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Advancing with Determination: The Path to the Velocity $5K Finals

Eight teams earn a spot in the finals and a chance to pitch live and win their share of $20,000

Over the course of two nights, 23 teams had only three minutes to pitch live and captivate a panel of expert judges, convincing them of the potential and viability of their business idea.

Eight teams have advanced to the Velocity $5K finals on July 19th at Theatre for the Arts (Modern Languages Building @ University of Waterloo) a new venue this term.

Register to Show Your Support at the Finals

Let’s meet the finalists:

EmpathEase connects patients with appointments instantly with culturally aligned therapists or counselors. Submitted by graduate students Bansi Donga, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Faculty of Engineering; Niravkumar Talaviya, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Faculty of Engineering; Apexaben Talaviya, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Faculty of Engineering; Abhi Zanzarukiya, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Faculty of Engineering.

Entangled Vision’s fast, easy-to-operate screening test which can detect macular degeneration, the most common cause of blindness in Canada, with the click of a button before vision loss occurs. Submitted by PhD candidate Connor Kapahi, Physics – Quantum Information, Faculty of Science.  

EyesoBio is a biotechnology company using innovative devices for eye product testing. Its novel technology provides high level accuracy and rapid throughput. Submitted by post-doctoral researchers Dr. Brandon Ho, Dr. Kaya Wong, and Dr. David Wulff, Centre for Ocular Research and Education, Faculty of Science. 

HeadFirst TBiD is a revolutionary lateral flow device utilizing saliva for accurate and non-invasive concussion screening in athletes. Submitted by graduate students Andrew Cordssen-David and Kade Truman, Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and Business, Faculty of Engineering.  

Nitron is a novel personality engine that emphasizes user behaviour rather than dialogue and NLP, enhancing the human-like quality of video game NPCs or personal assistants. Submitted by undergraduate students Dhruv Bhatia, Software Engineering, Faculty of Engineering; Hargun Mujral, Software Engineering, Faculty of Engineering; and Zac Waite, Software Engineering, Faculty of Engineering.  

Pragmatica offers a VR speech therapy solution targeted toward people with communicative disorders to supplement or provide an alternative for those who cannot access or afford dedicated speech therapy. Submitted by PhD candidate Emily Shiu, Psychology, Faculty of Science; graduate student Karthik Prasad, Computer Science, Faculty of Engineering; and Thomas Mastantuono.  

Quinproc is a pregnancy monitoring belt providing expectant mothers with real-time information about their pregnancy. Their belt tracks and monitor various aspects of pregnancy such as fetal heart rate, uterine contractions, and maternal activity. Submitted by graduate student Tanmayi Jandhyala, Master of Applied Science (MASc), Faculty of Engineering; and graduate students Seshan Rajaraman, and Shwetha Saravanan, Faculty of Engineering. 

Swish are developing a cost-effective product to clean solar panels in a sustainable and economical way without the use of water or expensive cleaning robots. Submitted by graduate student Miswar Syed, Management Sciences, Faculty of Engineering; and Asaad Alduais, Abdulrahaman Javaid, and Jhonathan Rojas. 

Harnessing An Entrepreneurial Spirit

Connor Kapahi, PhD candidate in Physics – Quantum Information, Faculty of Science, started working with Velocity in January, 2023 in the Cornerstone program, as he wanted to explore the potential of commercializing the research he was embarking on, which led him to Velocity. Throughout Cornerstone, Connor felt compelled to apply to Velocity’s $5K pitch competition.

“Starting with the Cornerstone program gave me the impression that Velocity was answering the right questions for me, they were giving me the information I didn’t have, and information that was difficult to parse out,” Connor said.

His company Entangled Vision, produces a fast, easy-to-operate screening test which can detect macular degeneration, the most common cause of blindness in Canada, with the click of a button before vision loss occurs.

He said in preparation for the $5K Semi-finals he knew that the competition would be fierce which forced him to hone in on what may be missing from his product or business.

Karthik Prasad of Pragmatica, a virtual reality speech therapy solution, heard about Velocity’s $5K pitch competition through Velocity’s online community on Discord, ultimately leading to their involvement in the competition, after working on Pragmatica as part of the team’s engineering capstone project.

“We have found that there is still so much that goes into a successful venture on top of just a good idea,” Karthik said, reflecting on the community ethos at Velocity.

The team has realized the significance of factors beyond having a good idea, such as pitching, marketing, and product execution. Advice from other Velocity founders and peers has helped them improve in these areas for future success.

“We have received a lot of advice from many members within Velocity on how we can get better,” Karthik said.

While discovery of an entrepreneurial spirit comes through many channels, for some the journey is deeply personal.

Andrew Cordssen-David is the founder of HeadFirst TBiD which is a revolutionary lateral flow device utilizing saliva for accurate and non-invasive concussion screening in athletes.

“Having personally experienced multiple concussions throughout my hockey career, I understand the potential consequences of undetected concussions,” he said.

Andrew has followed along with the teams of the Velocity $5K competition in the past, which has left a lasting impression on him. While HeadFirst TBiD has roots in athletics, Andrew sees its impact expanding far beyond the playing fields.

“HeadFirst’s impact extends beyond the sports market,” Andrew said. “In the healthcare industry, millions of individuals in North America visit hospitals for traumatic brain injuries, often relying on expensive and inconclusive CT scans and MRIs.”

See the eight finalists pitch to a panel of industry professionals, and to a live audience of their peers and the community on July 19 at 12-2:30PM at the Theatre of the Arts (Modern Languages Building.)

Register To Attend The Velocity $5K Finals. Food and refreshments will be provided.