Week 2 Talks

September 21, 2015 at 11:13 am

Last week we were visited by Jean-Nicolas Delage from Fasken Martineau and Matt Harrison from BDO. Jean-Nicolas discussed how to create value while avoiding disruption, and Matt spoke about crowdfunding, SR&ED, cross-border tax and more. 

Find their slides below and enjoy! Let us know at if you have any questions or would like to get in touch with Jean-Nicolas or Matt.


– The FounderFuel Crew 

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Fall 2015 Week 2

September 18, 2015 at 1:32 pm

A few months ago, a mentor expressed concern over the health of the teams going through the program. Although it’s no secret that accelerators push founders to put their all into accomplishing a lot in a short amount of time – that’s the point – we knew we had to do something. Health and hard work need not be mutually exclusive. So, as we’ve previously mentioned, we’re now more actively placing an emphasis on health. 

That’s why Lindsay Davis, a Wellness Coach, stopped by this week to speak to the teams. She discussed how to hack your health: the best apps to track what you eat and how you workout, the link between diet and memory, how walking meetings boost creativity by 60%, and much more. To learn more about Lindsay, you can check out her site

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And just in time, our first Guru shipment arrived…

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56 cases of Guru, to be exact…

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Guru is one of our newest sponsors, on a mission to provide energy without compromising health. You can check out the health benefits here

This week also saw visits from Nicole Leblanc at BDC, Matthew Harrison from BDO and Jean-Nicolas Delage and Christian Jacques from Fasken Martineau. We’ll be posting their presentations next week. 

And we hosted our first joint dinner with Innocité

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Finally, our program manager, Emma Williams, was invited to speak at a McGill University Alumni Network event. She discussed how to build out a network as an entrepreneur. 

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Safe to say it’s been a busy week! Thanks to all of our speakers, sponsors and teams! Stay tuned for next week, when we’ll be posting the speakers’ presentations. 

Keep Crankin’
– The FounderFuel Crew 

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Alumni Updates: Crew

September 16, 2015 at 11:46 am


The idea behind Crew is simple: submit your dream mobile app or website, receive an automatic budget recommendation and get matched with handpicked professionals that bring that dream to life. No banks, no lawyers – just your idea and the Crew platform. 

Their most recent success story is Companion, an app that allows friends to virtually walk each other home at night. After being featured in Business Insider, they received so many signups so quickly that they had to post this:

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Companion joins a long list of Crew’s successes. From Eventbrite to Caribu to Designlab, Crew is bringing hugely disruptive projects to life.  

This momentum is the product of a lot of hard work; to market Crew, the team invests a significant amount of brain space on side projects. In fact, they’ve discussed how building Unsplash – free and beautiful high-res stick photos – saved their company. And it doesn’t stop there – they’ve built moodboard (a tool for making shareable moodboards), Coffee & Power (a list of international coffee shops with Wi-Fi and great coffee), How Much to Make an App (a tool to calculate the cost of your idea), How Much Does a Website Cost (you get the point), and more. Check out the full list here. Every single project is clean and beautiful. 

By Skyler Smith, Via Unsplash

By Skyler Smith, Via Unsplash

From their humble beginnings here at FounderFuel, they’ve succeeded in building a company that has doubled twice in the last year, and that facilitates over $1.5 million in new projects every month. They recently raised a $10 Million round led by Accomplice (formerly Atlas Venture) and included investments from iNovia Capital, Real Ventures, Boldstart Venture Capital, BDC Capital, AngelList, Launch Capital, and LDV Capital.

The best part of this story? You could be a part of it. As you could imagine, they’re looking to grow. They’re seeking Front-end Developers, PHP and/or Rails Developers, Designers, Happiness Concierges, Community Ambassadors, Growers and more


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Networks: The Real Ventures Story

September 14, 2015 at 10:47 am

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‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.’

I’m sure you’ve heard that one before. And I’m sure at one point or another you’ve grimaced when hearing it. I know I have.

