How Participants Have Used Braindate at C2 Over the Years

We share the inspiring stories of champion braindaters and how they have used the platform to experience profound moments of connection at C2 Montreal and Online

Categories in Success Stories

The Braindate story began when an educator and a computer engineer came together with the shared dream of transforming the way people of all ages learn around the world. If you have heard this story before you may already know about the moment that changed everything: a phone call between our CEO Christine Renaud and the Director of Sales at C2 Montreal Olivier Offman (now Partner & COO of Yulism) that launched Braindate into the events industry as a renegade solution reinventing the traditional notions around learning and networking. 

That very same phone call also launched an 8-year collaboration with C2 Montreal: the most forward-thinking business conference in the world, and one of our oldest and most cherished partners. 

Since 2013, the first year we brought Braindate to C2, e180 has created an island of peer learning in the middle of the action packed conference grounds: A safe haven where C2 participants could find life-affirming moments of connection and have conversations that left them feeling energized and inspired.

C2 Braindate Lounges over the ages: Conversations taking place at C2 Montreal 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019

Since 2013, we have gotten to learn from and grow alongside the bright minds at C2. But the real joy of our collaboration comes from being able to serve the global community of participants who attend the iconic conference every year.

For close to a decade now, Braindate has had the privilege of supporting thousands of C2 participants in finding the right people to unlock their great ideas, crowdsource their challenges, and find their next business partners or mentors.

“Braindate truly enables our community to connect in a meaningful way. The interest and topic based networking allows participants to engage more rapidly in deeper conversation. It creates better human interactions that result in better business results,” says Anick Beaulieu, V.P. of Growth and Partnerships at C2.

We have watched (and reported) inspiring stories of connection that have emerged from braindates at C2—the kind of stories that would kick any notion you might still have about traditional networking out of the water. Don’t believe us? Read on…

One of the most rewarding aspects of this collaboration has been witnessing the emergence of a community of Braindate Champions. These are participants who have returned to C2 year after year. Each time, we’ve got to host their fascinating conversations and watch them generously share their knowledge with other attendees.

In the following section, we will share stories of some of these Braindate champions that we’ve had the pleasure of reconnecting with at C2’s brand-new virtual experience: C2 Online.

Braindate truly enables our community to connect in a meaningful way. The interest and topic based networking allows participants to engage more rapidly in deeper conversation. It creates better human interactions that result in better business results

— Anick Beaulieu, V.P. of Growth and Partnerships at C2

In the following section, we will share stories of some of these Braindate champions that we’ve had the pleasure of reconnecting with at C2’s brand-new virtual experience: C2 Online. 

Celebrating returning C2 Braindaters i.e. the real life champions of peer learning

In 2020, we partnered with C2 once again to bring Virtual Braindate for the first time, to their brand new digital event. 

C2 Online – Montreal 2020 is a completely digital event separate from the annual C2 Montréal conference that takes place every spring. It offered world-class speakers, solution-driven workshops, and other signature content that participants have come to expect, including, of course, virtual braindates. 

During C2 Online, we were able to reconnect with participants that we had met at previous editions of the conference, some going as far back at C2 Montreal 2017. 

We see these returning braindaters as true champions of peer learning. Year after year, these participants have participated in braindates, eagerly sharing their knowledge, as much as learning from others’ experiences. 

They have enriched the experience of their fellow participants by approaching their conversations with a spirit of true generosity. 

In many ways, they have become experts at braindating. Accordingly, they have leveraged the platform to not just learn from others, but to network intentionally, establish their expertise, find new collaborators, and connect across silos. 

With the rush of C2 Online behind us, we are finally sharing their stories. In the following sections, we will give a peek into the experience of some of these Braindate Champions: how they’ve used Braindate over the years at C2, and how this experience evolved in a virtual environment.

By sharing their stories, we hope to inspire you, and demonstrate how you too can use Braindate to elevate your event experience—be it at C2 or another live, virtual, or hybrid event.

Say hello to some of the Braindate Champions from  C2 Online

 

Jean Philippe Taillon, Founding Partner of Rubicon Energy Group

How have you used Braindate over the years?

At first I simply put up a topic about something I felt I knew more than the average attendee and just waited to see if someone would be interested. The first topic I posted was about the future of the power grid. I was contemplating starting my own electricity trading firm at the time and my C2 experience really pushed me over the edge in taking the entrepreneurial plunge but that’s a story for another day. 

On day 2, a gentleman at the Institut de Recherche Électrique du Québec (IREQ) reached out to me for a braindate. We had a super interesting conversation that led to an invitation to speak at their fall seminar about distributed generation and demand response integration to U.S power markets. It was a great experience! Having used Braindate over the years, my key takeaway is that often something great comes when you go into a braindate without specific expectations.

