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Notman House: an Ecosystem for Tech Companies

11 October 2016 by National Bank
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An initiative of the OSMO Foundation, <a href="http://notman.org/" target="_blank">Notman House</a> opened in 2013 and is now a hub for Montreal techies.

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Emma Williams, Campus Director explains what powers this lively organization, located in two heritage buildings on Sherbrooke Street.

What is the Notman House’s mission?

We see it as the “community centre” for the Montreal technology sector. It was created thanks to the will of tech community members who wanted to have a physical campus. It was something that Montreal didn’t have.

What makes Notman House a unique place for start-ups?

It’s a place where start-up entrepreneurs can work free of charge. We have seven free public spaces that are accessible from Monday to Saturday. There is also the OSMO Café, where people can work instead of being stuck in their apartments! Lastly, we have 21 offices for rent and event spaces available for, say, a JavaScript course.

Is it only start-ups on the premises?

No. There is a whole range of services available that are oriented toward start-ups: most notably lawyers and accountants who understand start-ups and their specific needs. There are also investors such as the Business Development Bank of Canada and Real Ventures Investment Fund as well as business accelerators like FounderFuel and InnoCité MTL. But the idea is to create a complete ecosystem for tech companies with all the services they might need to grow.

Why is it so important for a tech start-up to interact with other players involved in technology?

It creates a stronger network; in-person connections between people are better. From time to time at Notman House, you can rub shoulders with someone before you need their help. When the day comes that you need advice, you know exactly who to go to. As an entrepreneur, it’s extraordinary to bump into an investor as you get your morning coffee. Our tenants say they didn’t know a community like this existed, that they would meet so many people…

Could you give us some examples of businesses that were started at Notman House?

Crew, a project development platform that recently raised 12 million dollars and renovated their Old Montreal office, started with us. A company called Flatbook, too. Both businesses came through Notman House and were a part of the FounderFuel accelerator cohort.

What projects are currently underway at Notman House?

We are working to set up a studio to develop virtual reality products. We also want to create a space for producing podcasts, for which we are currently seeking a sponsor. We would also like to make another free space available. Otherwise, we’re working on a pilot project with McGill University. They want to make a space available for students interested in start-ups. And we also want to create more connections with universities.

What would you say to those thinking about starting a company?

I would advise them to spend time in a place where they could meet other entrepreneurs. Working with like-minded people will give them an opportunity to get help, advice and support…

Discover how Maison Notman has helped Nukern.

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