The first week of the McGill X-1 Accelerator program has come to a close with our six startups more excited than ever to be on the journey of a lifetime.
UGo Smoothies, NXTSENS Microsystems, Venndor (formerly known as Matchbox), FRSH, Fractal, and Appetite are working hard to accelerate the growth of their startups these next ten weeks in preparation for Demo Days scheduled in Montreal and San Francisco on September 7 and September 22, 2016 respectively.
The week commenced with a dive into the deep end as Matthew Brightman, McGill Dobson alumnus and current VP Product at Mirametrix, heard each team pitch their startup for the first time in the program. Relentless in providing his feedback, the teams were brought back down to earth, understanding they had ways to go before they were ready to face investors on Demo Days here in Montreal and San Francisco.
To set the pace for this year’s McGill X-1 cohort, current FounderFuel Program Manager and last year’s McGill X-1 Program Manager, Thibaud Marechal came to visit his old home and shared his wisdom on how to get the most out of an accelerator program. His vigour paired with a beautiful presentation, proved to be a great inspiration to our startup founders, as the keys to success had now been laid out in front of them with the statement, “don’t just show up on time, be early”, being one of them.
Next, the startups were visited by Heather McCuen, the Montreal City Lead of WeWork Montreal, an international startup aiming to create spaces in which people can love to work, so they can live to work. With her plethora of experience working with teams and on projects in many different contexts, Heather enlightened the startups on the necessity of failure as fundamental for growth. A key piece of wisdom that resonated with the startups were the words, “fail as often and as quickly as possible”, demonstrating to our founders that you only learn from your mistakes. Despite how challenging it is to accept failure, in reality, learning from failure a great thing.
Following a jam-packed first day, the week continued with teams beginning the intensive programming on the topics of team building/role identification, and choosing your market. Makoto Rheault-Kihara, a member of BusBud and co-founder of Movekit spoke to the teams about discovering who is truly your customer.
Similarly, Charlie Feng, another McGill Dobson alumnus and current member of Hemingly based in Toronto, discussed customer acquisition and learning more about your market of clientele. Next, Jean-Nicolas Delage of Fasken Martineau, outlined the fundamentals of intellectual property rights and the importance of having an intellectual property strategy in place, an incredibly important aspect for any business.
Knowing that they may have the opportunity to pitch at Demo Day in San Francisco this year, the teams connected with Maryam Sabour, the McGill Dobson Centre’s San Francisco Outreach Coordinator and President of the Dobson Student Executive Team. Maryam described her ongoing efforts to connect teams with mentors in the San Francisco area and shared her plans for the weeks to come.
The week ended with a workshop on how to maintain your engagement with your startup and the right mindset to adopt, led by Prof. Nii Addy of the Desautels Faculty of Management here at McGill. Following this was Prof. Lisa Cohen, another outstanding professor at Desautels, who shared her expertise on building a great team and understanding team dynamics.
To wrap up the afternoon, the startups also had the great opportunity to meet with Hon. Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue for the Government of Canada, engaging in a discussion on how Canada and the federal government can continue to support startups here in Quebec and across the country.
With one busy week out of ten behind us, the McGill X-1 startups are beginning to pick up the pace, excited for the lessons and many more captivating speakers who are yet to come. Here on the Dobson Chronicles, we will be bringing you a recap of each week so you can stay up to date with every leg of the journey.