How did participating in virtual braindates affect your C2 Online experience? 

C2 Online crept up on me amidst a personal exploration of a concept that I did not immediately associate with the C2 brand: Massively Interactive Live Experience (M.I.L.E). I had spent a good part of the summer analyzing the ecosystem around the Twitch.tv platform, I was also in the midst of completing two online education sprints given by Scott Galloway at Section 4. 

After MissHarvey’s C2 session, I saw the link between Twitch, M.I.L.E, and my course material, so I posted two braindate topics and started to notice other topics where I could contribute to the discussion. That led to over 7 hours of braindates and I loved every one of them, I met great people and really progressed in my learning process.

Again, I did not have any specific expectations for an outcome other than learning and testing out different concepts on open-minded strangers and it was a true delight!

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Marie-Chantal Milette, Founder of Kryptonie The Color Agency

How have you used Braindate over the years?

At first, I was just curious and wanted to connect with other C2 participants.

Over the years it became an incredible tool to spread the word about my unique colour specialty, network, grow my business and even make friends. The most fun part is that you never truly know where a braindate can go.

I remember meeting a teacher who was so fascinated about my specialty that she got her school board to hire me to give my very first colour conference and training. I owe her so much as today being a speaker is a huge chunk of my business and one that has been key to stay afloat during this pandemic.

How did participating in virtual braindates affect your C2 Online experience?

I think the most difficult part for me was the 30 minute cut off during a one-on-one braindate. It felt brutal to have marvellous conversations end so abruptly! But on the plus side, during the in-person C2 events, I had so many braindates that I never had time to eat! I was running from one end of the conference to another and at the end of the day I often was brain dead! It was very fresh to be able to braindate from the comfort of my home office and be able to spread the meetings over 2 weeks. Overall, it was an amazing experience considering. For me C2 is all about the braindates, the rest is just extra funfetti sprinkles on the sundae.

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Anna Chu, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft

How have you used Braindate over the years? 

As soon as the Braindate tool opens up to start scheduling, I immediately dedicate time to create topics in the Marketplace and I look forward to the group braindates the most!

I love the ability to bring diverse minds together, all of whom have the same enthusiasm to learn from others.

Braindates attract learners, not know-it-alls! For the uninitiated, there are some who use it as an opportunity to pitch in the one-on-one braindates, but I get the most value out of those who just want to have a conversation, and we have a mutual desire to learn from each other. In one group braindate, the topic was sketch-noting, and I have two people in my network who are sketchnote artists who couldn’t attend, but with the power of technology we were able to dial them into the experience and learn from each other – it was awesome!

I really miss the in-person experience (as we all do!) at events like C2. One of the things I most appreciated about the in-person Braindate experience were the concierges. They were easy to spot with their slick uniforms, and I was lucky enough to have a dedicated concierge who introduced herself to me over email before event. She was super helpful and guided me through setting up my first braindate, and even made an effort to meet up with me in person to see how my experience was going! I also love the fact that the concierge staff could help you find a braindate at the event. For example, if you were interested in meeting other digital marketers, they could tell you who would be a good braindate – they really were like matchmakers!

One of the things I most appreciated about the in-person Braindate experience were the learning concierges…I was lucky enough to have a dedicated concierge who introduced herself to me over email before event. She was super helpful and guided me through setting up my first braindate, and even made an effort to meet up with me in person to see how my experience was going!

How did participating in virtual braindates affect your C2 Online experience?

When I purchased my first ticket for C2, it was the speakers that drew me in. Now, as a repeat C2 attendee, I go primarily for braindates! With C2 going virtual this year, it was 100% reliant on technology, and it was truly amazing to see that braindates still worked online! Kudos to the e180 team! As an event organizer, I really appreciated what the team did to recreate the essence of Braindates, but certainly the cut-off time made the ending of a braindate feel rather abrupt, but that’s how it is with the world of online! With one-on-one braindates, it was easy to get in contact and continue the conversation via Microsoft Teams or other mechanisms, but for group braindates, that was definitely more difficult.

Would I attend C2 again if it was online? Yes, but I would come in with a bit more of a game plan with each of my braindates. Spend the time to research the person I’m going to meet beforehand, use the messaging tool to ask pre-emptive questions and think about how I may want to continue the conversation offline. But would I prefer to do it in-person? 100%!

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Shona Bang, Mixed Reality Product Marketing Manager, Dynamics 365 Remote Assist at Microsoft

How have you used Braindate over the years?

