Launch Academy Pitch Day Showcases Promise of Emerging Vancouver Startups

Many cliches should be burned on a pyre. But some endure for good reasons—like the hoary old chestnut about the third time being the charm.

For Launch Academy’s third Pitch Day was by all accounts the most successful yet. A sold out event with a waiting list 50 names long, Thursday night’s competition saw entrepreneurial faces, new and familiar, cheer on talented competitors as they stepped onto the pitcher’s mound to see if they have what it takes in the big leagues. The success of Launch Academy itself may have been the only thing that prevented the night from being an ironclad success; fifty steaming hot pizzas, two hundred bodies and a humid August night added up to one sticky room.

The evening began with 10 lightning pitches from eight Launch Academy members and two students from Launch Academy’s Lean Entrepreneur Program. The top five crowd favourites (as well as four companies from the Launch Academy Student Startup Challenge) then presented longer three-minute pitches in front of judges Meredith Powell (The Next Big Thing), Jack Newton (Clio), Sandra Wear (CanWIT), Shane Luke (Recon Instruments), and Sam Chandola (Victory Square Games). The Student Startup Challenge finalists competed for cash prizes of $3,000, $1,500, and $500, while the remaining companies competed for a top prize of a flight to New York City for Startup Next’s Demo Day.

“It’s been exactly a year since our last competition, so we were really excited to showcase an entirely new crop of entrepreneurs this time around,” says Launch Academy’s Executive Director, Ray Walia.

“A lot of these startups were just an idea three months ago, so it’s been really exciting to see how quickly they’ve grown into real companies while under Launch Academy’s roof,” he added.

In a little under two hours, the winners emerged. In order, the winners are:

  • An app to schedule and manage Instagram posts, already used by NFL teams, Vogue, and Etsy (First Place)
  • Shubaloo: An internet radio playing only music from bands coming to town soon (Second Place)
  • HipsterCEO: A mobile game that gives wannabe entrepreneurs a taste of the startup life. (Third Place)
  • Riipen: An online platform connecting students with companies via short-term, relevant, skill-specific projects that build students’ virtual portfolios, while companies gain complementary skills and reduce hiring costs. (Finalist)
  • Trusted Therapies: Patient-doctor community for patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. (Finalist)

In the students’ division, Fetch made themselves happen with their top prize win. Novogadget’s SafeRing shows great promise, if the anti-assault jewelry can resolve the issue of false-alarm prevention, and Loodo Analytics rounded out the top three. Mack Flavelle made for an enthusiastic MC, equally comfortable giving audiences his best smoulder to get the crowd’s attention as his best chain of f-bombs, and a bit in which Lloyed Lobo and Ray Walia debated which of the two of them would be considered the ugly twin was well-received.

The remainder of 2014 promises to highlight the best that Launch Academy has to offer. Readers can expect an announcement of the second Cascadia Startup Day venue soon; Walia will be scouting locations this week.