Applications are open for the Winter 2018 Velocity Fund $5K and $25K competitions, now with a broader applicant pool and more prizes!

Three times a year, 20 startups walk away with a share of $125,000 in funding from the Velocity Fund to help enable teams to take the next step in building their business. Applications are now open for the Winter $5K and $25K competitions (closing March 3), and this term we’re making some changes, from expanding the pool of startups that can compete in the $25K competition, to partnering with University of Waterloo Housing to offer majorly subsidized housing to winners of the $5K competition.

The Velocity Fund was established in 2011, and was inspired by a $1 million donation from then 23-year-old Ted Livingston, founder of Kik and Velocity Residence alumnus. Seven years later, and with support from an additional $1 million donation from angel investor Mike Stork, the Velocity Fund has played a key role in the growth of 78 startups, from Mappedin to Thalmic Labs.

This term, we are introducing three big changes to the Velocity Fund. Currently, at least one member of a competing $25K team must have at least 20% equity in the startup, and must have been a student, or graduated, within two years of their application. Our aim continues to be supporting early-stage companies, but we want to expand the number of opportunities for founders to work in industry and gain insight on how to focus on high-value, commercially relevant problems before launching a startup. Which is why we are changing the Velocity Fund $25K rules to also include any UW alumnus who has graduated within 5 years and started their company within the last year, in order to help founders take time after school to gain additional insight and financial stability in industry, before starting a company.

Velocity has also partnered with University of Waterloo Housing to up the stakes of the Velocity Fund $5K competition. The 3 winning teams at the Velocity Fund Finals will receive a 50% discount on the cost of living in the Velocity Residence in a future term (eligible terms are S18, W19, and S19). The remaining 7 finalists will be eligible to receive a 25% discount on a future term in the Velocity Residence. Up to two members of a winning/finalist team are eligible for the discount in either scenario.

We recognize that early-stage student startup teams do not have always have access to workspace in the same way that full-time founders working out of the Velocity Garage incubator do. To address this, we’re rolling out a new workspace on campus in Velocity Start that aims to bridge this gap for teams at the University of Waterloo. We invite any of Velocity Fund finalists ($5K and $25K) who are current students to connect with us following the competition to discuss getting access to this space.

Velocity Fund $5K

This term, the Velocity Fund $5K Qualifiers are on March 13 & 14, and University of Waterloo students from any faculty are invited to make 3-minute pitches in front of a panel of judges and an audience of peers. The Qualifiers provide an informal pitching environment complete with a full stage and microphone. This competition is for early-stage startups, but there is no particular target industry.

The top five teams from both nights are selected to participate in the Velocity Fund Finals on March 28, where they can compete for one of three $5,000 prizes awarded by the panel of judges.

Velocity Fund $25K

After applications have been submitted, teams will be chosen for a 15-minute interview, which includes two key components: a three-minute pitch and 10 minutes of rapid-fire questions from the judges. Be prepared – you’ll be expected to answer questions about your business model, team composition, market, challenges, and ability to execute.

If you are successful in the interview stage, your team may be one of the 10 selected to pitch at the Velocity Fund Finals. You’ll be pitching to hundreds of live attendees and global live stream viewers. Similar to the interview, you will have only three minutes to pitch your business to the judges. There are four $25,000 prizes to be won, as well as an additional $10,000 for the best hardware or science winner.

If you aren’t interested in pitching, you can register to attend any of the events! Registration for the $5K qualifiers is open now, and you can register for either (or both) night – March 13 or March 14. Pizza will be provided at both events. Stay tuned for more information on how to attend the Velocity Fund Finals!

Click here to learn more and to apply to the Velocity Fund.