Thursday March 27th was the first time I attended the Velocity Fund Finals (VFF). While I have previously heard about the event, I've always missed the pitch competitions.
You don't know what you're missing until you've been there!
At this term's VFF, ambitious Waterloo students pitched their startup ideas to a panel of judges to win funding. The VFF event was an exciting day with great opportunities for networking, enjoying our university's innovative and entrepreneurial culture, and learning about some of the amazing things fellow students are involved in.
While frantically tweeting to try to win Pebble smartwatches, the audience watched 20 students pitch their startups to panels of judges in two different competitions. The first competition was for three prizes of $1,000 each and the second was for four prizes of $25,000 each.
Pitches for $1,000
The day kicked off at 11:00 a.m. with the 10 finalists from the pitch night socials vying for the $1,000 prizes.
Two healthcare companies ultimately won. Best Pitch went to FocusONCare for their chemotherapy tracking platform and New Allergy Technologies, a non-invasive allergy testing patch, won both the Most Innovative and the People's Choice awards.
Pitches for $25,000
At 1:00 p.m. it was time for the grand prize competition. Audience members were asked to guess the four winners and could win a Pebble watch for guessing correctly. Before the pitches even began, I didn't envy the judges' decision, and now I was asked to make that same decision (although, with significantly less riding on my choice!). Since six of the ten startups competing had past or present students of the Conrad Centre on their team, I had met, spoken to, or e-mailed many of the participants. This made it all the more difficult to make impartial choices.
The winners of the $25,000 prizes were:
My first writing assignment for the Conrad Centre was a blog on Palette's story. I corresponded with Calvin Chu, the founder of Palette, via e-mail while he was in San Francisco participating in the H8XLR8R program. At VFF, I finally got to meet him in person and see his energy when he talked about his startup. Calvin's pitch was outstanding and won his team one of the $25,000 awards PLUS a bonus $10,000 hardware-based startup award from the founders of BufferBox.
It was great to meet Michael Tatham, an Enterprise Co-op (E Co-op) alumnus, and the MAJiK Systems team in person. I also met the Homefed team, including MBET alumni Steven Wang and Vishnu Varadaraj, and the TrendRadius team including BET 300 alumni Rahul Kulkarni and Bryan Smith.
I also particularly enjoyed reconnecting with current E Co-op students Patrick Hannigan of TicketLabs, who gave an outstanding pitch, and Mike Reid and Adrian Wong of SparkGig.
Velocity called this year's competition the toughest yet. And with so many audience members going home without a Pebble watch despite their many tweets, I'd say the competition was tough for the judges, startups, and audience alike!
Hannah Furlong is an Environment and Business student at the University of Waterloo and an aspiring social entrepreneur currently on a co-op term as the Communications and Marketing Assistant at the Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre.