StartUp - Collage

Have you met Ted? AquaAction experience at Startupfest 2022 

By Alejandro Martinez-Ramos
Spread the Word

“Have you met Ted?” Ted Mosby is one of the main characters of the popular sitcom from 2005, “How I Met Your Mother” (HIMYM). The show tells the story of Ted, a 27-year-old architect from NY, on his journey to meet his soulmate, the mother of his future children. “Have you met Ted?” was the tagline one of Ted’s best friends used to introduce him to potential partners throughout the nine seasons the show was on air. Yes, it took Ted nine years and countless dates with many different people before he met THE ‘one’; he used these two words to refer to the perfect woman he would marry in the future.  

You might feel strange to come across the story of Ted Mosby, and HIMYM in an article about water issues, tech solutions, and startups. We as entrepreneurs, as well as our ventures, and the technologies we develop are influenced by human relations, much like Ted’s quest for the ONE is. Water, ocean, and climate tech startups are not different from ventures in other sectors regarding the role human relationships play in their journey to build solutions that will create better environmental conditions on earth for us and future generations.  

Ted had an idealized image of the perfect match and marriage for him. Every time he ran into potential partners, he spent a lot of time overthinking how to approach the opportunity, creating countless scenarios in his mind. Barney Stinson on the other hand, his wingman in the series, never thought twice. He simply acted upon the opportunity by introducing Ted to potential partners without even asking his permission, using a simple tagline, “Have you met Ted?”  

HIMYM, have you met Teds, the whole scene:

It is common for first-time entrepreneurs to join the entrepreneurship adventure attracted by the wealth, popularity, and success mainstream media usually associates with startups. And many others dream of starting their venture but stall as they look for the perfect co-founders, teams, and investors. It is not far different from what Ted’s approach was. But thanks to Barney’s audacity, Ted came across countless connections that unintentionally helped him grow, mature, and find his future wife. His soul mate was not the perfect person he initially dreamed of; she had her issues. Nevertheless, finding her led Ted to one of the happiest moments of his life. The ideal circumstances to build a company, the cofounder, the partner, or the investor, more often than not, do not exist. But eventually, you will come across the one – whatever that means in your case – that will make sense for what you need to build your startup or tech solution. Do not sit, overthink and wait; speed and execution are critical in the startup world.  

Abraham Lincoln is believed to have said, “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” — Why Do the Best Startups Execute Faster than Anyone Else? By Neil Patel for Forbes magazine.

As a previous entrepreneur and business developer, and after a few years helping entrepreneurs, I know by experience and others’ comments that meeting masses of people, many of them people you are amazed to talk to, often ends on nothing, no sale, no business, no investment. That isn’t very encouraging. Yet, dating and going out – engaging in conversations- is a process we must go through until we find the holy grail of our dreams.

At times, you may find it a little intimidating and feel a little out of place due to the stage of your startup and the subject/topic that your solution touches (ocean/cleantech). Like Ted, all the people you come across might help you learn something good on your journey as an entrepreneur or in the process of building your startup or tech solution.

We participate in conferences and festivals to learn new insights and to discover resources, among other things. The most valuable thing about attending conferences and festivals is the connections made. Conferences and festivals are meant to discover, build, and strengthen relationships that might turn into future collaborations.

It doesn’t matter if you are attending a sectoral conference like BlueTech Forum, Salon des TEQ, WEFTEC or COP 27 or a startup-oriented festival like Collision or Startupfest, be prepared with an approximate idea of what you want, be ready to adapt your pitch, and take advantage of every interaction you can get. Who knows if the person you interacted with will become a lifelong business relationship. Be open-minded, adaptable, and resilient.

How I Met Your Mother Key learnings 

  • Although idealized, Ted had an approximation of what he wanted in life, 
  • He adapted his pitch and his view of relationships during his journey, 
  • He kept his mind open and adjusted as he was learning about life, 
  • He was resilient. 

AquaAction Alumni experience at Startupfest 2022 

Startupfest highlights  

From July 13 to 15, 2022, AquaAction staff and some startup community members had the opportunity to participate in Startupfest. This was an excellent occasion to see the community members from different regions meet for the first time, exchange, and support one another. The festival was a joyful moment with good opportunities for them to pitch/get feedback on their pitches. They engaged in conversations regarding the challenge of fundraising or attracting investment for social and environmental mission-driven startups, especially those with solutions to improve the health of the planet and ecosystems.  

