Crazy train

On the trip home from a conference last year, it struck me how lonely it was. Yes I talked with people on the train. I had wifi and a phone but I didn’t have anyone who had shared the awesome conference experience I’d just been through, I wanted to keep it going. Returning to my city, I wanted to keep it the momentum rolling there as well.

I happened to have attended an amazing conference named BitNorth. In the case of the crap conferences, the travel back and forth is even more torturous. BitNorth is unique in that it really attempts to leverage what are typically considered the fringe elements of conferences.

All this left me wondering if we could make crappy conferences better and great conferences awesome by explicitly building up the fringes. We, at ThreeFortyNine, are taking our first shot at it this July. We’re cheating by starting with an amazing conference with The International Startup Festival in Montreal. We’re getting ourselves our own first class car on a Via train to travel to the conference and back from Toronto, Guelph, or Kitchener-Waterloo. We’re filling the car with founders, funders and startup junkies. For us this experience starts when we hop on the train and it doesn’t end when the conference ends. It won’t even end when we get off the train since you’ll be returning to your city with a group of friends who’ve shared this experience with you. We’ll conspire, plan, meet and keep the momentum going.

In the case of the best roadtrips of my youth, I can hardly recall what our destination was. It’s the getting there I remember. It’s the getting there that was the starting point of something bigger.

Join us this July as we bring the Ontario startup scene to Montreal and give them a peek at who we are and what we’re building. Clearly we have limited seats on our train car so when we sell out, we’re sold out for realz.

Summer Lovin’

It feels like come the lazy days of July and August most of Canada shuts down for summer vacation. There are no new deals to be done. There are meetings, lunches, maybe even a golf foursome but not new deals. So why not take the opportunity to attend one of the local events with other geeks, entrepreneurs to learn and share your experiences.


The next Toronto DemoCamp is happening June 9, 2011. We are very lucky to have Howard Lindzon keynoting. Howard is a long time friend of StartupNorth. He has been kind enough to attend StartupEmpire and even kinder to let us republish some of his posts here. This will be an awesome session focused on helping entrepreneurs.

There are local DemoCamps happening in Guelph, Edmonton, Calgary, there are LaunchParties and New Tech Demos. These are great ways to get out of the office/garage/basement/cube and start talking to real people, hustling for attention and gathering feedback.


Montreal is an awesome city in the summer time. There is the Comedy Festival. There is the Jazz Festival. There is the Grand Prix du Canada. The event is being hosted by Dave McClure who knows a thing about making making new opportunities. He runs 500Startups and the ultimate startup travel event, Geeks on a Plane. StartupFestival is a great opportunity to visit a historic city, and plan on building new relationships and discovering new business opportunities.

Grow Conference

Grow Conference - August 17-19, 2011 - Vancouver, BCAnd just in case you didn’t have enough of Canada’s favorite entrepreneurial bad boy, Howard Lindzon, you can see him again in Vancouver at Grow Conf 2011. This was one of my favourite events in 2010. Debbie Landa and the team at Dealmaker Media have put together a great event that mixes Canadian entrepreneurs (Brian Wong, Garrett Camp, Howard Lindzon, Leonard Brody) with decision makers from Silicon Valley (Wesley Chan – Google Ventures, Mike Parker – TribalDDB, Mike Ghaffary – Yelp, Rob Hayes – First Round Capital). I had the opportunity to talk to Minister Clement at the cocktail hour about brain drain, homecoming, funding, angel investing and other things. It was a great conference focused on helping Canadian entrepreneurs.

Making Lemonade

Rather than lament about the downtime. There is an awesome opportunity to use the dog days of summer in Canada to keep networking and connecting with other entrepreneurs, with investors from the US, and to set up opportunities that might come to fruition later in the year. I love the program goals of Geeks on a Plane.

  • Meet startups, geeks, and investors in cities around the world.
  • Learn about trends in internet, mobile, and other tech platforms.
  • Gain insight into local markets, demographics, business models.
  • Meet cool people, new ventures, have fun on planes, trains, buses.

My advice, is you should stop bitching about the travel costs and figure out how to make an investment in yourself, your startup and the community and figure out how to attend one of these events and get back more than you put into travel and lost opportunity. There are lots of great opportunities to meet customers, potential investors, to find new partnerships, and to grow your business. If you don’t see an opportunity, try making one, host a party, do a customer event, plan a launch. Make it work. Debbie and Philippe and everyone involved with both StartupFestival and Grow Conference are dedicated to making great startup conf0erences in Canada, but they are not going to do it all for you. Use these events to make an opportunity.

StartupFestival – Call for Startup Pitches

International Startup Festival - Call for Startups

The team behind Startup Festival (which StartupNorth is a Media Sponsor) has started the call for startups looking to pitch and launch at the festival. They are looking for startups in a variety of verticals, at a variety of stages of corporate development, and looking to raise funding or attention for their companies. It’s a great Canadian event that is guarranteed to have local, national and global investors and press attending.

Apply to Pitch

Top 5 Reasons to Pitch at Startup Festival

  1. You didn’t get accepted to Launch, TechCrunch Disrupt or Demo
  2. You’ll be attending anyway, might as well get some great PR & exposure with attendees and speakers
  3. StartupFestival is a great bridge between North America and Europe. And you’re considering accelerating your access to European markets
  4. You’re actively raising funding and you want to get in front of the best investors and coaches in North America
  5. You’re funnier than Dave McClure and Will Ferrell should produce a webisode for Funny or Die featuring “Your Startup Life” with Claire Daines having a reoccurring guest starring role

Apply to Pitch