Toronto-based tech festival Elevate has acquired Startup Open House, the biggest tech community open house in Canada. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“The Elevate team will bring Startup Open House to the next level.”
– LP Maurice
Running since 2013, Startup Open House was founded by a group of Canadian tech entrepreneurs and community members, operating events in seven cities across Canada, from Quebec City to Vancouver. In those cities, startups and scaleups open their doors to the public for one night each year, providing a behind the scenes look at the local tech community.
At its 2018 events, Startup Open House had more than 500 startups open their offices to more than 10,000 participants. Past companies to invite tech enthusiasts inside their offices include Busbud, Careteam, Shopify, Notman House, WeWork, Wattpad, OneEleven, and Wealthsimple, among others.
“Startup Open House was built by the Canadian tech community for the community,” LP Maurice, co-founder of Startup Open House and CEO and co-founder of Busbud told BetaKit.
Maurice noted that the events started as a way to attract talent to startups, by allowing them to see the inner workings of Canadian tech companies. But with Startup Open House becoming something that was held in seven different cities, sometimes on the same night, he explained that it had became a challenge for the grassroots team to coordinate and organize.
“Really, to take it to the next level, with the growth of the startup community, we thought that the best thing would be to have someone with a permanent team, with the ability to organize large events, and obviously, Elevate has proven this with the Elevate conference,” Maurice said. “So we thought that [Elevate] would be a perfect partner to kind of scale this up.”
As part of the acquisition Elevate will now operate Startup Open House. The Canadian non-profit organization, led by Razor Suleman, its CEO and co-founder, hopes to expand the open house event “in line with the festival’s mission to promote innovation in the tech ecosystem across Canada.” Speaking with BetaKit, Suleman noted that the acquisition will also help the tech festival meet its strategic goals of building a talent marketplace and enhancing the employer brand of the local tech sector.
“[Startup Open House] is an incredible organization that was started in Montreal seven years ago by a group of founders who are really trying to solve the same challenges as [Elevate],” Suleman told BetaKit. “How do we democratize the opportunities in the ecosystem.”
“[Startup Open House] is even more relevant now, because there’s a talent challenge across Canada for startups.”
“The [Startup Open House] founders felt that they were at a point where they had done the best they could: 10,000 people, 500 startups,” Suleman added. “But they were really excited to partner with Elevate so that we can scale their amazing creation and really take it to the next level.”
Suleman also noted that the three-year plan for Startup Open House is to have the event in every major city in Canada. For this year, the open house event in Toronto will take place during Elevate on September 26, with other events across Canada taking place in October (those looking for registration information can find it here).
Elevate will now oversee these events while continuing to lean on Startup Open House’s large volunteer network to run the regional events. The organization’s founding team, consisting of Maurice, Satish Kanwar, the VP and general manager of channels at Shopify, Highline BETA COO, Lauren Robinson, and Bus.com COO, Gabriel Sundaram, will now take on an advisory role for the events.
Maurice, who told BetaKit that Busbud has held an open house at its office every year of Startup Open House, said he’s seen how useful it can be, noting that almost every year the company has hired at least one person from the event.
“It’s sort of proven its ability to connect people and startups,” he said. “Especially now, several years later, I think [Startup Open House] is even more relevant now, because there’s a talent challenge across Canada for startups. We’ve actually been more relevant than when we started initially.”
The third edition of Elevate is set to take place in September, headlined by former US First Lady Michelle Obama. Last year’s event drew in more than 10,000 guests and included speakers like former US Vice President Al Gore and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt. This year, Suleman noted that Elevate is expecting 20,000 attendees at the tech festival. Elevate will also be offering two complimentary startup festival passes to startups, scaleups, and innovative organizations that register for the Toronto Startup Open House by August 31st.
Disclosure: BetaKit is a current Elevate media partner and former Startup Open House partner.