The International Startup Festival will wrap up today after three days of entrepreneurial action in Montreal, which hosted an impressive lineup including female entrepreneur Fiona Gilligan.
The International Startup Festival, held in Montreal from July 11-13, aimed to bring together entrepreneurs and investors from around the world.
The event had a heavy focus on new sectors such as mobility, gaming and social networking in addition to clean technology, education and healthcare.
It featured start-up pitches – including live elevator pitches in an actual elevator – plus keynote speakers and seminars on every stage of the start-up lifecycle.
This year’s theme was “Startups that Matter”, designed to reflect the fact that start-ups are an increasingly important part of the economy.
“It’s no coincidence we’re holding Startup Festival in Montreal, sandwiched between a jazz festival and a comedy festival,” festival co-host Dave McClure said in a blog.
“Start-ups are one part improv, one part tragedy, one part comedy… We’re all just making shit up as we go. Sometimes people laugh, sometimes people cry.”
“And sometimes, when the stars align, magic happens and you change the world. That’s what Startup Festival is all about.”
Among the high-profile entrepreneurs in attendance was Fiona Gilligan, owner of Canadian company Arranmore Holdings, which specialises in business acquisitions and ventures.
Prior to Arranmore Holdings, Gilligan founded health company Trauma Management Group. She spoke at the festival about what it’s like to be a female entrepreneur-cum-investor.
“I have always felt a bit rogue – almost like I have been cutting a path as a female entrepreneur and this has been a very powerful experience,” she said.
“Women tend to scale with metric decisiveness versus going the next step just because it is time, ego or whatever.”
“We don’t need a parachute but we have our eyes wide open on all aspects of what it takes to build something into number one.”
Gilligan refuses to invest or align with a start-up that doesn’t have at least one female founding female, or if less than 20% of the start-up’s senior leaders or board of directors are female.
“And this is not tokenism – there are many incredible women out there ready to become entrepreneurs but they need to have more doors opened to them,” she said.
Gilligan’s advice to female entrepreneurs is “just do it”, encouraging them to postpone motherhood until their start-up is well established.
“If you let being a girl become an obstacle, then you won’t be successful as an entrepreneur,” she said.
“The key trait of an entrepreneur – male or female – is creatively overcoming challenges and knowing that failure is never an option.”
“They key is how hard are you going to work, how adaptive is your business model and do you really want it bad enough. If you do, you will make it happen.”