We attended the second Montreal Founders & Funders dinner this week. Since I've noticed that all blogs assume that their readers know what the Founders & Funders event is (which is not the case), I thought I'd give a brief overview of this simple concept.
- The organizers send invitations to a bunch of people who have manifested interest in the event (via an online form or in their network of contacts).
- I don't know how the selection process works, but attendance is limited to the size of the restaurant.
- The attendees arrive and network with other founders & funders.
- No special organization - just put interesting people in a room with other interesting people and magic happens.
- Sit down at a random table and enjoy the meal
- I ended up at a table with a 50/50 breakdown of founders versus funders.
- When you're done, network some more
- There was a networking event after the meal where an invitation was not required.
It was a nice experience overall and the non-stressful environment was great (although some founders appeared quite nervous!). The crowd was very diverse and we covered a broad range of subjects, in both French and English. Unilingual individuals must have had a bit of trouble following everyone’s conversation but in general it was a very enriching experience. We ended up being so busy talking to everyone that the event just flew by, which confirms it was far from monotonous. We weren't looking for funding but we saw this event as a good opportunity for a first encounter. Going to such an event also reinforces the fact that it's a small community and I was surprised that lots of people had heard of us before, thanks to the hard work of the folks at StartupOttawa and MontrealTechWatch.
Some of the other founders at the event were:
The one improvement I would make for future events would be prepare and distribute a list of attendees a few days before the event. I personally prefer to do my homework before meeting a bunch of people. Furthermore, I met at most 20% of the people at the event and maybe missed out on some founders/funders with experience in retail environments.
Finally, Austin Hill had an open question: what could we do to get more people starting companies fresh out of university? I’ll possibly talk about my opinions on the matter in a future blog post. For now, let me invite you to review the Founders & Funders site and strongly incite you to see if such an event can be organized in your community.