McGill X-1 Weekly Recap Series | Week 3 (2017)


Welcome to Week 3 of the the McGill X-1 Accelerator.

Hosted by the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship, the McGill X-1 Accelerator is an intensive 10-week summer program designed to accelerate later stage McGill startups towards investment readiness and launch for the Demo Days we have planned which will take place in Montreal, Boston, San Francisco, Toronto, and New York City, in Fall of 2017.

Week 3’s focus was on Business Models and Startup Financials. Here are some of the highlights.

First up, we hosted Philippe-Olivier Daniel from Podlegal who talked about some nitty-gritty stuff like option pools and vesting, but in terms of easy actionable takeaways, here are two: A) Choose a distinctive name so you can protect it easily, don’t go for a common noun like table or heater because you’ll be at a higher risk for going to court. B) He recommended a book to get your startup venture-ready: It’s called Venture Deals – Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist.

Next up, Corey Phelps, who’s the Associate Professor of Strategy & Organization here at McGill, gave a really engaging talk/workshop about the business model canvas as well as how important money is to turn your dream into reality when it comes to business. Since most startups don’t have money, you have to get creative with how you spend your money in order to maximize your results. To illustrate this, he showed us a scene from Moneyball. 

A second major insight he shared came from a report from CBInsights on the top 20 reasons startups fail. Number one is no market need at a whopping 42%. Just to re-iterate, the number one reason that startups fail is because nobody needs what they’re making – they’re creating a product that doesn’t solve a burning pain. #2 at 29% is running out of cash, and #3 at 27% is that the startup doesn’t have the right team.

We also had our first of three advisory board meetings, during which each team had a 1 on 1 with a number of successful entrepreneurs who gave them feedback as well as milestones they need to achieve by the next meeting which will be in 3 weeks. Following the board meetings, we had lunch with the advisory board!

Next, Francis Martel from National Bank talked about Accounting 101. An important point he made was that a bank is not a nonprofit organization – while they do want to help you, they are inclined to make decisions that will make them money in the long run. He also said to be aware of your debt to equity ratio because that’s one of the factors that go into how much banks will lend you.

In this week’s edition of the Grilled by CEO series, we had Amelie Morency. who’s the Founder & CEO of The Food Room, which is a Culinary Coworking Space for small and medium food businesses. She pitched at Dragon’s Den twice, and just to give you an idea about what it takes to get to that level, one of her actionable pieces of advice was that “You should have every answer to every question people might have about your business, without needing to read it off your slides.” She also shared that she used to be terrible at pitching, and that it was tough because her English wasn’t that great. To overcome this, she went out and pitched as often as she could for 6 months, after which she was finally comfortable up there. She mentioned that this was a really useful skill because it opened up a lot of opportunities: nowadays, people approach her to give talks at events. This is a great example of the notion that opportunities are maximized with preparation.

That’s all for now, we’ll see you back here, for week 4.

Mo Akif

Mo Akif

The Editor-in-Chief of the McGill Dobson Chronicles. Never having started a lemonade stand as a child and tired of reading blog posts about entrepreneurship without actually doing anything, he was on the verge of giving up and joining a pyramid scheme. Luckily the McGill Dobson Centre decided to adopt him, allowing him to get a closer look at what it takes to build something valuable.