Velocity startup founder returns as incoming director
Eight years ago we started an experiment, a dorm incubator to encourage entrepreneurial students to start up new companies where they live. In the years since then, Velocity has touched the lives of countless students at the University of Waterloo, by providing mentorship, inspiration, and resources to help channel the hard work and dreams of entrepreneurs into reality, and build successful startups. Today, the Velocity life cycle has come full circle, and we are excited to announce that Jay Shah, previously a co-founder at BufferBox, a Velocity Garage alumnus, past Velocity Fund Finals winner, and past Velocity Residence Don, will be joining Velocity as its new director.
Shah’s entrepreneurship journey started 10 years ago at the University of Waterloo, while studying mechatronics engineering. In his fourth year, Shah, along with co-founders Aditya Bali and Mike McCauley, planted the seeds for BufferBox, a company that would one day be acquired by Google. What began as a fourth year Engineering Capstone Design project to create lockers for parcel delivery, providing consumers with the convenience of 24/7 pickup for their online purchases, turned into a mission to make missed delivery notices a thing of the past. The company would go on to work out of Waterloo’s Accelerator Centre, before moving in to the Velocity Garage, winning the Velocity Fund Finals, attending Y Combinator, and ultimately, being acquired by Google, where Shah has worked for the last four years. When asked what he finds most interesting about working in the startup world, Shah states “The lack of a rule book. There are no limits and no formula that leads to a successful start-up. Across the life of a company, the early stages are when there is the least to lose, meaning you can do things in a way larger companies can’t.”
The Velocity Garage has helped launch more than 175 companies, but most impressive, is that 67% of those companies are still building their business after 5 years. By joining Velocity, Shah aims to help Waterloo region’s tech scene punch above its weight in Canada and across the globe. “The calibre of talent at the University of Waterloo, specifically its professors and new graduates, is a competitive advantage for companies in Waterloo. They are the product of incredible academic faculties, a culture of supporting risk-taking, and the best co-op experiential learning system in the world,” credits Shah. Having served as both a Senator and Governor at Waterloo, Shah also has a deep interest in policy decisions that support this focus.
“I want to ensure that all students have the opportunity to be exposed to the entrepreneurial spirit and mindset. Even if students do not want to start a company, there is a lot of benefit in the fundamental principles, such as problem identification and solving, resourcefulness, tenacity, and persistence.” – Jay Shah, incoming director of Velocity
We look forward to welcoming Jay Shah to Velocity in September, as he leads Velocity’s entrepreneurship programs, including Velocity Start, which runs weekly workshops to develop business skills, Velocity Residence, a dorm for student entrepreneurs, Velocity Science, a lab to develop world-class science companies, the Velocity Fund Finals, a pitching competition that awards $375,000 in grants each year, and the Velocity Garage, the largest free startup incubator in the world.
Shah will also work closely with Velocity companies to guide their strategy, and continue to build productive relationships within the greater tech community, stating, “I am keen to work with stakeholders across our region for maximum output and benefit,” said Shah. “We are fortunate to have so many people and organizations that want to see entrepreneurial activities flourish, but with that comes a responsibility for all of us to make the most of the resources we have together.”