The 7th Annual John D. Thompson Entrepreneurial Development Seminar 

Hosted on January, 21st, 2020, during the McGill EUS TechWeek

Keynote Speaker & Pitch Competition 

This seminar was created to inspire Engineering students to think about entrepreneurship and to think like an entrepreneur, whether they go on to start their own company in the future or be part of start-up or small/medium enterprise, or a large firm.  In addition, we want to grow the entrepreneurial culture and spirit in Engineering. 


  • Registration 5:00-5:15 pm
  • Welcome Presentations 5:15-5:30 pm
  • Keynote plus Q&A 5:30-6:00 pm
  • Pitch Competition 6:00-7:00 pm
  • Networking Cocktail 7:00-8:00 pm

RSVP Here! 


Keynote Speaker & Judge


Keynote Speaker & TechIdea Judge SAMER SAAB , B.ENG, MBA.

Samer Saab is the founder and CEO of Explorance, a Montréal-based Journey Analytics provider with business units in Chicago, Chennai, Melbourne, Amman, London, and Amsterdam. Since 2003, Explorance has been partnering with organizations in ensuring they can help students and employees tell their full stories of success. Known for its culture of Freewill built on trust, autonomy, and empowerment, Explorance was named a Top 10 Workplace in 2019.

Before founding Explorance, Samer worked in technology-related functions for over ten years with a focus on bridging the gap between technology and the end-user. Samer received both his B. Eng. in Electrical Engineering and his MBA from McGill University.







A born entrepreneur, Déborah Cherenfant is the founder of the creative studio Atelier Coloré and of the feminine business blog, Mots d´Elles. Her work, her leadership and her creativity have been recognized many times, notably with the Woman of Distinction in Entrepreneurship Award from the YWCA of Montreal and the title Personality of the Week by La Presse. A TED speaker, Déborah regularly shares her ideas on the representation of women and diversity at her conferences in Quebec as well as internationally, in addition to contributing to the Journal de Montréal and to the magazine Premieres en affaires. Committed, Déborah is president of the board of Compagnie F, administrator of KANPE and co-founder of BiAS. Passionate about entrepreneurship, she uses her strategy skills in several organizations, supporting them in animation, content creation and project management for entrepreneurs.

Déborah Cherenfant was senior advisor to BCF Imagine, an exclusive program that helps propel tech startups into the business law firm. In 2018, she was appointed to the Quebec Status of Women Council and chosen as laureate of Black History Month as well as speaker of Pluruelles, the first agency for female speaking in 2019.

In 2020, Déborah Cherenfant became the president of the JCCM, the Junior Chamber of Commerce of Montreal, founded in 1931, with nearly 1,600 members, including nearly 150 volunteers, which makes it the largest youth chamber of commerce in the world. The JCCM's main focus is to form, develop and connect young Montrealers who seek to grow their professional network. To do so, their activities are focused into 4 main categories: networking, conferences, skills development, and competitions.




Profile image of MARIO VENDITTI.

Mario Venditti is CEO of Innovobot, a Montreal-based venture capital firm that invests in transformational technologies that solve complex, real-world problems.

As COO of Above Security, A Hitachi Group company, Mario was primarily responsible for the organization’s business development, and service delivery (including development of the technology). During his tenure, Above Security went from a small local start-up to a global company with clients in 40+ countries and multiple operations centres around the world, until it was acquired by Hitachi Systems in October 2015.

While at Above Security, Mario was a key member and leader of the senior executive team that implemented a new global sales strategy and team, a supply chain to service customers in 40+ countries, a continuous improvement program culminating in being ISO 9001:2008 certified, re-engineered the ArkAngel Cyber security platform and built a strong relationship with the National Research Council of Canada and universities in Canada and Europe.

Under Mario’s guidance, Above Security acquired SecureIT in Switzerland and Seccuris in Winnipeg, and the firm Above Security received international recognition from the Gartner Group as one of the Top 10 MSSP Vendors to Watch.

Mario also spent 12 years working as a management and strategy consultant. He has Master's a Science, a Bachelor of Engineering and an MBA from McGill University.


Pitch Competition

TechIdea Pitch Competition teams.

5 TechIdea finalists will pitch their ideas during the seminar. Each team will have 5 minutes to present their idea or solution in an "elevator pitch" format to a panel of judges from the business and technical community. This will challenge students to present themselves, and their idea, in a concise and convincing way. Judges will have 2 minutes to ask questions and give feedback. The top 3 pitches will win cash prizes of $500, $250 and $100.



Winning Teams

1st Place

STAMP – Soft Tissue Active Mechanical Properties device

Natasha Jacobson (Mech.Eng, PhD candidate), Trevor Cotter (Mech.Eng., PhD Candidate)

2nd Place & Crowd Favorite

Artizanko- Zero waste packaging solutions for artisans & producers

Aissam Souidi (Chem.Eng., undergrad), Maria Sarah (Economics), Ivana Wang (South American Studies)

3rd Place

PrimeAID - SaaS for emergency rooms

Alexander Gruenwald (Software Eng., undergrad), Rahul Atmanathan (Mech.Eng., undergrad), Rahul Behal (Chem.Eng., undegrad), Kaustav Das Sharma (Computer Eng., undergrad)


Remaining Finalists

AngleSmart – New electric toothbrush

Shlesha Van (Mech.Eng, undergrad), Dian Basit (Elec. Eng., undergrad), Ben Mwaniki (Chem. Eng., undergrad)

Piriko - Enabling students to better interact with their university campus

Leander Zemke, Dylan Sandfelder (Comp.Sci., undergrad), Yunxi Chen (Comp.Sci., undergrad),Shiqiao Zhu (Comp.Sci., undergrad), Jonatiel Chirwa (Comp.Sci., undergrad), Siqi Wu (Civil Eng., undergrad)

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