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Antoine Roy-Larouche, the man behind C2-Mtl Experiences

You may come across Antoine Roy-Larouche during C2-Mtl, which is being held from May 24 to 26, but maybe not. The main reason is that he is the one who makes you live all these C2-Mtl Experiences more crazy than the others. I met him while he was in San Francisco for another C2 branch event.

Credit: Jimmy Hamelin for C2-Mtl

Let’s go straight to the heart of the matter, for people who do not know what C2 is and what was the starting idea when implementing the project.

The story of the creation of C2 is really lost in the mists of time, but essentially the story is that there were conversations between Cirque du Soleil and Sid Lee who are the founding partners of C2-Montreal, with Its two headliners, Jean-François Bouchard and Daniel Lamarre, who were approached by various companies to know how they manage their creative process internally, it was a pleasure to share, but at the same time they Realized that it was not their business model to organize trainings, conferences to talk about. Given this need, they said, why not join us in order to set up an organization whose mission would be to make lectures on the link between trade and creativity because there was a huge demand on that side.

I imagine that this strand experience is what differentiates you from other conferences, one could almost say that you are the Coachella of business conferences. What was the evolution of the Experience component of C2 since the beginning of the adventure?

In fact, it’s always been part of the idea behind C2, I think that was what was said in the first volunteer training, when it was explained that it was a mix between Burning Man and TED, so experience has always been the key to the event. The phrase «experience and content» was used extensively. And we wanted this content to be offered in a context, in an experience that follows and enriches the content. For example, we could not do a C2 in a Convention Center, it had to be an immersive environment, people should be «challengés» in the environment, and this would have an impact on how people would receive ‘information. If we make a creative trade event, the environment must be as creative as the environment.

Why was this Experience component necessary when creating C2, and how does it give you an edge over the competition?

It’s hard to answer that question, and I was talking about it with Martin (Beauchamp) and I was thinking, there is not so much competition, people doing exactly the same thing as us. People sometimes compare us to TED obviously, we are not in a pre-established format, otherwise there is SXSW, but there is not necessarily the immersive side, it is the fusion of several events. We are not like Davos where politics comes together, so I was a little bit bothered by the question.


Credit: Agnieszka S for C2-Mtl

For having volunteered the first two years, and media last year, I was able to live a little (much) experience of C2 in front and behind. What is the biggest difficulty when you want to impress creative people, get them out of their comfort zone?

In fact, we have the chance to work in the ecosystem of Montreal creators, at the same time, the experiences we propose are with Moment Factory, PixMob, Chromatic, etc. If we created 100% of our experiences internally, it would be more difficult to renew, but at the same time, with several partners, we go further, while respecting our vision and our artistic direction. We impress Montreal creators, as Montreal-based creatives stun the whole world.

Do you think it would be interesting to have C2 Experiences live outside the site for Mr and Mrs everybody to make them live a little bit of what C2 is? If not why?

At the beginning, C2 is a business event for the business community, after which we are creating more and more experiences, as you know, we toured Europe And in California where we are, we are working on other projects in Montreal that may soon be available and that may be accessible. But, we must not forget that our primary goal is to go for the business community. If we remove the coating, we are at the end, a business conference. On the other hand, if someone approaches us, we will certainly not say no to take a look at a project that might be interesting for us.

What can we expect in this year compared to the 375th, I imagine it must be a constant challenge to reinvent itself year after year?

We have a central theme that is the cities, so we will have Montreal, but also other cities that will be at the heart of the event, either by conferences, panelists, wingers, masters, laboratories, etc. All to celebrate the 375th anniversary of Montreal.

Credit : Arianne Bergeron for C2 -Mtl

What makes you stay in C2 year after year?

You were there last year, so you see the evolution between last year and the first year, there is always a challenge to go further. On the side that I manage, it is certain that I manage the same thing in the first year as now, the collaborative experiences, which are the non-conference activities.

On a small summary, in the first year, there were about 200 people who were involved in these activities, whereas now, this year we are approaching 1000 people. The first year, it was me alone while now the team comprises about ten people. Also, people want more and more. They do not want to just stay static to watch a person talk but want to, touch things, meet people.

What is the biggest difficulty in an event like C2 on the side of the experience?

I think the biggest challenge is that there are a lot of things happening at the same time and yes, but our challenge is to get the most coherent thing possible. That it is easy, that it is a progression, a course and not a hubbub. In the end, the person learned, and she brought these tools to the office the following week to share with colleagues.

Could you describe for us a little about the journey that we will discover this year?

I believe that people who have already come will recognize things, our great types of experiences remain, but we renew the experience of the conference itself. Initially we were in a classical, frontal style, whereas this year we have acquired a large marquee 360 ​​degrees so the speakers will be all round and therefore the participants will be very close to the action. The speaker will be able to watch the 1200 participants in the eye! You can do stuff like the SATosphere, where you play with different surfaces, and so on.

Credit : Arianne Bergeron for C2-Mtl

Compared to all the experiences of this year, which is not to be missed?

What is currently being developed is one of the laboratories called Cubicule, where two people who are unfamiliar are asked to take on a complex challenge from the business world in fashion Escape game. This is the first time we bring the world of gambling into our experiences, there will have to be an extreme effort of cooperation, and this quickly, a great learning experience.

What is your favorite among all the experiments carried out in recent years at C2?

My favorite is overall, in fact, what is good is to be reminded that you have a break for people that they have time to take the time. People need to decompress and that’s what makes people love these experiences, it’s their escape moment in fact. This is their opportunity to weigh on pause.

Thank you Antoine and to the pleasure of seeing you  at C2 this year!


A big thanks to Antoine Roy-Larouche and C2-Montréal team for making this interview possible.

*Article from the RDPmag Magazine Spring 2017.

President, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Gentologie.