MTL & The 2015 Startup Ecosystem Ranking

July 29, 2015 at 11:49 am

Compass created a report that ranks the top 20 Global startup ecosystems. MTL is on the list (boo-ya). Prior to the actual ranking, the 150 page report presents the following argument: 
(I) We’re moving from the Industrial Era to the Information Era  
(II) Technology startups are crucial for ushering in said era
(III) Strong ecosystems are necessary for the success of those tech startups
Therefore, we must create strong ecosystems, and one way to begin to do that is to measure them.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 10.18.53 AM

The 2015 Startup Ecosystem Ranking has been making the rounds online. This is especially the case for those of us in Montreal, as our city made the list for the first time. Yet, the ranking is situated within a 150 page report, and thus, there’s much more to the story. We dug in and did the dirty work so that you don’t have to. Read on for our summary, or find the full report here.  

So what exactly is this?
The 2015 Startup Ecosystem Ranking lists the top 20 startup ecosystems around the world. There are 5 major components: Performance, Funding, Talent, Market Reach, and Startup Experience. 

Who created it?
Compass, a provider of automated reporting and benchmarking software for startups and tech companies. The last edition of their ranking was published in 2012 and downloaded 100,000 times. They created the 2015 edition with more data and help from Crunchbase and 60+  more partners. 

Why’d they make it?
The answer is threefold – here we go:
(1) We’ve reached or are near to the switch from the Industrial Era to the Information Era:
“Humanity doesn’t see transitions between major economic eras very often, but when they come, every aspect of society gets reinvented: government, business, finance, education, medicine, energy, technology, art, and science all get upgraded. In fact, most historians would argue there have only been three such transitions before in human history: 1. Foraging to horticulture 2. Horticulture to agriculture 3. Agriculture to industrialization…the necessary tools and infrastructure are in place for the Information Age to burst into full bloom, moving beyond the confines of just the technology world to transform all aspects of society.” 

(2) Technology startups are crucial for making this switch:
While productivity has grown by 800% since 1965, companies are experiencing a 75% decline in ROA.  Why? Competitive intensity (so many more startups) information transparency (think Kayak) and declined consumption (due to the advent of Craigslist, Airbnb, etc). The old school solution is decreasing costs and increasing revenue. This is no longer enough. “The Information Era requires completely new ways of working, new culture, new tools, new economics, new everything. Who is figuring out how to adapt and succeed in this brave new world better than anyone else? Technology startups.” Why tech startups will succeed in making this switch: (1) Products are cheaper than ever to create, (2) multiple types investors now exist (angels, accelerators, micro-VCs, etc); (3) consumers adapt quicker because of an interconnected world and; (4) they’ve smashed what Eric Ries calls the Startup Dollhouse fallacy, the belief that startups are mini corporations and so can be run as such (they cannot).  

(3) Strong Ecosystems are necessary for technology startups to thrive:
It’s in a thriving ecosystem that entrepreneurs can find the perfect and rare combination of other like minded entrepreneurs, investors, engaged mentors, many different types of eager customers and culture, which then serves to perpetuate the whole combination. Thriving local ecosystems have a culture that runs so deep that “even the local gym offers free services in exchange for equity in your startup” (Silicon Valley). 

Montreal’s Spot:
As this is the first time that MTL is on the list, it’s a pretty big deal. It seems fair to say then, that the Montreal startup community is doing something right. We now have so many services available for those in the tech industry: from Startup Fest to District3, HackMcGill, MTL Girl Geeks, Notman House, Real Ventures and so many more. We’re proud to be a part of this community and can’t wait to work hard to bring us closer to the top of lists like this.  Here’s the report’s breakdown of the MTL ecosystem: 

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Other Interesting numbers:
On gender equality:  No ecosystem comes close to an equal share of male and female founders. 
On VC growth: “Total venture capital investment across the 20 ecosystems rose 95% from ’13 to ’14.”
On interconnectedness: 41% of all North American rounds have at least 1 investor from another ecosystem
On foreign employees: # of foreign employees within a startup is 29% on average for the 20 ecosystems
(but Silicon Valley is 45%)
On exit growth: Rose 78% annually from 2012 to 2014 (40% IPOs/60% Acquisitions) across the top 20
On the biggest falls: Vancouver, Toronto, Sydney, and Seattle.
They did all grow, just not as quickly as the others. Waterloo fell completely out of the ranking, “likely due to its proximity to Toronto.”

