The $100k Best of the Fest Investment Prize

The $100k Best of the Fest Investment Prize has always been the most coveted prize at Startupfest, where dozens of founders compete live onstage. We bring together a fantastic team of angel investors—each of whom short-lists one startup from among the attendees. Those finalists then battle it out to see who will be crowned “Best of the Fest”, walking away with not only $100K in new investment, but access to a network of investors and, of course, the coveted Best of the Fest trophy.

The Best of the Fest is far from the only contest participating startups can compete in. We have announced two additional $100k investment prizes:

Check out all the prizes and opportunities for founders happening at Startupfest, here!

Eligibility Criteria

This prize is open to ANY startup registered and at the event – There is no application process, no form to fill out and no video to submit. All you need to do is register for and attend Startupfest, and be ready to pitch to our esteemed Investor Judges.

The Process

Startups have until 3PM on Thursday, July 14th—the second day of Startupfest—to deliver their pitch. They can do so in the language of their choice, but please be aware that since Startupfest attracts investors from across the country and around the world, many of them only speak English.

How do I pitch?

Your goal over the first two days is to get at least one of the judges to shortlist your Startup:

  • We’ve set aside time on our stage on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons for open pitch rounds. You’ll have 1 minute to pitch and up to 2 minutes for follow-up questions if the judges have any.
  • Judges will also be roaming the Tent Village, which is another way to get their attention! Be sure to get on stage, and visit the Village, so you connect with as many judges as possible—after all, it just takes one judge for you to make the shortlist.
  • Our judges are wearing an Investor Judge badge and a green lanyard to make them easy to identify and pitch everywhere onsite. You probably want to avoid doing it in a bathroom, but everywhere else is fair game!

What happens next?

Pitching ends at 3PM sharp on Thursday, July 14, at which point the judges will begin deliberation:

  • Each judge will submit their chosen finalist to the shortlist.
  • At 4:30PM, the shortlisted startups will be invited back to take the stage for a one-minute elevator pitch in front of all of the judges.
  • At 5PM, the judges will meet with the shortlisted startups privately to ask additional questions. This is also your opportunity to discuss changes you’d like to make to our standard investment terms (see Prize Details below.)
  • By 7PM, the top five finalists will be chosen and notified.

Friday Due Diligence

Each of the five finalists will go through an abridged due diligence process designed to dig into the main challenges of startup growth. The due diligence will be conducted by invited experts and the Investor Judges on:

  1. Product and technology: What’s your tech stack, your deployment strategy, and your roadmap?
  2. Sales and marketing: How do you capture attention and change market behaviour? 
  3. Finances: How are you funded–and how will it shape your growth?
  4. Legal and operational systems: How does your structure support new hires, changes to your business plan, and ultimately lead to scaling?
  5. Team, culture, and leadership: Why is this group the right one to execute on the vision and bring the product to market?

We’ll reveal the results of this epic contest, and announce the 2022 $100k Best of the Fest Investment Prize winner during Friday’s closing ceremonies.

Prize Details

The Best of the Fest prize is an investment from up to 10 angel investors. Our default terms are based on an industry-standard convertible note (for reference, please see this standard convertible loan agreement.) The winning startup will sign the convertible note with each of the investors individually. The investors are willing to create a voting trust, if and when the convertible note converts to equity.

The winning startup will also receive free access to legal services from Fasken and can choose to opt-in the ViaFasken program to get one year of legal support.

Think these terms shouldn’t apply to you? Need a tweak? We can discuss that. While we adopt industry standard agreements for the sake of simplicity, the judges are willing to discuss alternate terms proposed by shortlisted startups during their meeting on Thursday, July 14, during the 5PM private Q&A.

Meet the Judges

Heather Adelson

Ms. Adelson has been investing in growing companies for the past 30 years. With over 15 angel investments over the past 8 years, as well as investments in numerous funds and funds of funds, Ms. Adelson’s contributions to the startup community have touched nearly every industry in the Quebec startup ecosystem. With a degree in Commerce from McGill, Ms. Adelson brings her skills in finance, strategy and behavioural elements of business into every deal she explores. Her ability to identify critical success factors and obstacles have led her to a career of interesting investment opportunities and ongoing business relationships.

