Four student-led startups take home Velocity Fund $5K prizes

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Four student teams, Insula Medical, WatFly, Emergency Response Africa, and VOYHS, have each won $5,000 each at the University of Waterloo’s Velocity Fund $5K Finals.

The fund was established after Kik founder and Velocity Residence alumnus Ted Livingston donated $1 million.

The Velocity Fund is a program that provides early-stage funding each year to local startups and student teams through its $50,000 investment competition and Velocity Fund $5,000 grant competition. The Velocity Fund $5K competition affords equity-free grants to early-stage startups, aimed to help eliminate some of the obstacles that limit innovation and growth. The winners were selected from a pool of 10 student finalists, who each pitched their startup to an audience of over 200 people.

Insula Medical is looking to create a compact and convenient insulin delivery system for the more than 3.3 million people with diabetes in North America. Founded by Joel Ravi, Connor Al-Joundi, Salmon, and Raiyan Faruqui, the startup hopes its offering will improve upon current pumps available.

“We are extremely honoured to win this award and are very thankful to Velocity,” said Sara Salmon, a member of the Insula Medical team. “This award will help us to change the lives of Type 1 Diabetics by allowing us to further develop our product.”

WatFly, founded by mechanical engineering students Abinesh Chandrasekhar and Gonzalo Espinoza Graham, is developing an urban electric flight solution to combat traffic. The team hopes to be the first to bring flying cars to the masses, and is currently working on a prototype.

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Founded by chemistry student Lynne Murdoch and Erica Phelps, VOYHS is developing an app to give trans people resources to train their voices in order to boost confidence and improve their lives. VOYHS’ app will also offer coaching as well as a community for its users.

Emergency Response Africa is an emergency medical services technology startup, founded by two students pursuing masters in business, entrepreneurship, and technology, Maame Poku and Folake Owodunni. The startup provides care to victims at the scene of an emergency and facilitates access to hospital care in Africa. The team said it plans to focus on urban centres in Nigeria first.

The Velocity Fund was established in 2011 after Kik founder and Velocity Residence alumnus Ted Livingston donated $1 million. In 2013, Velocity accepted a donation from the founders of BufferBox, Mike McCauley, Jay Shah and Aditya Bali, to promote the conception of a hardware award to account for the added costs associated with scaling successful hardware startups.

In 2014, Velocity received another donation of $1 million from Waterloo Region angel investor Mike Stork. This year, the Velocity Fund’s $25K transitioned to a startup investment fund, while it’s $5K competition remains for student grants.

“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,” said Jay Shah, director of Waterloo’s Velocity program. “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.”

The next $5,000 Velocity Fund Finals will take place in November.

Image courtesy Velocity Fund

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Writer, globetrotter, drone pilot & David Attenborough enthusiast