WATERLOO, Ont. (Thursday, September 12, 2013) – A health monitoring armband, highly scalable transparent energy-efficient electronic display technology, and an online planning tool for teachers are among the many innovations emerging from 30 startup companies operating at the VeloCity Garage this fall.

VeloCity logo

VeloCity is a startup program with the University of Waterloo. The program fosters entrepreneurship by providing University of Waterloo students with opportunities for startup funding, free workspace, workshops, networking opportunities and access to mentors.

“Since VeloCity’s start five years ago, we have supported the launch of over 45 companies, including Kik Interactive which today has over 80 million registered users; BufferBox, which was acquired by Google last year; and Thalmic Labs, which recently raised over $15 million in funding from outside investors,” said Mike Kirkup, Director at VeloCity. “Together, VeloCity startups have raised over $90 million in funding and created hundreds of employment positions.”

Each startup earned their place at the VeloCity Garage through an application process, or by winning a VeloCity Venture Fund competition. At least one founding member must be a University of Waterloo student or graduate of the University. Startup founders come from University of Waterloo programs ranging from mechatronics, nanotechnology, systems design, mechanical engineering, math, science, computer science, arts and more.

The 30 startups operating at the VeloCity Garage in downtown Kitchener this fall are:

Blacktree Health  A health monitoring armband that automatically detects calories consumed, stress levels, exercise and sleep quality. This device proactively recommends small steps for improvement throughout the day. Pre-orders starting soon.

Founders: Abhi Jayakumar, Mechatronics Engineering 2012 Graduate; Emmanuel DeVries, Electrical Engineering 2012 Graduate; and Naman Kumar, Computer Science 2013 Graduate, all from the University of Waterloo. 

Charity Republic – An online volunteer solution for easily tracking, sharing and ranking experiences. Also, this month Charity Republic is launching hourrepublic.com, an education solution that enables students to track their volunteer and work activities and connect to opportunities in the community.

Founder: Popy Dimoulas-Graham, Science, University of Waterloo; Epidemiology and International Development, University of Guelph.

The Display Rack  A local online comparison shopping destination. The Display Rack provides real time inventory and prices of products at local stores. Currently in private beta in the US.

Founder: Fahad Siddiqui, Math 2006 Graduate, University of Waterloo and former investment banker.

FamilyTales – An online app for families to capture and share their precious memories (stories, pictures, videos and audio clips) in a digital and, optionally, physical storybook that can be passed on for generations. Sign up and start capturing your family stories today.

Founders: Ramli Solidum, Math 2008 Graduate, University of Waterloo; Ali Rushdan Tariq, Computer Science 2005 Graduate, McGill University; and Beatrice Law, Arts 2013 Graduate, University of Western Ontario. 

Fides  A social media predictive analytics tool that provides real-time recommendations for increased social engagement. Currently in private beta. Sign up today to join the public beta coming soon.

Founders: Matthew Davidson, Master of Business Administration Graduate - Marketing & Branding, Wilfrid Laurier University, and Recreation and Business 2010 Graduate, University of Waterloo; and Kimbe MacMaster, Marketing and Psychology 2012 Graduate, Wilfrid Laurier University. 

Fora – A provider of digital educational content for universities and corporations in Africa, with course content developed by the world’s leading experts from the top universities in Canada and the US. 300 courses are currently available in the Fora catalog and 9 pilot projects underway in Nigeria.

Founders: Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Law and Economics, University of Waterloo; and 
Ian Carnevale, Visual Design and Computer Science, University of Toronto. Combined, the founders have 7+ years of experience building education-based startups.

Happenate  A social platform for making stuff happen through shared decisions, resource gathering and cooperative action. Pilot projects range from a community build of front-yard libraries to an accessibility renovation for a local family.

Founders: Kris Braun, Computer Science 2001 Graduate, University of Waterloo; Mike Braun, Chartered Accounting 2004 Graduate, University of Waterloo; Cole Bassarab, Social Work and Theological Studies, McMaster University.

Kaizena – Kaizena is an online platform focused on student skills improvement by empowering teachers to give highly targeted, personalized, actionable feedback. To address specific areas for improvement, a teacher highlights the relevant area of the student’s work, then records a voice comment, adds a text comment, and/or attaches a link to any online resource (such as a mini lesson, video or educational game). With over 25,000 educators using the beta worldwide, Kaizena is poised to be at the forefront of education's transition from paper to digital. Kaizena is available today and works with Google Drive and other cloud-based services.

Founders: Edward Sun, Computer Science, University of Waterloo; and Maxwell Brodie, Computer Science, University of Waterloo. 

Kite – An online service for software developers to automatically set up and configure their entire development environment in the cloud and start building web applications right away.

