The C2MTL conference in Montreal is gearing up for its fifth year, taking place in Montreal’s Griffintown neighbourhood this May 24-26.
The speaker list this year includes Martha Stewart, David Suzuki, Airbnb’s Chip Conley and Italian chef Massimo Bottura, as well as local entrepreneurs Byron and Dexter Peart, of WANT Les Essentiels, and Hicham Ratnani and Ethan Song, of Frank & Oak.
Also on the speaker roster, Vice Media co-founder Suroosh Alvi, Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson, journalist Ali Velshi, Shopify COO Harley Finkelstein, and La Presse publisher Guy Crevier.
Each year has a theme. Last year’s theme was “choices”, while this year’s is “the many”.
“The strategies that grew yesterday’s giants are now recipes for their own obsolescence; tomorrow’s success stories will be built on a sense of collective purpose,” reads the conference explanation for their choice of theme, adding, “This profound mutation will completely rewire how we collaborate, how we share, how we learn, how we work and how we build.”
You get the idea that there are no half-measures at C2MTL. Ideas are presented using uncompromisingly maximalist language, meant to convey the idea that the world itself will be somehow changed the day after the conference wraps.
You certainly do tend to buy in to the conference’s total aesthetic while locked in its confines after a couple days.
Last year’s edition saw 4,000 attendees descend on C2MTL, a conference typified more by the presence of a Ferris wheel out back and a circus-like atmosphere inside than by the usual sequence of booths, PowerPoint presentations and business cards.
Make no mistake. Plenty of people exchange business cards at C2MTL, but they’re more likely to do so with a sense of joy than at a normal conference.
Attendees can busy themselves with workshops, masterclasses, brainstorming sessions, hackathons and immersion in “experiential labs”, which usually involves a group of people sitting in a chair suspended 20 feet in the air or immersed in a pool full of tiny balloons.
C2MTL curator Jean-François Bouchard last year took some pride in pointing out that 85% of the conference’s $10 million budget was raised privately, which sets it apart from other large public events sponsored by, and heavily branded with, government logos.