Startup Train returns as Startupfest 2023 announces over $300,000 in prizes

Attendees from the GTA can board the Startup Train to get to the Montréal festival.

Startupfest, a celebration of startups in Montréal, has announced the return of its train service, Startup Train, as well as over $300,000 in prizes.

Taking place from July 12 to July 14, Startupfest has revealed several major attractions this year, including investment prizes for startups and an express train for attendees to get to the event from the Toronto area.

In partnership with Toronto-based law firm Fasken, Startupfest is bringing Startup Train back this year, so attendees coming from the Greater Toronto Area can board a direct train to Montréal alongside other corporate staffers, mentors, investors, and founders.

Startup Train passengers will depart from Union Station in Toronto on July 11, the day before the event. They will embark on five to six hours of travelling, arriving at Gare Centrale in Montréal.

There are also several opportunities for entrepreneurs attending StartupFest to secure funding.

Here are the cash prizes and awards up for grabs at StartupFest this year.

Best of the Fest

Worth $100,000, the Best of the Fest investment prize is open to all startups in attendance, with no pre-registration required.

Startups will have until 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 13 to deliver their pitch to the investor judges. The $100,000 contribution is an investment from up to 10 angel investors.

Judges for Best of the Fest include BoxOne Ventures co-founder Arvind Ramanathan, 0MC Capital principal Jason Van Gaal, and Element AI co-founder Anne Martel.

Toronto-based space company Magnestar won the Best of the Fest award at last year’s Startupfest event.

Women in Tech

The Women in Tech prize will award one female-led startup with a $100,000 investment. It will be presented by The Firehood, an angel network that focuses on supporting women in the technology sector.

StartupFest and The Firehood’s definition of a “female-led” startup is a startup with the most senior member of the executive team identifying as female.

For a chance to win, startups need to register, be on site, and pitch to a panel of judges. Some of the judges include The Firehood co-founders Danielle Graham and Claudette McGowan.

Sherbrooke, Québec-based cleantech company Permalution was named the winner of this investment last year.

Black Entrepreneur

Black entrepreneurs attending Startupfest this year have the opportunity to win $100,000 through the Black Entrepreneurship Investment Prize.

This prize is presented by Rep Matters in partnership with FACE, Groupe 3737, and Tribe Network. Like the Women in Tech award, the $100,000 for Black entrepreneurs is an investment from up to 10 angel investors.

Some of the judges for this prize include Groupe 3737 co-founder Frantz Saintellemy, as well as League of Innovators’ executive director Melissa Allen.

The Grandmothers’ Choice Award

The Grandmothers’ Choice Award features a panel of judges who are grandmothers, which will include the mom of Shopify president Harley Finkelstein, among others.

Like Best of the Fest, this award is open to all startups registered and attending the event. Participants have until 3 p.m. on the last day of Startupfest to pitch to the grandmothers.

Montréal-based Azimut Medical, which is developing an intelligent belt that can detect falls and automatically deploy airbags, won the Grandmothers’ Choice Award last year.

Impact prize

Presented by Fonds de solidarité FTQ, the Impact Prize will provide a $25,000 bursary to a startup with “the most promising impact.” This prize is only open to startups based in Québec.

Student Entrepreneur

Front Row Ventures is providing $50,000 for the Student Entrepreneur prize at Startupfest this year. This prize is only open to Startupfest attendees working on a startup with at least one co-founder currently enrolled at a Canadian university.

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz is a staff writer for BetaKit.

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