Fall 2022 Velocity $5K winners share desire to innovate
Excitement permeated the packed room as eight finalist teams made their last effort to convince a panel of judges that their business idea was deserving of one of four $5,000 awards at Velocity’s $5K pitch competition.
The fall term pitch competition took place November 23 in the Black and Gold Room at the University of Waterloo’s Student Life Centre. Student startup teams had only three minutes to pitch, and three minutes to answer questions from Judges Neha Khera, General Partner at 2048 Ventures, Sydney Robinson, Cofounder of Vessl Prosthetics and Philbert Chan, Student Venture Fund Associate.
The teams took to the stage after weeks of perfecting their pitch, which included a semi-final round and live feedback from founders during a practice pitch that was held at Velocity downtown Kitchener.
It was a standing room only event, and even those that stood all stayed to catch a glimpse of the winning teams.
Leading with an entrepreneurial mindset
Winners AFAIK, Relay MD, TrainPro, and Landscape Direct all presented high quality business ideas and each received the $5,000, presented by University of Waterloo’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Vivek Goel, who spoke during the event.
“Success is not getting to that billion-dollar company — it’s getting these experiences, taking them out into the world,” Goel said. “We all need that entrepreneurial mindset and commitment to solve these problems (and) it takes courage to take these kinds of risks.”
Landscape Direct is an online-only garden centre connecting customers directly to top Canadian growers, enabling anyone interested in gardening to access nursery products online.
Co-Founder Blake Patterson (Arts, Accounting, and Financial Management student) encouraged anyone who is interested in entrepreneurship to “just go do it” and success in the $5K pitch competition relied heavily on input from others.
“It was important to talk to people who have won, like (founders) at Velocity who participated in bigger competitions than this before,” Blake said. “There are thousands of ways to pitch a company (and) my pitch evolved drastically. Get advice from people who have experience and listen to it, they have valuable knowledge you can tap into.”
TrainPro Co-Founder Anna Leibenberg echoed Blake’s sentiment that tapping into the community of entrepreneurs was invaluable on the road to winning the competition.
Their goal is to provide real-time guidance, exercise routine and optimal muscle loading through smart, wearable clothing.
“Every time we spoke to someone, they would introduce us to more people,” said Anna, who is a mechanical engineering student. “Everyone was friendly and helpful in the (Velocity) community.”
Relay MD Co-Founder and software engineering student Dhvani Patel said beyond being helpful, participating in the $5K competition allowed him to forge connections he otherwise couldn’t have on his own.
“Velocity is great because you get those connections, especially working in the healthcare space you need to get noticed in the healthcare setting and Velocity has other founders and coaches that have worked in that space, so it helps build that network,” Patel said.
He said it is important to have a promising idea, but succeeding in the $5K pitch goes beyond that.
“Starting with a good idea is really important and once you have that idea it’s good to battle test it in your own head but talk to users who really face this problem — that will give you a signal of what to do.”Dhvani Patel
AFAIK Co-Founder Quinn Dai said winning $5,000 is a huge boost for the team.
“I didn’t see this coming (because) everyone was so great, there were dynamic pitches and founders,” Quinn said. “What prepared us was thinking about every possible question beforehand and if we didn’t know the answer we ruminated on the question until we were prepared to pitch.”
Skipwash won the People’s Choice Award for their idea for a fast, reliable mobile laundry service designed for busy individuals.
Ryan Marchewka the CEO of Halion joined the event as the fireside guest. Marchewka reminded our student audience that the jobs will always be around, but you may not always be able to go for your idea and you “may as well give it a shot.”
AFAIK maps academic knowledge for self-learners.
Submitted by: Zhiying Jiang (Mathematics, PhD), Orianna Min (Engineering, Mechanical Engineering) and Yiqin Dai
Landscape Direct is a fully online garden centre that connects our customers directly to top Canadian Growers. Enabling anyone interested in gardening to access some of the best nursery products from the comfort of their
Submitted by: Blake Patterson (Arts, Accounting and Financial Management), Evan Patterson and Conner Krofchick
Relay MD is an online platform that lets family doctors find information on medical specialists (wait times, subspecialty etc.), and make/manage outbound referrals more efficiently.
Submitted by: Dhvani Patel (Engineering, Software Engineering) and Ali Qamar
TrainPro’s goal is to help people get harder, better and stronger faster. This is done by providing them with real-time guidance on technique, exercise routine and optimal muscle loading in the gym through the use of smart wearable clothing.
Submitted by: Shreshth Mehra (Engineering, Mechanical Engineering), Anna Liebenberg (Engineering, Mechanical Engineering) and Armaan Malik
Velocity once again thanks the Waterloo community for showing its passion for entrepreneurship and dedication to innovation. We look forward to seeing a future featuring even more ambitious ideas like the ones highlighted at the 2022 fall competition.
To stay up to date about other exciting opportunities and to see how these teams progress, highlights from our event, photo galleries and interviews, follow us on Instagram @UWVelocity. Plus, sign up for our newsletter for your weekly Velocity news.