McGill X-1 Weekly Recap Series | Week 10 (2017)


People mentioned: Stuart Paap – founder at PitchDNA, Sergio Escobar – Managing Director of FounderInstitute, James Green – CEO at Magnetic, 2 Panel discussions including a VC discussion with Alan Macintosh from RealVentures, and FX Souvay – CEO at Lumenpulse.

But before all that, a quick commencement speech to the X-1 graduates from the Associate Director of the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship, Renjie Butalid.

Welcome to week 10 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.

There’s a word floating around in the startup community that comes up again and again: narrative. Everybody wants to know your story. Stories are a persuasive tool you should have in your backpocket – and they can be a strong way to begin your pitch.

Stuart gave us a 3-step framework to craft a compelling story.

Step 1: The want – What is your customer’s goal? Be specific about who it is, and what they want.
Step 2: The obstacle – What’s in the way of this person getting what they want?
Step 3: The proposal – What’s your solution to help your customer overcome the obstacle to get what they want.

I’ll use one of our startups Pelcro as an example to show you how this works.

Meet Anne Patterson, a 42-year old soccer mom who likes to knit in her free time. She wants a pure web experience. When she goes on her favorite news website, she wants to read in peace. That’s it.

But she can’t. Why? Ads. Ads, everywhere. And even though she has adblock, some of her favorite websites detect it and force her to turn it off.

That’s why, these guys, created Pelcro – an ad-free subscription to all of Anne’s favorite websites, for just $2 a month. Visit to get started.

Next, Sergio talked about pitching.

He cleared up the role that a story plays in a pitch when he explained that for B2B you can use a little less story and a little more focus on DATA, whereas with B2C, the story is KEY.

He also shared this sample pitch structure that works for general purposes.

Next, James Green came in for a general Q&A on business development. He was hired by Steve Jobs back in the day as VP Marketing for Pixar. Now, he’s the CEO of Magnetic.

The most actionable takeaway was about hiring. He explained it’s hard, and you’ll make mistakes. And that’s just part of the process. But you can use this question to get a better understanding of them: Ask them what others think of them – this gets them out of their own head and see what value they can offer you.

To make better hiring decisions, he recommended 2 books: Who, and Drive.

Next, we had a panel of VCs.

Two quick pieces of advice:

Ask for funding if you want advice ask for advice if you want funding. Take these meetings with VCs even if you’re not actively looking for anything, because it helps you build relationships and have options down the road.
If you want to find out more about VCs, reach out to portfolio companies for an insider’s perspective.

Next, a panel of Montreal accelerator graduates.

Interestingly, they brought up similar ideas to the VC panel:

Research and reach out to portfolio companies to see if a given accelerator is the right fit for you, and build relationships with accelerators ahead of applications.

This week’s Grilled By a CEO featured FX Souvay.

Now, go get your demo day tickets, and get ready for McGill’s finest.

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.