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MIT GFSA - Summer Accelerator

Attention All McGill Student Start-Up Entrepreneurs: Apply to be the only Canadian university student group in Summer 2014 at the MIT Global Founders Skills Accelerator (GFSA) at MIT with select groups of MIT students and several foreign universities.

I. WHAT: The GFSA is an incredible residential summer accelerator (approx. June 15 to Sept. 10, 2014) that blends academic content with coaching, advice and resources to help a team of McGill students (max. 5) move their start-up project forward (see information for MIT students to get an idea: https://entrepreneurship.mit.edu/our-resources/mit-global-founders-skills-accelerator, although the financial support McGill students will get will be somewhat different than MIT students).  The Dobson Centre will provide a sufficient and modest contribution towards visa, living and travel expenses (from Montreal) for each student as well as providing up to $20,000 in funds to the group if they progress and attain the milestones set by their advisory board.  It is partly based on the process described in the book: “Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps”, by Bill Aulet at MIT. (Wiley Press, 2013).


a.     Your application containing answers to the questions below is due via email to carol [dot] clelland [at] mcgill [dot] ca before or on Wednesday March 5, 2014.  Please begin subject field with “GFSA APPLICATION 2014”. The attached file name must be labeled “YourCompanyName_McGill_GFSA_2014”
b.     We will unfortunately select only a small number of applicants for interviews on Monday March 10, 2014 (tentative date-may possibly change-we will confirm).  All decisions of the Dobson Centre are final.  There may also be a second round of interviews, subject to numbers and logistics, and we will advise finalists of dates etc. should this be the case.
c.     Should you be selected, we will need your commitment that your group will attend by 7 days thereafter.

III. WHO: This is only open to McGill students of any level (Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral) that are in good academic standing.  They must not be graduating, and all group members must be returning students in September 2014


SEND US AN EMAIL to carol [dot] clelland [at] mcgill [dot] ca with answers to the following application questions compiled in a PDF document named “YourCompanyName_McGill_GFSA_2014”:

McGill GFSA Application form 2014

Please complete the following in as much detail as possible:

  1. Team name:
  2. For each team member (maximum 5):
    1. a. First name
    2. b. Last name
    3. c. McGill student: (faculty, degree and year of study)
    4. d. 2-3 sentence bio including all university degrees
  3. Name, email address, and phone number of the McGill student founder who will be the primary contact for the team
  4. How long team members have known each other, and what have they worked on in the past, including past work done on this project if applicable
  5. References – 1-2 people at McGill who knows your team (or key team members) well. Do not list members of the Dobson Centre. Give name, phone number and email.



  1. Name of project
  2. Category of project (from: Energy, Life Sciences, Mobile, Products & Services, Web & IT, HealthTech). GFSA & Dobson Centre organizers have the discretion to reassign categories.
  3. What problem you are trying to solve (150 words or less)
  4. Elevator pitch (50 words or less)
  5. Tell us a little more about how you’re planning to solve this problem (150 words or less)
  6. How is the world a different place if you are successful? (100 words or less)


Proposed Milestones:

  1. Customer milestones (list 2-5)
  2. Product milestones (list 2-5)
  3. Team milestones (list 2-5)
  4. Financial milestones (list 2-5)


Additional Project Questions:

  1. What inspired your team to get together and work on this project? How long have you been working on it?
  2. Who do you view as your competitors, and how do you differ from them?
  3. Who is your target customer? (Hint: “Everyone” is not the right answer.)
  4. Have you received any funding (including angels, family/friends, personal dollars invested, etc.)? Do you have any customers? (These two questions help us gauge your starting point, so don't worry, there is no "wrong answer.")
  5. We will have a lot of applications for this program, so choosing our final teams will be tough. Why do you think you should rise to the top? What sets you apart from other teams?
  6. How did you find out about this program? (For internal statistics only – will not affect your chances) Options: Personal contact with McGill faculty or staff, Email list or email newsletter, Flyers or advertisements, Word of mouth, Personal contact with last year’s participants, Other _________________.

NOTE: All decisions regarding the applications to the GFSA by the Dobson Centre are final.  Since only one group will be selected, applicants who are not successful should definitely consider entering the Dobson Cup 2014 (see the Dobson Centre facebook page and website for details) which is another great opportunity for you to move your ideas and start-up forward.


What is GFSA?

Fourteen teams participated in this year’s MIT Global Founders’ Skills Accelerator (MIT GFSA), an international entrepreneurship program that provides student entrepreneurs with the skills, resources and mindset needed to launch successful start-ups. The program is held over the summer, from June to September 2013 and hosted at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, part of the Sloan School of Management.

MIT GFSA Webpage: https://entrepreneurship.mit.edu/our-resources/mit-global-founders-skills-accelerator/

Structure of the Program

The MIT GFSA provides participating student teams with up to $20,000 in grants for meeting customized milestones, as well as individual stipends, workspace and personalized instruction and guidance.

"We have combined the best of university and external programs to create a top-tier initiative that is uniquely suited to MIT’s mission of advancing knowledge and educating students", says Bill Aulet, the managing director of the Martin Trust Center. "The addition of six teams from universities around the world gives our students a unique opportunity to broaden their understanding of global entrepreneurship and helps disseminate MIT’s experience and leading-edge research in entrepreneurship."

