From Hack the North to Velocity Fund Finals: how I turned a hack into a startup

This year at Canada's largest hackathon, Hack the North (HTN), my teammates and I developed an iPhone application called Hash. Hash connects to desktop devices with low-energy bluetooth and integrates with several browsers in order to successfully authenticate several user accounts seamlessly using your fingerprint via touch ID.

The application detects the website a user is currently surfing and sends that information back to the iPhone; then, with a simple touch, it logs the user in quickly and securely. With Hash, a user does not need to remember passwords anymore as their fingerprint becomes their super secure key to unlock everything.

Hatching the idea for Hash

My teammates, Marcus Osobase, Ian Osawaye, Demi Olagokem, and I all live together, so we’re always sharing different ideas with each other. We've also worked together before on Tilde, a gesture control tool which allows you to use your phone as a remote control to control simple applications seamlessly. 

As part of our hackathon ritual, we each come up with ideas individually and then pitch them to the group. At the end of the day, we put it to a vote to decide what to focus on. It’s also a great way to brainstorm future ideas for us to work on together.The team at HTN

Hash came from this session, and we all contributed towards defining what exactly Hash was going to be and the possible use cases before arriving at the hackathon.

We faced some challenges while developing Hash at HTN, but we were able to have something to demo in 36 hours, which was great. The hackathon was just phase one—we then decided to move on with the project after HTN.

Preparing the prize-winning pitch

Around two months after HTN, we pitched Hash at the Velocity Fund Finals (VFF) $5K competition. To practice up my pitching, I trained with Conrad professors Wayne Chang and Marc Hurwitz, checking my content and ensuring every single word added value to my pitch. I also worked closely with Christina from Extempra (a former Enterprise Co-op classmate) on delivery and energy in my pitch.

Beforehand, I knew I was pitching to an audience of mostly students, and this knowledge helped me structure my pitch in a way that would connect them to the problem and wow them with the solution. One thing I’ve learned from pitching is that you can’t please everyone. I had a different pitch deck that would completely wow the judges with numbers and statistics and growth plans.

However, after looking at the competition, I realized there was no way to win both the judges and the audience, so I made a tough decision. I went into the pitches knowing what I wanted, and I’m very grateful I was able to get it: we won the $5K award for People’s Choice.

Sefunmi and team at Velocity Fund Finals

This was great validation that people loved the idea and want it now! In addition to the pitch itself, I also spoke to a lot of people at the event, and the overall generation of interest was huge. We are excited to bring Hash to people as soon as possible so they can benefit just as much as we have from using it in our daily lives.

Winning at the Velocity Fund Finals was a great experience, and I’m glad I did it with this team by my side because they are my inspiration. We look to the future to bigger things, and hopefully you will be hearing from us soon.

About Sefunmi

Sefunmi Osinaike​Sefunmi is a 3B Electrical and Computer Engineering student.

During his summer 2015 Enterprise Co-op term, he launched Pave, a time management application, (out now on Android, with iOS coming in January). He is also co-founder of Tilde, a gesture control tool (out now on iOS in paid or free versions).

He has also taken BET 300: Foundations of Venture Creation and BET 310: Enterprise Co-op Entrepreneurship Planning and Execution at the Conrad Centre. 

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