McGill Lean Startup Program

Lean Startup is an intensive 4-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 developed your business model, and you will have the confidence and the clarity to pursue the next steps in building a successful startup.

View the Program Brochure

Program Overview

Dates: October 20 to November 10, 2020

Key Learning Themes

  • Why some startups fail and others succeed: stages, pitfalls and best-practices

  • Validating a proof of concept

  • The framework to creating a viable product

  • Building a business plan


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

WEEKLY WORKSHOPS: 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 guest speakers. Workshops will generally last 2 hours but we reserve an extra hour for guest speakers and mentors.

Course Plan

Week Workshop Action-Learning Project

Week 1 

Wednesday, September 23

6 - 8 p.m.

Why Some Startups Fail And Others Succeed


  • Program introduction and overview
  • Understanding the cycles and stages of a startup
  • 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

Week 2

Wednesday, September 30

6 - 8 p.m.

Validating A Proof Of Concept

  • What is proof of concept and why you need it?
  • Using value proposition design to:

1. Validate the need

2. Address customer pain points

3. Conceptualize a solution/prototype

4. Seek feedback and testing

Value Proposition Design:

  • Defining what problems you will solve and how you will do it

Week 3

Wednesday, October 7

6 - 8 p.m.

The Framework To Creating A Viable Product

  • The purpose of a minimum viable product (MVP)
  • Criteria for building and testing your MVP

Minimum Viable Product:

  • Developing/defining the features

    of your MVP and roadmap for early stage testing and feedback 

Week 4

Wednesday, October 14

6 - 8 p.m.

Building A Business Plan

  • Moving from concept to launching a viable business – identifying the key building blocks
  • Roadmap for the future
  • Putting together an attractive business plan to present to stakeholders

Business Model Generation: 

  • Articulating your business’ infrastructure, offerings, customers, revenue streams and more

This schedule is subject to change.

Program Application 

Ideal Participant Profile

This program is for McGill-affiliated aspiring entrepreneurs and early stage startups 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 startup.

  • Your team has at least one founder that is a McGill University student, faculty member, staff member 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.

A commitment towards attending all the workshops and executing the project work is required. Following completion of the Lean Startup Program Teams are encouraged to enter in the 2021 McGill Dobson Cup competition.

Candidates must apply online and supply a short video url introducing themselves via email to leanstartup.mgmt [at] by September 21, 2020.

Have questions about the program? Contact Kika Armata for more information: dobson.mgmt [at]

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