Hundreds of entrepreneurs from all over the country are sharing their ideas and vision for the future at the ninth edition of the Startupfest, at Île Notre-Dame, south of Montreal.
The entrepreneurship industry is in full expansion around the world and Montreal is keeping up.
Young and seasoned entrepreneurs gathered Thursday to connect with some of the top industry leaders in the world, to pitch startup ideas to foreign investors and meet like-minded go-getters.
Those leaders included Shopify’s chief operating officer, Harley Finkelstein.
“I want more entrepreneurs to think about how they can build the biggest company in their space from here at home in Montreal or Canada,” Finkelstein said. “So, what I’m trying to do, as much as possible, is raise the level of ambition.”
For some, entrepreneurship seems risky, but Startupfest’s creator, Philippe Telio, thinks it is time to change mentalities.
“It’s really important that people realize that it is a career option. You don’t have to go and become an accountant or a lawyer to create a safe environment for yourself,” he said.
“Becoming an entrepreneur is possible, anybody can become an entrepreneur, from any background, any gender, any type, it’s really available to anybody,” he said.
The reality often shows otherwise, however.
In an analysis of Montreal’s startup ecosystem published this month, Bonjour Startup Montreal surveyed nearly 400 startup companies in the Montreal region.
Even though women’s presence in the startup world has boomed in the past few years, the survey reveals that 85 per cent of startups’ founders in Montreal are men.
“I think the tech world has a long way to go when it comes to equality, more and more women are participating but we’re still far from where we need to be,” said Chaity Tarafder, who co-founded a name-pronunciation startup called NameShouts.
Canada’s Small Business and Export Promotion Minister, Mary Ng, emphasized the urgent need to attract more female entrepreneurs.
“We know that if we do what we say — which is to add more women to the Canadian economy — we can add up to $150 billion to the Canadian economy by 2026,” Ng said.
With its $2 billion investment strategy, the federal government aims to double the amount of female entrepreneurs by 2025.
Startupfest wraps up on Friday afternoon.