The Next Disruptive Start-ups from Montreal Student Bootcamp
Youmani Jérôme Lankoandé
If there is anyone who still doubts that Montreal is a city that can produce lots of innovative enterprises, McGill University was the right place to be over the last weekend. During that weekend, Startupifier, an event organized by students and recent graduates from Concordia, HEC, Université de Montréal, Université Laval, UQAM and McGill gathered to test how the power of diversity creates innovative start-ups. Thanks to the diversity of Montreal city there were students from different backgrounds, business development, marketing, software development, economics, politics, web design, medicine, etc. Believing that creativity and innovation are produced best through interdisciplinary collaboration and putting ideas into practice, they teamed up within small groups of 5 to 6 people in order to come out with start-up projects after the three day bootcamp event. More than 50 students took place in the contest. As we can imagine it was exciting, not only because of the diversity of their way of thinking but also because of the spectacle from programming contest: coding overnight until the day after to solve a problem. By Sunday night there were many start-ups projects: Social TV, Youfollowme, PyAlpha, Grinbox, Lost and found, Bivoss, Don’t party alone, Text2animation and Cootie Catchr. While all of them aren’t innovative, let’s see how some of them make a difference in terms of innovation.
Innovation also comes from leveraging new technologies! Simon Mathieu and his team knew this! That’s why they created a project called PyAlpha. With a cloud-base computing platform, PyAlpha aims at making available several open source tools to engineers and scientists in their web browser to do computational analysis online (like using Stata or SPSS online). The goal is to replace the existing expensive computation software with a cheaper solution that requires no configuration or installation. The platform is available at pyalpha.servehttp.com. This project won the contest voted by the participants. Go to pyalpha.servehttp.com and pyalpha.blogspot.com to check this platform.
Innovation is about fulfilling an unmet need! Theo Van Brabant, Derek Mounce and Karel Ledru-Mathé knew this! When you lose or find an item, there is no a place online where you can report or retrieve it. To fulfill this unmet need they created ‘‘Lost and Found’’ to help individuals report and recover lost items through online platform called maxfindit.com. The platform features easy matching function, secure and is easy to use.
In the same logic of unfulfilled need, another team came out with a project called Craigsbot. Guess for what? When you’re looking for an item we used to search on Craiglist every day until we find the right item you are looking for. Thanks to Craigsbot you can just enter your search and Craigsbot will search the item and email you when it finds the right item.
Breaking down boundaries and promoting the mutual exchange of ideas and values across sectors and disciplines, and between theory and practice led many participants like Georges Duverger and his team to take the challenge. Even if they didn’t set up an innovative start-up project, they decided to make it a fun and social web experiment with a project called #cootiecatchr to Tweet advice. Looking for tweet advice go to http://cootiecatchr.com.
As a co-organizer of the Startupifier Bootcamp, I think the event was inspiring and educational. And as we can see, this event proved once more that innovation comes from diversity and diversity creates better groups and start-ups. Hopefully we’ll see more students involved in the next Startupifier bootcamp for the greater good.
Youmani Jérôme Lankoandé