This year’s finalists and winners exhibited tremendous courage in pitching their business ideas and overcoming personal challenges – from portable treatment for neurological diseases to voice training for those who identify as transgender.

Congratulations to the winners and all of the finalists who presented at the 24th (Winter 2019) Velocity Fund Finals (VFF) $5K competition of 2019—held today at the University of Waterloo’s Student Life Centre.

During the VFF $5K competition, four student-led startups walked away with $5,000 to help them further grow their business ideas. The winners were selected from a pool of 10 high-caliber student finalists who were chosen to present their startup idea in three minutes or less to an audience of over 100 of their peers and investors.

Velocity Fund winners

Velocity Funds Finals $5K winners (in alphabetical order)

Animus. Griffin Barnicutt (2A General Science) is looking to create portable eyeglasses that can integrate neuro-stimulation technology into the frame, allowing for the non-invasive stimulation of deep brain regions without affecting the surrounding structures. These frames have the potential to be used as a treatment option for over 20 million people in the United States and Canada currently suffering from medication-resistant neurological disease. Animus also took home another one of four additional $5K prizes from Ontario Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility for developing an accessibility solution. Startups that also won $5K for their accessibility solutions were Atlas Medical, Reka and SpecialVR.

Forsa. Conner Al-Joundi (4A Mechanical Engineering) seeks to improve communications between contractors and their clients through mobile and web applications that can help both parties manage and work on tasks together. This includes records of agreement, terms, changes, approvals, and automatic notifications.

Pulse Home. The team is developing a panelized construction technology package designed with Canadian Indigenous communities in mind. The panelized technology is designed for simple and low-skilled wall, roofing, and foundation assembly, as well as maintenance and expansion that can be undertaken by home-owners themselves. Emman Haider (4B Systems Design Engineering) pitched on behalf of her team.

TagBull. The student startup is a mobile-first dataset labelling platform that aims to replace the need for hiring expensive and inaccurate contractors to label datasets. The TagBull team has created a plugin that can be integrated into mobile games, whereby distributing labelling tasks. Co-founder George Utsin (4A Software Engineering) pitched on behalf of his team.

“All 10 companies solved very different, but real, problems. That is one of the most important pieces to building a successful start-up: identifying those critical challenges that we face everyday, but do not yet have a solution for,” said Mallory McKewen, Founder of BridesMade and member of the esteemed panel of VFF judges.

Regardless of the problems tackled, many of the student startup teams showed tremendous courage. From developing solutions for hard-to-solve problems (e.g., a renewable Ocean Battery) to communication problems that the founders felt deeply (e.g., speech synthesis devices and voice training solutions for transgender people), there was no shortage of innovative ideas. Please see our list of VFF $5K Winter 2019 finalists if you missed who pitched today. You can also stream our event via Facebook on-demand.

“All 10 companies solved very different, but real, problems. That is one of the most important pieces to building a successful start-up: identifying those critical challenges that we face everyday, but do not yet have a solution for,” said Mallory McKewen, Founder of BridesMade and member of the esteemed panel of VFF judges, “What set the winners apart from the crowd was the proof of traction that they could present with their idea. And traction is not just the proof of revenue, but the proof that their idea is up and running and there are pilot projects already in the making”. Other judges included Dominic Lau, Associate at Ripple Ventures, and Beth Locke, Full-Stack Software Developer with Bungalow.

VFF takes place 3 times a year. Unlike previous years, this VFF was split into two events, with the $25K competition finals taking place Wednesday, March 27 morning (9:30 a.m.) at the Tannery Event Centre in downtown Kitchener. Student pitches at the $5K competition took place following an engaging and inspiring Fireside Chat with Velocity alumnus and founder of Kik Interactive, Ted Livingston, and Jay Shah, Director of Velocity.

Velocity would like to thank its partners, the School of Accounting and Finance’s Student Venture Fund and the Ontario Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility.

Photo Credit: Megpie Photography

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