Sergio Escobar, a top Director of the Montreal Founder Institute, has played a major role in setting up the foundation of success within his local startup ecosystem. He is a respected startup leader in his community, and has been featured across many notable publications, such as TechVibes, Betakit, Radio-Canada International TV, and most recently interviewed on his local television station, “Money Channel”. He's also part of the Global Greater Montreal Ambassadors Network.
Escobar has given some helpful tips and advice to aspiring startup leaders that want to drive traction in their local startup community; and it begins with familiarizing yourself with the startup process. The first step to becoming a successful startup leader in your community is to gain valuable professional experience working for a startup. There is no better way to truly understand what it really takes to become a startup leader than becoming an entrepreneur and building a company yourself.
Sergio Escobar, after turning down a secure corporate job at Procter & Gamble, started his career as an Aerospace Engineer with a Montreal-based startup created from a spin-off of Pratt & Whitney Canada, where he was involved in multi-millon dollar deals with several Military Air Forces and Commercial Airlines in 3 continents. He has launched multiple successful companies in ecommerce, mobile payments, manufacturing, farming, and food processing that attracted the eyes of many investors. He was even fortunate to have a couple of his companies get acquired as well.
I had to choose between working for the corporate world or a startup, and I decided to make the brave leap from employee to entrepreneur. My passion for managing companies and watching them grow, led me to join a startup.”
It is crucial that you evaluate your local startup ecosystem and map out the kind of resources that are currently available in your region. Research the demographics of your market and understand their specific economic needs in your area. As a potential startup leader, you want to determine if there is a startup infrastructure already established in your community. If there isn’t, start planning what kind of elements you will need to support your local startup ecosystem
After Escobar’s enormous success with his businesses, he decided to get involved with a new hybrid incubator program with angel investors, which was one of Canada’s first ever tech incubators.
Sadly, the incubator program was not very successful and we had to shut down. Frank & Oak, an online clothing shop for men, was the only successful startup coming out of that experience. The problem with the incubator was the issue of not establishing a solid startup infrastructure or pipeline prior to its launch in the community.”
A startup leader should think about creating a sustainable infrastructure or pipeline that allows talent to grow through personal development and training programs. By providing events, workshops, and initiatives that build upon each other allows a system to become sustainable and maintain itself.
When Sergio’s incubator closed its doors, Raymond Luk (Angel investor) introduced Escobar to Adeo Ressi and the Founder Institute. The meeting opened Escobar’s eyes to the specific steps needed to launch a successful startup community.
Building a sustainable startup infrastructure was a progressive process. Some of the brilliant tactics that Adeo Ressi, Founder & CEO of The Founder Institute, suggested was starting with local Hackathons, then Startup Weekends editions, and eventually launching a Founder Institute chapter in the region.”
The role of a mentor is another great opportunity to become more involved in the local community and be considered an expert in a specific profession. Through mentoring startups, one can provide strategic direction and support to increase growth in your local startup ecosystem. Additionally, taking advantage of online resources and becoming curators for popular sites, such as Startup Genome, Startup Digest and Startup Blink, is a great outlet for promoting and measuring your startup community.
One of the most rewarding experiences for Escobar was mentoring local startups and guiding founders with their companies from conception to commercial development.
It was a life changing experience to nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs in your city. It was a great way to find opportunities for investment in local innovative ideas as well.”
The opportunity to be part of the Founder Institute and lead a local chapter has been an enriching experience for Escobar. There were 400 applicants who applied in Montreal, which has been the largest applicant pool in a specific region ever recorded for the Founder Institute. Additionally, the Montreal chapter has been producing many promising graduates in different fields: hardware, wearable technologies, ecommerce, SaaS, mobile, etc. One notable graduate, Logrr, which was founded by Julien Denaes, will be presenting at the Founder Institute’s first virtual Demo Day.
You don’t feel like The Founder Institute is like any other startup incubator or accelerator. You feel like you’re part of a global startup ecosystem, or global movement, where people trust and follow you.”
Be sure to watch The Founder Institute’s first virtual Demo Day, and stay tuned for the Director Webinar for more information on how to lead a global chapter.