The last week of the McGill X-1 Accelerator starts today and we can barely fathom how nine of ten weeks have gone by so quickly!
Week 9 was an absolute whirlwind, with a great lineup of speakers and the final McGill X-1 Advisory Board meeting taking place. This board meeting is one of the most crucial points of the McGill X-1 Accelerator program as this determines which startups will go on to present in our rapidly approaching McGill Demo Days in Montreal on September 7th, San Francisco on September 22nd, and Boston on September 28th.
This week we were happy to have Dr. Margaret Magdesian back at the McGill X-1 to once again “grill” our teams on their pitches and the evolution of their business since they last met with her during Week 4 of the X-1 program. Having excelled in the X-1 Accelerator herself, and her experience in building one of Montreal’s leading nanotechnology startups, ANANDA Devices, Margaret knows all too well the dedication and focus necessary to build a successful company.
Joining the X-1 teams for Margaret’s session were a group of commerce students from the National Institute of Food Tech. Entrepreneurship & Management in India who are currently studying entrepreneurship. It was an excellent opportunity for the McGill X-1 to get a taste of McGill’s incredible international relationships and reputation through this visit of the delegation from India.
On Monday afternoon we welcomed Daniel Drouet, CEO at Discoder and Mentor at Founder Fuel. The focus of this week in the X-1 Accelerator was financing and raising capital. Daniel led the teams through a discussion on the basics of raising equity financing. Having launched Discoder just a year ago, Daniel has a fresh perspective on the process of raising capital for a young startup which was extremely valuable and relevant to our X-1 teams’ current position.
On Tuesday morning, the teams met Sam Haffar Principal of Real Ventures, Canada’s leading source of seed stage capital for startups. Our teams were glad to learn about his journey. Sam is not only an entrepreneur through his experience working with Chegg, but is also an excellent mentor to many different startups through FounderFuel, the accelerator created by Real Ventures. Having experience from both the startup and accelerator sides allowed him to share a very well-rounded perspective about founding a startup.
Next, the teams met Sarah Corboliou of Interaction Ventures, an entrepreneur-led angel fund focused on investing in early stage startups. Sarah is an analyst at Interaction Ventures and is often the first point of contact for startups looking for venture capital. She discussed the key factors that VC’s use to evaluate entrepreneurs before making an investment decision. This was crucial advice for our teams as they near the end of our accelerator program and prepare to present their startups to investors at Demo Day.
Wednesday was dedicated to the third and final McGill X-1 Advisory Board meeting where teams met with advisory board members Tim Tokarsky and Jeff Speak, two successful entrepreneurs and long time McGill Dobson Centre judge-mentors, alongside Professor Greg Vit, Director of the McGill Dobson Centre. Their expertise was crucial for determining what our teams would need to achieve in order to succeed on Demo Day. The feedback from the board members after having seen the teams evolve throughout the summer demonstrated how much our founders have grown over 9 short weeks while ensuring there is always plenty yet to learn.
On Thursday the teams were visited by Thomas Birch, Managing Partner, Quebec Funds; and Mike McGraw, Analyst, Funds and Venture Capital of La Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec. This second visit from members of the CDPQ was to provide an in-depth view of how La Caisse aims to support startups, entrepreneurs, and accelerators, and how to approach the many funding options that are available to young startups in the present day.
The final speaker of the week was Emmanuel Cameron, Business Development Manager at Futurpreneur Canada, the only national, non-profit organization that provides financing, mentorship, and support to young entrepreneurs. Emmanuel discussed the services of Futurpreneur which have already helped thousands of Canadian businesses, and offered a number of great options for our startups as they graduate from the McGill X-1 Accelerator in the coming weeks.
Our startups have come an extremely long way after 9 weeks of hard work. Be sure to check back with us next week as the program comes to an end and the cohort prepares for Demo Days. Don’t forget to sign up and save your seat for McGill Demo Days in Montreal on September 7th, San Francisco on September 22nd, and Boston on September 28th.