Record turnout as startups win at eighth VeloCity Fund Finals

WATERLOO, ON, Nov. 28, 2013 /CNW/ - A company that will help parents get their kids interested in computer programming at a young age was among the winners today as more than 400 people looked on at the eighth VeloCity Fund Finals at the University of Waterloo.

Ten startups competed for one of four grants worth $25,000 and the opportunity to build their businesses at the VeloCity Garage in downtown Kitchener.

The four winners of the grants worth $25,000 are:

Light-bot - Gets kids interested in computer science by playing games.

MetricWire - Accelerates groundbreaking academic research by making it easy to collect rich scientific data via smartphones.

uMentioned - A college location-based app that lets you anonymously chat and make new friends with people nearby.

PiinPoint - Uses demographic, real estate, traffic and municipal data to identify optimal new store locations for retailers.

"I'm ecstatic. $25,000, no equity," said Danny Yaroslavski, the founder of Light-bot. "The funds will go directly into hiring developers and getting Light-bot into schools as quickly as possible."

MetricWire, which provides a solution for researchers to be able to collect data for their studies using mobile devices instead of paper, also came away a winner.

"I'm just so happy right now," said Brian Stewart of MetricWire. "We're going to use the $25,000 to hire more developers. For now, I have to get back to VeloCity Garage and keep working."

The teams each had three minutes to pitch their startup ideas to a panel of judges. At least one founder on a pitching team must be a current student or a graduate of the University of Waterloo within the past year. VeloCity takes no intellectual property rights or equity in return.

"It was extremely difficult for the judges to make their decision today. The competition for these awards is intense because of the high caliber of teams," said Mike Kirkup, director of VeloCity.

Another 10 young entrepreneurs from the University of Waterloo pitched their startup ideas for one of three grants worth $1,000 each. There were two winners.

PetroPredict, which won both best pitch and people's choice, is an oil well integrity prediction engine for the oil and gas industry. It enables subsurface engineers to identify low-capital, high-reward opportunities in their fields.

Helios won a grant for being most innovative. The company developed a technology that continually charges the battery of a cellphone throughout the day using sub-pixel solar cells embedded into the display. These solar cells will be unnoticeable to the naked eye during usage, and will channel energy from ambient light to charge the cellphone.

The other finalists competing for the grants worth $25,000 were:

GamePress - Users create fun mobile games without any programming experience and share them with users around the world.

Realtime Labs Inc. - Real-time audience feedback technology for a variety of industries, including education and entertainment.

Sesame IO - A free online service that streamlines a teacher's day from lesson planning to capturing student work into personalized portfolios for assessment.

SparkGig - An online marketplace to connect performers with event planners.

TrendRadius - A tool for consolidating information inside an organization and helping product managers make informed decisions.

Velatron Labs Inc. - A personalized tailoring app that helps you find or order perfectly fitting clothes online.

"I continue to be impressed by the level of talent vying for these grants," said Mike Stork, president at Stork Holdings and one of the judges for the VeloCity Fund Finals. "It's exciting to see these teams make their pitch to grow their companies and I look forward to them being successful."

Other judges for the $25,000 competition included Karam Nijjar, venture capitalist at iNovia Capital, and Cameron Hay, partner at Front Burner Consulting.

Past winners of the VeloCity Fund include Thalmic Labs, the makers of the MYO gesture control armband who launched from the VeloCity Garage in July, as well as current VeloCity Garage companies Weston Expressions, makers of the Linkett interactive digital signage system, and MappedIn, makers of indoor mapping technology.

In addition to the Garage, VeloCity runs a residence, which is home to 70 entrepreneurial students, and offers on-campus weekly programming to provide students from any faculty access to entrepreneurship workshops and networking opportunities.

For more information about the VeloCity Fund, visit the VeloCity website.

About the University of Waterloo
In just half a century, the University of Waterloo, located at the heart of Canada's technology hub, has become one of Canada's leading comprehensive universities with 35,000 full- and part-time students in undergraduate and graduate programs. Waterloo, as home to the world's largest post-secondary co-operative education program, embraces its connections to the world and encourages enterprising partnerships in learning, research and discovery. In the next decade, the university is committed to building a better future for Canada and the world by championing innovation and collaboration to create solutions relevant to the needs of today and tomorrow. For more information about Waterloo, please visit www.uwaterloo.ca.

Attention broadcasters: Waterloo has facilities to provide broadcast quality audio and video feeds with a double-ender studio. Please contact Nick Manning on 519-888-4451 or 226-929-7627 for more information.

Image with caption: "Four startups won grants of $25,000 each at the VeloCity Fund Finals at the University of Waterloo. (Photo credit: Shub Sengupta) (CNW Group/University of Waterloo)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20131128_C6104_PHOTO_EN_34098.jpg

SOURCE: University of Waterloo

For further information:

MEDIA CONTACT 
Nick Manning
University of Waterloo
519-888-4451
226-929-7627
nmanning@uwaterloo.ca
www.uwaterloo.ca/news
@uWaterlooNews

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