Thinkathon 2016: Disrupt Montreal Recap

On November 25, 2016, the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship, together with Hack McGill and the Marcel Desautels Institute for Integrated Management (MDIIM), hosted Thinkathon 2016: Disrupt Montreal, an all day event promoting the brainstorming of solutions for Montreal focused issues.

Thinkathon is inspired from its larger cousin, the Hackathon, a multi-hour coding event hosting hundreds of people. Hack McGill will be hosting McHacks on January 28-29, 2017. It’s free to attend, you can apply here.

Thinkathon 2016: Disrupt Montreal was based around the 4 Tracks of the McGill Dobson Cup 2017:


1. Innovation Driven Enterprise Track: Innovation-Driven Enterprise (IDE) Track startups generally build their business upon a technology, science or idea that will give them a significant or radically disruptive advantage compared to their peers.

2. Small & Medium Enterprise Track: The Small & Medium Enterprise (SME) Track is for those startups that likely are started by an individual or group to serve a local market. A distinct feature of an SME startup is that they mainly focus on local markets.

3. Health Sciences Track: Startups in the Health Sciences (HS) Track build primarily on research and technology in the sciences of biology, chemistry, physics, medicine and dentistry as well as a variety of multidisciplinary fields to improve health, prevent and cure diseases, and understand how humans and animals function.

4. Social Enterprise (SE) Track: A Social Enterprise is an organization that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being, rather than maximizing profits for external shareholders.

All teams at work
Teams at work at the Thinkathon 2016: Disrupt Montreal hosted by the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship, Hack McGill, and the Marcel Desautels Institute for Integrated Management (MDIIM).

Our participants were organized into teams of 2-5 people comprised of a Hustler, Hacker, and Hipster. Mentors from Hack McGill, the McGill Dobson Student Executive Team (SET), as well as Ilias Benjelloun from MTL NewTech, and Martina Buchal, spent some time mentoring each of the teams participating in the Thinkathon.

9:30 AM: After breakfast, each team gave a preliminary pitch of about 30 seconds. They got feedback from the crowd and had a chance to modify teams based on improved team matching.

Rita Tehini, VP Events, helping teams out
Judith Li, Events Coordinator for the McGill Dobson Student Executive Team (SET) mentoring one of the teams at the Thinkathon 2016

10:30 AM: Teams brainstormed their ideas along with idea validation and business model generation.

11:30 AM: Here, they focused on customer validation. They got out of the building and interviewed potential customers.

1:30 PM: After a satisfying lunch, the teams started preparing their pitches and building prototypes with the help of all the mentors. At this point, teams were expected to have the framework for a sustainable business plan while also working towards a refined pitch deck.

Maher Ayari, President, mentoring a team
Maher Ayari, President of the McGill Dobson Student Executive Team (SET), mentoring one of the teams at the Thinkathon 2016.

3:30 PM: Teams finally got their finest hour of the day. They had 5 minutes to pitch their ideas, the judges, comprised of Ilias, Martina, as well as Rami Sayar from Microsoft, chose winners and dished out prizes accordingly.

Sophie Gao presenting the winning pitch
Sophie Gao presenting the Balade, the winning team at Thinkathon 2016: Disrupt Montreal

This year’s winner from the Thinkathon 2016 was Balade. Sophie Gao, Alissina Shabani and Stephane Espinosa brainstormed a mobile app that would amplify your walks to any destination in the city of Montreal. Based on your location and destination, Balade would create a scenic route for your journey.

Register to attend the McGill Dobson Startup Bootcamp 2017 and get all the tools you need to compete in the McGill Dobson Cup 2017

Our next entrepreneurship event is the McGill Dobson Startup Bootcamp, which will be held on Saturday, January 7, 2017. You can register to attend here.

Calvin Wren

Calvin is the Editor-in-Chief for The Dobson Chronicles. He’s in U3, finishing a triple concentration in Finance, Information Systems, and Strategic Management. Calvin founded Citybuddy, a travel service for women wishing to travel alone and in security. He also feeds his own music blog and is fascinated by e-commerce.