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Onward and Upward: Jay Shah’s departure in early 2020 kicks off search for the next Director, Velocity Incubator

Change is the only constant. This mantra reflects the culture of Velocity’s small yet high output team, as well as the team’s capacity to create and embrace change that furthers our mission. I am immensely proud of our team for being agents of change. They enable Velocity to stay sharp, focused, and differentiated in how we best support entrepreneurs.

In August, we announced changes to the organization’s structure [1][2] in an effort to create a leadership team that reflects Velocity’s breadth and complexity of what we do. We split my position of Director of Velocity into three separate roles: Executive Director of Velocity, Director of Velocity Incubator, and Director of Student Entrepreneurship (Concept). These changes were a long time in the making and in part, they fit into my succession plan to leave Velocity’s leadership stronger and better poised for the future.

With this new structure in place and the recruitment of a soon-to-be announced Executive Director of Velocity, I will be leaving Velocity in early 2020.  I have reached my planned obsolescence date :). The reality is that I’m burnt out, and I have depleted the opportunity eager energy required for the next chapter of Velocity. I will be taking time to recharge and figure out what’s next.

We’re now actively looking for the next Director of the Velocity Incubator to continue building the Velocity Incubator as a force of economic and social value creation [1][2]. More details about the role and recruitment process can be found here.

With the retooling of the leadership structure, the Director of Velocity Incubator will be able to focus more time on building the strongest and most differentiated incubator supports. Whoever takes on this role will have an opportunity to identify, support and influence startups that will become some of Canada’s highest-performing companies.

In addition, as part of Velocity’s continued commitment to supporting deeptech and those companies born from cutting edge emerging research, Velocity is augmenting its business advisory team with a Business Advisor role specific to supporting deeptech and ‘moonshot’ companies. We’re seeing an increasing number of companies that fit this profile, and we’re looking for someone with the relevant lived experiences to support them. You can find more about that role on our career opportunities listing.

If you’re excited about building and operating the future of startup incubation, or working with founders directly to maximize their potential, learn more about the Director of Velocity Incubator and Business Advisor positions.

I’m certain I’ll be reflecting on my time as Director of Velocity over the coming months, but I must say now how excited and proud I am of how much Velocity has accomplished in the past 3.5 years, we’ve:

  • Launched 47 poised-for-high-growth companies from the Velocity Incubator (and supported 125 more that didn’t launch with another 70 currently being supported pre-launch)
  • Had >24,000 meaningful student engagements via on-campus workshops, pitch competitions, talks, etc.
  • Doubled down on advanced research-based companies via our expanded product development infrastructure; notably including BSL-2 space and the state of the art PerkinElmer lab [1] [2]
  • Retooled our flagship pitch competition to make investments, funded out of our very own pre-seed VC Fund
  • Launched Concept, giving renewed focus, attention, and resources to formative entrepreneurship activities happening on the University of Waterloo campus 
  • Co-founded and co-hosted Corridor Demo Day in Toronto, SF, NY, and Waterloo

I am also incredibly optimistic about Velocity’s future potential, as I have no doubt that the best is yet to come. Last but not least, I am grateful for the past 3.5 years: for ambitious and driven founders, entrepreneurs, and students, and for an amazing Velocity team (past and present), our partners, and of course, the University of Waterloo. Velocity’s future is built on a strong and solid foundation (thank you Sean, Jesse, Nancy, and Mike) and an amazing team that continues to impress me everyday, including a soon-to-be announced new Executive Director of Velocity.

I can’t wait to see how Velocity continues to evolve for the better. Consider me pre-committed to any future Velocity Investment Funds 🙂 

Onwards & upwards!


Jay Shah