The MIT GFSA is an expansion of the MIT Founders’ Skills Accelerator, a pilot program that hosted several MIT student teams during the summer of 2012. It is a natural progression from the 40-plus courses and numerous start-up competitions and entrepreneurial programs offered at MIT. The MIT GFSA will solidify students’ entrepreneurship skills and increase their effectiveness at creating new innovation-based ventures to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

The program offers ongoing mentorship on a daily basis from successful serial entrepreneurs who have a real understanding of the challenges students can face while launching their start-ups. Monthly board meetings are being held for each team to assess the completion of their personalized milestones and help them move forward in the right direction. In addition, guest speakers are invited to the MIT GFSA to talk about their experience and to demystify how they managed to grow successful new ventures. Speakers include Paul English, the CTO of Kayak and the CEO of HubSpot, Brian Halligan.

Demo Day 2013

The program culminates in a Demo Day to be held at MIT on September 7, 2013. All teams from the program have the opportunity to present their company to MIT and Boston Start-up communities, including: students, entrepreneurs, journalists, investors, and other very passionate individuals. After the presentations, each team is provided with a booth to expose their branding and company to people who are eager to learn more about the start-ups.

What's Next?

After taking part of this extreme learning-intensive program, students (now founders) move their companies forward and continue fostering entrepreneurship in their local communities around the world. Some companies integrate start-up incubators to skyrocket their ventures, go full-time, and others will keep developing their companies while finishing their university degree. The MIT GFSA creates a priceless international network of people and opportunities for student entrepreneurs, which remains active and effective in the aftermath of the program.

How do I apply to Represent McGill at the GFSA in 2014?

The application process for teams who are interested in representing McGill at MIT will be release via our social media page (www.facebook.com/DobsonCentre) before it appears on our webpage. Only those teams who apply to the McGill Dobson Cup Start-Up Competition will be considered for the MIT GFSA. 

2013 GFSA Teams

The MIT GFSA brings together eight MIT student teams and six teams from international universities. In 2013, the international universities included Canada, China, Germany, Russia, Scotland, and Turkey.

The eight MIT teams participating in the program (29 total team members, of which 24 are MIT students — including 10 undergraduates, 10 master’s candidates and four doctoral candidates) are:

-   3dim is bringing gestural input technology to smartphones, tablets and smart glasses at very low power, size and cost. The four-person team includes three MIT doctoral candidates — two from the Media Lab and one from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS).

-   AvaTech (www.avatechsafety.com) is changing the game in avalanche safety with a device that helps backcountry skiers and mountaineers gain information about the snowpack and avoid fatal avalanches. The four-person team includes one MIT undergraduate from the Department of Mechanical Engineering (MechE), one MIT master’s candidate from MechE, and two MBA candidates from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

-   Grove (www.grovelabs.io) is on a mission to distribute agriculture by allowing people to grow fresh fruits and vegetables in their homes. The founders of the team are two MIT undergraduates, one from MechE and one from the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

-   6SensorLabs (www.6sensorlabs.com) is developing an on-the-go gluten detection device for allergy sufferers. The two-person team includes one MBA candidate from MIT Sloan.

-   Lallitara (www.lallitara.com) creates one-of-a-kind, eco-friendly products by upcycling reclaimed materials sourced from around the world. The three-person team includes two MBA candidates from MIT Sloan.

-   NarwhalEdu (www.narwhaledu.com) is combining online curricula with hands-on engineering projects, fully kitted, to help high school and college students discover the creativity and coolness of engineering. The four-person team includes three MIT undergraduates from MechE.

-   NVBots (www.nvbots.com) sells patent-pending automation technology for 3-D printers enabling 3-D printer owners to rent access to customers through a mobile marketplace. The five-person team includes four MIT undergraduates — three from MechE and one from EECS.

-   Thyme Labs (www.thymelabs.com) -- Thyme Labs produces personal productivity and analytic tools that help you make time for the things that matter. The five-person team includes one MIT doctoral candidate from EECS and four MBA candidates from MIT Sloan.

 The six teams from universities around the world that joined the MIT teams in 2013 are:

-   Uniiv (www.uniiv.com), from McGill University (Canada), creates software to help students manage their university education. The company's first product is an intelligent course management web application for students to track and plan their curriculum.

-   Darfoo, from Zhejiang University (China), which creates applications to help China's elderly population simplify the user experience on their smartphone

-   task36 (www.task36.com), representing TU Berlin (Germany), is creating a real-time task management solution using a proprietary process algorithm.

-   ImSlide, representing the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology or Skoltech (Russia), offers an effective and reliable way to de-ice power lines, allowing secure energy transmission to occur during severe weather conditions.

-   ALPrint (www.alprint.co.uk), from the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University (Scotland), use their 3D printer and scanner to allow ski shops to provide their customers with fully customized insoles for their ski boots.

-   SOMATECH (www.somatech.com.tr), from Sabanci University (Turkey), provides technologies and solutions for social media analysis; it offers tools for customization of searched content and automatic summarization and sentiment analysis of the collected data, using data mining, machine learning techniques and semantic web infrastructure.

Links to articles about Uniiv and MIT:

13_startups_launch_out_of_summer_accelerator.pdf; mcgill_mit_summer_accelerator_program.pdf; mit_announces_the_14_teams_competing_in_their_newly.pdf; mit_entrepreneurs_program_to_include_6_foreign_teams.pdf; mit_global_founders.pdf

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