Notman House gets spooky to support local nonprofits

Barbie and Ken, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and a host of demons, ghouls, and other interesting characters came together on Saturday night at the first annual Notman House Halloween Ball in Montreal. The startup hub’s goal for the evening was to raise funds to support non-profit startups in their space, and also make repairs on this integral building — and heart of the Montreal startup scene.

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“We’re going to be opening an office that’s dedicated to startups in the community that are not-for-profits who can’t afford to rent space themselves, and giving it away on a six-month basis, in order to give back to the community,” said Emma Williams, director of Notman House (and peacock for the evening).

With a full house of more than 400 young entrepreneurs, business folks, and creatives in attendance, the night was certainly a successful kickoff event for the Young Founders Circle, a new initiative launched by Notman House to bridge the gap between the startup, business, and creative communities in Montreal.

“We really see that entrepreneurship is the future of the economy in this city and we wanted to bring all young people together — 25 to 35 years old — to help grow and develop entrepreneurship in Montreal,” said Williams. “We wanted to target the people who can donate their time and their passion to growing great startups in this city.”

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The event raised a total of $20,000, which will be split evenly between repairs and sponsoring their new non-profit startup space.

Attendees we spoke with said they were happy to pay the $100 ticket price, as they felt it was money well spent. “The reason I came to this party is because I think it’s a $100 donation for a good cause — helping the startup community indirectly,” said cat-for-the-night Lucy Zheng. “I like Montreal’s startup community because it’s vibrant: it’s got a lot of young people, a lot of energy, a lot of smart people… and everybody here has a drink.”

Henri Machalani, startup founder and developer, echoed Zheng’s sentiments about supporting Notman house and loving the Montreal startup scene.

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“It’s a small thriving community that’s very tight,” Machalani said. “There are a lot of smart people in Montreal, rent is cheap, and it’s a great place to explore product ideas because it’s somewhere you can test products fairly cheaply in contrast to San Francisco or Seattle. With the Canadian dollar being low, it’s also great for American investments.”

The night also featured a costume contest, with two airline tickets to San Francisco, sponsored by Air Canada, going to one winning man and one winning woman. There ended up being a draw between Barbie and Ken (still in their packaging, and complete with disco lights) and “Brexit” (one half of the couple donning Union Jacks, the other EU flags), so one ticket was split between them.

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“We want to turn this into an event that everyone needs to come to year after year,” said Williams. The Young Founders Circle plan to hold other events throughout 2017, including workshops and networking events, and culminating with what will certainly be another highly-anticipated Halloween Ball.

Photo credit Toshimi Muniz Losos

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Lauren Jane Heller

Lauren Jane Heller

Lauren Jane Heller is passionate writer and storyteller. With a background in documentary film and journalism, she has now found her niche writing for and about the continually evolving world of technology.