From June 5 to 11, Startup New Brunswick will host the inaugural Startup Festival Week NB, a week-long celebration of New Brunswick entrepreneurship.
Festival co-lead Norm Couturier says the event is designed to showcase the exciting entrepreneurial activity already happening across the province. “New Brunswick has a vibrant and growing startup ecosystem,” he says. “This festival is an ideal way of showcasing that for New Brunswickers. We want people to know about the multiple Startup Communities that have been launched across the province and the support they offer to all of the province’s active and aspiring entrepreneurs.”
Entrepreneurship Needs to Go Mainstream
“Opportunities NB has helped significantly move the needle in terms of the spirit and actions of New Brunswick’s entrepreneurs, by supporting the incubation of several startup communities in the province,” notes Rivers Corbett, ONB Entrepreneur-in-Residence. “We are thrilled to help entrepreneurship go mainstream, and show people that this is not just about a clubhouse of established entrepreneurs. Anyone can get involved.”
Couturier, the Community Leader at Startup Fredericton, is proud to be part of one of the volunteer-led Startup Communities across the province. “These people are so passionate about advancing local entrepreneurship and creating new opportunities here at home. It’s encouraging that our communities and partners recognize the talent this province has and support them with initiatives like this. Our citizens, particularly our youth, should know they don’t need to take their ideas to San Francisco or Waterloo to succeed.”
Not Just About High Tech
“This is also about reaching outside the tech bubble; entrepreneurship isn’t only about technology,” notes Corbett. “If you hope to create a product that could be scaled, exported beyond this province, and create jobs, this festival week is for you.”
Couturier says the new approach taken with the startup community model has also helped push back on the myth that ‘startup’ means high-tech companies only.
“Fredericton is considered a tech centre, and a notable startup hub. The Radian6 and Q1 Lab exits helped solidify that reputation,” he notes. “The community model reminds people that startups can come from any sector and any region — Sussex, Miramichi, Bathurst, Restigouche, etc. We’re a province of less than 800,000 so let’s act as one big startup community and support great ideas from every corner.”
Events of Note
Corbett says that while the week is full of great events, he is particularly excited for the Pitch-Off, a provincewide pitch competition.
“The Pitch-off will address one of my pet peeves, the focus on pitching to investors only, and not to customers. At the end of the day, it’s about selling your wares.” The Pitch-Off will be voted on by the public, with the winning pitch receiving a cash prize as well as in-kind services. (Full details still to come).
Couturier singled out the Startup Canada-led Canadian Export Challenge as an event to watch. The one-day workshop culminates with participants pitching their business to a panel of judges. The winning pitch leaves with $2,500 and an all-expenses-paid trip to Toronto to pitch for a national grand prize of $25,000 and up to $100,000 in-kind support.
Festival week culminates with the ONB-sponsored Startup Canada Awards – Atlantic Region ceremony at the Fredericton Convention Centre. Tickets are still available for this excellent networking event.
Written by Jason Boies