Full disclosure: I’ve never been that super successful networker whose Rolodex (get with the times, I know) grows faster than the speed of light. In fact, it’s usually quite the opposite. I like to hide during most networking events. A perfect example of this is during my first FounderFuel Demo Day; I spent the cocktail hour hanging out outside with the caterer, instead of inside mingling with our 800+ guests. However, what I have come to realize is the sheer importance of the network and that even when it’s uncomfortable, it’s important that you get out there, meet people and form connections. This is how you’ll build your company, grow your team and raise money. Needless to say I no longer hide outside with the caterer. 

The crowd that I used to hide from. Photo courtesy of @evablue

Real Ventures
is a prime example of building a company from networks. Here are just a few snippets of the Real Ventures story.

Let’s start with John Stokes, a pillar of the Real Ventures team. We’ll save the first part of his story for another article, and fast-forward to when John moved to Montreal. He followed his not-yet wife (at the time), who was a native Montrealer back to her hometown. He was looking for connections in the business world and had been told that Alan MacIntosh was the man to talk to. But he didn’t have an in. So he made one up (his words of advice to everyone out there: “everyone has a network, its just about finding ways to reduce the degrees of separation to connect with who you want — no matter how tenuous!”. He called up Alan and said that X had recommended he reach out. Thankfully, Alan bought it (years later the truth came out and it’s something that everyone can laugh about now). JS Cournoyer came into the mix when a fellow Brit reached out to John to have lunch (because they were both British so logically they should hang out) and he suggested John connect with JS. Throw in a few more chance meetings and personal network stories and Montreal Startup (now Real Ventures) came to be.

Sam Haffar, who is now a Principal at Real Ventures, is the prime example of putting yourself out there to build a new network from scratch. When him and his wife relocated to Montreal from San Francisco, Sam went from being very well connected in one start-up community to knowing no one in another. His solution? Doing some research online he found Notman House and just strolled in one day. All of a sudden, Sam became a fixture at Notman and worked very closely with the Spring 2014 FounderFuel Cohort. The Real Ventures team quickly took notice of this intelligent and business savvy guy straight out of the Valley. He was volunteering his time to work with anyone and everyone — we knew we needed to find a place for him on our team. The rest is history! 

Sam, in his early Mentoring days, introducing Vanhawks on stage at Demo Day. Photo courtesy of @evablue

Stephen Osmond, our accountant, joined Real Ventures thanks to the network of his 2 year old son. Him, his wife and his children were invited to a kid’s birthday party being thrown by his wife’s best friend. John Stokes was also invited with his wife and daughter. Stephen, a British citizen who had — also, coincidentally — married a Montrealer, was introduced to a fellow Brit at the party (because you know, they have something in common). They got to talking, Stephen mentioned he was looking for work in the finance field and John knew he could help. We were desperately on the hunt for a talented finance guy at Real Ventures and Stephen ended up being the perfect fit.

Alex Shee was lawyering it up for Norton Rose Fulbright in Quebec City when one of his best friends (who had also hired him as his lawyer) told him about this Accelerator program he’d just joined in Montreal. The wheels started turning in Alex’s mind and he thought, maybe it’s time to make the jump into the start-up world. Having just lost our Analyst (he left to become CEO of a new stealth start-up) we were on the hunt for someone new. Alex is now our rockstar Analyst who keeps the office smiling.

And these are just a few of our stories. Because we’ve seen firsthand how important the power of networks are we make it our #1 focus to help founders build out their own networks. This is one of the ways we help them succeed.

Networks — real, forced, fake, British, or even one belonging to a 2 year old — are necessary. Learn from me and don’t hang out with the caterer at your next 800+ person event. Chat with someone new — they’re probably looking to expand their network too.

Alumni Updates: Sharethebus

September 11, 2015 at 11:57 am

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Sharethebus is on a roll. 

After graduating from FounderFuel’s Spring 2015 cohort, they’ve seen huge success and are just getting started. 

Just a few months after graduation, the team – along with 11 other startups – were chosen to compete for the Best Pitch Prize at the International Startup Festival. They won, taking home the $100, 000 investment prize to show for it. 

