How this works


Build a Team

Teams are formed from the hand-selected students in the DCSIL program. Teams are spread across CSC454/2527 and CSC491/2600 to ensure products can be built to the highest standards.


Research and Plan

While students in CSC454/2527 are researching and planning a top notch product, teammates in CSC491/2600 will research and plan the build of the product.


Design and Develop

With business requirements and product direction from CSC454/2527, students in CSC491/2600 will design and develop a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).


Deliver the Product

By the end of the term, you will deliver fully formed MVP products capable of continuing as startups. Some may continue to be successful ventures, as we’ve seen in the past.


This course introduces you to the nature, structure, and dynamics of the contemporary software industry.

It focuses on the key factors involved in ideating, hypothesizing, validating, and executing a viable and investable/return driven business model to launch a sustainable, scalable and profitable tech-based (software and/or hardware) business venture as a company founder or as an employee of an established company.

The course will be a team effort of four students per team. The scope of the course does not include not-for-profit or charity business models.​

Student Expectations

DCSIL is a balloted process and we expect students to treat the course like they're working on a real startup. Listed below are some general expectations of all students as well as some targetted expectations for students in CSC491/2600.

  • These are project courses and students should be prepared to meet and work outside of class hours.
  • Students should be willing to self-learn additional processes and work as a team.
  • Students should be open communicators and be willing to collaborate. No one student should dictate their team's goals.
  • All students are expected to participate in product discussions on regardless of their familiarity with the platform.
  • All students are expected to participate in discussions on Slack during and after class time (with reasonable work-life balance!)
  • CSC491/2600 students must be familiar with software engineering (internships highly recommended) and be willing to adapt and self-learn new technologies to accomplish team objectives.

Course Objectives

  • The high-technology business environment in general and the software industry in particular.
  • The business concepts and principles behind creating and launching a successful tech venture.
  • How to produce, present, and critique business proposals and plans for ventures, and how to develop business simulation and forecasting models in support of these plans.
  • How to converse with and present to investors, executives, judging panels, incubators and accelerators.
  • Upon successful completion of the course, you will have first-hand experience of the stages, processes, and challenges involved in transforming an idea into an investable and scalable business venture, and will be ideally positioned to begin launching your own tech venture.

In this course, you will learn techniques and methodologies that will give you a distinct career advantage after graduation, whether or not you intend to work in a tech field.

It is designed to give you a true-to-life experience of the thought processes behind successful tech business ventures, which apply whether you are planning on creating your own startup or working for an established employer.

You and your team will devise a cool, innovative solution to a significant market problem. This will involve researching your customer base, forming and testing hypotheses, and producing a value proposition that will form the basis for your business model.

You will investigate your customer base and market by identifying the key activities, resources and partners needed for fulfillment.

This process culminates in a business model that both makes sense in a financial context and resonates with a venture capital (VC) or funding audience—the kind of audience who will eventually be visiting the class to critique your final product and business model.

This course sets very high standards for you because the business world demands nothing less. We have an obligation to ensure that your business education is thorough and demanding, and only students who are exceptionally dedicated and committed to developing mastery over the techniques and methodologies in this course will excel.

Our Courses


Business of Software

View Course


Capstone Design Project

View Course

Apply as a Student

These courses are balloted, which means you need to submit an application.

You will need a PDF of your most recent unofficial transcript from ROSI/Acorn (i.e. a full academic history), a PDF of your up-to-date resume/CV and answers to a set of ballot courses.

What are we looking for?

Typically students who are accepted have:

  • Passion
  • A learn-as-you-go attitude
  • Usually have a good GPA, although there is no set minimum
  • Have software experience for CSC491/2600
  • Show entrepreneurial drive
  • Willing to present complex and novel ideas

Apply to be a TA

We are looking for TAs that generally have startup and software experience.

These candidates should bring unique perspectives to the courses.

We use the standard application process for the University of Toronto.


  • Themes change on a term-by-term basis. They are announced 6-10 weeks prior to a term starting
  • Each term will be mentored and guided by industry experts.
  • Industry experts will provide us a theme of products (e.g. HealthCare AI, Music, Cyber Security, etc). They will be experts in that field.
  • These themes and business partners are carefully chosen to make sure that startups will be working on marketable, viable startups.
  • See themes from all terms
Winter 2025

DCSIL Teaching Staff

Julian Nadeau

Instructor CSC491/2600
Senior Software Developer, GitHub
Sessional Instructor, Department of Computer Science

Mario Grech

Instructor CSC454/2527
Entrepreneur and Philanthropist
Adjunct Professor, Department of Computer Science
DCS Innovation Lab Co-Founder and Director

Paul Gries

Academic Lead, Co-Founder
Associate Professor, Teaching Stream
Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto