SheLeads, a software company that enables female-focused organizations to better assess their programs, was one of the big winners at yesterday’s 22nd staging of the Velocity Fund Finals (VFF) held at the University of Waterloo.
Velocity, which will on September 28 officially celebrate its 10 year anniversary, is a comprehensive entrepreneurship program at Waterloo providing the resources and mentorship to help founders initiate and incubate high-growth startups.
SheLeads helps non-for-profit organizations geared towards assisting females 18 and under to assess their programs to fund initiatives, evaluate efforts, and influence policy changes. The all-female company was founded by Cassandra Myers, who last year graduated from the University of Waterloo with an undergraduate degree in Peace and Conflict Studies and is an alumna of the Greenhouse entrepreneurship program.
“Organizations that work with young females and all non-for profits, in general, are just like real businesses; they do have the same problems,” Myers said. “They have a lot of money flowing through them, but they don’t have a lot of solutions that apply to some of the unique problems that they’re facing. So, our overall mission is to provide new and innovative solutions for the not-for profit space.”
During the competition, 10 companies pitched their businesses to a panel of judges representing the investment, startup and business communities. Judges considered innovation, market potential, market viability and overall pitch.
Micromensio, which is developing a platform technology for low-cost, disposable, wireless biosensor microchips for bacterial identification, was among the other three grand-prize winners of $25,000. Micromensio also copped the top hardware company prize, worth $10,000.
All four winning VFF$25K startups took home an extra $5K in intellectual property services from local firm, PCK | Perry + Currier. They will also be admitted to the Velocity Garage startup incubator.
The other two grand-prize winners of $25,000 were:
Hodlbot - puts your cryptocurrency investing on autopilot. Users can create, share, discover and execute any portfolio strategy on its platform.
HITCH - is a locally relevant education platform designed for African schools.
“Over the last 10 years, Velocity has ignited the entrepreneurial spirit of thousands of students and founders as they explore entrepreneurship and begin a journey to build globally competitive, high-growth companies,” said Jay Shah, director of Velocity. "Building a startup can be incredibly rewarding and is proportionally difficult but by bringing together a community of entrepreneurs, mentors with first-hand experience, and impact-amplifying resources, our startups have been able to make a significant economic and social impact. This has enabled them to create 2265 jobs across 315 companies, and raise $815 million in funding."
The four early-stage Waterloo student-run startup winners of the Velocity $5K were:
IntelliCulture - brings the future of fleet connectivity to the agricultural industry.
Membio - is developing hardware for manufacturing next-generation medicines.
Nebula - is developing systems to provide clean drinking water through fog harvesting.
OcuBlink - creates eye models to help scientists test and develop better eye care products – from eye drops to smart contact lenses.
The judges for the Velocity Fund $25K competition were Kevin Crews, senior product manager, Alexa Fund Fellowship, Amazon; Nicole LeBlanc, director, investments and partnerships, Sidewalk Labs; Molly McCartin, partner, Drive Capital; and Mohamed Musbah, head of product, Microsoft Research Montreal. The judges for the Velocity Fund $5K competition were Katarina Ilic, head of research and development, Voltera; Matt Kennedy, acquisition associate, Skyline Clean Energy Asset Management; and Sunny Verma, CEO, TutorBright.
For more information on the Velocity Fund Finals, please visit www.velocityfundfinals.com.
About the University of Waterloo
University of Waterloo is Canada’s top innovation university. With more than 36,000 students we are home to the world's largest co-operative education system of its kind. Our unmatched entrepreneurial culture, combined with an intensive focus on research, powers one of the top innovation hubs in the world. Find out more at uwaterloo.ca.