Potentially Super Important Caveat:
“Our index does not currently include startup ecosystems from China, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea. The language barrier slowed our ability to gather enough to include them in the ranking.” 

That’s it! Stay tuned for next week’s post on services and spots that MTL has to offer entrepreneurs.


Startup Festival Highlights

July 21, 2015 at 3:10 pm

The fifth edition of the International Startup Festival was one for the books. Check out our full Facebook album here, or scroll down for our highlight reel. Thanks to the Startup Fest team, and to all attendees for making it what it is: a representation of this awesome corner of the world, the MTL tech community.  

A countdown of the parts we loved most:

10. The Grandmother Prize and when they announced the wrong winner

The Grandmother's Prize Announcement

A Grandmother announcing the winner

They listened to hundreds of pitches over two days – who wouldn’t get mixed up? 

9. The Positioning panel with Martin-Luc Archambault, Daniel Robichaud, LP Maurice, Julien Smith and April Dunford

Martin-Luc Archambault, Daniel Robichaud, LP Maurice, Julien Smith and April Dunford at Startup Fest

Martin-Luc Archambault, Daniel Robichaud, LP Maurice, Julien Smith and April Dunford

“Your company name needs to be simple enough so you can tell someone what it is on the phone & won’t need to repeat it” @julien 

8. The Accelerator Festival

Sylvain Carle, GM at FounderFuel, speaking at Accelerator Fest

Sylvain Carle, GM at FounderFuel, at Accelerator Fest

The lesser known but just as awesome part of Startup Fest is Accelerator Fest, held on the day prior. All attendees work behind the scenes at accelerators, and they come together to talk about what they do: the benefits, the difficulties, ways to improve. The day’s moderators, including but not limited to Emma Williams (Program Manager at FF) and Sylvain Carle (General Manager of FF) led discussions on topics ranging from ways to incentivize mentors to whether it’s easier for a Canadian startup to raise a seed round in Canada or in the Valley. 

“You can’t fall in love through a computer screen. Mentorship in person is key.” – Overheard at Post Acceleration Panel 

7. Ta Pies

Ta Pies Sign that reads "Try the pies Hugh Jackman rated 'the best meat pies in the world'"

“The pies Hugh Jackman rated ‘the best meat pies in the world’”

Well, if they’re good enough for Hugh Jackman… (seriously though, the butter chicken pie is out of this world). 

6. Why you hate VC’s… but maybe shouldn’t panel with John Stokes, Angela Tran Kingyens, Damien Steel and VJ Anma

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John Stokes, Angela Tran Kingyens, Damien Steel and VJ Anma

“Reality: you give up downside protection as an entrepreneur. If you don’t want to, don’t ask for the money.” @damiensteel

5. Gall’s Law and every other cool lesson taught on this stage 

Gall's Law

Gall’s Law

“Go global because whatever your market is, it’s not big enough!” - @FredOru

4. The Art Project, put on by Raison d’Art

'Ceci n'est pas un oeil'

‘Ceci n’est pas un oeil’

Each artists eye was documented and displayed here

3. Tent Village and all of the teams we met there

Our Home for the Festival, the Accelerator Tent

Our Home for the Festival, the Accelerator Tent

2.. When Sharethebus won the 100K Prize 

Sharethebus cofounders Kyle and Wolf

Sharethebus cofounders Kyle and Wolf

Congratulations guys! If you’re interested in reading more, there’s a great article on the prize and the team here

1.  And, of course, the winners of the FounderFuel Prize, a guaranteed spot in our upcoming cohort: Unito.

Unito team, the winners of the FounderFuel Prize

Unito team, the winners of the FounderFuel Prize

A special mention to our four finalists: Chic and Storeedoc. 

