Since 2012, Velocity director Mike Kirkup has been the public face of North America’s largest free business incubator. Kirkup has been at the helm mentoring startups like BufferBox — which was acquired by Google before being shut down and its technology absorbed into Google Shopping — Thalmic Labs, and MappedIn in their early days.
In an open letter on Velocity’s website, Kirkup announced his departure from the incubator on May 20 — when he’ll begin his CTO at Encircle, an insurance tech company that allows customers to document their household assets, which can be compiled into an inventory list for their insurance company.
“I have seen some of the best days and many of the worst days in founders’ lives. It has been an honour to help celebrate their success or help push them forward towards it,” Kirkup said in the letter. “I will also miss working with students on campus and in the Velocity Residence, as it has been a great privilege to meet so many passionate entrepreneurs who continue to inspire me.”
Pivotal in building @UWvelocity into the force in #Startups that it is, @Encircleinc is lucky to get @mikekirkup . https://t.co/SvRuppV2Qh
— Victoria Berry (@berryvic) April 5, 2016
Under Kirkup’s leadership, Velocity expanded the Velocity Garage program, which includes 36,000 square feet of free workspace and a community of up to 120 software, hardware, and science startups. He also helped start Velocity Alpha, now known as Velocity Start, a 6,000 square foot space for people both within the entrepreneurship world and outside of it, and Velocity Science, a space created in partnership with the University of Waterloo’s faculty of science providing students access to lab space for creating life science and nanotechnology-based companies. Kirkup has spent the past ten years mentoring startups and working in the tech space, including working as developer of director relations at RIM and as CEO of NextUp Labs and co-founder of Top Score Baseball. He sits on the board of the Waterloo Region Economic Development Corporation.
Grateful @UWvelocity's @mikekirkup was with us at the low points and helped us reach the high ones! https://t.co/xjOnIqiYG0 #AllTheBest
— Kris Braun (@KrisABraun) April 5, 2016
“When I look back on everything that the team at Velocity has built over the past four years it truly shows what is possible when a small group of people come together with a clear goal,” Kirkup said.
Though Kirkup is stepping down as director, he will still be part of the community in spirit — Encircle, which is originally Velocity Garage-based, will be moving in to the Communitech Hub.