A startup working to bring eye exams to impoverished and remote communities globally was the big winner at the fall Velocity Fund Finals (VFF).

EyeCheck is one of four Waterloo-based startups that each won a $25,000 grant from Velocity, an entrepreneurship program at the University of Waterloo. EyeCheck also won an additional $10,000 as the top hardware startup in the competition.

Eyecheck founders

EyeCheck co-founder Dax Desai, a systems design engineering student, said the money will be used to develop their hardware which includes a camera that takes images of patients’ eyes and provides a prescription in half the time of a traditional eye exam. "It will also help us gather field data in India where hundreds of people line up to get their vision checked.”

The three other $25,000-winners were:

Code Connect – Makes it easy for developers to understand source code.

HearthStats – Hearthstone players can easily track wins and losses and gain insight into strengths and weaknesses for future play. 

Perceptiv Labs – creates software that allows drones to perceive their environment, track objects and locate themselves on maps.

During the competition, 10 companies pitched their businesses to a panel of judges representing the investment, startup and business communities. Judges weighed innovation, market potential, market viability and overall pitch. Winners take home the grant money and also earn support and workspace in the program.

Waterloo’s incredible startup ecosystem

“Funding for early stage companies is invaluable. The Velocity Fund allows us to provide support to startups and invest in their future through grants,” said Mike Kirkup, director of Velocity. “The incredible ecosystem that Velocity, as part of the University of Waterloo, has built provides unmatched education, mentorship, networking and additional resources to our startups.”

Three $5,000 Velocity Fund prizes

During the VFF event, an additional 10 teams of University of Waterloo students competed for three $5,000 prizes and access to the Velocity Garage and the Velocity Foundry incubation spaces in downtown Kitchener. The $5,000 award winners were chosen by more than 300 event attendees in three cateogries:


Most Innovative: Ansik Inc.– A mechanical reinforcement for worn out gas-charged struts

People’s Choice Award and Best Pitch: Reno – A device that uses body heat to charge smart devices.