Lean Startup

McGill Dobson Lean Startup logo

What is the McGill Lean Startup?

Lean Startup is an 8-week online program designed to help you develop your idea into a viable startup concept, while initiating you into the world of entrepreneurship.

Through informative workshops and self-directed work on your startup, you will gain exposure to business frameworks and tools to diagnose your idea and generate challenging, yet feasible goals for your startup.

You will also develop a general understanding of the pillars of business and how they fit into building your vision.

By the end of the program, you will have tested the feasibility of your ideas and started to develop your business model. As a startup founder, you will gain the relevant skills and confidence to pursue the next steps in building a successful startup.


View the Program Brochure

Program Overview

Dates: October 14th to December 2nd, 2021


Key Learning Themes

  • Validating your proof of concept
  • Design Thinking Mindset
  • The framework to creating a viable product
  • Understanding your market
  • Financial Projections & KPIs
  • Crafting and articulating your vision to stakeholders



ACTION LEARNING: Throughout the program, participants work with their teams on achieving milestones related to their start-up idea. This process is a crucial component of the program and will ultimately lead to the development of a viable start-up concept and a compelling business plan.

WEEKLY WORKSHOPS AND 1-ON-1 MENTORSHIP: The central platform for introducing strategic frameworks and business concepts that guide the process of turning an idea into a business. Workshops also provide the opportunity to bridge theory with real-world application through stories, examples, and insights from key industry leaders. These will generally last 1 hour, but we reserve an extra hour for guest speakers. At the end of the program, each start-up will be assigned an expert in their (or similar) industry, to discuss several aspects of their business plan/concept and help its members to articulate their vision to stakeholders.

Course Plan


Pre-Program: Participant needs assessment survey

During the Program you are expected to elaborate your start-up business plan by layering in the action-learning objectives provided for each week. A business plan template will be provided for this purpose.


Week Workshop themes action-Learning project 

Why Some Startups Fail And Others Succeed

  • Program introduction and overview
  • Overcoming prevailing challenges and avoiding common pitfalls
  • Best-practices – drawing from lean methodology to improve the odds

Market Outreach

  • Talking to your target market or potential partners to learn what they really want

Business plan

  • Executive Summary
  • Company Description

Understanding Your Market

  • Researching your market and determining its size
  • Determining your TAM, SAM, SOM
  • Identifying your beachhead market

Market Research

  • Researching your market to determine where you fit

Business Plan

  • Market Analysis

Identifying your problem and designing your solution

Drawing on concepts of Design Thinking and Customer Development to:

  • Understand customer pain points
  • Frame the problem
  • Iterate your solution/product
  • Develop your proof of concept

Design Mindset

  • Create your Product development roadmap

Business plan

  • Products and services

Articulating Your Value Proposition

  • Using value proposition to define the main problem you solve
  • Articulate the value potential customers will get
  • Describe what you do in an easy and concise way
  • Communicate what sets you apart from the competition

Value Proposition Design

  • Value proposition canvas

Business plan

  • Refine sections 1,2 & 3 of the business plan
  • Competitive Analysis

Community Outreach Strategy

  • Understand the components of a Go-to-Market strategy
  • Acquiring and engaging with your early customers/ users
  • Community building and other communication approaches for startups

Marketing Plan

  • Determine the appropriate community outreach strategy for your start-up and visualize the steps needed for its execution

Business Plan

  • Go-to-Market Plan

Financial Projections & KPIs for Startups

  • Determining how you will generate revenue
  • Overview of financial projections for startups
  • Tracking milestones and important KPIs
  • Holding yourself accountable

Revenue Generation

  • Determine your revenue and cost structure
  • Identify important milestones and KPIs for your startup

Business Plan

  • Financial Plan and Projections

Putting it all together

  • Using the a canvas to outline the key elements of your business
  • Identifying key resources needed to execute on your vision

Business Model Generation

  • Business Model Canvas

Business Plan

  • Strategy and Implementation
  • Complete business plan

1-on-1 Mentorship

  • Review of business plan

Develop a strong business plan

  • Startups will be matched with experts for this activity / Only the startups that have submitted their business plans will be eligible for the one- on-one mentorship sessions.




