Why Montreal is a Great Place for Your Tech Company

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):

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

UpdateDaniel 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.

Nine Business Lessons From TreeHugger.com’s Founder

During the first edition of StartupCamp Montreal on Wednesday night, keynote speaker Graham Hill of TreeHugger.com fame offered 9 lessons web entrepreneurs should take heed of.

StartupCamp Montreal Graham Hill Treehugger

  1. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Humans don’t really change. If something feels wrong, it probably is.
  2. Incentives drive the world. For employees, for business development, etc.
  3. Truth is told at cash registers and not in focus groups. Look to the data and test a product by selling it.
  4. Listen to Fred Wilson.
  5. The network is the computer. It has to be open and all about online applications. Think Gmail, Last.fm, Mint.com.
  6. Think product first, marketing later. This new connected world takes care of a good portion of marketing if you have a great product.
  7. Barely enough money is a good thing. It keeps you hungry and makes you focussed. Helps you find what’s the core of your business.
  8. Companies are bought not sold. It might be a cliché but it’s true. Play hard to get.
  9. Good guys win in a connected world. Media has been democratized and spin control does not exist anymore.

Announcing StartupCamp Montreal

StartupCamp Montreal logo

The first StartupCamp Montreal is officially announced! Happening January 23rd, 2008 from 6pm to 10pm at the SAT – Société des arts technologiques (where else?), “Startup Camp Montreal is an event dedicated to everything Startup. A great event for Startups, investors and on-lookers alike. Montreal has a vibrant business community, that is worth celebrating. Come meet and learn from each other on the ins and outs of starting up. This event is not just for Montrealers, all are welcome”.

You can get more information on the web site and a first series of free tickets is now available. You can reserve your place here.

Montreal-Based StandoutJobs.com Raises $1.5M

Montreal-based StandoutJobs, which is building a site to provide video job classifieds, has raised $1.5-million of venture capital in a deal lead by Garage Ventures in Montreal.

(via MapleLeaf 2.0)

What it means: congrats to the StandoutJobs guys! There is a lot of start-up activity right now in Montreal, Canada (see this list) and I’m sure this is just the beginning of many small companies being funded here.