Startupfest 2019 will feature over $1 million in prizes and opportunities


Startupfest will return to Montreal from July 9 to 12 for its ninth year, presenting five days of pitching, hacking, learning, and networking, featuring over $1 million in prizes this year.

Merle Finkelstein, mother of Shopify’s COO Harley Finkelstein, will judge the Grandmothers’ Pitch

The Investment Prizes are open to all startups in attendance, no pre-registration required. These prizes will be awarded by a panel of judges based on pitches and discussions onsite. In April, the organizers announced a new investment prize of $100,000 available to female-led startups in the form of a convertible note.

With the introduction of this second investment prize, one female founder could walk away with $200,000 in investment or two separate $100,000 prizes could be awarded to two separate founders. The prize is open to all startups attending Startupfest, and no pre-registration is required.

The Grandmothers’ Choice Award will see startups pitch their business ideas to a panel of cutthroat grandmother judges. This award is also open to any startup in attendance, and the pitches take place on Thursday and Friday between noon and 5:00 pm. One of the judges in this year’s Grandmothers’ Choice Award will be Merle Finkelstein, the mother of Shopify’s Chief Operating Officer Harley Finkelstein.

This year, for the first time, the Best Onstage Pitch competition will feature the top 3 from the Grandmothers’ Choice, Startupfest Version Francaise, and the $100,000 investment prizes. It’s a “first-ever, best-of-the-fest showdown”. Finalists will be announced Friday morning, then take the stage for a final pitch Friday afternoon on the keynote stage.

The Innovative Media and Content Prize is made up of a $50,000 donation from Quebecor, NumeriQ, and MELS. The awards will be doled out in cash prizes and in-house partnerships to startups focused on content and media. The Elevator Pitch prize consists of a $7,000 cash grant from National Bank and free services from Operiō, Lex Start, and Budgeto. Ten startups will be selected to share at lunch with one National Bank’s top executives. Other Startup monetary prizes include:


  • Next36 Young Entrepreneur Award – $80,000
  • In-kind services and investment from NextAI – $200,000
  • Corporate Innovation Zone – $75,000 (3 x $25,000 projects)
  • Grants:

    • FEED Montreal food management grant (ImpactFest) – $50,000
    • Air Canada Roundtrip airfare – $15,000
    • Startup in Montreal grant $3,000
    • SWC $30,000
    • Service Provider Zone – $50,000
    • In-Kind:

    • Aix en Marseilles – $18,000
    • DMZ cohort – $50,000
    • Creative Destruction Lab east 2020 Cohort – $50,000+
    • Service Provider Zone – $25,000
      • Startupfest will also feature opportunities for startups to connect with the ecosystem. The Mentor Tent will host speakers and industry leaders for office hours. The Accelerator Zone is where NextAI and Next36 will recruit for their 2020 cohort and the DMZ is also looking for one great startup to join one of their programs. At the Investor Zone, startups and investors will be matched up for one-on-one meetings and the Gimlet Media Pitch will give startups a chance to be featured on one of Gimlet’s startup podcasts.

        Finally, Braindate, a platform that helps attendees find the right people to meet with one-on-one to share knowledge and learn from the right participants, will be sending out invitations next week. Startupfest is also featuring new workshops this year, including Funding Workshop and Founding workshop.

        Read more about Startupfest’s 2019 prizes here.

        Image courtesy StartupFest via Facebook

    Isabelle Kirkwood

    Isabelle Kirkwood

    Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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