A consummate “student of investing”, she keeps current with the latest business and technological developments, hones her analytical skills and polishes her professional skepticism through attendance of trade conferences, reviewing business plans and communication with various professional advisors. She is an active member on several boards of both for profit businesses and non-for profit organizations.

Ms Adelson is extensively involved in philanthropic ventures, an area close to her heart. She always seeks opportunities to use her skillset and relationships to amplify the efforts of socially minded organizations. Ms. Adelson has been recognized for these efforts as the recipient of several awards highlighting her invaluable contributions to society.

Ian Jeffrey

An entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience launching and scaling businesses in Montreal and Silicon Valley, Ian grew up watching his father, an insurance advisor, and understood from an early age the power these products could have. He never thought he would get into insurance, but now, as a father of 2 young boys, he is driven by having a positive impact in people’s lives. He was formerly VP Product Marketing at PasswordBox and took on the role of General Manager after the acquisition by Intel. He has played a key role in the launch of several startups and Co-Founded FounderFuel, Canada’s leading startup accelerator, as well as MTLinTech, Montreal’s voice of the startup community.

Bertrand Nepveu

Bertrand Nepveu has entrepreneurship in his blood like his grandfather Ernest who founded LAVO, manufacturer of the bleach brand La Parisienne. Passionate about video games and gadgets, he founded Vrvana in 2005 to play his favorite games on Xbox in virtual reality. After several pivots: combining augmented and virtual reality, transitioning from a B2C to B2B model, and adding hands as a controller, the Totem won the prestigious Best in Show award from Tom’s Hardware at CES 2017. That’s when he and his team moved to California to continue the adventure with Apple. After almost 3 years, he returns to Montréal and co-founds Triptyq Capital to support the new generation of entrepreneurs in the creative 4.0 industries. Bertrand holds a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Sherbrooke and an MBA from HEC Montreal.

Cary Goldwax

Now a veteran Judge at the festival, Cary has been working for over 25-years to bring companies to the next level as a hands-on Angel Investor, seasoned C-Level Executive, active Board Member and a very outspoken accelerator program Mentor.

After co-founding and successfully bringing Web APM company Coradiant to exit, he’s managed several prosperous ventures and exits, currently he is helping bring bleeding edge AI and cloud camera technology to the world as COO of IONODES. He has over 300 million dollars in exits under his belt and is a strong proponent of boosting Canada’s tech scene on the world scale.

Anna Martel

Anne Martel

Anne Martel is a serial entrepreneur, most recently Co-Founder and CAO of Element AI, a Montreal-based AI company acquired by ServiceNow. There, she was responsible for the vision, design, implementation and continuous improvement of operations groups, namely finance, human resources, brand and marketing, government relations and public affairs, and legal functions. 

Anne previously had a successful exit in the medical sector in 2014, where her focus was on manufacturing and distribution of medical devices. She holds an MBA from Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern University), and bachelor’s degrees in Finance and in Fine Arts from Concordia University.

A passionate art enthusiast and philanthropist, she is involved in Montreal’s thriving community of entrepreneurs as a spokesperson, an angel investor, and a board member of OSMO Foundation, a non-profit established in 2009 to help grow the local startup community. She also sits on the boards of the Université de Montréal and of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Foundation.

Gary Pudles

Gary A. Pudles is a “serial entrepreneur” who focuses on helping organizations execute better and become more profitable all while having fun. He is the Founder and CEO of AnswerNet, and the co-founder of TextGen, SA Billing, Splendtastic, and Subout. He is a winner of the SmartCEO Best-Run Companies award and the prestigious “Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year” for business service providers and has led AnswerNet to the 21st spot on the Inc. 500.

He also teaches Entrepreneurship at the University Of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School Of Business and is a regular participant in Startup Camp and the Intl’ Startup Festival. Pudles’ philosophy is that every project he is involved in must be with the intent of helping companies run their businesses more efficiently and profitably. However, it must be according to their unique style – not by forcing them into a predetermined template, but by replicating proven processes and adding that custom twist unique to their needs.

