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Velocity Fund Finals once again mirrors trends in startup ecosystem

At the 12th Velocity Fund Finals, life sciences startups won over the crowd and took home two of the four $25,000 grand prizes!

Vitameter and Suncayr both work out of the Velocity Science discovery space, although Vitameter will be moving to the Velocity Foundry next month. Vitameter was the day’s biggest winner, earning the additional $10,000 awarded to the top hardware or life-sciences company to help cover additional startup costs.

“This pitch competition is really a microcosm of the startup industry in general,” said Mike Kirkup, director of Velocity. “As this event has grown, more and more hardware and science startups have joined the software companies that pitch, and the Velocity Fund allows us helps us all of the winners invest in their future through grants.”

Vitameter creates a hand-held device that measures your vitamin levels to help ensure proper dosage. “Our product is essential for people at high-risk for vitamin deficiencies, such as people with anemia, those undergoing chemotherapy, pregnant women and the elderly,” said James MacLean, co-founder of Vitameter. “This is a huge opportunity to get our device to market and to the people who need it.”

Suncayr is developing UV-responsive marker ink that tells you exactly when to reapply sunscreen. This can be drawn directly on the skin before applying sunscreen, and when the sunscreen is no longer blocking UV rays, the ink changes colour. Suncayr is making sun safety personal, fun and simple. Said co-founder Rachel Paulter, “we are super excited! There was great competition and we are happy to be that much closer to bringing our product to market.”

The two other $25,000 winners, Fotofox and Pout, are software startups working out of the Velocity Garage.

Fotofox is an online marketplace that connects customers with photographers for high-quality, professional photos. It curates a personalized list of photographers that best fits the client’s needs, budget, and style. “The competition was amazing today and we’re really happy to be up here with all these teams” said co-founder Sean Wilkinson. Co-founder Jona Cho said “this help from the community will only allow us to give our customers a better experience. Thank you Velocity, we will continue to work even harder and faster.”

Pout is a place to show and tell, inspire, discover, and explore the beauty and fashion industry. The community targets beauty and fashion enthusiasts/professionals to share photos and videos that show their unique looks, process, and techniques. When asked about her second experience pitching at the Velocity Fund Finals, she said, “it’s an incredible event, high energy day, and the money is going to be huge to help our company get to the next level. It’s a huge milestone for us and it will be pivotal in continuing to grow our business.”

During the Velocity Fund Finals $25K competition, 10 companies pitched their businesses to a panel of judges representing the investment, startup and business communities. Judges weighed innovation, market potential, market viability and overall pitch. For the first time, three of the four grand-prize winners all have female co-founders.

An additional 10 teams of University of Waterloo students competed for three prizes of $5,000 and access to Velocity workspaces. The winners of the Velocity $5K are:

  • Best Pitch: CareChair – The first standalone system that can function both as a bed and a wheelchair.
  • Most Innovative: Kue – Developing a timed-release capsule that will open after a specific amount of time. This caffeine product gives consumers a burst of energy before they wake.
  • People’s Choice: Node – A platform for beautifully designed, high-quality, custom-fit compression garments designed by users and artists for individuals with lymphedema.

The judges for the Velocity Fund $25K competition were Ted Livingston of Kik Interactive, Shivon Zilis of Bloomberg Beta and Boris Wertz of Version One Ventures. Judging the Velocity Fund $5K competition were Wayne Chang of the Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre at Waterloo, Katherine Hague, The Blueprint, PCH International and Prof. Sanjeev Bedi of UWaterloo.

If you missed the action or want to see it again, check out our Livestream archive. Stay tuned for application dates for Velocity Fund Finals, Spring 2015!