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Velocity Residence builds startups and friendships

The Velocity Residence is not your average university dorm. Located on the University of Waterloo campus, the residence provides a unique opportunity for students to live and work in an entrepreneurial environment and meet people with similar interests. We sat down with Allen Gao, a former resident, to talk about what it’s like to live there.

Allen lived in the Velocity Residence for two consecutive terms in Winter 2016 and Spring 2016. What drew him to the residence was the strong sense of community he experienced while visiting.

“Every time I visited, everyone was in the great hall having fun. It reminded me of first year, when you have a tight knit group of friends. Once you’re living off campus, you don’t really have the same type of community. But Velocity reminded me of that community.”

Living in the residence is more than just a sense of community, it’s an opportunity to learn how to develop a startup, through intensive workshops at the start of the term, sharing insights from weekly dinner talks from startup founders, and working on an entrepreneurial project with a team. During this eight months in the residence, Allen worked with a small team to create an online platform for in-person group games, Gamelynx, which has grown dramatically since its inception during bootcamp week at the residence. It won the Velocity Fund Finals $5K competition, and recently entered the Velocity Garage program. “The stuff we got done, the whole experience, it wasn’t possible to do outside of the residence. We had a lot of support in the residence, and the team came together through the residence.”

Allen encourages students of all backgrounds to consider applying. He emphasized that not everyone in Velocity is into coding, and both the social and startup life at the residence benefits from having diverse people involved. In fact, one of Allen’s favourite part of the Velocity Residence is its diversity. “I think the biggest benefit is meeting people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise.”

“For most programs, you only have people from your program in your classes. You aren’t meeting any new people, you’re meeting the same type of people that have the same interests. In Velocity, it’s a bit more diverse. Fundamentally, they have the same interests and passions as you. They’re interested in startups. At the same time, they’re also different. You have people who do all sorts of different activities. Everyone has a hidden talent they can contribute.”

Allen emphasized that living in the Velocity Residence has improved his professional and social life. Now working on a co-op term at Yelp in San Fransisco, Allen believes his experience at the residence helped propel him forwards, noting that not only do the students help each other in the job application process, but all of the extra curricular and side projects make any resume look more impressive. “Overall, I developed as a person.” Allen said, “I got more confident with my abilities. I developed a better technical skill set for finding co-op jobs. I was more open to trying new activities.”

If you’re interested in joining a tight-knit, passionate, and entrepreneurial community, apply to the Velocity Residence. We are accepting applications for the Winter and Spring 2017 terms.