McGill X-1 Weekly Recap Series | Week 9 (2017)


In this recap, Principal Suzanne Fortier, President of Michael Kors Canada Debra Margles, Public Speaking & Persuasion expert Jay Olson, seasoned entrepreneur David Sciacca, and professor Jiro Kondo.

But before all that, I’d like to share that Lucy, CCO at Kiffin stopped by to share some love – pause – you can see more footage at the end of the video. But let’s move onto the recap.

Welcome to week 9 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.

If you don’t know already, Suzanne Fortier has served as Principal and Vice-chancellor of McGill University since September 2013. And has recently been reappointed to her second Five-year term beginning July 2018. She made some time to stop by and chat with all the teams to see how they were doing. Here’s something you didn’t know about Suzanne Fortier: she graduated from McGill with a Bachelor of Science in 1972 and a PhD in Crystallography in 1976. Her research was focused on the development of mathematical and artificial intelligence methodologies for protein structure determination. She also contributed to the development of novel techniques in crystallographic data mining to gain new insights from large structural databases.

Next, Jay Olson who studies decision-making at McGill, came in to coach us on our public speaking. First of all, the reason it’s important is that human beings don’t have a great way of judging your competence – whether it’s at building a startup, or something else. All they have to judge you by when you’re up on stage, is your ability to speak. This means that your business is being judged by your stage presence, so take advantage of it by polishing your speaking skills.

And the best way to start strong, is with a pause. Just 1 or 2 seconds before you start speaking, because the audience automatically judges that you know what you’re doing if you can take your time and control their attention with silence.

Now, what about nervousness? The bad news is that you can’t do anything about it. Even the world’s best speakers get nervous. The good news is there’s a subtle mindset shift you can make that’ll help you take advantage of it – you can reframe nervousness and see it as excitement. Your body has extra energy in that state, and channeling it into your pitch can take it to the next level.

Next, Unit Economics. David Sciacca – VP Community at LIFT Session said that you should always have certain generic metrics memorized: things like Your Cost of Customer Acquisition, LifeTimeValue of each customer, and your churn rate.

Next, Jiro Kondo – Assistant Professor of Finance here at McGill, along with Alex Barrett (VC Analyst at iNovia Capital) came in to talk about Venture Capital – specifically, downside protection & giving up too much equity.

This week it was Debra Margles who grilled the startups on their pitches. She’s the President of Michael Kors Canada, and she gave us Michael Kors umbrellas, which unfortunately have been really useful this summer in Montreal. But that’s okay, ‘cause we have a therapy dog.

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.