International Startup Festival 2011

International Startup Festival 2011

This year’s International Startup Festival took place in Montreal’s charming Old Port from July 13 to 15.

The slogan of the festival was “Startups and LOL”, which seemed appropriate: At the event, we witnessed the ultimate Elevator Pitch, an actual elevator with investors and VCs inside, waiting to hear startups pitch their ideas during the short ride. When asked to choose their most enjoyable elevator rides, they went with in 1st place, Uknowa in 2nd and Cheek’d in 3rd.

Before the conference, twelve startups were selected from all over the world to come pitch their ideas on stage, to a crowd of hundreds of entrepreneurs. An ingenuous award—the Grandmother’s Pick—was put in place where six grandmothers judged those startups by asking the tough questions. The winners:Onavo won 1st place and came in 2nd. The “grandmother crew” also walked around, talking to various startups presenting their ideas at the demo tables. Some of the attendees told us they were asked questions that made them rethink their startup vision. The winners at the demo tables were Nexalogy in 1st place, in 2nd and Wind-Do in 3rd.

Throughout the day, there were plenty of talks to satisfy everyone’s hunger for information, whether about starting a company or about maintaining a startup once it’s off the ground.

We spoke to the conference’s organizer, Philippe Telio, who found the event to be a great success: “We have a great attendance and wonderful speakers. The kick-off party was a blast and everyone had fun networking. The second day was a marathon of 20-minute presentations from 9 am through 9 pm, with only 2 hours of break.” Overall, he said, “it’s fantastic!”

Christian Beauclair, Senior Developer Evangelist at Microsoft Canada, was also at the conference and he discussed his thoughts on the future of technology: “Mobile seems to be one of the top technologies in terms of interaction. It’s now all about apps rather than websites. And the focus won’t be on apps that try to do everything, but on those that do specific things and do them well.”

While wandering around, we bumped into three startups who wanted to share their ideas with the rest of the world:


“We do sustainable LED lighting for largescale areas such as hospitals and warehouses. The lifetime of these LEDs is about 10 years so you have less replacement issues. The payback is really that you only pay the first time you have to replace the fluorescent tubes with our product.

We also offer better light quality: with the fluorescent technology, there is a sharp discontinuity in the spectral distribution and the intensity has to be changed to ignore those discontinuities. What we do is create a more even distribution so the light is more natural and comparable to sunlight. There is also no mercury in any of our LED systems because mercury is toxic and can have disastrous environmental impacts.”

S2 Eye Tracker from TandemLaunch Technologies

“We present an eye-tracker device. The technology itself was developed at the University of British Columbia and we turned it into a product and created software to run the device. The way it works is: There is an infrared light that shines into your eyes and a camera that captures the light and analyses that information. When you shine light on your eyes, a little glint appears so the camera captures the position of that glint and compares it to where your eye is.

When you watch something, the glint moves and we can calculate the movement using mathematical equations. There are also points that show up on a screen to show where you are looking; these points concentrate around the region that is most viewed. The bigger the dot, the more that region is seen. This is valuable information for those interested in how effective product placement is. It is also useful for advertising, marketing and psychology research (e.g. to see how the brain analyzes images).

Big Sweet

Our main focus is to create a sustainable model for restaurants in the deal sector. We are the Hotwire for restaurants. We use unpublished rates so you don’t know the exact location and name of restaurants; you only know the cuisine, user ratings, general area of the restaurants and the percentages off they offer.

We don’t cannibalize for sales and only take a small commission—lower than other websites—which makes this model sustainable. Restaurant managers can specify the rebate rates and quantity directly in the website. Our services are very fl exible and are not contractual. Restaurants sign up for the service and we don’t charge them anything unless we sell something.

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