For its eleventh year, Startupfest is branching out from its traditional festival format to offer some smaller events throughout the year. The first is set to be held April 12 through 14 and will focus on various aspects of startup growth.
The move follows Montréal-based Startupfest pivoting last year from a tech festival that brought together members of the tech ecosystem from across Canada for a week-long, in-person event to a hybrid one. Amid the ongoing and ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions, Startupfest organizers stated “we’ve reinvented what Startupfest can be, with a series of conferences, gatherings, and competitions throughout 2021.”
The first event, called Growth Week, is a three-morning virtual-only conference tailored to startups looking to raise their first “serious” round. Startupfest classifies serious startups as those that have completed an accelerator or closed an angel round, but need to get to product-market fit and close an initial round of institutional investment.
Each day of Growth Week will include a “deep-dive” workshop on an aspect of startup growth—product and marketing, funding and finance, and hiring for growth. The event will also include conversations with industry experts, office hours with investors, and open networking.
In 2020, Startupfest hosted its festival via a live broadcast with an audience in Old Montréal. The event was broadcast across Canada, free of charge. Startupfest handed out several pitch competitions and awards last year. Winners included Qoherent, a quantum computing tech startup, which won Startupfest’s $100,000 prize this year, and Steadiwear, a medical equipment manufacturer based in Toronto, which won the Grandmother’s Choice Awards and $1000 in cash and in-kind services.
Startupfest was one of many Canadian tech events to cancel or move online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. True North, Shopify Unite, and Collision all revised their own events, holding them virtually to abide by social distancing recommendations outlined by public health agencies.