Montreal ground zero for startups at the International Startup Festival

By Monica Goyal

Over the past few days the Canadian and American startup scene has made its presence known in Montreal. For any technology startup, such as I am, being at the International Startup Festival was like being a kid in a candy store. There were amazing sessions mixed with startup company pitches, followed by more sessions.

Monica Goyal

If one was so inclined, the opportunity existed to do a 29-sec elevator pitch, and a surprisingly large number of people lined up to do exactly that.

There were amazing investors, entrepreneurs dishing out nuggets of gold and opportunities to see what some of North America’s most innovative companies are currently working to develop.

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For those that were unable to attend, I thought I would share with you some my favourite startups.  However, in all honesty, I found it truly difficult to narrow it down to only three.

1. Top Hat Monocle – I saw Top Hat Monocle at democamp over 6 months ago, and was glad to see them again. They have a platform for interactive learning in the classroom. Their system leverages the proliferation of electronic devices amongst University students.

Teachers can serve up polls and quizzes, and students submit responses using their laptops or phones.  I can see this idea revolutionizing classrooms. Students go from passive consumers of information to active participants. I’m sure actively engaging in the material presented will ensure students retain and learn more. I know I would have, had I had the opportunity to partake in such a revolutionary concept.

2. Cheek’d – Imagine you are at a bar and from an unknown female passing by, you receive a card with the following on it: “I’m totally cooler than your date”.  Or, you’re walking down the street and a strange guy walks up to you and gives you a card that reads:  “Our fate is in your hands”. Right below these statements you will see the words: “find me at” along with a code id. Each code id corresponds to a profile, and if you were the one serving up the card, the code would attach to your profile.

This is what the founder Lori Cheek refers to as being cheek’d. The reality is that romance, in most cases, starts offline, despite the myriad of dating startups that suggest otherwise.  But, this particular service is not for the faint of heart, and I suspect many of us (like me) will live vicariously through friends who have the courage to do the cheeking and be cheek’d.

3. Unhaggle – If you are looking to buy a new car, you may want to consider Unhaggle, as your hassle-free option. So how does it work? If you’re in the market for a new car (not used), the simplicity of this site allows the interested party to go to their site, enter the desired specifications, and select several local dealers.  The dealers then would offer you a price for the car, and you would select one of the prices. All from the comfort of your home. Why has no one thought of this before?  A new car without having to hit the road to find one.

Monica Goyal is a Toronto-based lawyer and a technology entrepreneur who founded My Legal Briefcase, an online legal service firm focused on small claims court cases.

Monica Goyal
Monica Goyal
Monica Goyal, Entrepreneur, Lawyer and Innovator is the founder of Aluvion, a legal solutions company offering technology, paralegal and lawyer-driven solutions with a special focus on the quality, cost, and accessibility of legal services for both businesses and individuals. Monica began her career working as an engineer in R&D for companies like Toshiba, Nortel and Nokia while earning her Masters of Engineering at Stanford. Monica's history conditioned her to solve problems in a efficient and tech-savvy manner, an approach she brings with her to legal solutions. Monica currently sits on the Canadian Bar Association's Futures Initiative, and will be teaching a course on Legal Technology at York University’s Osgoode Hall. She was recently named one of 10 Women to Watch in Tech in the Journal of the American Bar Association.

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