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Four engineering startups take away $110,000 in funding at VeloCity Fund Finals

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Palette, Petro Predict, SparkGig and TrendRadius, four passionate startups with strong collaborators, solid business models and great pitches walked away with funding of $25,000 each and coveted spots in the Velocity’s business incubation hub. 

Palette, billing itself as the world’s first freeform hardware interface, also took home a new surprise award from the founders of Bufferbox, an alumni company sold to Google in 2012. Bufferbox co-founders Mike McCauley, Jay Shah and Aditya Bali created the new $10,000 annual prize to offset additional startup costs faced by hardware development companies, as a means of giving back to one of their own. The three co-founders are graduates of Waterloo’s acclaimed Mechatronics Engineering program. First winner: Palette!

Congratulations to the Velocity Fund winners:


Palette team holding winningsBased in the new Velocity Foundry, Palette will develop the world’s first freeform hardware interface for editing photos, making music, gaming, and other DIY electronics applications. With the quality feel of a consumer good and super easy to connect to software, Palette has already sold over 6000 units on the Kickstarter platform with more on order. The company is made up entirely of Waterloo engineers, with the project originating in fourth year Capstone Design!

  • Calvin Chu – Mechatronics Engineering Alumnus, 2013
  • Ashish Bidadi – Mechatronics Engineering Alumnus, 2013
  • Fred Ting – Mechatronics Engineering Alumnus, 2013
  • Parth Dave – Mechatronics Engineering Alumnus, 2013
  • Shadab Rashid – Computer Science Alumnus, 2010
  • Ray Zhou – Mechatronics Engineering Alumnus, 2013


PetroPredict earned the coveted top spot with its prediction engine for the oil and gas industry that provides data analytics to allow smarter enterprise decisions. Applying algorithm driven technology to oil well casing integrity issues, the company’s revenue model is based on an annual license fee and a percentage of revenue saved. Eliminating expensive physical testing, it has a  $3.3 billion dollar target market in the petroleum sector, with companies like Suncor coming on board for both the cost efficiencies and the environmental win. 

  • Dominic Toselli – 4B Mechanical Engineering
  • Andrew Andrade – 2B Mechatronics Engineering 


A team of varied disciplines, SparkGig is a community marketplace for hiring performers online. Artists create a portfolio, hiring takes less than a day, and over 500 performers are already signed up, with Toronto and New York launches on plan for summer and fall 2014. 

  • Desmond Choi – 4th Year Sociology
  • Samuel Yuan – 4A Computer Science
  • Mike Reid – 2B Management Engineering
  • Adrian Wong – 3B Accounting and Financial Management
  • Adrian Carolli – 4A Computer Science


TrendRadius teamTrendRadius is all about unlocking customer insights for product managers. The company cites product development as a sinkhole for capital, with over $30 billion wasted in product development on products no one wants. #TwitterMusic, anyone? Its proprietary analytics dashboard shows product managers what’s trending across their current customer base, predicting where the most value is. Incredibly easy to share, the company has acquired 10 customers since March, including Zendesk, with a business model that will scale from high growth SMG to enterprise. 

  • Rahul Kulkarni – Systems Design Engineering Alumnus, 2013
  • Bryan Smith – Systems Design Engineering Alumnus, 2013
  • Alex Wade – Systems Design Engineering Alumnus, 2013
  • Peter Kruzlics – Systems Design Engineering Alumnus, 2013

Good luck to the Velocity Fund winners!


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