Waterloo water startup wins big at Texas pitch event

Thursday, April 11, 2019

A startup company with strong ties to Waterloo Engineering won more than $140,000 in backing this week at a prestigious pitch event in Texas.

CataLight, which aims to make safe drinking water accessible to everyone, was among seven finalists at the Rice Business Plan Competition, the largest and richest student startup contest in the world.

CataLight co-founders (left to right) Kevin Dang, Ashley Keefner and Vishal Vinod.

CataLight co-founders (left to right) Kevin Dang, Ashley Keefner and Vishal Vinod.

The founders of the company are  master of business, entrepreneurship and technology (MBET) graduates Ashley Keefner, Vishal Vinod and Kevin Dang, who also earned an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering at Waterloo.

Launched in 2017, based in the Velocity Garage in downtown Kitchener, and a $25,000 winner at the Velocity Funds Finals in Waterloo in the fall of 2018, CataLight is developing a more effective water filter for families in developing communities.

Forty-two teams from some of the world’s top universities qualified from an initial field of more than 300 to compete at the three-day pitch event at Rice University in Houston. In all, a record $2.9 million was awarded to student startups.

The winning team, Vita Inclinata Technologies from the Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, took home almost $700,000 as it works to make helicopter rescue operations safer.

The other five finalists were from the University of Notre Dame, Northwestern University, Penn State University, the University of Chicago and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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