McGill X-1 Weekly Recap Series | Week 2 (2016)

As week 2 of the McGill X-1 Accelerator comes to an end, we’re happy to see our 6 teams — AppetiteFractalFRSHNXTSENS MicrosystemsUGo Smoothies, and Venndor — swiftly settling into their space.

Day by day, the walls and windows are increasingly covered with sticky notes of all colours shapes and sizes, every writable surface is covered with notes, and each desk has someone calling it home — for the next 8 weeks at least.

This week, the cohort was focused on the topic of product, the goal being to refine their offerings for the target market they worked to define last week. Having investigated who they want consuming what they’re building, it was now time to make sure their products fits their target market.

Maher Ayari, McGil X-1 Program Coordinator, speaking with Gregory Kalinin from 9Point10
Maher Ayari, McGil X-1 Program Coordinator, speaking with Gregory Kalinin from 9Point10

Beyond product however, the teams have been gearing up for their first McGill X-1 Advisory Board Meeting, which will be on Wednesday June 22. Board Meetings are designed to simulate that of an existing startup, in which a company will meet with its key stakeholders to discuss progress, company improvements, challenges, and next steps. For the first Board Meeting, teams will have the chance to set the stage and show how well they’ve grasped their learnings from the X-1 Accelerator program.

The first speaker of this week was Farshad Mirshafiei, McGill X-1 Alumni and co-founder & CEO of Sensequake, a startup building technology to asses seismic activity in urban environments. The 6 teams got the chance to pitch their company to Farshad, who provided feedback on how they could improve their pitches with their new learnings from last week’s sessions.

Ron Duerksen, Chief of Strategy and Marketing Officer for the Desautels Faculty of Management running a marketing workshop for the McGill X-1 2016 cohort
Ron Duerksen, Chief of Strategy and Marketing Officer for the Desautels Faculty of Management running a marketing workshop for the McGill X-1 2016 cohort

Next, the teams had the opportunity to meet Ron Duerksen, Chief of Strategy and Marketing Officer for the Desautels Faculty of Management. Duerksen brought his rich knowledge of marketing and public relations strategy to guide the startups with the development of their marketing plans. His main question for the startups to reflect upon was “what can you do for your customer?”, which guided their discussion on the 4 P’s of marketing and the process of building a brand.

The following speaker of the week was Isaac Souweine of Flatbook, who shared some of his interesting experiences with the Flatbook team when the startup was just getting started. He also helped the McGill X-1 teams compare and contrast two popular business frameworks: the lean startup canvas, and the business model canvas.

Gregory Kalinin from 9Point10 speaking with Appetite, one of six startups in the McGill X-1 2016 cohort
Gregory Kalinin from 9Point10 speaking with Appetite, one of six startups in the McGill X-1 2016 cohort

Next up, Gregory Kalinin, seasoned entrepreneur and co-founder and CEO of 9Point10, and McGill Alumni, ran a workshop on mapping customer decision making processes, a crucial understanding for any startup founder. With his expertise in startup development, and personal achievement of having lead his company to an IPO of over $80 million, Gregory’s insights and guidance through his workshop were greatly appreciated.

To bring the attention to the technological side of product development, the last speaker of the week was Rami Sayar, Senior Technical Evangelist at Microsoft who held an in depth discussion on application development and cloud based software. Rami also generously offered each McGill X-1 startup team Microsoft BizSpark, which provides technical support to software entrepreneurs which includes many of the members of the X-1 cohort.

With another exciting week wrapped up, we’re excited to kick off week 3. The startups will have their first McGill X-1 Advisory Board Meeting of the summer, and will also be focusing on startup financials.

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Sanjana Desai

Sanjana Desai is a third year Bachelor of Commerce Student in the Desautels Faculty of Management. Sanjana was previously the Dobson Relations Coordinator (Summer 2016), responsible for all communications between startups, judges, and McGill Alumni.