That first time I attended C2 was in 2019, and I remember braindates being one of the highlights of that conference as I made great connections and even invited some of my braindates from C2 to become speakers at our own Microsoft tech conference later that year!

I’ve met so many interesting people, including Lee Kim, a Design Thinking expert from Pfizer and long-time C2 attendee who is well-known for her trademark headpieces made out of pipe cleaners! We traded stories about community building and shared ideas on how to infuse creativity into large corporations.

I remember braindates being one of the highlights of that conference as I made many great connections and even invited some of my braindates from C2 to become speakers at our own Microsoft tech conference later that year!

How did participating in virtual braindates affect your C2 Online experience?

Braindates certainly enhanced the C2 experience. In fact, I met many folks who said that they would camp at the Braindate lounge all week during in-person C2 Montreal conferences because getting to connect with creative people from around the world was the most valuable part of the conference for them. For this online version of C2, I mainly prioritized participating in Braindates since most of the main programming/ sessions were recorded.

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Lee Kim, Global Congress Lead at Pfizer

How have you used Braindate over the years?

I attended C2 for the first time in 2019. I missed a flight from New York to Montreal. I had planned to attend workshops and masterclasses, and had a couple of braindates scheduled. Although I missed the workshops and masterclasses, I was still able to attend braindates. I just fell in love. Not just the concept itself but also the setup of the Braindate Lounge and the ability to bump into people. So I cancelled everything on my calendar and just filled it with braindates. 

At San Francisco Design Week, I used my braindates to conduct research into virtual platforms and virtual experience. I also wanted to meet other interesting people who wanted to connect without necessarily having an agenda. It’s great if you can eventually work together, but what was more important for me was to find people who are genuinely curious and generous. It’s hard to find those kinds of people in just your workspace or even if you go to a conference. Braindate allows you to meet those people. I was able to find many of them, and remain connected for a long time after. I still have meetings with people who I met at the 2019 edition of C2 Montreal. 

In fact, in 2019 I had a braindate with Jennifer, a woman who owned  an optician’s place in Montreal. We connected, and I gave her one of my hats. She was just beaming with this positivity and she asked me if I had ever done an art exhibit. I’m not an artist. But she invited me back to Montreal to have an exhibit at her opticians place, where they display local artists.

Because of Braindate, I was able to come back to Montreal with 400 hats and have an exhibition. I would have never thought that was possible. Where else can a connection like this be made? Where I could give something to someone and that we could form a real friendship.

How did participating in virtual braindates affect your C2 Online experience?

For me, C2 Online experience equaled Braindate.You show up and participate because you’ve either created a topic or joined someone else’s braindate, and it feels like a real event. Whether online or live, having braindates available made me feel like C2 cares about human connection. I concentrated on braindates and went back to watch the on-demand videos later. The way I approach it was: what is the content I can consume later and the connections I can make now. 

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At a time professionals in our industry are working hard to perfect the virtual formula, the biggest thing we’ve learned from our decade long partnership with C2 is this: 

Whether it’s in a virtual, live, or hybrid setting, when two people meet, to not simply network, but to learn from each other’s experiences, magic happens. And as you’ve seen in the stories above, every lasting business relationships begin with a meaningful conversation.  

And that’s where you’ll find us: Cheering you on from the sidelines, doing our very best to ensure that you walk away from the event, having had those transformational conversations.

Other Articles That Might Interest You:

C2 stories: How one man used Braindate to uncovered millions of dollars worth of potential business.

Courageous Connections at the Heart of C2: Here are just a few of the stories that stopped us in our tracks.

Breaking Barriers with Braindates—at 17: Joyce experienced something extraordinary in C2 2018 – this is her story.

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About C2 Montréal

C2 Montréal exists to help leaders shape the future of business and society. This not-for-profit organization brings together a rich and diverse community of leaders, innovators and change-makers with the goal of driving innovation and progress. At its annual flagship event — and now digital rendezvous, C2 Online — C2 Montréal looks at the creative intersections of commerce, science, technology, society and sustainability. C2 is much more than just simply a conference: it combines progressive and inspiring content in a highly creative, immersive setting — both online and in person — aimed at taking participants out of their comfort zone. C2 Montréal has been cited as one of the leaders in business events, having taken home awards for “Canadian Event,” “Corporate Event” and “Kick A** Experience” for both 2018 and 2019 at Eventex, and named “Best Advertising & Marketing Event in Canada” by BizBash in 2019. Imagined by creative agency Sid Lee in collaboration with founding partner Cirque du Soleil, C2 reaches a community of 100,000 individuals, including over 7,500 participants hailing from 60-plus countries and 34 industries, in the belief that business success is coupled with societal progress. The event results in over $650M in business deals and economic impact annually.