From flying car to next-gen insulin delivery system: our most diverse winners yet for Velocity Fund $5K
What if the dream of traveling in a flying car is closer than you think? The 4 winners from the 25th Velocity Fund Finals $5K are WatFly (urban flight solution), Insula Medical (next-gen insulin delivery system), ERA (EMS tech solution for Africa), and VOYHS (voice training app for transgender people).
This term’s finalists and winners presented business ideas at the forefront of health and consumer technology. From an urban flight vehicle to a compact and ergonomic insulin delivery system, the ideas were exciting and show great potential.
Congratulations to the students who presented today at the 25th Velocity Fund Finals (VFF) $5K competition—held at the University of Waterloo Student Life Centre. During the competition, four student-led startups walked away with $5,000 to help them further grow their business ideas. The winners were selected from a pool of 10 high-caliber student finalists, and each of whom presented their startup idea in three minutes or less to an audience of over 200 of their peers and judges. This year’s competition saw one of the most diverse fields of entrants, with 50 percent female founders and three of the 10 companies led by graduate students.
Velocity Fund Finals $5K winners (in alphabetical order)
Emergency Response Africa (ERA): Founders are Maame Poku and Folake Owodunni, Master of Business, Entrepreneurship & Technology students. ERA is an EMS technology company that provides care to victims at the scene of an emergency and facilitates access to hospital care. They plan to focus on urban centers in Nigeria first.
Insula Medical: Founders Sara Salmon, Joel Ravi, Connor Al-Joundi, and Raiyan Faruqui are 4A Mechanical Engineering students. Insula Medical is looking to create a compact and ergonomic insulin delivery system for over 3.3 million people with diabetes in North America. Improving upon current pumps available that are bulky, outdated and lack integration.
WatFly: Founders Abinesh Chandrasekhar and Gonzalo Espinoza Graham are 4B Mechanical Engineering students. WatFly is developing an urban electric flight solution to combat traffic and hope to be the first to bring flying cars to the masses. They are currently working on a prototype.
VOYHS: Founders are Lynne Murdoch, 3A Chemistry student and Erica Phelps. VOYHS is developing an app to give trans people the resources to train their voice in order to boost their confidence and improve their lives. Their app offers coaching as well as a community for users.
“We are extremely honoured to win this award and are very thankful to Velocity. This award will help us change the lives of Type 1 Diabetics by allowing us to further develop our product, “ said Sara Salmon, Co-founder of Insula Medical
Vast improvements in Velocity Fund $5K pitches
Student pitches at the $5K competition took place following an engaging and inspiring Fireside Chat with Velocity alumnus and founder of Mappedin, Hongwei Liu and Director of Velocity, Jay Shah. Liu, who was a winner of one of the first-ever Velocity Fund prizes himself back in 2011, was surprised at how much the quality of pitches has improved.
Our esteemed judges who decided today’s winners included Shubham Datta, Corporate Development at Shopify, Bobby Green, Co-founder of Amina Health, Tomas van Stee, Founder of EnPowered and Kathryn Wortsman, Fund Manager at MaRS Catalyst Fund. Green also echoed Liu’s sentiment when he provided overall feedback to the teams during the concluding segment of the pitch competition.
ICYMI: Watch on-demand
Some of you may have noticed that this edition’s winner VOYHS also competed in VFF $5K Winter 2019. If you are interested in seeing what transpired in the previous edition, you can stream the event via Facebook or read our recap.
Stay tuned for the next edition
The $5K competition takes place three times a year, with the next edition happening in November. The purpose of the competition is as important as ever:
“Creating a culture of entrepreneurship that leads to scaleup companies with massive economic and social impact is fueled by ensuring that new, emerging entrepreneurs and very early-stage startups have the support to get started. That’s what today is about. The Velocity Fund Finals $5K is a high energy culmination of that support, both in mentorship and providing initial funding to help bring these ambitious ideas closer to reality,” said Jay Shah, Director of Velocity
The Velocity Fund was established in 2011 through a $1 million donation by Kik founder Ted Livingston, himself a Velocity alumnus, as well as a 2014 donation by angel investor Mike Stork.
Velocity would like to thank its partner, the School of Accounting and Finance’s Student Venture Fund.
Photo Credit: Gary Evans Photography and Ryan Antooa