Thanks for the good times! See you next year. 

- Ella


Introducing Our Startup Fest Prize Finalists!

July 17, 2015 at 6:12 pm

We believe in working as hard as we play and Startup Fest is no excuse. 

The FounderFuel team has been perusing The International Startup Festival to find an all star startup to join our Fall 2015 cohort. Teams have pitched us, impressed us, and stayed up all night putting decks together to convince us. After three days of hearing some great ideas and deliberating amongst the investment team, we think we’ve found the best of the best.

The winner is…

Unito! A tool for connecting business applications, Unito allows different users with different apps to synchronize their projects, tasks and conversations. Having just taken first place in their Founder Insitute cohort, we can’t wait to take part in the future growth of this startup. 

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 3.05.32 PM

Our four other finalists were Chic Marie, Flyta, and Storeedoc. The decision was so difficult that we’ve invited the finalists for a second round of interviews! Who knows, you might just see some of them at our next Demo Day.

Thanks to all others who expressed interest in our prize. Feel free to keep us updated on the progress of your startup by reaching out to us at 

Now onto the play part…see you at the afterparty!! 

-The FounderFuel Crew 

Startup Fest and the #FFStartupFest Prize

July 16, 2015 at 5:24 pm


We’re hanging out at the International Startup Festival in the beautiful Montreal summer sun. As we catch up with old friends, attend talks and take in the awesomeness that is #startupfest, we’re also on a mission. 

We’re looking for a startup to be a part of our next cohort. 

By pitching your startup to us, you could skip the entire interview process and get awesome PR at the festival. We’ve met some pretty amazing teams working on some really great products. That said, we’d love to hear more. You can find the FounderFuel and Real Ventures team around the festival wearing FF lanyards, or you can follow our Twitter for live updates on specific team members’ locations. We’ll be making a final decision by tomorrow midday, and announcing the winner in the late afternoon. 

So we welcome you to come find us (or tweet at us so that we can come find you!) and let us know what you’re working on. 

Cant wait to meet you! 


July 14, 2015 at 1:57 pm

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Are you building a startup? Would you benefit from 50-100K + 400K in perks? How about access to world class mentorship and the team behind Canada’s most active seed stage investment fund? 

Then read on, friend. We have good news for you. 

Find these faces at Startupfest, deliver the ultimate pitch to them, and win yourself a neat little spot in FounderFuel’s Fall 2015 program. Skip the entire interview process, get a bunch of PR as the winner of the #FFStartupFest, and begin the acceleration process in less than two months. 

Aside from our time slot in the Accelerator Tent from 245PM to 345PM on Thursday, you can find our team wandering around the festival wearing FF lanyards. 

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If you follow our Twitter account, you’ll get live updates on where we are and when. If you spot a teammate, pitched to one, or are looking for one of us to pitch to, feel free to tweet at us using our hashtag (#FFStartupFest). 

Can’t wait to meet you! 
The FF Crew 


How to Win a Spot in FounderFuel Fall 2015

July 8, 2015 at 11:20 am

Do you want one last chance to be a part of the #FFMob? Pitch to FounderFuel at International Startup Fest

From Wednesday July 15th to Saturday July 18th, we’re excited to be attending the part event, part conference and part pitch contest. We’re looking most forward to hearing your pitches and to be choosing one last startup to be a part of our Fall 2015 cohort. The FounderFuel and Real Ventures team will be available to hear your pitches from 2:45PM to 3:45PM on Thursday, July 16th. You can find us at the BDC tent in the Tent Village. 

If you can’t pitch to us then, find the following faces at another time hanging out in the Accelerator Lounge, at networking sessions or watching keynotes. We’ll be wearing FF lanyards so that you can spot us! 

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 10.42.32 AM   Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 10.42.24 AM  Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 10.42.38 AM  Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 10.42.53 AM  Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 10.43.02 AM  Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 10.43.11 AM Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 10.43.21 AM   Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 10.43.29 AM  Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 10.43.36 AM

Make sure to catch us on Wednesday the 15th or Thursday the 16th, as we’ll be announcing the winner on stage on Friday the 17th. 

