Twenty University of Waterloo students took the stage to pitch their startup ideas to a full house at the Velocity Fund Finals (VFF) on July 23, 2015.
Ryan Marchewka, co-founder of the display technology startup Thalo, was among the brave presenters. Conrad asked Ryan how it felt to be holding the clicker at Waterloo’s largest pitch event of the term.
Pitching at VFF was an amazing and rewarding experience.
At every pitch competition I go to, I am always asked two questions: “How do you feel?” and “Are you ready?” Perhaps not surprisingly, my answer is always the same. Nervous, and yes!
When I'm pitching, I always feel a strange mix of nervousness and confidence.
Nervousness, because I'm standing in front of hundreds of people exposing my passion, my product, and my plan. And confidence, because I know I crunched the numbers, I made the plan, and as long as I continue to work hard and work smart, I will succeed.
VFF was no different.
Even though I’m nervous, once I start pitching I feel confident as well because I know that I’ve crunched all the numbers, prepared a great plan, and consulted tons of people along the way.
The road to VFF
My co-founder, Matt Lavrisa, and I have been working on Thalo since November of 2014. We were both nanotechnology engineering undergrads at the time, and we got together to solve a problem we experienced on a daily basis: our phones were impossible to read outside, and the battery only lasted one day.
We did some research and found that traditional display technologies just don’t make sense on mobile devices. That’s why at Thalo, we are building a new display technology to increase the battery life and daylight visibility of mobile devices.
In the week leading up to VFF, we spent a lot of timing practicing our pitch, getting feedback from all kinds of people and making lots and lots of edits.
Taking home the prize
All of our work paid off!
We are proud to say we won the $5K prize at VFF for "Most Innovative," and we couldn’t have done it without the support from Conrad, Velocity and Communitech. We are very excited to continue following our passion, and we certainly have a long road ahead of us.
Ryan is entering his final year of Nanotechnology Engineering at the University of Waterloo. He enjoys studying quantum mechanics, photonics, electronics and chemistry. Ryan loves working on Thalo because it combines his engineering interests with finance and business. Outside of work and school, Ryan enjoys playing soccer and watching movies; he is also an avid gamer (when he has time).