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One of the most exciting parts of managing a Techstars program is meeting with founders from all over the world and listening as they share their excitement about what they are working on. That period is officially here as applications are now open for Techstars Montréal AI Accelerator, class of 2019. Real Ventures continues to be our partner in this program—mentoring, advising, and helping to open doors for entrepreneurs.

Over the last few years, Montreal has established itself as a leading international AI hub. It grew from more than a quarter century of deep research to become the home of major corporate AI labs as well as startups applying AI to reinvent industries. They are supported by a growing private and public funding ecosystem.

Montreal is attracting AI entrepreneurs from all over the world, and last year’s applications reflected that fact. The inaugural class of 2018 consisted of an impressive group of founders from the USA, UK, Israel, Chile, and, of course, various parts of Canada. This group received advice and help from incredible mentors who helped them think through their strategic vision and execute on it at an impressive pace. We wrapped up the 13-week program with a killer demo day and companies closing follow-on financing.

Looking ahead to 2019

We’re now looking for our second class of founders ready to take their startup through Techstars Montreal AI. AI is not an industry: it’s a technology that will profoundly influence and change all industries. Hence, what we look for in companies is not specific sectors of interest, but ideas with the potential to truly change a given industry.

More precisely, here’s our thinking when looking at applications:

  • First and foremost: We’re looking for startups going after a clearly identified pain—a problem worth solving.
  • Second: Is the AI model making predictions or decisions that solve this problem 10x better than existing solutions? In other words, we want to see AI at the core of the proposed solution.
  • Third: Does the company have access to a large, ideally proprietary, quality dataset to train a model that can make those predictions reliably? At the very least, does it show signs that it will?
  • Fourth:  Is there a solid tech co-founder who can push the AI model far enough until a larger technical team is hired?

One exception to the above is for companies selling products that make operating AI startups easier and more efficient. We didn’t have such a company in the 2018 class, but we see many unique needs to be fulfilled there.

How to get in touch with us

If you fit the description above, or know of founders that would benefit from Techstars, we want to hear from you! The most important step is to submit your application. There’s no special trick or warm intro hack to get to us—we carefully review and consider every single application we receive.

You can also come meet us in person. In the coming weeks we’ll be visiting Boston (Feb 27–Mar 1) and Toronto (Mar 12–13),  and we’ll be announcing additional cities soon. We’ll also be part of the World Summit AI in Montreal in April. If we can’t meet at one of those events, do not hesitate to request office hours! These meetings can be remote or in-person.

Bien que le contenu du programme soit en anglais, plusieurs mentors et moi-même sommes francophones. L’accompagnement ainsi qu’une partie du mentorat peut donc se faire en français.

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Bruno Morency Bruno Morency
Bruno is the Managing Director of Techstars Montreal AI Accelerator. Up until late 2016, he was Head of Operations at Poka Inc. Before that, he started Context.IO, an API that makes it easy and fast for developers to integrate email data in their applications.