So, if you’d like to skip the entire interview process, and believe that your startup has what it takes, come convince us!

We can’t wait to hear what you’re building.
See you soon! 

On Running a Startup Accelerator

July 6, 2015 at 11:22 am

[This post first appeared on Medium]

About a year ago, I announced that I was leaving Twitter in San Francisco to move (back) to Montréal, where I would manage FounderFuel, a startup accelerator. This is a fantastic opportunity for me to continue working with ecosystems, support innovation, crazy creativity, brilliant hackers… 

A Brief History of FounderFuel

FounderFuel was launched in 2011 and modeled after what has now become the classic seed accelerator formula, pioneered by YCombinator and TechStars. The team at Real Ventures, seeing a need to help bring new startups to the next level, invested in the creation (and operations) of the program. 

Led by Ian Jeffrey until the Spring 2014 cohort (#5) it has a well established program, and partners, mentors and alumni network. And a great Demo Day tradition, which is as much a party and a celebration of the startup community as a pitch event. The quality of the pitches is one thing FounderFuel is recognized for. You can check it out yourself on the FF Vimeo page.

Taking Care of Business (and Working Overtime) 

When I joined last summer, I did not want to fix what was not broken. The one simple changes we made were the addition of a specific deal for hardware startups (100K for 9% instead of the standard 50K for 6%). My plan was to go thru a first cohort with the program as is, with a specific focus on the alumni network of co-founders, partners (sponsors) and mentors (in that specific order).

For me the co-founders who have been thru the program in the past are one of our greatest asset. “People first” sums up my philosophy (for founders, mentors and partners). Still working on aligning more resources for alumnis, that’s still a big goal of mine for 2015. Next up is leveling up our mentor network, putting in place better tools to track mentor/founders interactions (and outcomes).

The other tweak I had for the program was to make sure everyone understood really well that this was a 12 x 1 week program, not a big monolithic 3 months stretch… Teams establish weekly goals and we review them during our status update every Thursday. 1 to 3 goals, to be done each week. Helps with focus. Real startups ship.

Focus (Seeing the Forest and the Trees) 

Even if I had been mentoring since the early days in 2011, it was not until I worked full time as GM that I fully understood why there was so much focus on the pitch. I knew communication was key for startup success, but it wasn’t until I got working with John Stokes (partner at Real and catalyst to FounderFuel) on crafting the pitches with startups that I realized it was literally the blueprint of your business. A bad pitch is simply the outcome of a bad (or badly understood) business.

In the first weeks, we focus on 3 things: go to market strategy, long term value proposition and competitive landscape. Then with those in minds we tirelessly work with the founders to craft/sharpen/practice their pitch. It is often an identity crisis, at least for many co-founders. You know the old adage: diamonds are created thru pressure…

Learning on the Job (One Cohort at a Time) 

One of my biggest surprise was how much individual attention each team requires. I had this perception that “as a group” was a great way to move everyone forward, and it is, but it’s not enough. My role in coaching co-founders during our status update is quite often “chief unstucker”. What’s top of mind, what’s bugging you, what’s blocking you? Let’s find people, ideas, hacks, to get you out of that rut. Every team gets to schedule time directly with a few mentors, plus office hours every week with partners at Real Venture and experts made available for free from our sponsors.

One of my initial analysis, even before joining, after discussing at length with Ian who was just leaving and Emma Williams, program manager extraordinaire, was that there was a challenge with the process of running a program with fixed dates. I felt that meeting great entrepreneurs all the time and only having two short windows in a year to get them in the program was a bug of this system. I am now of a different opinion, I see how valuable it is to have the timing constraint both as a forcing function for teams and as a filter mechanism for us running the program. If we can’t come up together with clear goals to accomplish during the program, ie. significant progress, we should not work together, at least not now. It makes no sense in forcing a square peg in a round hole…

Questions, Questions (Where Do We Go from Here)

There are still a few open questions for me. I do feel we need to develop a “post accelerator” program (or process) to better help our founders. We also need to come up with better metrics, ideally standardized in the industry, to assess how well we are accomplishing our mission of accelerating success for startups.

