The Velocity Fund $5K

The Velocity Fund $5K is a grant program that provides early-stage funding to student teams with innovative ideas. Held each term, students have the chance to win one of four $5,000 grants at the Velocity Fund Finals $5K pitch competition.

Looking for the Velocity Fund Finals $50K competition details? The competition has been renamed to Velocity Fund Pitch Competition. You will find all the details here.

Velocity is committed to providing funding in a way that is useful to early-stage student-led startups by incorporating application and pitch experience into its grant program. After submitting a written application, up to 30 teams will be invited to move on and pitch at the Velocity Fund $5K Qualifiers to a panel of judges from the local startup community. The top 5 teams from each night of Qualifiers will then be invited to pitch at the Velocity Fund Finals $5K for their chance to win a $5,000 grant.

Velocity Fund Finals pitching

The Velocity Fund $5K awards up to $60,000 worth of grants to students each year.

History of the Velocity Fund $5K – Student Grants

The Velocity Fund was established in 2011, inspired by a donation of $1 million from Kik founder and Velocity Residence alumnus Ted Livingston, who was 23 years old at the time. In December 2013, Velocity received a donation from the founders of BufferBox, Mike McCauley, Jay Shah, and Aditya Bali to encourage the creation of a hardware award given the additional costs to build successful hardware startups. In March 2014, Velocity received a donation of $1 million from renowned Waterloo Region angel investor Mike Stork. In 2019, the Velocity Fund $25K evolved into a startup investment fund, while $5K remains a student grant fund. More information on the investment fund


Pitch competition

The funding opportunity culminates with a pitch competition at which students will be awarded grants.

Velocity Fund Finals $5K

The Velocity Fund Finals $5K is held on the University of Waterloo campus, where 10 student teams who qualified at the $5K Qualifiers events, pitch their ideas to hundreds of spectators for the chance to take home one of four $5,000 grant-prizes to help bring their idea to life and build a business. Event attendees can meet the competitors and see product demos. This is a great way to get a glimpse of raw entrepreneurial output from UWaterloo and get inspired by what’s being built by aspiring entrepreneurs.


In order to qualify for the Velocity Fund $5K, a current full-time University of Waterloo student from any faculty (who is a co-founder of the team) must make a 3-minute pitch in front of a panel of judges at one of two Velocity Fund $5K Qualifiers. Only one member of the team is able to make the 3-minute pitch. These $5K Qualifiers provide an informal pitching environment complete with full stage and microphone. The top five teams from each night are selected to participate in the Velocity Fund Finals $5K, where they will compete for one of four $5,000 prizes, which are awarded by a panel of judges.

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

    • The co-founder pitching at the Velocity Fund $5K Qualifiers and Velocity Fund Finals $5K must be a current full-time University of Waterloo undergraduate or graduate student.
      • Velocity defines a co-founder as someone who owns (or will own upon incorporation) at least 20% of the company.
    • Student teams can only win a Velocity Fund $5K grant once.
    • Finalists must attend a pitch coaching session prior to the Velocity Fund Finals $5K.
    • No competing ideas are allowed to pitch at the Velocity Fund $5K Qualifiers or Velocity Fund Finals $5K.
    • Teams must not have received equal to or more than $50K in funding (e.g., Velocity Fund Pitch Competition investment, grants, etc.)
    • Ideas must be tech-based and core to the business model but are not required to be aimed at any particular sector.
    • Winners of the Velocity Fund $5K must incorporate to receive grant funding.

TIPS ON APPLYING

Former $5K judges wrote tips on submitting a successful application, and it is considered a must-read for anyone applying. Members of the Student Venture Fund also run a super helpful workshop on how to write a winning application and be selected for the $5K Qualifiers (date TBD).

It is highly encouraged that if you apply to the Velocity Fund $5K to also attend the next Velocity Start: Pitch to Win workshop. At the workshop, you will be shown different components of a 3-minute business pitch, and you will have the chance to practice informally with your peers.

BONUS: All Velocity Fund $5K applicants will be invited on a fun bus tour from UWaterloo campus to the Velocity Garage startup incubator (more details will be sent in your application confirmation email).


FALL 2019 IMPORTANT DATES

  • TBA – Applications open for Velocity Fund $5K
  • TBA – Applications close for Velocity Fund $5K
  • TBA – Velocity Fund $5K Qualifiers: Night 1
  • TBA – Velocity Fund $5K Qualifiers: Night 2
  • TBA –  Velocity Fund Finals $5K

FAQ ABOUT VELOCITY FUND $5K – Student grants

Q: What types of companies are eligible to apply to the Velocity Fund $5K competition?

A: There is no general area of expertise that we require – your business can be a service or a product. In fact, you can simply pitch a great idea and business model, without actually having the product/service finalized – it’s a great way to get feedback and experience pitching.

Q: Do you have to compete in the $5K Qualifiers to participate in the Velocity Fund Finals $5K competition?

A: Yes. 

Q: Isn’t there an investment fund program now too?  

A: Yes! The Velocity Fund Pitch Competition provides $50K investments to startups (no academic affiliation to UWaterloo is required) to get their product off the ground. The business must be tech-based and a working prototype is strongly encouraged, to help demonstrate your ability to execute. Interested in applying 

Q: What’s the difference between the Velocity Fund $5K grant and $50K investment?

A: The $5K focuses on UWaterloo students building or aspiring to build an early-stage startup still cutting their teeth in the startup world. As an individual or as part of a small team, these students want to gain experience pitching and receive feedback from the greater startup community. Any UWaterloo student from any faculty can showcase their work at the Velocity Fund Finals $5K, once they have qualified, by winning a finalist slot at one of the $5K Qualifiers.

The goal of the $50K investment is to provide early-stage funding to startups (no academic affiliation to UWaterloo is required) to get their product off the ground. The business must be tech-based and a working prototype is strongly encouraged, to help demonstrate your ability to execute. When a team wins they should have a fully formed, cohesive team ready to execute on the business.


Have a question about the Velocity Fund $5K that’s not here? Email us at velocity@uwaterloo.ca.