The Velocity Fund on Thursday presented a total of $125,000 in seed funding to seven companies whose products range from hardware that can diffuse landmines to an app that eradicates the need for passwords.
Held at the Student Life Centre at the University of Waterloo, the Velocity Fund Finals are held three times a year to find and reward the best young companies coming out of the university. The Velocity Fund hands out about $400,000 a year to help develop startups affiliated with the university.
“The Velocity Fund has enabled the growth of more than 75 companies in Waterloo region, by awarding over $1.5 million in funding,” said Mike Kirkup, director of Velocity, the university’s incubator. “It is a testament to the University of Waterloo’s entrepreneurial culture to see so many incredible companies today, and we look forward to having them join our community of startups at the Velocity Garage.”
The four $25,000 winners announced on Thursday in the 15th finals were:
Fiix – This company’s popular app connects consumers with car mechanics so they can arrange repairs at their home or office. The users simply go online to state what they need and they get a quote. They agree to a job at a fixed price – often 20 to 50 percent cheaper than usual – and the mechanic comes to the customer. Fiix is now live and did $15,000 in business in its 12th week. The company says the market is huge – worth $150 billion in the U.S. alone.
Landmine Boys – This team of students has built a new robot to diffuse landmines to avoid human or environmental harm. There are now 100 million landmines in the ground in 70 countries and disposal teams can only get rid of them by blowing them up. It can be lethal and harms the environment. Landmine Boys’ device can work on any landmine and reduce the time to dispose of it from six hours to 15 seconds. The compan has the support of all the major landmine organizations.
Okey – This mobile app gets rid of passwords by using smartphones to log into computers instantly. As long as the phone is near the computer, the desired site opens instantly through the app, which protects the user with military-grade encryption. It works the second the computer is turned on. Okey is starting with Apple products and the company retained 86 percent of the customers who downloaded the app in its first week.
Pegasus Aeronautics – This team of engineers is developing advanced hybrid powertrains to extend the time that drones can stay in the air. Drones are unmatched for industrial inspections but the problem is flight time. Pegasus has developed a safe hybrid power source can extend 15 mins of flying time to two hours. The product can be retrofitted on to existing drones. It is gearing up for a limited release with five companies and preparing for a full launch within three months. Pegasus was the top hardware company, meaning it took home an additional $10,000 in funding.
The Velocity Fund each semester also presents $5,000 each to three early-stage startups. The winners on Thursday were AVRO Life Science, Moocow Unicycles, and Gamelynx, which was selected by the audience for the People’s Choice award.