The start-up sector is in turmoil

(Montreal) Even in these times of economic uncertainty, the start-up ecosystem in Quebec is in full swing. Companies are even able to raise thousands, even millions of dollars in the midst of a pandemic.

Posted on March 21, 2021

Jessica Beauplat
The Canadian Press

Others stand out when talking because they bring a concrete solution to a problem.

This is the case of the contactless payment and food delivery mobile application CHK PLZ, which dared to compete with Uber Eats and DoorDash of this world without taking a commission as big as the big players.

The Dobson Center for Entrepreneurship at McGill University, in support of the Quebec Ministry of Economy and Innovation, launched a virtual international tour on Monday to promote the activities of start-up companies at its center.

The event, which brings together 18 young companies, is in full swing. After being able to explore the potential of North American markets, the companies will court several major European cities this week, including Paris, London, Berlin, Milan and Heidelberg, through Thursday.

Dobson Center professor and academic director Marie-Josée Lamothe indicated in a telephone interview that 450 companies benefit from this innovation hub.

It has noticed an increase in investments since last year.

“You may think that our ‘startups’ are more mature, but you also see that there is momentum at the moment,” she says.

Mako Lamothe explained that the center is open to all university students, regardless of their field of study or country of origin, which may explain why these companies are present in 36 countries.

“Often the co-founders will interact with students from other universities. Ultimately, our entrepreneurs collaborate with 24 other universities around the world. It’s a very good entrepreneurial ecosystem that starts in Montreal and increasingly international. »

The remarkable enthusiasm for the entrepreneurial environment is also confirmed in the growing list of events to support start-ups.

In addition to the McGill University virtual tour, funds from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Techstars are working together to launch Startup Weekend for Women in Tech. The conference will take place online from April 23 to 25.

This special presentation of the flagship event-known for bringing together many people thinking of starting a business-will allow female entrepreneurs to brainstorm and network over the weekend.

The Women in Technology Fund at BDC has been around for several years. According to its website, it is one of the largest venture capital funds in the world dedicated to investing in women -led technology companies.

Techstars, another event partner, helps start-ups promote themselves. Known on the south side of the border, the organization has two branches nationwide, in Montreal and Toronto.

Trained engineer Bruno Morency heads the Montreal office. The only one, he says, to focus on artificial intelligence.

She pointed out that an event like the one organized for Women in Technology is important because she noticed that they tend to join in as much as when an event is organized just for them.

“Even if we try to invite everyone, they will not come. They hesitate unless the event is targeted for them, he says. We want to democratize entrepreneurship to make it accessible to all. »

Record investments

In its quarterly Money Tree report, PwC published a survey stating that start-up companies in the United States have announced record investments for the year 2020.

The document collates information on high-potential start-ups and venture capital firms.

Although the last Canadian edition of this report began in 2019, an overview of the American counterpart suggests several trends.

First, several new companies have been identified as a “unicorn” – a company worth more than $ 1 billion, reaching its historic number of 28 by the end of 2020.

Therefore, 12 more companies in the first quarter of 2019 recently achieved this status.

This is the case with Instacart, a grocery delivery system used by Costco and Walmart, among others. The company rose to third position among headliners that experienced the strongest growth last year.

Second is Stripe’s online payment processing solution. While billionaire Elon Musk’s American aerospace company SpaceX tops the charts.

The video game industry, which has been evolving since the beginning of the pandemic, should not be overtaken by American studio Epic Games which took fourth place, again according to PwC reported.

In Quebec, we saw Sonder with these unicorns. The San Francisco-based apartment leasing company was co-founded in Montreal.

In December, Investissement Québec granted him a $ 30 million loan, which was enthusiastically announced by Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon and Premier François Legault.

In return, Sonder’s co-founder and real estate vice-president, Martin Picard, intends to invest $ 182 million, primarily in creating 700 well-paid jobs in Montreal.

Halfway between an Airbnb and a hotel, the company is making a niche in the hotel niche.

In addition, Airbnb will be one of the most well-known companies in the stock market in 2020, as well as the DoorDash meal delivery application and the Wish e-commerce platform.

This article was produced with the financial help of Facebook and The Canadian Press News Grants.

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