Failure might be celebrated in the goliath startup community of Silicon Valley, but as Rami Sayar explained to me this morning, its more of a stigma in the city of Montreal. Together with a few friends he’s out to change that with FailCamp, a five-hour event happening this Saturday at Busbud‘s office space.
“It’s about hearing your stories and the lessons that you’ve learnt from them, and its also meant to reinforce to you that failing is the key to learning,” said Sayar. “It’s not really a defeat. It’s an opportunity to succeed later on. It’s really about taking the fear away from failing.”
The event, coorganized by Sayar, Francis Gosselin and Gabrielle Madé. It will feature short talks by Cynthia Savard (design and web), JS Cournoyer and LP Maurice (startups), Claude Theoret (physics and science), Marc Gagne (technology) and Mélanie Joly (policy and public life). Three of the talks will be in french while two will be in english. Meanwhile, Jevto Dedijer and Michel Nadeau of FailWatching will present “Minutes of Failing” in between sessions, talking about the failures of some well-known brands before they became successful. FailWatching is a french language site that essentially tracks brands that fail and how they do after.
It’s a funny preoccupation the tech world seems to have with failure. Sometimes it become a bit much for me, but then I remind myself that one doesn’t go far without a bit of optimism or flexible thinking. I told Sayar that when we’re children, particularly in sports and academia, winning and success is emphasized heavily, at least for many children. Suddenly as adults we value failing as if its a cool brand. Shouldn’t we be valuing success instead? Should we take it easy a bit on the whole ‘failing’ thing?
“I don’t believe that,” Sayar told me. “This mantra about ‘its okay to fail’ is more true in San Francisco than Quebec and it’s simply because the startup ecosystem in Quebec is not as well-developed. There, failing is considered the norm. Meanwhile in Quebec people still see failure as an anomaly, and the stories aren’t shared at all.”
He offered that there’s been plenty of epic failures in Quebec, but no one’s heard of them. Entrepreneurs in this province try and hide their failures more than in other places. Maybe now with the event they’ll be more willing to share their stories.
Unfortunately, the organizers sold out all their tickets in seven minutes, so anyone interested might have to wait for a future event, if they choose to extend it. They originally sold out at 140 tickets, released another 40 a few nights ago and still have about 200 people on the waiting list. It turns out Quebecer’s are really interested in this “stigma” subject, and are eager to hear what the speakers have to say.