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Catching up with Velocity Fund $25K winner, SannTek

Last March, Velocity hosted the Winter 2018 Velocity Fund Finals, a pitch competition that awards a share of $130,000 in funding each term to help startups build their business. Next Wednesday, July 25, we will host the 22nd Velocity Fund Finals, to witness another 20 startups breaking new ground and pitching their innovative startups (register here). We caught up with one of the $25K winners from last term, Noah DeBrincat, Co-founder of SannTek, for a post-VFF update. Watch their pitch from last term. See also, our updates for Fuzzbuzz, Bibu Labs, and A-Line Orthopaedics.

SannTek is creating nanotechnology enabled breathalyzer for cannabis.

Q: How has your company developed since winning VFF?

Noah: Since winning VFF, SannTek has developed from a university project to a rapidly growing start-up company. We’ve spent much of our time cultivating our business strategy. We’ve conducted hours of interviews with the intention of understanding the market we’re planning to launch into first. From these customer interviews, we have gained invaluable insights into the requirements for our device while also establishing early partnerships. With the product requirements understood, we’ve started recruiting more people to work on turning the requirements into a reality.

Q: What is your company currently working on?

Noah: We are currently working on designing and testing our breath capture system. Our sensor development proceeds in the background, but for now, our focus is to be able to blow into the device like an alcohol breathalyzer.

Q: What do you enjoy most about building a startup?

Noah: The most enjoyable thing about building a startup is the ability to establish our own unique company culture. No more unproductive 9 to 5 days, every day offers new problems to solve and new opportunities to learn. It’s also an extremely social experience, we’ve met so many new people, through industry collaborations and through the Velocity ecosystem. We love meeting both like-minded entrepreneurs and experienced mentors.

Q: What did you like most about competing at VFF?

Noah: Competing at VFF gave us the ability to share our vision on a large stage, which meant welcoming input from a large audience. All the ideas have led to significant improvements in both our business and our product design. It’s a humbling learning experience for sure – the amount of value added by sharing your vision with the public is priceless.

Q: Are there any tips you can give to startups that are pitching?

Noah: Before you get started on any work, make sure you have clear, tangible milestones that are driving the direction of your company. The importance of planning cannot be overstated. The key is to break down massive milestones into really tiny achievable tasks. Once you have these, move as fast as you can. It is also equally important that your company has a clearly defined vision that everyone shares. It’s the secret to mitigating micromanagement. If the other people in your company understand your vision, then you can trust that all the work they do will productively drive the company to the place you envisioned.

Come join us on Wednesday, July 25, as another twenty startups will take the stage at the Velocity Fund Finals in the University of Waterloo Student Life Centre (SLC) to pitch their startup ventures. Don’t miss your chance to attend the event – register here! Audience members and live stream participants will have a chance to win 1 of 5 pairs of Beats headphones or portable Bluetooth speakers!


The Spring 2018 Velocity Fund Finals is sponsored by Thomson Reuters and Magna.

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