There is also the challenge of right-sizing startups in a fast evolving market. I have been thinking about a FounderFuel X program, for more experience founders or repeat entrepreneurs. With more and more startups applying, 250 per cohort on average, and at a later stage, more traction and more maturity, the level of a FounderFuel startup in the Spring 2015 cohort is not the same as one from 2011. The bar keeps getting raised, startups joining our program are further along, raise more money, sooner, even during the program. Those coming in with the existing traction before FF of course get out of the program even more amplified. That’s the definition of acceleration.

We are also in a special category, since the accelerator was created from a fund, and not the other way around (as we see more and more these days). It was also built to support the Montréal and broader Canadian startup ecosystem from the get go, in parallel with the Notman House project and involvement in many events: Accelerate Montreal and Startup Festival being two major ones out of hundreds now happening in Montréal’s startup scene.

Collaboration (Lets Think This Through Together)

If you are interested in exploring some of these questions and sharing some of your own lessons learned, with your accelerator program, please do join us July 15th for a one day event that I helped designed to be an event I would travel across the world to attend, the Accelerator Festival.

Next year will mark the 5th anniversary of our accelerator. If you have thoughts on what works, what doesn’t, specifically at FounderFuel or at any other accelerator, I would love to read your insights. We are a startup ourselves, still learning, still working on product/market fit, still growing, still refining our core metrics. We don’t have a model with an exit strategy though, so I guess we will have to keep riding this rocket for the foreseeable future. It’s exhilarating and that’s how I like it!

-Sylvain Carle 

Thank You!

July 2, 2015 at 3:22 pm

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 3.17.46 PM

A quick thanks to all who’ve applied for Fall 2015! It should go without saying that this is the one of the most important times for us – we get to take a step back to see what’s being worked on and innovated. Ultimately, we’re afforded the opportunity to begin supporting amazing startups and teams.

We’re now heads down, reviewing hundreds of applications.

If all goes well, here’s a quick sketch of your next month: 
- By the end of the week you’ll be contacted for a first interview 
- Said interview will take place between July 6th and July 14th 
- You’ll then be notified of a second interview date
- This will then take place between July 20th and August 3rd
- An offer letter will then be in your inbox by the end of the first week of August
- At this point you might celebrate a little (but hey, up to you) 

As always, feel free to ping us at with any questions. 

Looking forward to meeting you!

12 Hours Left!

June 30, 2015 at 10:40 am

The time is now!! 

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Applications close tonight at 1159PM EST. Naturally, we get the majority of our applications today – we hope to see yours in the pile! 

A last minute reminder of what we require from all applicants:
- A team of two or more: no single founders
- At least one technical co-founder
- Ability to work full-time on the business
- Willingness to be in Montreal for the full 12 weeks of the program

Don’t forget: if you have applied, are based in Quebec City, and still have questions about FounderFuel, you can sign up for office hours at Le Camp for this Friday, July 3rd. Sign up for office hours here

Apply, apply, apply and see you soon! 

One Week Left to Apply

June 22, 2015 at 1:38 pm

Our Fall 2015 application deadline is fast approaching…

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Here’s a quick reminder of what we’re looking for:
- a team of two or more: no single founders
- at least one technical co-founder
- full-time focus on the business
- Montreal-based teams for the full 12 weeks of the program

Here’s what you’ve got to lose by not applying:
- $50K – $100K for 6%-9% equity on Day 1 of the program
- $150K in convertible debt for “Venture Ready” companies at Demo Day  
- $150K of exclusive discounts on services you probably already use
- 3 months of free office space in the Valley for select companies
- 120 startup veteran Mentors: Serial Entrepreneurs, Investors and Senior Execs
- 1K+ people at Demo Day, the largest event of its kind in North America
- Read more of what our Alumni have to say here.

If you’d like to pick our brains in person before hitting send, sign up for your city’s office hours here.

If you’re ready to take the plunge, apply today

Think your team has what it takes?