Founders: Jeffrey Morgan, Software Engineering 2013 Graduate, University of Waterloo; Michael Chiang, Electrical Engineering, University of Waterloo; and Sean Li, Software Engineering 2013 Graduate, University of Waterloo.

Lumos  Web services for games. Focus on making great games and we'll handle the back end.

Founders: Matthew Miner, Computer Science 2013 Graduate, University of Waterloo; and Brad Keys, Game Designer.

Lumotune  Transparent electronic displays that can be scaled to as small as a SIM card, or as large as a side of the Empire State Building. Pilot projects underway.

Founders Matin Esfahani, Nanotechnology Engineering 2013 Graduate, University of Waterloo and research assistant at Harvard and MIT; Hooman Safaee, Nanotechnology Engineering 2013 Graduate, University of Waterloo and research assistant at Harvard and MIT; and Shafi Siddiqi, Nanotechnology Engineering 2013 Graduate, University of Waterloo and Materials Research Engineer at Xerox and Environment Canada.

MappedIn  An interactive indoor navigation system available as a mobile app or touchscreen kiosk. Over 100,000 active monthly users to date. Current customers include the University of Waterloo, Casino Rama, Sheraton Toronto, and Conestoga Mall.

Founders: Hongwei Liu, Electrical Engineering; Mitchell Butler, Systems Design Engineering; and Leander Lee, Computer Science 2013 Graduate, all from the University of Waterloo.

Marmot Labs  Decision.io is a cloud solution that makes it easy to collect and review applications for grants, scholarships, admissions, contests, resumes and more. Currently in beta.

Founders: Josh Wright, Duncan McDowell, and Jesse Guild, all Graduates of the University of Waterloo’s Masters of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) program.

Media Spot Me – An online directory where journalists discover experts to interview. Media Spot Me also runs expert directories for organizations, including universities.

Founders: Ebrahim Ashrafizadeh, Mechatronics Graduate, University of Waterloo; and Stavros Rougas, TV producer.

Oikoi – An online service that helps students and young professionals find quality rental accommodations fast in great neighbourhoods across Canada. Features thousands of easily searchable listings for rooms, sublets, lofts, student housing, and more. Oikoi will be launching their redesigned website later this month. This update will introduce new map search and neighbourhood info features, and expand Oikoi's reach to major cities across Canada, including Vancouver, Montreal, Calgary, Ottawa, and Halifax. Oikoi currently serves Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, and London. 

Founder: Logan Fuller, studied Electrical Engineering at the University of Waterloo.

Planboard  An online platform for teachers to streamline lesson plans, track curriculum standards, and collaborate with other teachers worldwide. In use today by over 15,000 teachers. Recognized by the David Suzuki Foundation, Discovery Education, and the Ontario Teachers' Federation. Available in English, and recently launched in Chinese.

Founders: William Zhou, 3rd year Computer Science; Suraj Srinivas, Management Engineering Graduate; Ryan McKay-Fleming, 3rd year Computer Science; Tony Cui, 3rd year Computer Science, all from the University of Waterloo.

Planleaf – Project management software that works right out of your inbox. Sign up for the beta today.

Founders: Omar Qureshi, Computer Science 2005 Graduate, University of Toronto; and Ahmed Farra, Electrical Engineering 2013 Graduate, University of Waterloo.

PumpUp – A mobile fitness coach that automatically designs personalized workout routines based on the user’s equipment, location, skill level, and goals. Users are coached through their routine step-by-step and are kept motivated to stay on track. Over time, the app tailors the exercises based on the user’s previous workouts (sets, reps, weight, etc.) so users see great progress. The PumpUp fitness app is currently available for iPhone, and soon on Android and BlackBerry 10.

Founders: Phil Jacobson, Business Administration Graduate, Wilfrid Laurier University; and Garrett Gottlieb, Computer Science student, University of Waterloo.

Redro – A social networking site for discovering and ordering popular restaurant dishes online based on friends' rankings and recommendations. Currently in beta with restaurants in Waterloo. 

Founders Peter Chan, Computer Engineering 2013 Graduate; Tobi Balogun, Fine Arts 2012 Graduate; and Jeffrey Chen, Computer Engineering 2013 Graduate, all from the University of Waterloo.

reebee  The best way to browse flyers and discover deals at local retailers on your smartphone and tablet. Download free today for iOS, Android, and BlackBerry 10.

Founders: Tobiasz Dankiewicz, Mechatronics Engineering 2013 Graduate; and Michal Martyniak, Mechatronics Engineering 2011 Graduate, both from the University of Waterloo.

SciGit  An online service that allows for easy collaboration on research data and papers. Used by hundreds of organizations, including CERN - the European Organization for Nuclear Research; Harvard; and MIT. A new version is planned for release this month.

Founders: Eric Ho, Biotechnology and Business 2013 Graduate; Doug Sherk, Mechatronics Engineering 2013 Graduate; and Hanson Wang, Computer Science 2013 Graduate, all from the University of Waterloo.

