The Spring 2020 term at the University of Waterloo was definitely a unique one. With classes, resources, programs, and student interactions moving online, we were unsure what kind of engagement Concept and the $5K pitch competition would receive. Ever the entrepreneurs, UWaterloo students were not discouraged by these changes and participated in nearly record numbers! The Spring 2020 Concept $5K received only 3 fewer than our personal best of 87 applications set last semester. Although we couldn’t see the pitches in person, the Semi-Finalists dazzled our judges online as they showed the incredible depth of ideas being worked on.
The Finalists selected took feedback from our judges and spent the next week perfecting their pitches and creating some seriously impressive pitch videos. It is never an easy choice to pick winners from this group of high potential students, and this term was no exception. We would like to give a huge thank you to our judges for the Concept $5K Finals and appreciate all the time and passion they put into selecting the winners. Making the tough decisions this semester we had four wonderful individuals: Cory Blumenfeld, Co-Founder & CEO of Caribou, Seray Çiçek, Co-Founder & CEO of LSK Technologies Inc., Sean Fu, Founder & CEO of Supervisa.AI, and Heather Galt, VP Marketing of P&P Optica.
The judges were blown away by the range of problems University of Waterloo students are tackling, which made for some serious deliberation. After much debate and discussion, our judges picked the four teams they felt were most deserving of being crowned Concept $5K winners. They picked winners based on teams who clearly identified a problem and provided an innovative solution, demonstrated a high potential market, and had a team capable of delivering.
So without anymore hesitation, we are proud to announce the Concept $5K Winners for the Spring 2020 term!
Spring 2020 Concept $5K Winners
Aqua-Cell Energy is developing large scale batteries to store renewable energy for continuous solar and wind power to help power a greener and cleaner world.
Keith Cleland, Chemical Engineering Masters, University of Waterloo
Jeff Gostick, Professor, Chemical Engineering, University of Waterloo
Anne Benneker, Professor, Chemical Engineering, University of Calgary
After seeing what common pitches include I learned what figures are relevant which gave me insights into the market. Then through coaching sessions I put a lot more thought into business strategy. I’ve given successful academic presentations, but pitching a business idea is much different and a great skill to know.
Eight Stories of Modesty is a Hijab brand that aims to create a meaningful journey for its customers by bringing to light the experiences of women that wear the headscarf through a concept known as fashion storytelling.
Tamania Majeed, Accounting and Financial Management, University of Waterloo
My next steps after winning is to use the funding to launch my third collection of scarves, set up an official website, and onboard a team. I am also going to keep an eye out for further competitions and opportunities offered by the University of Waterloo, and network with students that are looking for advice and tips on how to improve their own businesses or pitches.
Lumos is developing light therapy glasses that combine blue blocking effects with the active light therapy of a light lamp.
Lucas Tang, Mechanical Engineering, University of Waterloo
Dr. Jamie Zeitzer, Neurobiology, Harvard
Dr. Kasey Li, Medical School, Harvard
James Ro, Physics and Electronics, University of Waterloo
Lingfeng Tao, Industrial Design, University of Notre Dame
Lucas Wen Tang
I made it to the Semi-Finals last year, when our company was in its very early stages with a bright idea and 3D printed prototypes. After our first competition, I continued to meet with the Concept Coaches, built up our team, raised investments, made high quality MVPs, started pilot studies, and attended the consumer electronics show in Las Vegas. It feels amazing to come to the place where it all began and I’m humbled to have made it this far.
moxHealth is developing a convenient and easy to use transdermal patch to detect female ovulation.
Lawrentina D’Souza, Science & Business, Biotechnology, University of Waterloo
Kamran Maksimov, Materials & Nano Science, University of Waterloo
The main value was definitely the learning process. Participating brought clarity to our idea, business considerations, and how we wanted to present ourselves to the market. The competition helped us shape our business model since the guidelines and requirements prompted many considerations, decisions, and research questions.
The People’s Champ
In addition to these winning teams chosen by our judges, we also relied on our virtual audience to help pick their representative as the People’s Champ. We had over 6,000 views of the pitch videos this semester. The support and encouragement from the virtual audience was incredible! The winning team will take home $500 in grant funding and the pride that they were the fan favourite. The people have spoken, and this semester your People’s Champ is Scribble! Scribble is developing a web-based platform for remote software development teams to collaborate on technical diagrams in real time. Congratulations on an impressive pitch and on winning the hearts of our virtual audience.
A big thank you to everyone who got involved and was able to participate in the Concept $5K Finals from a safe social distance. The Concept team and competing teams really appreciate your enthusiasm and dedication through this unique time. And one final congratulations to our Concept $5K Winners and all of our awesome Finalists! The Concept $5K competition will return again next semester so refine your ideas and prepare for the virtual spotlight! In the meantime, if you need to scratch your itch for some more pitches, check out our Pandemic Challenge Fund Finalists. These students are working on tackling big issues highlighted by the COVID19 Pandemic.
Once again the University of Waterloo community has shown its passion for entrepreneurship and dedication to innovation! We look forward to a bright future led by the incredible work being done here. Follow us on social media and stay up to date with all of the exciting new initiatives, programs, and virtual resources coming your way.