Local startups drink to a good cause

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Startups and Beer, an event that brought Canadian tech startups and microbreweries together, was held Sept. 22 in downtown Kitchener. The event space was filled with attendees from the KW region.

There were three UW Velocity startups at the event: Mirage VR, a virtual reality system geared towards businesses; Grobo, an automated growing system for plants; and Voltera, a printer for low-cost circuit board prototyping. All three of these startups are currently located in Velocity Garage. At the event, each company displayed their product for attendees to see. Mirage VR also set up their virtual reality machine at their booth for people to try out.

When asked about their thoughts on Startups and Beer, co-founder of Voltera Alroy Almeida found the event to be great for  networking and a great opportunity to get out of the office and meet new people.

“If we’re at an event where we’re struggling to hear each other, that’s a great thing,” Almeida said. “Bringing the tech community and beer together — to me, that’s heaven.” Grobo’s marketing lead Stefanie Chan also found the event to be upbeat and friendly.

According to Velocity marketing co-ordinator Alyana Versolatto, the event was “a lot busier [than the first Startups and Beer], people are more talkative … it gets people together and out looking for tech jobs.”

Velocity and Communitech were also present to promote upcoming events. Velocity will be hosting Speaking Startup with Cloud Rabbit Designs on Sept. 28, and Communitech will be hosting Code/Design to Win on Jan. 20, both of which are open to students.

The breweries at the event also drew the attention of the attendees there. According to Collective Arts Brewing employee Tyler Turek, it was a very busy night and people were “going back again and again for the same type of beer” and asking where they could buy it.

The beer most people chose to drink was Ransack the Universe, a tropical fruit IPA made with Australian Galaxy hops. Steph Kent, the science and tech editor and beer enthusiast, found the drink to be strong, full, and citrusy but not too dry.

All of the breweries served beers that were different from one another. StoneHammer Brewing served Dark Ale, which was surprisingly light. Kent described it as having a chocolate flavour, earthy, and savoury rather than sweet.

TWB Co-operative Brewing served Amber, a full bodied beer that was bitter and sweet. According to Kent, it was sharper than StoneHammer’s Dark Ale.

The last beer tasted was Innocente Brewing’s OktoberFest lager, which was labeled as a toasted malt with citrus hop flavour. It was a tad fruity and very gentle going down. Kent found it to be the lightest of the night.

The attendees, ranging from locals to students, crowded the event to talk to the companies and try a different range of beers. Attendee and Conestoga College student Grigory Kozyrev said the event was a great way to “see new companies and new people while looking for jobs.”

The event also supported Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region (WCSWR) who were looking to raise $2 million in support of the $8 million project Haven House, a shelter for women in the Cambridge area. These donations will help to cover the costs of supplies, food, and toiletries for women and children at the shelter. According to WCSWR outreach support worker Jess Almeida, the support from Startups and Beer means a lot as every little bit of money helps. “We couldn’t have a safe home for women and children without the support of the community,” Almeida said. By the end of the event, WCSWR raised $2,050 for Haven House.

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