Phil Telio, founder of Montreal’s International Startup Festival and co-founder of the current start-up focused version of Notman House, announced the other day that the next Elevator World Tour will be staged on January 21 at Paris’ famed Eiffel Tower.
The pitch competition, which forces people to whittle down a persuasive argument to the length of an elevator ride, has already been staged in Toronto’s CN Tower and Tel Aviv’s Azrieli circular tower.
The Paris elevator pitch competition will be the third such event for the Elevator World Tour, not for lack of trying to line up venues in other locations.
“We tried to do the World Trade Center in New York,” Telio told Cantech Letter by phone recently, “but due to security concerns on their behalf, we’ve had to unfortunately cancel that event a couple of times.”
As the Eiffel Tower was being constructed in advance of the 1889 World’s Fair, three-hundred of Paris’ most influential artists and cultural figures published a letter denouncing the project as an eyesore.
“We, writers, painters, sculptors, architects and passionate devotees of the hitherto untouched beauty of Paris, protest with all our strength, with all our indignation in the name of slighted French taste, against the erection … of this useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower,” they wrote.
Since then, however, the Eiffel Tower has been praised as a modernist achievement, celebrated by poets such as Guillaume Apollinaire and the hoards of tourists who visit it year after year. It has also been convincingly satirized in Las Vegas.
If staging a start-up elevator pitch event sounds like an easy, fun thing to do, think again. The red tape involved in securing permissions for some of the world’s most iconic architecture is actually about as onerous as you would imagine.
“It’s a great way for us to get our brand out there,” said Telio. “But it’s also not a very easy task to negotiate with the most important monuments and buildings in the world. It’s not inexpensive, and it’s not easygoing.”
On the broader subject of the start-up scene in Montreal, which often seems to play second fiddle to the white-hot pace of growth in places like Waterloo, Toronto and Vancouver, Telio seems satisfied with the overall health of the ecosystem.
“Montreal’s in a pretty good position in terms of innovation and desire, there’s enough money floating through the city now, and all those things,” he says. “I would say that we still need talent. We need more qualified people that are willing to move to Montreal to start their companies. We have a fairly stable knowledge base that doesn’t necessarily have a desire of running away. So that’s great for us, but we need more of them. I don’t think what we have is enough.”
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