From winning first place for Social Enterprise track in the 2016 McGill Dobson Cup to an upcoming US tour with an eye towards expansion, McGill alumni Chloe Chow (BSc’15) and Sarah Fennessy know they’re onto a good thing. As students, both had waited long to see a campus counsellor, so they started Vent Over Tea to help fill the gaps left by more traditional therapy solutions.
Kristina Tomaz-Young knows a thing or two about startups. She’s been involved with several projects since 2007, both as an adviser and as founder of her own companies, including Venture Cap TV and Skill2Go. She sat with The Dobson Chronicles to discuss her development as a businessperson, how to garner success at home and beyond, and judging the McGill Dobson Cup. Of the Montreal startup culture, Ms. Tomaz-Young is bullish, pointing to universities like McGill, the city’s venture capital firms, and incubators as proof of a vibrant scene. As for the Dobson Cup, Ms.
CardioLink was the winner of this year’s Dobson Cup Grit Prize, which honours “outstanding dedication towards establishing [a] business venture.” The multidisciplinary team’s members are pulled from McGill University, Concordia University and the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS). The CardioLink team is working towards a new, affordable method for replacing heart valves, which also happens to be safer for the patient and less frustrating for surgeons.
Next winter, Whistler Blackcomb and Canadian Wilderness Adventures will become some of the first companies to offer electric snowmobiles to clients. The machines are made by Quebec-based Taiga Motors, which built on its first-place finish in the 2016 McGill Dobson Cup’s Innovation Track to expand its technology and develop a revolutionary all-electric snowmobile from the ground up.
Montreal-based Lantinga Vita is all about merging functionality, a chic design and sustainability. The company’s Tempus bag is an Italian-made, multi-functional bag that boasts a compartment for a 15” laptop and a thermal pocket for food. The company’s founder and CEO, Nina Lantinga, recently spoke with The Dobson Chronicles about the entrepreneurial life, growing her business and winning the Grit Prize at the McGill Dobson Cup 2014.
Startup Saccade Analytics was the first place winner of the 2017 McGill Dobson Cup Health Sciences Track. The team’s pitch involved analyzing eye and head movement to help diagnose neural diseases. The team sat down with the Dobson Chronicles to talk about what made them dive into the entrepreneurial life, and eye-head movement as an indicator of disease — including, but not limited to, concussion. The team’s work builds on a foundation laid by team member Professor Mimi Galiana, who is a pioneer in the field.
The McGill Dobson Cup 2017 powered by National Bank is over, and the winners have been announced. From the initial 136 applications, 121 teams pitched their startups in the run-up to the semi-finals. Then, 40 of those teams moved on to the finals on March 22. All in all, $106,000 of seed funding was divided among the top entries across four categories: Social Enterprise, Health Sciences, Small & Medium Enterprise and Innovation Driven Enterprise.
As judge for the Social Enterprise category at the semi-finals of this year’s McGill Dobson Cup, Jake Wildman-Sisk’s credentials are solid: Not only did he help develop the first social systems innovation lab in New Brunswick, but he has also worked for the Fredericton Food Bank, and is currently an innovation fellow at the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation’s RECODE initiative, which supports students’ efforts to become agents of progress.
At the last of this season’s McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship workshops, participants were treated to an in-depth understanding of what social media can do for startups. The workshop, led in part by Desautels Marketing and Communications Coordinator Véronique Beaulieu-Fowler, delved into best practices for solidifying a company’s online presence. It can be broken down into several factors, touching on everything from keeping up the quality of one’s social-media content to understanding one’s audience.
Business partners Audrey Bolduc and Mitalie Makhani won the 2015 Dobson Cup with their pitch to make fertilizer from used coffee grounds. Now CEO of GroundIt, Ms. Bolduc returns to judge the 2017 Dobson Cup. She sat down with The Dobson Chronicles to talk about her company’s all-natural fertilizer, her incredible experience as a Dobson Cup contestant, how her time at Desautels has moulded who she is as an entrepreneur, and just what possessed her to found a startup while she was still in school.
The McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship’s recent Startup Financials workshop gave attendees a solid basis from which to build out financial projections, which can be the weakest link in many business plans. Expert presenters included pros from White Star Capital, Appetite (Honorable Mention at the 2016 Dobson Cup), and of course, National Bank.
The Semi-finals of the McGill Dobson Cup 2017 powered by National Bank are over, and of the 121 teams that competed, 40 of them are still standing. After four days of pitches, the event’s judges have chosen 10 finalists from each of four categories (Health Sciences, Social Enterprise, Small & Medium Enterprise and Innovation Driven Enterprise) to move on to the last phase of the competition.
For 2017, the McGill Dobson Cup powered by National Bank will feature a new prize! According to the Dobson Chronicle, the $12,000 L’Oréal-Dobson Startup Award will either go to a single team or be split up among competitors “who demonstrate innovative ideas in the areas of green chemistry, material and health sciences to support future hair and skin applications.” The prize is open across all four of the startup competition’s categories: Health Sciences, Social Enterprise, Small & Medium Enterprise and Innovation Driven Enterprise.
From 136 initial submissions, 121 startups are moving on to the semi-finals at the 2017 McGill Dobson Cup powered by National Bank. Each team competing for the $100,000 in seed funding fall into one of four tracks: “Innovation Driven Enterprise,” “Health Sciences,” “Small & Medium Enterprise” and “Social Enterprise.” Semi-Finalists will be pitching to judges and mentors from February 14 to 17.
As the new semester rolls in, so does a new textbook-exchanging app. Venndor, founded by recent McGill graduates Anthony Heinrich, Julien Marlatt and Tynan Davis, is a classifieds app with the goal of helping students buy and sell textbooks without the need for haggling or negotiating prices.