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A message from Velocity Incubator’s new director: our next evolution

By John Cappuccitti

Editor’s note: University of Waterloo’s Velocity is announcing the hiring of John Cappuccitti as the new Director of Velocity Incubator. Ashley Keefner and Mila Banerjee are also joining Velocity as new advisors for Velocity companies. This follows our February 2020 leadership announcement when Adrien Côté stepped in as Velocity’s Executive Director.

Founders are odd people in that they are, by their very nature, everything that most people are not. Founders are a seemingly asynchronous mix of curiosity, optimism, determination, ambition, creativity, and resilience. While most people accept the status quo and follow the rules, founders see opportunities to challenge convention and create the future that they want to live in. With that said, Velocity has some of the world’s best founders, and I am humbled by the opportunity to work with them as Velocity Incubator’s new Director. 

My path to Velocity has been a diverse one: I am a multiple-time founder with two successful exits, I have been both an investor in and an advisor to various venture funds, and I once had a “real job” as a management consultant with the Boston Consulting Group. These varied experiences have not only led to my anathema towards both complacency and mediocrity but also allowed me to discover my north star: I love working with smart people to solve hard problems that drive real impact, and Velocity allows me to do just that.

In speaking to the exceptional quality of Velocity’s founders and their successes (e.g., over $1.3B in private investment raised by Velocity companies and alumni and over 2,600 jobs created), I would be remiss to not also speak about the team, both past and present. 

Velocity’s former Director, Jay Shah, is a giant in our startup space. His humility, prescience, and determination have enabled Velocity to become Canada’s most productive incubator, and his vision has led to Velocity’s increased capability to support companies through its two early-stage investment funds. We owe a debt of gratitude to Jay for all of his tremendous efforts. 

In terms of our current team, Velocity has an exceptional mix of advisors, lab manager, marketers, community manager, finance professional, and operational masterminds. With respect to our advisory services for startups, our team’s experience spans a number of sectors and business models:

Jeff Aramini is our lead HealthTech Advisor. He has a diverse background that includes public health, veterinary medicine, software platforms, and serial entrepreneurship.

Scott Rose is our lead Hardware Advisor. In addition to building machine vision cameras and systems at Dalsa, Scott also spent a number of years leading Blackberry’s Conceptual Prototype Development when the company formerly known as Research in Motion was the world leader in smartphone technology. 

Mila Banerjee joins us as our lead Deeptech and Moonshot Advisor. She has a well-rounded mix of entrepreneurial and corporate experience in the pharma, healthcare, and AI fields. 

Ashley Keefner joins us as our lead Early Stage Startup Advisor. As a Velocity alumnus, she is the proud founder of an attempted moonshot, and she brings a deep understanding of first principles thinking.  

Given the strength of our team, I am confident that we can exceed our ambitious goal for the Incubator: Over the next three years, Velocity will become recognized as North America’s most successful pre-seed incubator with respect to company outcomes. I will not stop working until we can objectively make that claim. 

I want to finish by speaking directly to our founder and alumni communities, both current and future. We know that you can change the world, and our team will always work tirelessly to help you achieve the biggest possible outcomes. Let’s keep driving forward to accomplish all of those things that nobody thought we could. 


For previous updates on Velocity’s leadership transition, please read the following:

New executive leadership at Velocity (February 2020)

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

New leadership structure to support Velocity at University of Waterloo (August 2019)