At the end of every term, the Velocity program organizes and hosts the Velocity Fund Finals, where three judges collaborate in choosing which startup companies receive a special $5,000 or $25,000 grant provided by the Velocity Foundry. </p>
This term was no different. The Grand Hall of the SLC was packed March 26 with students and other noted guests like President Hamdullahpur who were eager to see which startups would win. While the format and structure of the event was almost the same as it had always been, the type of winners were different, especially in comparison to last term’s winners.
Last term, there was a combination of hardware and software companies that received Velocity’s grants. EyeCheck, an eye vision tester, and CodeConnect, a tool that teaches you how to understand source code, are hardware and software companies respectively. These startups were two of the four which received the $25,000 grant.
This term, Vitameter, Suncayr, Fotofox and Pout were the four companies that won the $25,000. While these startups are also a mix of hardware and software, there are other characteristics that make them different from last term’s winners. Mike Kirkup, the director of Velocity, agrees.
“It’s the first time that we ever had two life sciences companies win,” said Kirkup, referring to Vitameter and Suncayr, startups that work out of the Velocity Science discovery space. Both companies focus on aiming to improve human health. Vitameter created a tool that measures one’s vitamin intake while Suncayr created a tool that indicates when one is exposed to harmful UV rays and should reapply sunscreen.
Meanwhile, Pout and FotoFox are both software startups that aim to satisfy online users with their services. Pout focuses on uniting a fashion and beauty community through their social network, while FotoFox focuses on providing customers with ideal photographers that they can hire for events.
“We’re now consistently seeing that good mixture of hardware, life sciences and software, and it’s something that we’re really excited about,” said Kirkup in regards to this term’s winners.
Along with the $25,000 winners, three other startups won the $5,000 prizes. Kue, a startup that aims to improve sleep with a time capsule that bursts with caffeine to provide energy once the consumer is awake, was chosen as the most innovative. CareChair received the best pitch prize for their stand-alone product that serves as a bed and a wheelchair. Node won the People’s Choice prize for their platform of custom-fit garments for those who have lymphedema.
While there is a bit more variety on the types of winners for this term’s Fund Final, Kirkup also believes there has been significant improvement in the overall quality of the competing startups.
“I think that the teams keep getting better,” said Kirkup. “They have more attraction, they have more users, more customers, a better story … it keeps getting better every single term. The bar keeps getting higher.”
To learn more about Velocity and how you can apply for a Velocity Fund for your startup, check out velocity.uwaterloo.ca.