Cody Shirriff the Co-founder of Serenity Bioworks

Catching up with Velocity Fund $25K winner, Serenity Bioworks

This past March, Velocity hosted the Winter 2017 Velocity Fund Finals (VFF), a pitch competition that awards $125,000 each term to startups to help them build their business. We caught up with $25K and $10K prize winner, Cody Shirriff, the Co-founder of Serenity Bioworks, for a post-VFF update. You can watch their pitch from VFF online.

Serenity Bioworks is developing medicine formulas that improve the safety and long-term effectiveness of anti-inflammatory medication.

1. How has your company developed since winning VFF?

We have received promising results for our formulations and Spencer Berg, my Co-founder, has begun working for Serenity Bioworks full-time. We have also been accepted into the AC JumpStart program to further accelerate our growth.

2. What is your company currently working on?

We are currently knee-deep in product development, working long-hours planning and executing experiments in the Velocity Garage.

3. How have you moved forward with the funding you received?

Funding has allowed us to purchase the necessary supplies to continue developing our formulations, in addition to moving forward with protecting our intellectual property.

4. Reflecting on the time since your win, what was your team’s most exciting moment? And most frustrating moment?

Getting promising data from our work in the lab has been very exciting. Some of our most frustrating moments have been waiting for the delivery of supplies that are critical for our experiments, as our product development is highly dependent on those wait times.

5. What do you enjoy most about building a startup? 

I enjoy the freedom with building a startup company. There are people in large biotech companies that envy the amount of freedom I currently possess. It allows me to address problems with efficacy and flexibility.

6. What did you like most about competing at VFF?

I enjoyed the process of developing my pitch. I initially struggled in my early attempts at pitching since I filled my pitches with technical jargon that didn’t work well. The Velocity community was very helpful in giving me feedback on what worked well with a general audience.

7. Are there any tips you can give to startups that are pitching?

My advice is to test your pitch in front of smart people who aren’t familiar with your space, get their feedback, and then make the pitch your own. Recognize the distinction between good and bad advice. Once you think the pitch is acceptable, drill it into your subconscious with unrelenting practice. 

Next Thursday, July 20, another 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 live stream participants will also have a chance to win 1 of 5 VR headsets!


The Spring 2017 Velocity Fund Finals is sponsored by Thomson Reuters and Sequoia

Thomson Reuters provides professionals with the intelligence, technology and human expertise they need to find trusted answers in the financial and risk, legal, tax and accounting, and media markets. The new Thomson Reuters Toronto Technology Centre will create 1,500 high-quality technology jobs in Canada and accelerate research for cognitive computing, visualization, UX, and cloud development.