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The Story Behind C2 Montreal, “A Conference Like No Other”

Posted May 16, 2017

C2 Montréal brings together Commerce and Creativity to explore trends, opportunities, disruptions and major shifts on the horizon. Every year, the conference welcomes more than 5000 decision makers and creative minds to unite to collectively shape, experience, and challenge the future of business.

This year, the conference will be held on May 24-May 28 and will focus on ecosystems.

Jean-François Bouchard, Co-founder of Sid Lee and one of the masterminds behind the C2 Montréal told DIVERGE more:

When did C2 launch?

C2 Montréal launched 6 years ago on May 22, 2012.

What was the inspiration behind it? Who was the team behind it?

The inspiration for C2 Montréal came from a reflection of what business conference were at the time, usually hosted in beige sterile environments in suburban hotels or near airports. Having sat through many of those myself over the years, it sparked a thought that perhaps the model needed be changed.

I shared this idea with Daniel Lamarre, founding partner of Cirque du Soleil, and everything began to quickly unfold. We wanted to reimagine the idea of a corporate event that allowed business leaders to learn how to integrate creativity and innovation in their organizations, through its content as well as its approach.

That’s how we came up with the concept of a 3-day immersive event. Where the conversation about creativity would be mirrored in every facet of the overall experience. We also saw an opportunity to bring together the c-suite from all business sectors and industries, in what would become a global innovation summit in Montréal. And that is how C2 Montréal was born. Today this idea has grown to become an internationally acclaimed conference, winning #1 Innovative Business Conference award two years running.

How did the Cirque Du Soleil and SID LEE partnership formulate? How does this make C2 so unique?

Starting out as an idea between friends, the partnership between Cirque du Soleil and Sid Lee grew from two companies who are passionate about using creativity as tool to push business forward. We wanted to share our passion for creative thinking while doing something positive to position Montreal as a truly innovative city. This makes C2 Montréal unique, because each year both companies leverage their unique pool of multidisciplinary talent to create an experience that reflects our creative city.Why is C2 different from other conferences?

C2 Montréal is not in the events business, we are in the business of transforming mindsets and organizations, by changing the way people think about business and creativity. Each year over 6000 professionals including disruptors, innovators, executives, and creatives come together to learn creative solutions to commercial and social challenges, under a unifying theme.

We believe everyone has the capacity to be creative, which is why our unique approach is so important. This consists of developing a program that creates a d dialogue between the event experience and the topics being discussed. By anchoring everything in what we call meaningful play, every element of the experience has a distinct purpose. Every element of the experience must also be playful and/or touch the participant in a meaningful way.

All it takes is a spark or an idea in the right environment for great things to happen.

What is this year’s theme? What can attendees look forward to?

For this year’s edition, C2 Montréal will be exploring the theme Ecosystems. These complex interconnected networks drive all business sectors. Today, companies need to manage ecosystems of collaborators that are highly complex and interdependent, bridging markets and communities that are both global and local, segmented and complementary.

Attendees can look forward to strengthening their knowledge on this subject in a variety of areas. Topics touching upon talent, the role of the marketer, reinventing entertainment, reimagining cities and dreaming up moonshots.

Favorite memories from first conference?

At our inaugural, we put together an elaborate and creative environment. I was quite proud of it until I saw the trash and recycling bins. We had common bins, regular ones that you would find at any other event. It drove me crazy. I couldn’t believe that we had forgotten to design the bins in this hyper-curated environment. My colleagues had a good laugh at my expense for not seeing past this given the magnitude of the overall experience. Quickly realizing they were right, I could enjoy our impressive accomplishment. However, it’s the meticulous attention to detail that can be found throughout C2 Montréal that makes a unique experience.

Any favorite speakers?

One of my favorite speakers was Andre Agassi. Many thought he was an odd choice for a speaker especially at a conference focused on innovation in business. I had read his book and was a fan, but I secretly held similar feelings as those around me. But when time came for him to present, he absolutely blew me away! Both his wisdom and humility brought tears to my eyes. I’m very happy to have had him speak at C2 Montreal.