I’ve been feeling sad and nostalgic lately. I have come to realize that it is the end of an era for the Montreal tech community.
On February 17 2007, I attended the very first Montreal Tech Entrepreneur breakfast organized by then unknown (at least by me) Ben Yoskovitz. I admit that I did not expect much from that event. After all, I had just returned from a long stay in Silicon Valley where the tech scene is ridiculously active. I had left for the Valley because Montreal’s startup scene was simply nonexistent; I was looking for my next move after selling my first company.
That morning of 2007 turned out to be the cornerstone of the Montreal Startup Scene as we know it today. If you weren’t there, you’re probably frowning at this point, but many of the attendees believe this to be true as well. For the first time in our lives, we realized we were not alone: other Montrealers had startup ambitions. I remember meeting Sylvain Carle, Ben Yoskovitz, Patrick Tanguay for the first time, and Fred Ngo for the second time. I had met Fred a week or so before moving to the Valley. He was still working at Matrox at that point and didn’t think he had the balls to play the Startups Game. (sorry :) )
All of us were looking for our next move. And boy did we move! We ended up starting the city’s very first batch of startups all at the same time. The landscape then looked like this:
Defensio (myself, Mat Balez, Camilo Lopez)
Standout Jobs (Ben Yoskovitz & Fred Ngo)
Praized (Sylvain Carle & Sebastien Provencher)
SmartHippo (George Favvas)
Station C (co-working, Patrick Tanguay)
Tech events such as BarCamp, DemoCamp and Montreal on Rails also popped up shortly after. (if it has the word Camp in it, chances are Sylvain organized it!)
Fast forward 5 years, Defensio and Standout Jobs have been sold, Praized is now Needium under new management, SmartHippo folded and Station C is still going strong.
So why am I feeling sad and nostalgic? Out of these 8 people, 8 friends, 6 have already left Montreal, and I know more are about to. Mat Balez has been working at Google in London, and now in Mountain View for a while, Fred has been in Vancouver for a couple of years, Camilo just moved to Ottawa and works at Shopify, George is working on his new startup Rewardli in San Francisco, Ben just moved to Halifax to work at GoInstant, a co-browsing service, and Sylvain just moved to San Francisco as well to work at Twitter. All these people were instrumental in the birth of the local startup scene. Ben and Sylvain pioneered it.
I can’t help but feel sad to see all these friends leaving. But I understand. I would have done the same.
Farewell friends. I sincerely wish you the best of luck on your new adventures!