Dear friends and supporters of Notman House,

As I am contemplating the end of an era, my heart is filled with a blend of emotions. It is with a mix of pride and nostalgia that I announce my departure as the Managing Director of OSMO and Notman House. This journey has been nothing short of extraordinary, and today, I want to take a moment to reflect on the incredible experiences we have shared.

A Dream Come True

When I joined the OSMO Foundation 7 years ago, it was more than just a job opportunity—it was a chance to realize the dream of having my own restaurant. Initially welcomed as the manager of the OSMO café, I dove headfirst into the challenge of making this place a gathering place adapted to the needs of our community, a restaurant recognized on the local scene and a profitable business. I’m really proud today to see how far we’ve come since 2016, and very happy with the innovative partnership we’ve set up with the talented Marusan team.

Be a Part of Something Transformative

The Notman House project started in 2009: the idea that Montreal needed a home for Montreal tech entrepreneurs. The inspiring thing about Notman House is that it is an historic property that was abandoned for 10 years and that is now at the service of the future of the economy. The house itself is named after an entrepreneur, William Notman, a visionary of image and information technology, so there’s a nice continuity. The process that led to the safeguarding and enhancement of the emblematic Notman House is exemplary, notably with one of the first socio-funding campaigns using the Indiegogo platform to raise the missing $100,000 (and more!) in 20 days.

Notman House was envisioned as a hub for innovation, collaboration, and growth—a platform that would catalyze the aspirations of Montreal’s tech community. With the depth and breadth of community organizations, it has enabled as well as the billions of dollars of value created by the startups, and now scale ups, companies that have been built using the infrastructure platform that is Notman House, I can confidently say that we have surpassed those lofty expectations.

Nurturing a Thriving Community

One of the most rewarding aspects of my role has been witnessing the growth and vibrancy of the Notman House community. From talented entrepreneurs and aspiring startups to seasoned investors and mentors and accelerator programs, our shared space became a melting pot of creative minds. We fostered an environment that encouraged collaboration, sparked innovation, and celebrated diversity. Through over thousands of events, workshops, and networking activities, we provided a platform for individuals to connect, learn, and thrive.

I couldn’t talk about the importance of community, and my time at Notman, without mentioning the impact of the pandemic on our team, our organization and the startup community. 2020 was the start of an extremely difficult period. I remember Monday, March 16, 2020, when I had to deal with the unimaginable: orchestrating the partial closure of Notman House, implementing sanitary measures on campus and setting up a COVID-19 protocol…not to mention having to say goodbye to almost the entire team.

It is clear now that the world needs places and opportunities to connect. I am humbled to say that Notman has been able to adapt to a new reality, offering rental spaces in flex mode and with shorter-term commitments. While most traditional coworking spaces have an occupancy rate around 70%, Notman is now fully booked. I’m also immensely proud of and grateful to the team and the community instigators behind our recurring “Wednesdays at Notman” themed event program which, since November, has brought together 1,200+ individuals from diverse backgrounds, in person!

With 213 current residents and members and the ambition of adding hundreds more with the SOMO club, over a thousand visitors a month, I can say without a doubt that Notman is more vibrant than ever.

Building bridges, Breaking barriers

Our impact extends beyond the walls of Notman House. We actively engaged with the local community, forging partnerships and collaborations for the benefit of the community and the common good.

Launched in 2016 with the support and values of OSMO, Techaide is a grassroots collective to inspire the Montreal tech ecosystem to get together to give back to our local community. Since then, the Techaide ambassadors have raised 3.5M$ for Centraide, to fight against poverty in the greater Montreal area. In 2022, we secured a partnership to solidify our support for the volunteer collective behind this impactful initiative.

Since 2017, in collaboration with Startupfest and MTL Newtech, we have organized the Startup Community Awards to honour those who build our ecosystem day after day. With over 12 winners, hundreds of attendees, and numerous partners every year, it’s truly a fine example of collaboration by and for the community.

In 2018, we took over the AI4Good program for its second year of operation. Five years later and thanks to the invaluable contribution of dedicated advisors, numerous partners and a talented team, the program now has 3 locations and enables 90 young women a year to perfect their knowledge and skills in ethical AI development. Since 2023, the program has been part of the MILA portfolio.

Just before COVID hit, we organized our first Nuit Blanche event Lumière sur Notman, a multidisciplinary event where we opened our doors and locked down Clark Street for a carnival night. We gave coupons to 150 neighbours and had over 350 visitors that night!

We’re always delighted to put our network to good use, collaborate on impactful initiatives and offer a place where everyone can come together. We pride ourselves on welcoming, listening to and guiding those who come through our doors, whether physical or virtual – that’s our DNA.

A Legacy to Cherish

As I pass the baton to a new leader, I’m confident that Notman will continue to thrive, playing a key role in the Montreal tech ecosystem and offering the best experience to its stakeholders. I’d even go so far as to say that it’s starting a new cycle: what will we do today that others won’t, and which will bring us another 10 years later? I am grateful to our dedicated team and board of directors, past and present, our incredible partners, and all those who believe in our mission. Together, we have created a legacy that will inspire generations to come and that provides a solid foundation to accompany the ecosystem into its next phase of development.

I carry with me memories that will forever be etched in my heart. The laughter, the camaraderie, and the collective drive for excellence will remain as a testament to what can be achieved when a community comes together. To the countless individuals who have welcomed me in this generous, smart and authentic community , thank you for being a part of this extraordinary journey.

I now look forward to embarking on new adventures, leveraging the invaluable experiences gained during my tenure at Notman House. As I sign off, I leave you with a simple message: continue to dream, dare, and disrupt. The world needs your ideas, your passion, and your unwavering belief in the power of the community.

With deepest gratitude,

Annie-Claude Devriese