$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.


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 5PM on Thursday, July 13th—the second day of Startupfest—to deliver their pitch to the investor judges. 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 Investor Judges to shortlist your Startup:

  • Judges will be roaming the site and based in the Tent Village. We suggest 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 5PM sharp on Thursday, July 13.

  • Each judge will submit their chosen finalist to the shortlist, at which point they will be contacted by a member of the Startupfest team.
  • At 4:30PM, the shortlisted startups will be invited to take the stage for a one-minute elevator pitch (no slides) in front of our audience, to compete for the Best Pitch Award.
  • Friday morning (the 14th) our finalists will meet with the Investor Judges in a private setting, on site.
  • By 12pm the top 5 startups will be selected and notified that they have made it to finals. 

Friday afternoon’s QA and Due Diligence

We’ll introduce the 5 finalists to our audience on Friday afternoon. They will have a 40 min general QA with our Investor Judges, at which point our judges will have a brief deliberation to narrow the finalists down to a top 3. 

Upon announcing our top three, the startups will take the stage together and go through an abridged due diligence process designed to dig into the main challenges of startup growth:

  1. Product, technology and IP (15 min)
  2. Sales, marketing and finances (15 min)
  3. Team, culture, and leadership (15 min)

We’ll reveal the results of this epic contest, and announce the 2023 $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 SAFE agreement (for reference, please see this standard SAFE agreement) The winning startup will sign the SAFE agreement with each of the investors individually. The investors are willing to create a voting trust, if and when the SAFE agreement converts to equity.

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 13, during the 5PM private Q&A.

Meet the judges

Heather Adelson

Heather Adelson (1)

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.

Anne Martel

Anne Martel Min 1

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.

Cary Goldwax

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.

Arvind Ramanathan

Untitled Design (6)

Arvind Ramanathan is a co-founder at BoxOne Ventures. In 2005, he and Josh Felker co-founded Vigilant Global, a proprietary trading company.

From its modest beginning in Arvind's mother's apartment in Lasalle, Vigilant Global grew to one of Canada's top trading firms thanks to some great algorithms and several brilliant early hires. When DRW acquired Vigilant in 2012, Arvind joined DRW as a partner. In 2021, after helping the Montreal office expand to over 200 employees, Arvind decided to focus on new challenges.

Arvind actively supports youth education. He has been on the board of Youth Fusion, an organization that helps increase high school graduation rates, for almost fifteen years. Arvind also started the Sun and Truth Foundation, which supports initiatives that promote youth education and aims to help humans reconnect with nature. Arvind is also still involved in giving back to his high school, LCCHS, and he participates in robotics programs and food drives.

Arvind holds a Master's degree in Financial Economics from Queen's University and a Bachelor's degree in Finance from Concordia University. Arvind is a father of two.

Jason Van Gaal

Untitled Design (7)

Jason Van Gaal is a Montreal-based serial entrepreneur with an interest in disruptive technologies, artificial intelligence and climate change. 

In July 2019, Jason sold his tech company ROOT, which was the  third largest tech exit in  Canada. With the proceeds, he started his family office 0MC Capital.

As the principal of 0MC Capital, his goals are to support  the  development of socially responsible AI, enable the transition to a green and sustainable  economy and to build more Canadian unicorns.

Gary Pudles

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.

Ian Jeffrey

Ian Jeffrey

Ian Jeffrey is an experienced Montreal-based entrepreneur, startup advisor, and mentor in both Montreal and Silicon Valley. He has a proven track record of building and scaling tech businesses and is a forward-thinking leader in the industry.

Ian's career began after he earned a degree in communications from Concordia University. He co-founded several successful tech startups, including Breathe Life (which was acquired by Zinnia in 2022) and FounderFuel (the first Canadian mentor-driven startup accelerator). Ian also served as the VP of Product Marketing at PasswordBox, which was later acquired by Intel, and the VP of Marketing & Communications at Tiny Pictures, which was acquired by Shutterfly.

Ian's success in the tech industry is driven by his deep understanding of technology, his entrepreneurial spirit, and his commitment to creating work environments where team members are excited to contribute to the company’s purpose, empowered to make decisions, and fulfilled in their daily work. He deeply cares about every individual on his team and ensures that everyone feels a sense of accomplishment in their roles.

Throughout his career, Ian has been recognized as a thought leader in the tech industry. He has been invited to speak at numerous conferences and events and has shared his expertise with audiences throughout North America. He is also a frequent contributor to industry publications.

In his free time, Ian is an avid snowboarder and often hits the slopes with his wife and two kids

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.

Jeremy Edberg

Untitled Design (5)

Jeremy is an angel investor and advisor for various incubators and startups, and the founder of Task.bot, 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.


Trent Johnsen


Trent Johnsen is Founder and CEO at Liveweb. He was a Founder at several previous startups focused on early commercialization of business communications technologies. Trent is a Board Member at InterGen, a private ScaleUp fund and talent-matching platform invested in a number of Calgary’s leading startups.  

Notice at collection Your Privacy Choices