McGill X-1 Weekly Recap Series | Week 8 (2017)


On today’s recap, Design with Sebastian, Venture-Readiness with Jean-Nicolas and Christian, Growth Hacking with Simon Lejeune, and advice from Tim Tokarsky.

Welcome to week 8 of 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.

On a quick side-note, we had a lovely BBQ hosted by the Kiffin family, as a reminder that nothing brings people together like good food – check out Kiffin at

Sebastian Tory-Pratt explained that design is not art, or a craft, or decoration – it’s a tool and a mindset for achieving business objectives. To that end, a general rule is that you should do less, but better.

During the workshop, each team did a journey map to understand potential investors, although you can also use this exercise for customers. The teams then identified crucial make-or-break moments along the path to gain a deeper understanding of the investors or customers. He gave the example of a child who’s scared of MRI machines. First, identify their pain points. In this case, it was Sofia’s fear of the machine. Now, you can design a different emotional experience, say by physically reframing it to look like a fun adventure.

Next, Jean-Nicolas Delage & Christian Jacques from Fasken-Martineau came in to talk about Venture-Readiness. We discussed fun things like stock option plans, cap tables, and employee agreements… and they made 3 book recommendations that can help you figure out what it is you don’t know, so that you can at least ask your lawyer better questions: The books are Venture Deals, The Startup Checklist, and What Every Angel Investor Wants You To Know.

Next, Simon Lejeune – who’s the Growth Program Manager at Hopper, talked about growthhacking.

His suggestion was that you invest in growth AFTER you have found your product-market fit, which can broken down into a few characteristics:

  • Organic growth – meaning that your business is growing through word of mouth and referrals
  • Delighted users – meaning that reviews are GLOWING
  • Great retention – make sure your bucket of customers is not leaky

When building a growth team in the Early Stage, look for people that have:

A skillset that includes digital marketing, analytics, and spreadsheets. And it’s ideal that they’ve worked at a startup before.

If you want to learn more about growthhacking, Simon recommended you read Traction.
This week, it was angel investor Tim Tokarsky who grilled our startups after watching them pitch.

He also had some general advice on showmanship, and dedication.

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.