I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now. After having been an “intrapreneur” at Yellow Pages Group until 2007, I’ve had the chance in the last two years to live the full-time life of a Web entrepreneur. Developing a vision and concepts, hiring a team, developing prototypes, raising capital, launching a product, marketing a product, selling a product, managing VCs, executing, executing, executing, working long hours and drinking lots of caffeinated drinks are now part of my body of experience and daily life. We like to say the Praized team’s mind is in Silicon Valley where we measure ourselves with the best but we’re physically located in one of the best cities in North America to do it: Montreal.
Here’s why (all stats I quote are from Montreal International’s amazing brochure (.pdf) on investing in Montreal):
- Talented developers. With its network of universities and technical schools, Montreal produces world-class technical resources. Did you know Montreal is #1 in North America in the per capita number of university students? Montreal also ranks 5th in North America in concentration (%) of high tech jobs in proportion to the total number of jobs, ahead of San Francisco!
- Relatively-low cost of operating and living. Greater Montreal has the most competitive cost structure of any North American metro area. Salaries are competitively-priced (and lower than major tech hubs like Boston, Seattle and San Francisco) and office space leasing costs are the lowest in North America.
- Superior R&D tax credits. The kind of development we do at Praized greatly benefits from provincial and federal tax credits and drastically extends the value of an investment.
- Multilingual population. 52% of greater Montreal residents are bilingual (with English and French being the most prevalent). 18% are fluent in three languages or more. Montreal is often seen as the perfect bridge between North America and Europe.
- Quality of life. Joie de vivre (i.e. restaurants, bars, culture, etc.), lowest cost of housing, lowest tuition and childcare fees and lowest homicide rate in North America makes Montreal a fun place to live.
No wonder Monocle magazine puts Montreal in their top list of most liveable cities. The videogame industry understands Montreal’s strengths with major companies like Ubisoft, Eidos and Electronic Arts having established large offices here. Google also opened an office in Montreal last year. Agendize, a French software company with many customers in the local media space just opened their office here.
Is it a perfect city? No, obviously not. Access to seed capital is sorely lacking for budding entrepreneurs, the ecosystem is not a robust as what you find in Silicon Valley for example and winters are quite rigorous but if you’re thinking of launching a tech company or expanding in North America, Montreal should be a serious option!
Update: Daniel Drouet reminds me (on Facebook) that, ever since Praized got funded, Montreal Start Up arrived on the scene to fill some of the “seed” gap I identify above. He also mentioned Anges Québec, a network of local angel investors.