Desautels undergrads win inaugural Dobson Cup

Dobson Cup winners Daniel Cohen (left) and Mark Sadaka (second from right), enjoy the moment with John Dobson and Prof. Gregory Vit (right). / Photo: Paul Fournier

By Chris Chipello

Bachelor of Commerce students Daniel Cohen and Mark Sadaka have captured the first annual Dobson Cup, beating out two dozen other teams in a business-plan competition launched this year by the Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies.

Cohen and Sadaka, both Montrealers who have just finished the first-year of the Desautels Faculty of Management BCom program, won for their plan to sell “sensory triggered” advertising posters for use in malls, stores and movie theatres.  The pair has already formed a firm, Sentrig, whose featured product is a backlit visual display that morphs into a mirror as observers approach it (

The three top awards and three honourable mentions were handed out by Dobson Centre Director Gregory Vit at a ceremony Thursday, capping a process that required contestants to submit draft plans, take them back to the drawing board following suggestions by a panel of expert judges, and present revised projects in late May.

“It is absolutely amazing that we helped over 50 participants from the McGill community move their entrepreneurial ideas forward,” Prof. Vit said.  “This is a great example of integrative management, grass-roots innovation and entrepreneurship at McGill.” Participants included undergrads, graduate students, professors and alumni from McGill faculties such as engineering, management, law, music and science, with “highly experienced entrepreneurs” serving as judges and mentors, he noted.

The second-prize winners, recent MBA grads Frédérick Le Page and Gabriel Maréchal, pitched a system that enables runners to enhance their training experience by hooking an iPhone or other wireless device to a treadmill and plugging in pre-set workout parameters based on real routes, such as the Boston Marathon course.

Third prize went to a team including Desautels MBA students Lauren Aslatei and Sabina Yun Tang, Information Sciences PhD  candidate Amandine Pras and LL.B. student Tim Bottomer. This interdisciplinary team pitched a plan for a social-network site, billed as an alternative to traditional record labels, that would enable artists to finance projects by raising funds from their fan base.

The honourable mention winners included a team of McGill library staff members who outlined a not-for-profit – but financially self-supporting – program to provide on-demand digitization of treasured, out-of-copyright texts housed within McGill to anyone in the world.  The library team, led by Amber Lannon, includes Diane Koen, Louise O’Neill and Janine Schmidt.

The Dobson Centre, established in 1988 through a generous contribution from the John Dobson Foundation, is a hub for entrepreneurial activity at McGill and in the greater Montreal community. The Centre aims to offer entrepreneurial education and provide resources that support and develop entrepreneurs.

Mr. Dobson was among those on hand Thursday to congratulate the winners at the ceremony in the Bronfman Building, where the centre is housed.