Josh Felker

Josh is the founder and managing partner at BoxOne Ventures, an asset management firm whose VC activities are focussed on early stage companies across several sectors including fintech, applied ML/AI, synthetic biology/biotech, crypto/decentralized finance.Prior to BoxOne, Josh Felker was the co-founder of the Montreal based proprietary trading firm Vigilant Global. A leader in the most latency sensitive and technology driven areas of trading, Vigilant was an early pioneer in the use of FPGAs and wireless communication technologies in financial markets. Vigilant was acquired by proprietary trading firm DRW Trading in 2012. As partner at DRW, Josh helped oversee a highly diversified global trading firm spanning liquidity provision operations, risking-taking/directional trading, real-estate, venture investing as well as cryptocurrency trading. Josh has a degree in Genetics from Western University and is a father of three.

Jeremy Edberg

Jeremy is an angel investor and advisor for various incubators and startups, and the founder of, a fully remote company. He was the founding Reliability Engineer for Netflix and before that he ran ops for reddit as its first engineering hire. Jeremy also tech-edited the highly acclaimed AWS for Dummies.

He is a noted speaker in serverless computing, distributed computing, availability, rapid scaling, and cloud computing, and holds a Cognitive Science degree from UC Berkeley.

Jeff Hart

Jeff is a graduate of the Wharton School of Business. A serial entrepreneur, he started delivering newspapers at 12 and his first business filming homes for insurance was launched at age 16 and featured on the front page of the business section of The Montreal Gazette. After university, Jeff worked at Hartco (TSX:HTC) during a period where sales grew for $200 million to over $750 million. Jeff co-founded Victoria Park in 2008 and is currently its Managing Partner. Victoria Park was selected as Top Medispa in Canada in 2016 and is now at 19 locations and growing nationally. 

Jeff is an Ironman finisher and works with several charitable organizations. The environment became his priority watching the Inconvenient Truth in 2006 and understanding that all our efforts on making the world a better place would be for naught if we did not protect the world itself. He helped launch the David Suzuki Foundation’s Quebec operations in 2008 and in 2021 worked to initiate the Climate Solutions Prize by JNF to support breakthrough research to solve the climate crisis. 

Anouk Robillard

Anouk has 25+ years’ experience in helping companies strategically grow. In the industry, she is seen as a growth catalyst involved in strategy, corporate development, product innovation, new markets, new business models, M&A, strategic partnerships, and digital transformation. 

She started her career in investment banking (both in Canada and Europe), then joined Aeroplan/Aimia, Accenture and BDC. She has a special interest and knowledge for every Xtech sector, mainly fintech, healthtech, cleantech, IoT and AI. She is also an Angel investor since 2019 and sits on Boards of SMEs. She brings strategy (growth vision), operations (implementation) and economic model in support of entrepreneurs.

Honorary Judges

Steven Abrams

Steven Abrams is Partner in BDC Capital’s IT Venture Fund, and Women in Technology Venture Fund. He joined BDC in 2001, after almost nine years in investment banking with ScotiaMcLeod and two years as CFO of an interactive advertising agency.

As Director of Corporate Finance at ScotiaMcLeod, Steven participated in many IPOs, privatizations, M&A advisory mandates, and equity and debt financings for companies in sectors including technology, transportation and telecommunications. He previously worked for Diesel Marketing (now Sid Lee), where he raised a first round of venture capital, did three acquisitions, established two start-ups, and helped grow the company from 15 to 145 people. He started his career as a computer programmer.

Based in Montreal, Steven works with BDC portfolio companies across Canada. He is a Board Director or Observer in many of these companies. He is a charter member of the C100, a network of Canadian VCs and tech entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley.

Steven holds an MBA in Finance from Cornell University and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Computer Science from McGill University.

Sophie McCormack

Sophie McCormack is a Managing Director at National Bank of Canada, focused on delivering private capital solutions to the bank’s corporate clients. As part of her role, Sophie advises private and public companies across sectors on capital raising through private placements.

Sophie has over 14 years of investment banking experience advising corporations and financial sponsors on accessing the public and private equity markets across a range of sectors. She has extensive experience bringing companies to the public markets through IPOs or SPACs in Canada, the US and Latin America.

Prior to joining National Bank, Sophie spent 11 years at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs in Montréal and New York. Sophie graduated from HEC Montréal in 2008 with a Master’s degree in Finance. Sophie is now based in Montréal and covers clients across Canada.