A look back at the first Expo Entrepreneurs with its founder Nima Jalalvandi. Learn more about the concept’s origin and the unprecedented formula that brought together Quebec’s entrepreneurial ecosystem last January 24 and 25.
Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal (CCMM) – Why did such an event need to be created?
Nima Jalalvandi (N.J.) – Behind this concept is a group of people—myself included—who came to the same conclusion: though entrepreneurial support is big in Quebec, with nearly 300 organizations specialized in financing and support, it’s important for businesses to actually meet with them. For these businesses, it takes research and time, which they might not have. We saw this as an opportunity to bring together Montréal and Quebec’s entrepreneurial ecosystems under one roof.
CCMM – When we talk about entrepreneurial ecosystems, we’re talking about support organizations and, on the client’s side, different entrepreneur profiles.
N.J. – Absolutely. In this case, we were addressing three target audiences: the person who has a project that hasn’t been launched yet; the active entrepreneur who wants to make their organization grow and innovate; and the intrapreneur, who will turn an idea into a viable, profitable project within their company. Our goal for these three categories: reduce the gap between intention and action.
CCMM – An ambitious goal that depends on the relevance of information provided at the expo. During this type of event, it’s not always easy to identify THE best resource (especially because we don’t always know who can address our concerns). How did you foster the right encounters?
N.J. – We really made use of our famous “connectors,” whose mission was to guide our visitors and help them make contact with the right organization. The ninety connectors present were really the face of our event. They sent the clientele a very positive message, that of an entrepreneurial community that is attentive, rich in resources and ready to help each other.
CCMM – What did you take away from this first edition?
N.J. – The decompartmentalization effect is what happened. As entrepreneurs, we often isolate ourselves, staying focused on the operational and always meeting with the same people. This isn’t negative in and of itself, but an event like Expo Entrepreneurs enables you to broaden your horizons, which is important for promoting the growth and development of an organization, especially by conversing with people you might never have met otherwise. Each organization came with its own clientele, creating, in the end, one of the biggest networking events.
"For me, Expo Entrepreneurs was a chance to go out of my comfort zone, broaden my network and harness a certain creative energy"
CCMM – What do your results look like, in numbers?
N.J. – We surpassed our goal of 5,000 participants, instead reaching 6,000 participants in the business ecosystem. They came from 17 regions of Quebec to meet support organizations and participate in our 162 activities.
CCMM – Expo Entrepreneurs 2019 is on the way, according to your press release.
N.J. – Exactly. Mayor Valérie Plante renewed her support for the second edition… before the first was even over (smiles). Also, I would like to highlight the beautiful synergy that we saw with our public partners, the Ville de Montréal and the Government of Quebec. It’s thanks to them that we could organize this first edition after only a year of work. We already have many ideas for 2019, as well as leads to improve our formula.