This past December, Velocity hosted the Fall 2016 Velocity Fund Finals (VFF), a pitch competition that awards $125,000 each term to help startups build their business.
We caught up with one of the $25K winners, Penta Medical, for a post-VFF update. Penta Medical won a top prize of $25K, and an additional hardware prize of $10K. Watch their pitch.
1. How has your company developed since winning VFF?
In the two months following the VFF, we raised an additional $120,000 in non-dilutive financing, as well as a $70,000 convertible note. We’re in the process of raising our pre-seed round. We’ve further refined our prototype, proved the efficacy of our device in vivo, made advancements to our software control system. Our system is now close to being market ready, and our team has been focusing on go to market strategy, regulatory requirements, and industry partnerships.
If you’re looking for a job, we’re currently hiring for a full time software position. We recently hired a new business developer and two engineering interns.
2. What is your company currently working on?
We’re currently filing for an investigational testing agreement with Health Canada, which will allow us to sell 200 units to our professional athlete partners. This is going to be our “paid beta” after which we will make any final design changes before submitting our product for regulatory approval. As a medical device, this is a huge milestone.
3. What do you enjoy most about building a startup?
How much we’ve all learned about what it takes to build a medical device, and what it takes to bring a product to market. Every day, we assess our business plan with a critical eye through a different view point as we speak with more professionals, customers, and partners. As a team, our depth of knowledge and understanding grows each day.
My co-founder Daniel is a fantastic manager, and goes out of his way to make sure that our employees are always able to work on the projects that interest them. As a result, we’ve had consistently positive feedback from our interns about their experiences working with us, and we’ve exceeded our own expectations and deadlines on these projects.
4. What did you like most about competing at VFF?
The caliber of the contestants. The pitches at the Velocity Fund are always exceptional. Velocity does a great job at getting actual venture capitalists to judge and attend the event, making it a great networking opportunity. It has great media coverage, which can be a huge bonus for your company. Winning is really fun too.
5. Are there any tips you can give startups pitching?
Specifically for the presenter, it must be your pitch. Presenting something that’s dear to you, in front of hundreds of your peers, is honestly one of the most stressful things you will do. You must be 100 per cent confident in everything you’re saying – don’t let someone else push you into doing things a way that feels foreign to you, because it will show when you’re on stage and under a ton of pressure. Also, don’t change your entire pitch based on the advice of one individual. Everyone has preferences and biases.
The rest of the team has just as big of a job. Daniel and our interns were amazing at forcing me to video myself and practice every single day when it was the last thing I wanted to do. They also pulled through with new prototypes and mock-ups for the slides on a really tight deadline, and went over the slides and presentation with a fine tooth comb every day for the month preceding the fund finals.
Pitch often, and genuinely take an interest in the feedback people are giving you and why they’re saying it. Often, pitches can open doors to making more connections in your industry, or meeting investors.