Event Recap: Kickstart Innovation & Startup Matchmaking (2017)

What is Entrepreneurship? What does it take to be an entrepreneur?

These were all topics covered in our Kickstart Innovation & Startup Matchmaking event on October 5, 2017, hosted by the McGill Dobson Centre’s Student Executive Team.

The event kicked off with the Associate Director of the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship: Renjie Butalid. He gave a brief talk on the past, present, and future of innovation at McGill. He described the McGill Dobson Centre’s approach to innovation, whereby disruptive Innovation = Invention x Commercialization, an approach adapted from MIT.

Renjie further explained that the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship’s approach is to bridge the gap between research, innovation, and invention at McGill  by improving the commercialization process with the help and support of partners across McGill.

He also talked about our mission and traction as a center: We have 125+ active startups employing over 1200 people, 2600 McGillians trained and mentored, and collectively raised $110M.

He then transitioned into explaining the different programs run by McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship and how people could get involved.

Finally he talked about the McGill Dobson Cup – our flagship startup competition with over $100K in prize money. This is an opportunity to get seed funding for your startup in 4 different tracks: Health Sciences, Social Enterprise, Small & Medium Enterprise, Innovation-Driven Enterprise.

Next, Jean-Philippe Valois from Mitacs came to talk about Research Funds for Collaborative Innovation. Ashwaq Al-Hashedi, one the entrepreneurs that went through the 2017 X-1 Accelerator, won the Outstanding Entrepreneur Award from Mitacs this summer.

They’re a national research organization whose mission is to train the next generation of the knowledge workforce. One of the major problems they’re trying to address is the fact that Canada is near the bottom of the pack in industrial R&D spending. So to that end, they’re helping companies work with universities to promote the Invention side of the Invention x Commercialization formula for Innovation. To learn more about Mitacs, visit their website at mitacs.ca


Next, Mohamed Musbah – Head of Product at Maluuba (which was acquired by Microsoft in January of 2017) spoke about their journey, which started at Campus Pizza. That’s where he met Sam when they were both first-year students. And he felt what most people feel when they’re thrown into their first year of college…lost. Their first Computer Science assignment took a whole week, so don’t go thinking that they were all a bunch of “natural-born geniuses.”

Listen to everyone, but do what you think is right.

And then…Bill Gates spoke at Waterloo in February of 2008. This is what sparked Sam’s curiosity and desire to make something great. Meanwhile, their team at the time were all interning at large companies like Google and Amazon. Sam tried to intern at Microsoft 3 times but failed. But that didn’t stop him. In Summer of 2010, where he aced the AI class at Waterloo and they began working on their first prototype. Fast forward 7 years, and they were acquired by Microsoft.

One of the memorable quotes of the night: “Listen to everyone, but do what you think is right.”

As you can see, the journey of an entrepreneur is not straightforward, and it’s certainly not easy. But it is rewarding.

To cap off our first event, we had a networking session to let startups meet people looking to work at one! If you missed it, you can always make it up by heading over to mcgilldobsonmatch.com, where we match startups with people looking to work at one.

Our next event is on Wednesday October 11, and the topic will be Social Entrepreneurship so if you want to save the world, we’ll see you then! Free tickets here.
Dobson Chronicles

Dobson Chronicles

The Dobson Chronicles is the official blog of the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship.