By Daphnée Malboeuf
On January 24 and 25, 2018, Quebec entrepreneurs had the opportunity to get together and talk to each other on the occasion of the first ever Expo Entrepreneurs, which took place at Place Bonaventure, in the heart of the Quartier de l'Innovation.
A year ago, Nima Jalalvandi chose to develop an idea that had sprung up in his mind: to organize the first event with the aim of stimulating Quebec’s entrepreneurial culture.
“There’s such a wide offering of support programs for people who want to start a business in Quebec that it’s hard to find one,” says founder Nima Jalalvandi, laughing.
Jalalvandi knows what he’s talking about.
At just 26 years old, this young man who studied at Concordia University's John Molson School of Business was the founding president of Lexop, a techno-legal company that he sold before embarking on his brand new project.
“When I started in business, I benefitted a lot from the support of the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” he recalls. “There was not really any event in place that promoted this ecosystem. I wanted to do something big, so we said: why not create the largest event in the entrepreneurship support ecosystem in Quebec? And everything that followed started from this thought.”
For the first time, various practising entrepreneurs, future entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs had the opportunity to take part in this major event, which hosted more than 5,000 participants.
“Expo Entrepreneurs is a gathering of entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. It reflects Quebec, “ explains Jalalvandi. “The aim is really to consolidate the ecosystem and help it get organized in order to promote entrepreneurial drive. It's also an event where people will find solutions, inspiration and contacts.”
The Government of Quebec, the City of Montréal, Polycor and other partners have contributed $1.7 million to support this first event.
“Events like this allow people to open up to new possibilities and new ideas,” says the founder. “Taking the time to meet people, have conversations and, above all, explore new horizons, gives new energy to entrepreneurs who have gotten used to seeing the same people every day. It changes the usual environment.”
Place Bonaventure where will be held Expo Entrepreneurs.
A special experience
Unlike traditional trade shows, Expo Entrepreneurs seeks to offer participants a unique experience featuring different programs to target different needs.
“What makes Expo Entrepreneurs stand out is that we have various programs, allowing people to access different content according to their profile. These programs also help you meet people,” says Jalalvandi.
Participants had the choice between the solo program for exploring different solutions corresponding to their needs, the team program, which allowed a group of individuals to share ideas and find solutions collectively, and the company program, which aimed to resolve the various challenges faced by companies.
“In choosing a program, participants are assigned to the talks that relate to the kind of information they want to get.”
A central stage had also been set up with three podiums. People were able to listen to different speakers simultaneously, using headphones.
In total, more than 400 experts from different backgrounds offered their advice through talks, workshops and labs.
To ensure access for everyone, Expo Entrepreneurs is free of charge, on provision of an application letter that will serve as a pass.
“The application form allows us to assess the skills of a future entrepreneur and whether the prospective participant fits our criteria. We don’t want people just to be visitors, but to get involved and take part, to commit themselves.”
The Quartier de l’Innovation team was there to present the Open-Air Laboratory for Smart Living and what it represents for entrepreneurs. The Neoshop Montréal Boutique also had a stand where you could buy plenty of innovative products from Quebec start-ups. The QI also hosted two events:
January 24: Grand finale of the Tournée Objectif Monde
Ten young entrepreneurs from across Quebec had the chance to win one of five places in the Quebec delegation to take part in SXSW Interactive 2018 in Austin, Texas! The decision was halfy made by the judges and halfly by the public.
January 25: QI_Connexion at Expo Entrepreneur – Client: Polycor
Six young entrepreneurs presented their products and services to Polycor, North America's largest natural stone distributor. The company was looking for a start-up or a SME specializing in augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) or in a technology related to the entertainment industry that would enable it to enhance its marketing tactics.