During the festival, the start-ups within the AquaAction community, engaged in the following activities:  

  • They got a total of 119 introductions. 
  • They met with potential investors, mentors, coaches, venture capital firms, and incubators.  
  • Ecotime Solutions had the privilege to participate in a contest and be selected first among the top 10 and then among the top 5 for the $100K Black Entrepreneurs competition. 

Click here to see photos of the entrepreneurs within the AquaAction community during Startupfest 

Furthermore, here is what the entrepreneurs said about participating in Startupfest:  

 Do you consider Startupfest to be a useful event for entrepreneurs in the AquaAction community? 

  • ChemBrains. It is a good place to network, pitch, and promote your business 
  • EcoTime Solutions.Yes, because there are always companies that you can connect with, there are all kinds of entrepreneurs at Startupfest, it’s a good place to network and makes contacts 
  • Bello Water. The connections, I was able to connect and discuss with many people 
  • Marine Way. I think it was great for networking to find out about different opportunities and learn from experts. I also appreciate the effort in helping me connect with other individuals at the event. 

What are some tangible results of your participation? 

  • ChemBrains. There have been meetings with stakeholders from various grant programs, incubators, and experts, but for the moment it is at the discussion stage. 
  • EcoTime Solutions.This has allowed me to have visibility, I ended up in a good position for the Black Entrepreneur Pitch, I have spoke with two2 incubators who would like that want me to join during the fall cohort (MTL Lab, and Groupe 3737). I was able to meet and discuss with the sponsors of MAT LAB, the environment and innovation manager of the Olympic Park and the Palais des Congrès of Montreal, Tourism Trois Rivières. Conversations, exchanges and discoveries. 
  • Bello Water. We were able to greatly expand our network and we talked to potential investors, people in incubators etc. So far, we’ve only had one discussion, but we’ve kept in touch for the future. 
  • Marine Way. I found out about different incubators, accelerators, and competitors in the ecosystem, some of which I am looking to apply for soon. I also connected with several mentors on LinkedIn who are willing to chat about Marine Way’s needs further. 

What are three valuable elements you retain from the Festival? 

  • ChemBrains. Visibility, networking, funding programs. 
  • EcoTime Solutions. Visibility, networking and discoveries 
  • Bello Water. 1) Discussion with incubators/accelerators like CDL or Centech, 2) Connection with potential investors and BDC/Desjardins, 3) Networking with a lot of people. 
  • Marine Way. It was great chatting with Rita (one of the mentors) on the value proposition for Marine Way! I also found out about legal and accounting considerations for operations overseas, and I obtained some tips and tricks (team and culture, hiring, firing, pitching, etc.) to consider while growing Marine Way.  

Learn more about the startups here.

We are confident that, at least in some cases, it is only a matter of time before those new contacts will turn into the one co-founder, investor, talent, client or incubator the entrepreneurs were looking for. As we wait for that glorious moment to happen, we look forward to attending next year’s Startupfest and involving even more startups dedicated to solving freshwater issues. Hopefully, the organizers will add a track devoted to technologies that aim to heal our planet.  

Surround yourself with like-minded close connections who share the same values, dreams, and mission 

Something else; Ted was surrounded by a close group of friends who supported him through good times and bad times throughout the nine seasons. They were people with dreams, skills, and values who sincerely cared for him. Please surround yourself with like-minded close connections, people who share the same values, dreams, and mission as you do, or that at least complement yours. You will need their support in your journey to make your dream come true.  

Why did I decide to use the HIMYM show as an analogy? My colleagues at AquaAction and I spent three days at Startupfest, accompanying four startups from the AquaAction community. For three consecutive days, I kept repeating “have you met…?” to introduce entrepreneurs to potential candidates for incubation programs, investors, mentors, talent, and co-founders left and right.  

I joined AquaAction on April 4th, 2022, entrusted with a pan-Canadian community of enthusiastic tech entrepreneurs resolved to fix freshwater issues. I enjoyed talking about tech solutions, startups and community. I like to express my convictions and reflections in simple ways that readers can identify with. HIMYM is one of my favourite shows ever. With that in mind, I would not necessarily extrapolate from all the situations the characters lived. Nonetheless, I think there is value in this metaphor to bring attention to the human relationships factor in business and tech innovation.  


HIMYM final scene:

When Ted finally meets the mother (a slightly happier version…) | How I Met Your Mother