Ode to Startupfest

Just a quick one as the 6th edition of International Startup Festival (Startupfest) kicks off in my beloved Montreal today. Startupfest is the summer event in Montreal. It’s a conference like no other; one where entrepreneurs and investors alike show up in t-shirts, shorts, and slippers. Bonus: it’s always in a funky location in beautiful, lively Old Montreal.

This post was inspired by Montreal entrepreneur LP Mauricie’s Ode to Startupfest. In it, he uses the annual Startupfest as a yardstick for his personal growth as an entrepreneur. I too continue to ask myself, “Where am I relative to where I was at last year’s festival?”.


Year 3 (2013): I was a volunteer and attendee

Year 4 (2014): I championed the Montreal tent

Year 5 (2015): I championed the Data tent in partnership with SAP + Startupfest was a client and partner of Nexalogy (where I was Head of Marketing)

Year 3 (2013)

Some may know of my first venture into the startup world, Jolietta. I launched it in November 2012, and in the summer of 2013, I applied for a (free) demo table at Startupfest’s Open House*. I was granted one, and was so excited.

Startupfest Volunteers 2013
Startupfest 2013 team + volunteers

But that only gave me access to the 4th day; I wanted to be there for the whole thing. Not wanting to fork out ~$900 for a ticket, I volunteered 8 hours of my time (which ended up only being 4) in-exchange for an all-access pass. I was so enamoured with it all, and felt like a kid in a candy store. Everything was so new and shiny to me. The concept of pitching investors and journalists for a prize or money, networking with people way beyond my years/experience, constantly pitching my startup…

At the end of it all, I was so tired, so inspired, and so full of emotion.

Nicole Fu Startupfest 2013 Reflection

Startupfest 2013 was also where I met the CEO of Brandicted. Brandicted, being a fashion e-commerce platform, was a perfect fit for me at the time. And let’s face it, bootstrapping a startup is hard, so I welcomed the extra income. I ended up working for Brandicted all through 2014.

Year 4 (2014)

Nicole Fu, Denis Coderre, Felix Menard at Startupfest 2013As Marketing Manager at Brandicted and while wrapping up Jolietta, I became involved with (not-for-profit) Built in MTL. Being a resource on the Montreal startup ecosystem, we championed the Montreal tent in partnership with Notman House. Here, I reconnected with the CEO of Nexalogy, and this was where he first talked to me about the marketing role that he was looking to fill. I ended up later securing said role, and was with them all through 2015. (This was also the year that I met and spoke with Dave McClure and Montreal mayor Denis Coderre at the fest)

Year 5 (2015)

As Head of Marketing at Nexalogy, I championed the first ever Data tent, in partnership with SAP. In addition, Nexalogy, long-time partners of the fest, powered a real-time analytics dashboard of the event.

Year 6 (2016)

Marketing + startups are still my thing, except I’m no longer in Montreal, but working remotely as a digital nomad (and erm, living the dream). I’m currently in Singapore, and am off to Tokyo next week. Read more about my digital nomad adventure here.

Alistair Croll, Rebecca Croll and Nicole Fu at Startupfest 2014I have, and am growing up with Startupfest. And look how they have grown, they now have so many offshoots: Angel Fest, Accelerator Fest, Fund Fest, Scaleup Fest, and Hacker Fest. Shoutout to the team who’s helping put Montreal on the map as a hot startup city. Founders Phil Telio and Alistair Croll, who are always eager and willing to help out the community. I know first-hand that they’ve generously sponsored tickets to the fest as prizes for Big Data Week’s hackathon two years in a row now. Warm, multi-talented Rebecca Croll, whose smile and positive energy are infectious. Ever on-the-ball Pamela Perrotti and (beautiful, mature and capable beyond her years) Katherine Johnsen. I am bummed to be missing Startupfest this year, but I wish you all an amazing fest, and look forward to returning as who knows, a judge/mentor/patron/speaker in the years to come. 😉

P.s. If you’re not attending Startupfest this year, you should definitely check out the (free!) Open House on July 16th at least.

*The Open House is the unofficial 4th day where they open up to the public (read: you don’t need a ticket), and I believe 2013 was the first year they had it.


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