Ideas pitched for the upcoming VeloCity Demo Day

Nov 23, 2012 · Science · By Christopher Chan

Courtesy Michaela Angemeer
Some students are here to compete for the $1,000 cash prize; some are here just to learn more about entrepreneurship and support their friends. What they all have in common is the habit of incorporating entrepreneurship as part of their university life experiences.

Velocity held an open event last week where University of Waterloo entrepreneurial hopefuls were able to pitch their ideas to potential supporters. This event took place Wednesday Nov. 14 and Thursday Nov. 15 in the foyer of M3. The startup companies were judged by a panel of experienced individuals, indcluding Larry Smith, economics professor.

There were over 100 students in attendance with a total of 22 startup ideas being pitched. The pitch nights are a valuable opportunity for these student created start-up companies to gain exposure within the University of Waterloo community. Pitch night is followed by the VeloCity Demo Day, which is an opportunity for the startups to showcase their ideas and compete for a chance to win $1,000, which would go towards jump-starting their company.

The judges in attendance for Pitch Night were Brock Hart (partner at Overlap Associates), Mike Kirkup (director of Velocity), and Ian McDonald (vice-president of product marketing at Aeryon Labs.) They heard a wide array of pitches, from Julia Coburn’s ideas on how to revolutionize the way elementary students learn about pressing international issues, to Jonathan Koff’s plan to use an online platform for crowd sourcing and urban improvement projects.

The judges were able to offer valuable feedback to the budding entrepreneurs.  A memorable piece of advice would be some key things to remember while pitching. The first thing was to describe the problem ad explain it in a way that anyone can understand.

“I wanted to see how ideas could flow from just an idea to a company. I wanted to see the steps in the middle, and watching the pitches helped me learn that,” said Kaustav Haldar, a 1A management engineering student. Hearing the companies explain how they build their company from the ground up can be a great resource for devising your own business plan.

Daniel Arrizza, a fourth year systems design student from VeloCity, pitched an idea on how to increase efficiency and effectivity of teams within an organization. His idea was well received by the judges, and he was happy to have made the pitch. “You never get anything right the first time, but feedback from the judges helps you get it right the second time,” said Arrizza. Arrizza was able to utilize the feedback that he received during Demo Day in order to rework his pitch and deliver a better speech.

The judges also gave their blunt opinions on many startup companies including WTFUW, a website with super crazy content, and EcoPlace Organics, a company that would deliver fresh local produce to the door.

A notable pitch was made by Wen-Hao Lue, with his idea Mantaphrase. Mantaphrase is a phrasebook app that would offer translations, and help you communicate in many languages. It can be downloaded in the app store for Android and iPhone users and has been featured on TechCrunch in the past.

Lue has pitched his idea many times before, and was looking for feedback and different perspectives that will aid in the improvement of his business. “I really enjoyed the feedback that Larry and Ian gave us. It was very insightful,” said Lue, 3A software engineering student. He will have a period of respite between now and Demo Day where he can work some of this insightful feedback into his pitch.

Demo day will be held Nov. 22 in the DC foyer from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. Rest assured you will see MantaPhrase there, as it made it to the finals.

Pitch Nights are a wonderful opportunity for all students to get a taste of the innovation and ingenuity that consistently makes UW the top ranked innovator in the country.

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