goal is to bring in more Indigenous founders. Startupfest is working with the Joint Economic Development Initiative (JEDI) to offer First Nation, Métis, and Inuit entrepreneurs the same discounted ticket price in an effort to bring in more diverse businesses and offer networking and growth opportunities.
Finally, those from underserved communities will have the same access to discounted tickets. This means those who want to build their networks and meet other founders and investors but may be based in remote or underrepresented regions of Canada.
All in all, there are 1,000 total discounted tickets that will be made available for the above groups. All you have to do is fill out an application to grab one for yourself. The inclusion initiative is being delivered with the help of QuickBooks and BDC Capital.
“Thanks to our generous partners and patrons, over the past eight years we’ve given thousands of underrepresented entrepreneurs access to the best startup resources in Canada,” said Philippe Telio, Startupfest founder and producer. “We’ve done great things. But we can do more. Thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs face real challenges and just need the same opportunities as everyone else boost—sometimes just one pitch, introduction, or business insight—to take their project to the next level. We want to build that bridge.”
Research has shown that diversity improves financial performance, so Startupfest wants to champion inclusivity to help all of their attendees achieve what’s best for the Canadian entrepreneurial landscape. Speakers at this year’s event include Borrowell co-founder Eva Wong, SheEO founder Vicki Saunders, Drop CEO Derrick Fung, and LightSpeed CEO Dax Dasilva.