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Catching up with Velocity Fund $25K Winner, Knote

This past July, Velocity hosted the Spring 2016 Velocity Fund Finals (VFF), a pitch competition that awards $125,000 in grants each term, to help early stage startups build their business. We caught up with one of the $25K winners, Knote, for a post-VFF update. Look for upcoming blog posts from other recent $25K winners: Salient Energy, and Sytrix Lab, as well as read UpGrain Inc.‘s update and advice to competitors from earlier this week.

Knote won a top prize by using artificial intelligence and Natural Language Processing to help companies and organizations automate document processing, handling and analysis.

1. How has your company developed since winning VFF?
Since VFF we have worked hard to improve our minimum viable product as we take on more pilots. We have also grown the team – we’ve hired a VP of Sales and are now looking for a lead engineer. We are now participating in the Creative Destruction Lab, another top accelerator in Canada to further grow the company. Finally, we raised further capital for our pre-seed round.

2. What is your company currently working on?
We are working on an automated data extraction and redaction solution based on Natural Language Processing technologies. We are focusing on the legal and government sectors as our first users.

3. What do you enjoy most about building a startup?
Building a startup reminds me of the game Civilization, it’s a real-world application of planning, strategy, and implementation coupled with the theory you learn in school. You have the ability to leverage the business, writing, math, finance and presentation skills you learn. It’s fun to have such an impact and leverage so many skills.

4. What did you like most about competing at VFF?
The journey is the best part, and the people you meet. The honest feedback that you get back during the process is invaluable and worth more than the prize cheque. It took Knote three attempts to win VFF and the journey taught us a lot more than the actual win, we can really see the progress we have made over that time.

5. Are there any tips you can give startups pitching?

  • Tell a story
  • Never ask a question, or wait for an answer
  • Pre-record your demos – My first time @ Velocity my demo failed
  • Practice in a mirror/Snapchat
  • Don’t memorize
  • Avoid caffeine

If you don’t win the first time, keep trying! Perseverance is key, it’s the bloodline of  a startup! As mentioned before, it took us three attempts, so don’t give up. Listen to what the judges say, they’re only trying to help you – and above all, have fun!

On December 1, twenty startups will compete at the Velocity Fund Finals in the SLC at the University of Waterloo to pitch for their share of $125,000. Don’t miss this event by registering to attend! Come join us for a great event with awesome pitches and free boxed lunches for the first 200 attendees. Audience members and Livestream participants will have a chance to win 1 of 5 pairs of Beats headphones!


The Fall 2016 Velocity Fund Finals is sponsored by Thomson Reuters