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Bronfman foundation supports emerging entrepreneurs

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Claudine and Stephen Bronfman, right, congratulate Daniel Perel, left, and Philip Barrar, founder and CEO of the app bankMe. Raphaël Jolicoeur photo
Claudine and Stephen Bronfman, right, congratulate Daniel Perel, left, and Philip Barrar, founder and CEO of the app bankMe RAPHAEL JOLICOEUR PHOTO

Last year, Maison FreshMint’s 30 couriers travelled 70,000 kilometres delivering catered meals – 95 per cent of the time by bicycle.

FreshMint, which offers healthy, freshly cooked meals for customers living or working downtown, was co-founded two years ago and is owned by Daniel Perel, a 2009 Concordia University bachelor of commerce graduate.

He was on a comfortable path to a career in management consulting and had, in fact, been offered a position with a global firm. But Perel had an itch to strike out on his own, and FreshMint was born.

Today, he oversees the company’s daily operations from its de la Commune Street premises. Its motto is “Wholesome meals delivered in minutes” – 20 to 45 minutes, to be precise – at lunch and dinner.

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FreshMint covers a radius as far west as Westmount and east to Drolet Street, with orders taken via the web or mobile applications.

The commitment makes for a hectic schedule, something Perel is thriving on.

He calls it “quick food, not fast food,” with the menu changing weekly and highlighting different cuisines and the finest ingredients.

Perel also keeps it ethical, striving to source products from nearby farms and to use only packaging with biodegradable plastics.

It’s that kind of entrepreneurship that has earned Perel an unlimited pass to the fifth edition of C2 Montréal, an international business conference that took place May 24 to 26. He is one of 25 young Quebecers heading emerging businesses selected for this recognition in a contest sponsored by the Claudine and Stephen Bronfman Family Foundation.

In addition to having been able to participate free at all events at the conference (a prize worth $3,000), the winners also took part in programming especially designed for them to help them grow their business.

The 25 were selected from more than 300 entries by an expert jury, appointed by the Foundation, which looked for exceptional entrepreneurial spirit and innovative business models.

They are engaged in a wide range of industries, from green technology and web applications to urban agriculture, molecular cooking, and even toy-making. To be eligible, the companies had to be based in Quebec and active for no more than three years.

Foundation co-chair Claudine Blondin Bronfman is pleased with the high calibre of the submissions.

“The broad spectrum of products and services they provide shows that the spirit of enterprise is alive and well in Quebec, and we have no lack of talent,” she said.

The programming tailored for the winners beyond the C2 Montréal regular schedule includes sessions with two of the conference’s guest speakers: networking with Fast Company editor Robert Safian, and a workshop led by Lotfi El-Ghandouri, founder of Creative Society and The Hub Madrid, as well as a private meet-and-greet with Chip Conley, head of hospitality and strategy for Airbnb.

One of the 25 winners will be picked, based on their performance during the event, to be a member of a “Burning Questions” panel that will discuss a subject chosen just 24 hours in advance by conference attendees.

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C2 Montréal, a name derived from the words commerce and creativity, aims to put a new, edgier spin on the usual business gathering, featuring not only talks and pitch sessions, but performances and festivities. The Harvard Business Review termed it “a conference unlike any other” and the Economist said it is “challenging conventions.”

More than 5,000 are expected to participate in the conference, which will be based at the Arsenal art gallery in Griffintown.

Confirmed on May 9 was that a large delegation from Israel will be attending. This includes Oded Tal, CEO of Claridge Israel, an investment firm focusing on promising technology firms created last year under a partnership between Montreal-based Claridge Inc., headed by Bronfman; and the Caisse de Dépôt et Place du Québec; Fiona Darmon, partner and COO of Jerusalem Venture Partners; Lenny Roth, an OurCrowd partner; Mark Weiner, founder and CEO of the tech firm Reduxio; and Mark Gazit, CEO of ThetaRay, a cyber-security specialist.

A 300-member delegation from China was previously announced.

Curated by the Montreal-headquartered creative services firm Sid Lee, C2 Montreal’s founding partner is Cirque du Soleil.