On November 19, the Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship announced the creation of the Entrepreneurial Women Lean Startup Program, slated to launch in the Fall of 2022. The reveal was a grand finale to a two-week-long celebration of International Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, during which the Dobson Centre released daily video testimonials from McGill’s women founders who are making their marks in Montreal and beyond.
The eight-week program will lead rising women entrepreneurs through the early stages of conceptualizing and implementing viable ventures. Participants will attend hands-on workshops, events, and panels to acquire the creative, financial, technological, and communication skills needed to build a successful business.
Throughout their time in the program, they will explore topics as varied as building cohesive brand narrative, making an effective pitch to investors, and managing a startup budget, with each course designed to prepare women to take the next step forward in their original ventures. Led by established women entrepreneurs and industry leaders, the program’s mentorship model will also provide participants with personalized coaching.
Network of mentors
Many McGill women founders have voiced their desire to tap into expert mentoring from other women who have created business ventures before them. In alignment with this vision, the program’s primary goal is to usher participants into an inspiring network of like-minded women who are committed to developing creative solutions and real-world impact through entrepreneurship.
“Receiving coaching from other women entrepreneurs and field experts helps new entrepreneurs cultivate confidence and find their own voice at the business table,” says Marie-Josée Lamothe, a professor of practice at the Desautels Faculty of Management and the academic director of the Dobson Centre. “We want to spur these women on to become stronger entrepreneurs who believe in themselves, their ideas, and the communities around them, while equipping them to make those values a lived reality.”
Supporting all McGill entrepreneurs
The Entrepreneurial Women Lean Startup Program is one of many new initiatives emerging from the Dobson Centre. It arrives on the heels of two recently launched programs that support neuroscience innovation and health sciences startups, in light of the positive uptick in research from those faculties.
“Our goal at the Dobson Centre is to support the work of every McGill entrepreneur,” emphasizes Kika Armata, the Dobson Centre’s senior program manager. “That effort requires paying attention to the evolving needs of our founders and adapting alongside them as their work unfolds.”
The program will expand the Dobson Centre’s collaborative nature, both in connecting women entrepreneurs to one another and launching them into a global community of changemakers. As these new founders move through the program, they will also have the opportunity to participate in other Dobson Centre initiatives such as the Dobson Bootcamp, Cup, and Accelerator, as well as the Dobson Mentorship Circle.
Bridging the entrepreneurship gender gap
The Dobson Centre and its extensive ecosystem have emerged at the forefront of entrepreneurship throughout Canada and across the world. According to PitchBook’s university rankings, McGill holds the top spot in Canada for producing the most successful women entrepreneurs in both 2020 and 2021. As shared in its May 2021 annual report, the Dobson Centre has brought 450 startups to fruition across 36 countries and partners with 24 universities around the world. Most notably, women now comprise 50 per cent of entrepreneurs supported by Dobson, a remarkable statistic compared to the wider Canadian and Quebec numbers that see women representing less than 30 per cent of entrepreneurs.
“Entrepreneurial diversity generates economic impact,” says Lamothe. “We’re continuing to empower entrepreneurs whose movements for change crosses generational, socioeconomic, cultural, geographical, gender, and industry lines. It’s an immense privilege for us to play such a pivotal role in bridging representation gaps in business entrepreneurship.”