Mike Kirkup MC

Velocity prepares to bid farewell to Director Mike Kirkup

A note from Mike Kirkup, Director of Velocity.

I am leaving Velocity. After four years of working to make it the best place in the world to build a startup, the time has come for me to go help a startup become the best in the world.

This wasn’t an easy decision. I truly love the team we have built at Velocity and will miss working with them every day. It has been an incredible experience working with some of the most innovative companies in the world. I have seen some of the best days and many of the worst days in founders’ lives. It has been an honour to help celebrate their success or help push them forward towards it. I will also miss working with students on campus and in the Velocity Residence, as it has been a great privilege to meet so many passionate entrepreneurs who continue to inspire me.

However, there is only so long that you can sit on the sidelines helping instead of doing. After four incredible years building the best startup program in the world, the startup bug has bit me and the time has come for me to work at a startup myself. I have accepted the CTO role at Encircle and am jumping into the fintech world with both feet. My last day at Velocity will be May 20. Insurance is undergoing a massive transformation whether the industry wants to or not. At Encircle I will have the opportunity to work with an amazing team to help shape that future. It is something I am very excited about.

I am confident that my team at Velocity will continue building and executing on our vision for the program. I am proud of our accomplishments over the past four years. We opened the Velocity Garage in 2012 and it is now North America’s largest free startup incubator at 36,711 sq ft. It contains innovative companies, impressive founders and a community of support you won’t find anywhere else. We started Velocity Alpha which has now morphed to Velocity Start – a clubhouse for entrepreneurs on campus. A place where students can work on their company and get the mentorship needed for success. We created Velocity Science in partnership with the Faculty of Science to help students with access to lab space. It has spawned a whole new generation of life sciences and nanotechnology companies in the Waterloo Region. It lead to the Velocity Garage being the first incubator in Kitchener with a wet lab. And of course, the Velocity Residence continues to draw some of the best people across campus who want to live with other entrepreneurs. Hack the North is one of my favourite things to come out of the residence in the past couple of years. A very tangible example of the community we have built.

When I look back on everything that the team at Velocity has built over the past four years it truly shows what is possible when a small group of people come together with a clear goal.

Don’t worry – I am not going too far. Encircle is moving out of the Velocity Garage and into space within the Communitech Hub. I will just be located somewhere else in the building and am still happy to help the many companies in Velocity as a volunteer coach and mentor. Velocity is close to my heart and I look forward to continuing to be a part of this incredible community as it embarks on new adventures.


  1. Congratulations Michael, job well done and best of luck in your endeavours with Encircle.
    Thank you for all your contributions to Velocity and uWaterloo.

  2. Thank you for all you did for our community. Good luck!
    Shirley Fenton

  3. Congrats, Mike! Fascinating to note that you’ve now joined a startup that was at least somewhat incubated at VeloCity! (The founders, if not the business itself)

  4. Thanks for everything you’ve done Mike. Onwards and Upwards!

  5. Thanks so much Mike for everything that you’ve done for the Velocity, Waterloo, KW and Canadian startup community. As a former Velocity resident, VVF and Garage company, Velocity has shaped me greatly, both personally with all the friends that I’ve met, and also professionally with all the network and support to build a great company. You’ll be missed and there will be some big shoes to fill 🙂

    Best of luck in your new endeavor. I’m sure you will do amazing job as you did with Velocity.

  6. Thank you Mike! We are all so much better from your work

  7. Thanks Mike for everything you’ve done.

  8. Mike, congratulations – You’ve set Velocity down a great path !

  9. Mike, you’ve definitely left your mark on a generation of founders and companies! We’re grateful you were with us at the low points and helped us reach the high ones.

  10. Congratulations Michael on your success in the last 4 years & the challenge you are fighting headon. You have always given your most & will no doubt this will be the same.
    How wonderful is it to leave on such a high note.
    The very best to you & yours in this new endeavor.
    Grandma & Grandpa Kirkup

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