McGill X-1 Weekly Recap Series | Week 6 (2017)

Editor’s Note: There is no video for this week’s X-1 recap – tune in soon for a video recap of StartupFest!

Welcome to Week 6 of the the McGill X-1 Accelerator, where we’ll be getting 8 McGill startups venture-ready for Demo Days in Montreal, Boston, San Francisco, Toronto, and New York City in Fall of 2017.

This week’s focus was on Sales. Here are some of the highlights.

Week 6 included a lot more time for the startups to push hard on their businesses, and the 2nd half of the week was spent at StartupFest – recap coming up!

That being said, we had Marko Jelavic from Ferst Capital Partners in to talk about the personal challenges of starting a business. This is important because 90% of startups fail – so you need to prepare yourself with support systems and mental frameworks that will get you through tough times and make it out stronger than you were before.

Here is an exert from a Forbes article (written by Neil Patel) so you can explore this deeper:

#4. The team knows how to recover.

Every startup is backed by a team of people. The more versatile that team, the better chance they have of succeeding.

“Versatility” is often viewed in a limited sense, that of possessing more than one skill or talent. Versatility in the startup environment involves much more than someone’s skillset. It involves mindset. Startup teams must possess the ability to change products, adjust to different compensation plans, take up a new marketing approach, shift industries, rebrand the business, or even tear down a business and start all over again.

It’s all about recovering from blows. Teams that are able to recover together, also possess the unique trait of harmoniously working together through tough times.

I’ve also noticed that startups with co-founders have a higher success rate than companies with a single founder. Having a cofounder creates a partnership. There’s much more accountability, which helps you to avoid some of the pitfalls of a single charismatic leader. Plus, a cofounder will have skills that you don’t have.’

We also had Adela Schicker from – a hub for personal development & productivity, for a talk on sales. Adela started off by asking us what we found to be the difference between good and bad salesmen. Overall, most people agreed that a great salesman asks questions, is honest, and knows when a product is not a good fit for you. A bad one is often found monologuing, and may make you feel stupid.

The biggest takeaway from her approach to sales was the notion that most people have two different sides. There is the rational side, which can be imagined as a rider. There is also the irrational, emotionally driven side, which can be imagined as an elephant.

You need to address both your clients’ elephants, AND riders.

How do you do that?

Sell to the elephant with BENEFITS, and to the rider with FEATURES.

For example, if you’re a made-to-measure fashion company targeting high-profile women, you don’t want to sell to them by talking about how good your fabrics are – that’s just a FEATURE. What you want to be doing, is selling them on how powerful she’ll feel in the boardroom – that’s the BENEFIT.

Once her emotional side is engaged and interested in your product, her rational side (the rider) will kick in to decide whether or not she really wants to pull out her credit card for you. At that point, you can talk about the features that are underlying the benefit: the quality of the fabric you use, and the fact that she’ll have a perfect fit because your clothes are made-to-measure.


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.