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Since then, they’ve organized trips to conferences, concerts, festivals and everywhere else that folks have needed to go. They’ve even brought goodies to passengers on extra hot days. 

Up next is growing the team. They’re looking for a detail-oriented Operations and Account Manager to play an integral role in building the future of group travel. Extra points, I’ve been told, if you’re *very* into music. You can read on about the position and apply here.

If you’d like to join a trip or organize one of your own, be sure to check out their site


Fall 2015 Kickoff

September 9, 2015 at 3:59 pm

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We’ve kicked off the first week of Fall 2015! 

The startups are promising, Notman house is sweaty, and we enjoyed getting to know the teams at our kickoff drinks at Benelux last night. Noah and Matt – the gentlemen with all of the answers here at Notman – have given tours, and Emma and Sylvain have briefed everyone on the next 12 weeks. 

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Up next are visits from Fasken MartineauBDC and BDO. Also looking forward to mixing and mingling with InnoCité‘s inaugural cohort. 

Cheers to what’s to come! 
– The FounderFuel Crew 


September 2, 2015 at 10:30 am

Innocite logo

We are excited to announce our involvement in InnoCité, Canada’s first smart city accelerator! 

InnoCité has been working out of our offices in Notman House this summer, preparing for its first ever cohort. Their program kicked off this week, with the mission of bringing together the top entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs passionate about developing a smart city. They have a complete ecosystem build out, including partners, customers and mentors whose interests and expertise align with the development of a smart city.  

As the FounderFuel program begins next week, we will be running alongside InnoCité, and are looking forward to an even more awesome environment here at Notman, as well as towards having teams from both accelerators work together. 

Stay tuned for news on InnoCité’s progress, its startups and Demo Day. 

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FounderFuel + Guru

August 31, 2015 at 11:48 am

There’s a dark side to entrepreneurship that’s often overlooked: a lack of emphasis placed on health.

We want to address this issue head on, so we’ll be working with a nutritionist during the Fall 2015 cohort (8 days away!) to ensure that our teams are taking care of their health as much as their startup. We’re also very excited to announce a new partnership with the team at Guru, who believe that energy should not come at the expense of health. Their energy drink is crafted with natural and organic ingredients. 


Four beneficial Guru ingredients and their health properties: 

Also known as purple coneflower, it is a popular herb present in western herbal medicine. Echinacea is an immune system stimulant often used during the first signs of a cold or flu. Thank you purple friend.

Ginseng is a popular herb that has been used throughout history as an energy and libido boost, however additional benefits of taking ginseng include memory improvement and weight loss.

Guarana is a creeping shrub native to the Amazon.
It contains twice as much caffeine as coffee and stimulates the heart and central nervous system. It’s also purported to increase mental alertness, long-term memory and stamina.

Green Tea Leaves
It’s known as a powerful anti-oxidant and has a beneficial effect against age-related degenerative diseases. We explained earlier on this blog how  natural occurring caffeine is extracted for a good 100 mg of energy.

See you soon! 
– The FounderFuel Crew 

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Mentor 101

August 28, 2015 at 10:26 am

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As we rev up for our new cohort, we’re focusing on rebooting our highly valued mentor network. Last night we hosted our first ever Mentor 101, where we discussed the details of the program and how to be an invaluable resource to the teams. Next up, we’ll be posting our fresh Mentor Manifesto, which outlines all expectations and perks. Stay tuned. :) 

As always, if you’d like to be a mentor for future cohorts, reach out to us at

Don’t forget to check out our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages to stay up to date on what’s going on here at FF.

