It’s no surprise that Lumotune transparent displays, which change from opaque to transparent with the touch of a button, captured the attention of a full-house at the California Pitch Alumni Event in April. Lumotune, the startup behind this technology, was one of the top three teams in the pitch competition who walked away with a $5,000 cash prize and an expanded network of UWaterloo alumni connections. Lumotune recently launched from the Velocity Garage, so we caught up with Co-founder Matin Esfahani and Marketing Manager Lua Emilia to gain their insight and learn what’s next for the company.
Tell us about your experience pitching at the California Pitch Alumni Event.
I had a great time getting to know some of the other teams, and talking to alumni at the event. It was a well organized event and I was grateful for the opportunity to share our product with UW students and alumni. I think people were excited about the product and where the technology can go in the future.
Why do you think it’s important for alumni to get involved with the entrepreneurial ecosystem at Waterloo, such as supporting pitch events like this?
The best and brightest of our nation are going elsewhere, which makes acquisition of top talent extremely difficult for Canadian tech companies. But alumni can help make our tech companies more visible abroad through their networks. Hopefully over time, greater visibility can help to reverse the brain drain. It can also help with other business aspects such as relations with foreign investors and finding customers abroad.
How has Lumotune grown since joining Velocity?
Velocity is really where Lumotune got our start. When we first joined, our company was at the ideation stage [to turn glass into digital displays, for use in things like ads]. Being at the University of Waterloo and having so many opportunities in an engineering community really helped us launch. The University, and specifically Velocity, encouraged us to start the company, and being in the Velocity incubator was pivotal to give the entire project wings. Velocity has helped us raise money, hire talent and build prototypes.
What do you think about the entrepreneurial ecosystem at UWaterloo?
It’s amazing that we’ve managed to create this strong technology ecosystem, which encourages students and start-ups to build their companies here in Waterloo. Companies like Vidyard have really helped build a strong community and support system, and we’re grateful for their mentorship. The University of Waterloo has done a great job of bringing attention to the school, and in return teams are bringing attention back to the University. It’s a fantastic marriage of the two.
What will you miss most about Velocity?
The Velocity environment. Being part of the ecosystem and talking to members of other companies helps remind us that we’re not the only ones working under conditions of extreme uncertainty. And because the environment is friendly, it feels like home. It will be greatly missed.
If you could give Velocity companies some parting advice, what would it be?
Talk to customers and read books.
We wish Lumotune success as they launch from the Velocity Garage and continue pursuing their venture in Rev, Communitech’s Accelerator program. We’re glad they’re sticking close by!
The California Pitch Alumni Event is sponsored by Shopify Plus.