Palette, a company that created a freeform hardware interface that can be built like Lego to control your favourite software, won the first-ever award for best hardware-based startup at the Velocity Fund Finals, and was one of several big winners at the event that took place at the University of Waterloo today.
Hardware is a new category in the competition, and the win also secures the company a place in the upcoming Velocity Foundry. The founders of BufferBox, Mike McCauley, Aditya Bali and Jay Shah, who continue to be active with Velocity startups as volunteers and donors, inspired the new award.
“We’re very thankful to the BufferBox founders for their generous support of the Velocity community,” said Mike Kirkup, director of Velocity. “They have demonstrated the full scope of giving back with their time, mentorship and financial support. It’s amazing to have such great entrepreneurial talent helping us foster the next wave of startups coming out of Waterloo.”
Palette joins three other startups that won grants worth $25,000 and a spot to grow their businesses at Velocity. Ten startups competed.
The three other winners of the grants worth $25,000 are:
PetroPredict - A well integrity prediction engine for the oil and gas industry that enables subsurface engineers to identify low capital, high reward optimization opportunities in their fields.
Sparkgig - An online marketplace for hiring performers.
TrendRadius - Provides product management software as a service, including market insights and analytics, for companies to create profitable products that their customers love.
"It's a big day for us," said Ashish Bidadi, co-founder of Palette. "We were so looking forward to competing today. Now we have the additional support and funding we need to accelerate our product development and manufacturing."
Another 10 young entrepreneurs from the University of Waterloo pitched their startup ideas for one of three grants worth $1,000 each. The winners are:
- Best Pitch: Focus ONCare, developing a mobile health application for cancer patients to track their symptoms, receive recommendations for managing side effects, and put them in direct contact with their health care team.
- People’s Choice and Most Innovative: NewAllergy Technologies, focused on developing a convenient patch for allergy testing.
The teams each had three minutes to pitch their startup ideas to the panel of judges. At least one founder on a pitching team must be a current student or a graduate of the University of Waterloo within the past year. Velocity takes no intellectual property rights or equity in return.
"We saw an impressive array of talent vying for these grants today," said Mike Stork, president of Stork Holdings, and one of the judges for the Velocity Fund Finals. "It's exciting to see the passion these teams have for their companies and ideas, and I look forward to them being successful."
Earlier this week, Stork made a donation of $1 million to Velocity. The generous gift will help grow the Velocity Fund to support young entrepreneurs and early-stage startups.
Other judges for the competition for $25,000 include JS Cournoyer, co-founder and partner of Real Ventures, and Devon Galloway, co-founder and chief operating officer of Vidyard.
Past winners of the Velocity Fund competition include Thalmic Labs, the makers of the MYO gesture control armband, MappedIn, makers of indoor mapping technology, and business location analytics company PiinPoint, which just became the seventh consecutive startup to participate in Silicon Valley’s highly competitive Y Combinator accelerator program.
For more information about the Velocity Fund, please visit the Velocity website.
About the University of Waterloo
In just half a century, the University of Waterloo, located at the heart of Canada's technology hub, has become one of Canada's leading comprehensive universities with 35,000 full- and part-time students in undergraduate and graduate programs. Waterloo, as home to the world's largest post-secondary co-operative education program, embraces its connections to the world and encourages enterprising partnerships in learning, research and discovery. In the next decade, the university is committed to building a better future for Canada and the world by championing innovation and collaboration to create solutions relevant to the needs of today and tomorrow. For more information about Waterloo, please visit www.uwaterloo.ca.