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See you soon!
– The FounderFuel Crew 

Mentor Network reboot

August 25, 2015 at 4:38 pm

FounderFuel 116

Making FounderFuel better is an iterative process. When I started thinking about running an accelerator last summer, I came up with top priorities both in the short and mid-term. This was done by talking to a lot of people inside and outside of FounderFuel. Of course Ian and Emma had a lot of great insights to share. John finally got me thinking right about the pitch as the blueprint. It seemed to me that the  the program, except for a few improvements, was already in good shape. The real work would be with people. I tweeted at the time:

“Starting Friday I will obsess about Founders, Funders & Mentors. Will apply everything I learned about networks to the accelerator space…”

I started my journey by focusing on founders. My first priority was to better understand their needs at the early stage. All of the time spent understanding and choosing great founders directly affects the quality of your Alumni Network. Because of this, the Alumni Network is one of the greatest assets that an accelerator can have after running for more than a couple of years. As time goes by, this network grows and renews organically. Just like a good gardener, you plant good seeds by working with excellent founders, and you take care of those seeds by putting enough time and energy into working with them. After a while, your garden – your network of founders and alumni – becomes almost self sustainable.

After a first year, I feel I have a better grasp of what we can do better, how to improve the Alumni network for all. Still a lot of work to do, but I am confident about it.

I have been a founder myself for more than a decade and I have worked with founders as an advisor/mentor for at least another 5 years. I understand the dynamics involved in building a product, a team and a market, all at the same time. I also know that the network that you build around yourself is key to your success (and survival).

The next step for me was rethinking the mentor network. This was harder. Hard because I “inherited” FounderFuel; there was a legacy there that I needed to understand better. I did not want to be that guy that changes everything when starting in a new role. But I felt our mentor network needed a refresh. Working with Emma, we reviewed exit interviews from previous years, and I took a full year (2 cohorts) to better understand mentor dynamics with founders. I took note of what works well, what doesn’t work so well, what could be easy to fix and what would definitively wouldn’t be.

Managing a mentor group is not easy, and it’s not just “functional” –  it involves a lot of marketing and PR too. I did not feel I would improve our network just by growing it; it needed a major overhaul. I wanted this to be an objective process, as much as possible (we don’t have so much hard data on mentors/founders interactions). Starting right after Demo Day we began meeting with Founders and employees from Alumni companies to get feedback on Mentors in order to narrow the list. We looked at people who work the closest with founders, provide the most value, have been the most responsive, have attended the most events, and have worked with the most companies. Then we had to make some tough decisions.

I started by looking at the full list of the 175+ mentors who had registered since the beginning of FF in 2011. Then I started a fresh new list, with these goals in mind:

 * At least half (if not more) of the network should be “peer mentors”, co-founders with a track record of building startups, shipping product, developing markets and fundraising.

 * We needed more mavens, inter-connectors. We have a really close-knit and dense local network, but startups also need ways to get into new geographies and markets.

 * We needed more diversity. After a while, it did seem like our mentor network was an old boys club. I had in mind the complete opposite.

 * Mentor availability is not fixed. Time goes by, the ups and downs of business and family might make your involvement different after a while. That’s perfectly fine. We will now use two years “soft commitment” to being a mentor. I will reach out to everyone with a short questionnaire on mentoring.

 * We have too many mentors, I want to bring down the list to about 100. This means not everyone will be renewed. This is not an automatic process, it will be highly manual (and hopefully does not feel subjective).

Rebooting will take time.This means that the mentor network will be a bit unstable and wonky for a couple of months. To alleviate this, we will be hosting “mentor 101” sessions  for all newly onboarded Mentors. We will also be hosting two new events: a local “startup mentor meetup” to support the growing community of mentors inside and outside of FounderFuel, and a series of workshops by and for mentors (call this mentor-peer-mentoring if you will).

Another consequence of the reboot is that our site and mailing list will be reworked. While we gather data from mentors, we will not have an external list. We will, however, keep an internal mentor list available to our Fall cohort.  This will take us at least a couple of weeks, while we discuss with everyone in our existing mentor network.

We would not be able to do this without you. Our goal is to work more closely with our mentors and to meet most of them in person (or over skype/hangout). With almost 200 mentors, this is a daunting (yet important) task. We expect to complete this process by the end of 2015. We are also putting a few systems in place to complement the organic matchmaking we have been using. Feedback – both from and about mentors – is crucial for us.We have a lot to learn. Feel free to write me (sylvain at founderfuel dot com) or Emma (emma at founderfuel dot com) with comments and questions.

– Sylvain Carle, GM @ FounderFuel

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