Sentry Scientific Inc.  Sentry Scientific is developing a smart walker to make walkers safer and increase the independence of seniors. The smart walker uses an array of sensors, and a braking system to predict user intention and the environment to avoid dangerous situations. Coming soon.

Founders: Wilfrid Ngo, Mechatronics Engineering Graduate with Biomechanics Option; Ray Zhou, Mechatronics Engineering Graduate; and Jonathan Kurtz, Mechatronics Engineering Graduate with Management Option, all from the University of Waterloo.

SmartShare  SmartShare is a platform for transferring any kind of content between devices. It's ideal for sharing presentations, videos, photos and files instantly from a mobile device to a larger screen, such as a smart TV, computer, tablet or laptop; or to easily move content from one device to another for people on the go. The beta launch of SmartShare apps for OS X and Android is planned for later this year. Web site coming soon at smartshare.me.

Founder: Sumit Pasupalak, Software Engineering 2013 Graduate, University of Waterloo.

SoundBrush  A mobile app that makes complex music compositions from drawn lines. Download today for iPad.

Founders: Basil Al-Dajane and Jayson Rhynas, both Computer Science 2013 Graduates from the University of Waterloo. 

Sparkgig – Sparkgig is an online marketplace for local music performers to connect with event opportunities. Marketplaces launching for Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto later this year. Web site coming soon at www.sparkgig.com.

Founders: Desmond Choi, Sociology student; and Samuel Yuan, Computer Science student, both at the University of Waterloo. 

Tinkercoin – A fast and easy way to buy Bitcoin digital currency online. Tinkercoin turns a multi-day process into a 10-minute checkout.

Founders: Gareth MacLeod, Computer Science 2011 Graduate; Ross Robinson, Computer Science 2012 Graduate; and Trevor Creech, Computer Science 2012 Graduate, all from the University of Waterloo.

TrendRadius – An online customer feedback analytics tool that measures your product strategy so you can better retain current customers, acquire new customers and ensure the right product-market fit. 

Founders: Bryan Smith, Peter Kruzlics, Alex Wade, and Rahul Kulkarni, all Systems Design Engineering 2013 Graduates from the University of Waterloo.

Voltera – A printer that enables low-cost circuit boards to be prototyped within minutes using conductive ink and inkjet technology. Finding and fixing mistakes has never been so fast and affordable. Coming soon.

Founders: Alroy Almeida, James Pickard, Jesus A. Zozaya, all Mechatronics Engineering 2013 Graduates from the University of Waterloo.

WestonExpressions  Linkett gives average televisions mobile and motion-sensor capabilities to make all content interactive and convenient for consumers while providing key analytics to promoters. Linkett supports payments not only through mobile devices, but also through loyalty and credit cards. WestonExpressions is currently taking preorders on its website at www.linkett.com.

Founders: Douglas Lusted, Environment Business; Ashok Patel, Computer Science; and Vlad Pisanov, Software Engineering, all from the University of Waterloo.

WorldVuze  An online education platform where students from kindergarten to grade 12 can share and explore multiple perspectives on any question with other students around the world. For every question asked, student perspectives can be clustered geographically and compared within and between places – city to city, region to region, country to country.

Founders: Julia Coburn, Environmental Studies Planning 2012 Graduate, University of Waterloo; and Ellen Palmer, Arts Graduate, University of Toronto. Global pilot in October 2013.

In addition to the VeloCity Garage in downtown Kitchener, VeloCity operates the VeloCity Residence on the University of Waterloo main campus which houses another 70 entrepreneurial students, and runs weekly programming to provide students from any faculty access to entrepreneurship workshops and networking opportunities.

Startup funding is available through VeloCity Venture Fund competitions. Through this fund, VeloCity awards over $300,000 to promising startups each year. Competitions take place three times a year. VeloCity takes no intellectual property rights or equity in return. 

VeloCity is funded through the University of Waterloo, the Government of Ontario, and private donors. It is one of the many programs that have upheld the University of Waterloo's position as Canada's most innovative university for over 20 years.

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Mike Kirkup Mike Kirkup, director of VeloCity at the University of Waterloo
VeloCity Garage entrance in downtown Kitchener VeloCity Garage entrance in downtown Kitchener
VeloCity Garage workspace VeloCity Garage workspace

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


Notes to editors

A full contact sheet for all VeloCity companies is available.

Media are invited to visit the VeloCity Garage. Tours can be arranged by contacting University of Waterloo Media Relations.

Media Contact

Nick Manning
University of Waterloo

Attention broadcasters: Waterloo has facilities to provide broadcast quality audio and video feeds with a double-ender studio. Please contact Nick Manning on 519-888-4451 or 226-929-7627 for more information.

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