This past July, Velocity hosted the Spring 2017 Velocity Fund Finals (VFF), a pitch competition that awards $125,000 each term to startups to help them build their business. We caught up with one of the $25K winners, Tom Keeling, Co-Founder of Innovative Protein Technologies, for a post-VFF update. You can watch their pitch from VFF online.
Innovative Protein Technologies is a biotechnology company dedicated to developing eco-friendly crop protection products. Their first product, Frost Armour, protects crops against frost damage during the spring growing season.
How has your company developed since winning VFF?
IPT: We have expanded our team to accelerate the development of Frost Armour, and have identified a number of other cold weather scenarios beyond just spring frost damage where our product could be used. We are also currently participating in the Creative Destruction Lab to further advance the development of our company and our marketing strategy.
What is your company currently working on?
IPT: We are currently working on a simplified version of our product to be able to offer to growers and home gardeners while we finish the development of the full version. This will help us generate revenue to support our development efforts and establish a network of early adopters. We are also working with several growers in the area to set up outdoor field testing this coming spring frost season, which will be critical for the ultimate success of our product.
What do you enjoy most about building a startup?
IPT: Building a startup is by far the most challenging yet rewarding experience. Creating a new product that can benefit the lives of others, even in an indirect way, brings great satisfaction. Having your future in your own hands is also quite motivating in that every day matters. It’s not helpful to just run out the clock on your work day; everything you do counts, you have no one else to blame for failings, and can take full ownership of all your successes.
What did you like most about competing at VFF?
IPT: Seeing the positive response to our product at VFF from a broad audience beyond just the growers we’ve interviewed was very reassuring. It’s tempting to think you’ve just sought out a small bubble of supporters when gathering initial feedback. Seeing a general audience understand the need for our product and our company’s vision of a future of clean agrichemicals is something we will never forget, and often remind ourselves of when the going gets tough.
Are there any tips you can give to startups that are pitching?
IPT: Practice, practice, practice. Make sure that you can give your pitch in front of an audience and while in the shower (or somewhere else while slightly distracted and without slides). Don’t memorize it word-for-word. Know your talking points and tell a story from there.
On Thursday, November 30, another twenty startups will compete at the Velocity Fund Finals in the SLC at the University of Waterloo to pitch for their share of $125,000. Don’t miss this event by registering to attend! Come join us for a great event with awesome pitches and free boxed lunches for the first 200 attendees. Audience members and live stream participants will also have a chance to win 1 of 5 Google Home speaker sets!
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