Young startups compete for VeloCity venture fund

Keeping with their mission to support startups at UW, Velocity held their termly Velocity Fund Finals, giving away three $1,000 awards and four $25,000 to startups.

Ten startups in their early stages pitched to a crowd and judges in hopes of winning the $25,000. The first was awarded to Petro Predict, a unanimous decision according to Velocity director Mike Kirkup.

The other three awards went to Palette, Trend Radius, and Spark Gig.

“It’s so exciting,” said Palette co-founder and CEO Calvin Chu.

“It’s going to be incredibly helpful,” said Chu of the award. “We do a lot of travelling and have a lot of manufacturing costs, so the funding will really help us get to the next level.”

Palette was also the recipient of a new $10,000 award, sponsored by the founders of BufferBox, formerly part of the Velocity Garage. The new award was intended for a hardware-based company as they often have higher operating costs.

“Undoubtedly 10 very, very good pitches and each of the teams deserve credit not just for getting here because it’s not an easy process, but also for delivering a pitch with passion and energy,” said Kirkup.

“Based off the interviews, it was very close,” said Kirkup.

The $1,000 grants were available only to current UW students who pitch their startup ideas at the Velocity Pitch Night Social, the $25,000 awards are open to young tech startups.

New Allergy Technologies took home two of the 1K awards, most Innovative and people’s choice, which Velocity director Mike Kirkup called an easy decision. Best pitch was awarded to Focus on Care (FOC), a startup founded this past August by fourth-year students from the School of Pharmacy.

Velocity public relations representative Annette Van Gerwin cited FOC’s win as especially exciting because they are an all-female team, adding that Velocity is in support of Communitech’s efforts to increase the number of women in the technology field.

“We saw how big of a need this was, when we were working,” said Soha Ahrahi, a co-founder of Focus on Care.

“We need to create a prototype and start getting focus groups to use it,” said co-founder Christina Mychaskiw on what the $1,000 will go towards. FOC is working to connect patients undergoing chemotherapy with their physicians through a chemo-tracker. Kirkup ensures that teams that did not win, especially in the 25K competition, shouldn’t be discouraged.

“My advice to them is to keep going. They didn’t get to the finals if they didn’t have a good business already,” he said.

“At the end of the day they might just be one term away from being able to [be] up there on stage.”


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