20 hopeful student teams pitched during two nights of competition at Velocity’s Concept $5K Semi-Finals and nine have advanced to the finals on July 14th.
The competition offers the opportunity for University of Waterloo student led teams with innovative solutions and high potential business ideas to showcase their hard work and compete for grant funding.
In past $5K events only eight teams have moved on to compete in the final round. This term, after lengthy deliberation by a panel of judges, it was found to be impossible to make the cut to eight, forcing a nine-team final.
New to Velocity on campus and first time pitching at the Concept $5K semi-finals was Faculty of Engineering student, Adanna Amechi, founder of The President Braids. The President Braids is a project aimed to provide quality, reliable and accessible day long customized hair care services to people of colour across Ontario.
Amechi proudly shared her thoughts with us following the semi’s. “Concept was an amazing experience and one that’ll be embedded in me forever. Whether or not we advance, it’s a milestone for our brand as we were able to share such a delicate problem with people and have them relate to us. I wouldn’t have done anything differently and will continue to speak on this issue until inclusivity in this industry becomes a norm. Everyone deserves to feel and look their absolute best!”
Her focus on Chemical Engineering will be placed on hold as she preps for the $5K finals and what will be her second stage appearance with Velocity.
Ideas come from many different experiences and for Adanna, the problem was personal. “I came up with the idea (The President Braids), back in 2019 when I came into Canada as an international student. I already had my hair done from back home and since hair salons were never a scarcity, it never occurred to me to understand the process and techniques that go into hair care and braiding. It was not until I realized what I’d lost, after months of searching and repeatedly hearing ‘We don’t service that type of hair here’, ‘It’s too hard, too nappy, too short’, I decided in November 2019, to cut it all off. It wasn’t till January 2020 when my hair grew back that I realized there was a problem and I said to myself, If no one was going to help me, I have to help myself. I realized this problem is beyond me and took matters into my own hands and founded The President Braids.”
We also met Ethan Childerhose a Mechatronics student who pitched for RÜF. RÜF hopes to revolutionize the roofing industry by leveraging robotics and automation. Childerhose enjoyed his experience and realized how quickly time flies during competition. “I found, I initially had a longer a pitch. I didn’t realize how short 3-minutes really is.”
The RÜF founding team realized their idea by focusing on a problem space that larger companies don’t tend to work within. For Childerhose and his teammates, that was construction. “There’s a real issue in the industry finding labour and we found that in general less and less people want to work in these jobs, and automation is one solution that will help lead in to the future.”
Velocity is thrilled to present the nine teams that will take to the stage in two short weeks’ time, to convince a new panel of judges in just minutes, that they should be the ones to walk away with a $5K grant. Four of these teams will be awarded top honours and one team will have the opportunity to be selected as the People’s Champ.
Join us as we congratulate our Summer 2020 Concept $5K finalists.
Meet the finalists
Join us to cheer on your favourite team as they take the stage to pitch their ambitious ideas
EV123 is a public EV charger status verification software that audits uptime reports through crowdsourcing and gamification.
Team members: Alex D’Alton (Engineering, MBET), Andrew Smedley (Engineering, MBET), Prasanna Karthik (Engineering, MBET)
LoopX (Canada’s First All-weather Autonomous Delivery Robot) We have developed Canada’s first autonomous delivery robot that will be deployed in UW campus. We also provide all-weather hybrid driving software stacks and complete solutions to autonomize logistics.
Team members: Chao Yu (Engineering, PhD Doctoral), Yaodong Cui (Engineering, PhD Doctoral), Jinwei Zhang (Engineering, PhD Doctoral), Jiaming Zhong (Engineering, PhD Doctoral), Shucheng Huang (Engineering, Master Program)
NEXT: Immigrant Services All-in-One App Our product acts as a bridge to information and service gaps that will help immigrants integrate into Canada by providing essential functions including housing, language barriers, employment opportunities, etc.
Team members: Jia Qi Liu (Science, Science and Business), Boon Kent Chin (Arts, Global Business and Digital Arts), Chenyong Qin (Engineering, Computer Engineering), Miley Xu (Environment, Environment and Business)
OrientaMED is developing a breath-based glucometer to replace the blood test with a single breath.
Team Members: Nathalia Moraes do Nascimento (Math, Computer Science), Júllia Nascimento, Rheyller Vargas and Eduardo Lucena
“Someone gave me very good advice that I never forget – and that is if someone is nervous about what they are doing, it is an indication that they are doing something extraordinary,” Moraes do Nascimento
RÜF We aim to revolutionize the roofing industry by leveraging robotics and automation, reducing cost, decreasing turnaround time, and increasing quality and consistency.
Team members: Brian Machado (Engineering, Engineering Mechatronics), Ethan Childerhose (Engineering, Engineering Mechatronics), Clayton Haight (Engineering, Engineering Mechatronics)
Symphonic wants to build a wearable interface that directly decodes speech from neuromotor intentions, enabling people with speech disabilities to speak.
Team members: Christopher Samra (Engineering, Mechatronics Engineering), Avery Chiu (Engineering, Mechatronics Engineering), Ryan Trainor (Arts, Accounting and Financial Management)
Tako is a B2B solution for the global seafood supply chain. Tako takes care of the information processes, allowing exporters and importers to focus on their expertise in delivering fish.
Team members: Tan Hung Le (Engineering, Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology), Osama Siddiqui (Engineering, Master of Business Entrepreneurship and Technology)
The President Braids A project aimed to provide quality, reliable and accessible day long customized hair care services to people of colour across Ontario.
Team member: Adanna Amechi (Engineering, Chemical Engineering)
Pragmatica (VR Speech Therapy Kit) We’re developing a VR speech therapy kit to supplement their existing speech therapy or provide an accessible option for people who cannot afford or allot time for dedicated speech therapy.
Team members: Emily Shiu (Arts, PhD Psychology), Thomas Mastantuono (Engineering, Management Sciences) Jing Hao Yao (Engineering, Software Engineering) and Karthik Prasad (Engineering, Management Sciences)