Catching up with Velocity Fund $25K Winner, Salient Energy

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, Salient Energy, for a post-VFF update. You can also read more updates from recent $25K winners UpGrain Inc., and Knote.

Salient Energy won a top prize of $25K, and an additional hardware prize of $10K, with their mission to drive the renewable energy revolution with their revolutionary zinc-ion battery, based on unique, new chemistry research, and a novel nanomaterial cathode, developed at the University of Waterloo.

1. How has your company developed since winning VFF?
We have completed our first large scale prototype, and are optimizing it so it is ready for installation in a demonstration project. We have also began raising money for our seed round.

2. What do you enjoy most about building a startup?
Having control over your schedule, and being able to directly see the value of the work you put in.

3. What did you like most about competing at VFF?
Going through the process forced us to reduce the complexity of our business plan to a simple 3-minute story. This has been extremely useful for investor meetings we are currently in, where the success of a meeting is based upon the ability to quickly communicate why what we are doing is exciting.

4. Are there any tips you can give startups pitching at VFF?
Be careful with seeking advice. Everyone will have an opinion on how you can make your presentation better – the overwhelming majority of these are wrong. Be very selective with who you take advice from, and don’t be afraid to go with your gut about what you know is best.

Also, don’t get too caught up in pitching, it’s not entirely representative of how you’ll tell your story to investors and potential customers. Go to pitch competitions to get some cash, and work on your story, but you need to quickly move on to talking to investors and customers – Don’t let focusing on pitch competitions be the reason for the slow growth of your company.

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