(In order of appearance)

Nicolas Feller

Nicolas Feller is a software architect at Google Cloud, where he works as a technical advisor to Canadian companies. He is also part time faculty at McGill's Masters in Management Analytics. Over the past few years Nicolas has worked as an agent in the "Google for Startups" program where he has mentored companies in the Techstars, Next AI and other communities in the Montreal area. His background is in Machine Learning, Data Science and software development.

Jean-Philippe Sicard

Jean-Philippe is the CEO and Co-founder of Ton Équipier, a company specializing in the marketing of technological and innovative products and solutions. With a background in automated production engineering, Jean-Philippe discovered a strong entrepreneurial passion over the course of his career experiences. After spending five years as a project engineer for a large automation engineering consulting firm, he decided to change his career path to pursue sales, marketing and business development. In 2015, he joined Tekinno Corporation as VP Sales and Marketing where he grew their Eagleview products in North America, before co-founding Ton Équipier in 2017.

Alexandrine Allard

Alexandrine has been in product design for 9 years. At work, she transforms research insights into functional interfaces for targeted audiences. With deep interests in behavioural psychology, design, and people, she believes great product design is about human relationships and complexity communicated with simplicity - she sees the real value of her work in crafting designs that tell a story and fulfill human emotional needs. Outside of work, she spends her spare time running, hiking, climbing, reading, cooking with friends and petting dogs. She currently works as a Senior Product Designer at Zendesk and resides in Montreal, Canada.

Claude MacDonald

Claude is the founding president of Talentuum. Over the last 26 years he has trained more than 30,000 managers, professionals and employees from major organizations across Canada, the Unites States, Europe and Asia. Claude is a certified business coach (Registered Corporate Coach), a certified Professional from the ROI Institute (CRP) and is also a faculty member of the McGill Executive Institute. Fluent in both French and English, he has designed several tools, workshops and training programs offered by TALENTUUM. His areas of expertise are customer success, sales leadership, sales management & B2B consultative selling.

Bob Cornwall

Bob has held a number of roles at Google including; Global YouTube Product Operations and Strategy Lead, Head of YouTube & Brand Strategy for Canada, Global Head of Cross-Video Solutions, Global Head of YouTube Education & Curriculum, and Global Brand Building Specialist. Bob and his teams at Google have been responsible for enabling Google’s largest partners to build their brand and their business by harnessing the power of the YouTube platform. Some of his responsibilities have included; Executive Summits, Ideation Workshops, Country Round Tables, Product Innovation Pipeline Standards, Research & Claims, Sales Materials, and Tool Simplification. In addition, Bob also continues to mentor and consult numerous start-ups and scale-ups based out of Canada.

Shelly Rao

Capital raiser, operator and finance leader. In her previous position at Kepler, Shelly helped the company lead two debt raises & Series B financing. She has also worked in investment banking with CIBC in the M&A group, and National Bank of Canada across various industry groups.

Domenic Durante

Domenic is a management executive and entrepreneur with the proven ability to build a profitable and successful technology company. He is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CA) who has been involved in all aspects of building a successful technology business. As an angel investor and consultant, Domenic has had extensive experience providing strategic and financial direction to small to mid-sized companies in the technology sector. He is currently the Chief Financial Officer of Algolux Inc., a technology startup providing digital camera picture clarity through computational imaging.

At McGill, Domenic teaches Sales and Negotiations with the Entrepreneurship Program. Using lean startup, customer development methodologies and the business model canvas, Domenic teaches how to successfully identify and test sales and business development assumptions within an entrepreneurial or startup environment.

Program Application 

This program is for McGill-affiliated aspiring entrepreneurs and early-stage start-ups that have been working on an idea or prototype who are looking to legitimize their concept and move towards creating a business plan and launching a start-up.

  • Your team has at least one member that is affiliated with McGill (e.g., student, faculty, staff or alumni).
  • Your team has at least one technical co-founder, and can build your business upon a technology, science, or idea that is significantly or radically disruptive.
  • All team compositions: undiscipline, multi-disciplinary and inter-professional teams are welcomed and encouraged, as are teams that include learners or graduates.


Candidates must apply online by September 21st, 2021 at 11:59 PM.

Have questions about the program? Contact Maria Aponte for more information: Maria.aponte [at] mcgill.ca.

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