Innovate Manitoba veteran and serial entrepreneur Bryce North claims another big win with TrapTap!
The business ideas and pitches just keep getting better and better; this was a recurring theme for Innovate Manitoba’s fourth annual Pitch’Day.
Innovate Manitoba’s President, Jan Lederman was beaming as she connected with Pitch’Day competitors as well as members from the record crowd of nearly 250 individuals from Manitoba’s business and innovation communities, including over 65 students from three of Manitoba’s post-secondary institutions.
“The ideas being pitched are more sophisticated and the presenters are more polished, not just in their presenting skills, but in the depth of their knowledge,” Lederman said. “While not everyone could be a winner today, many of the businesses that presented will go on to do great things.”
Fifteen startups vied for over $15,000 in cash and in-kind prizes. This group had already made it through a preliminary round of 30 competitors and was primed for the 2-minute pitch and somewhat grueling 5-minute Q & A with the expert panel of judges.
Tanya Soman, principal of Silicon Valley’s 500 Startups and a first-time Pitch’Day judge, was impressed. “The technology many of them were working on was very mature. Most surprising was how far along their thought process was for next steps. They definitely knew what they had to do.”
Judge Barb Gamey, President & CEO, Payworks, agreed and said she was thrilled to see some solid thinking around distribution models as well as a focus on technologies to “improve lives and solve problems”.
Mike Fata, CEO & Co-Founder, Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods and Martin Cash, business columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press, rounded out the judges’ panel. “There was definitely an increase in the level of talent. The fact that the organizers had to cut out 15 businesses in the preliminary round speaks to this,” said Fata.
One of the pitchers described the event as “Silicon Valley of the North”. 500 Startups’ Soman agreed. “The landscape in Canada is close to what we see in Silicon Valley. Startups vary from early stage to already launched and post-pilot. That was important to see – that they’re on the same track.” Soman added that in addition to the quality of the startups, she was also impressed with the support system that’s available.
“Other judges were telling me how 5 years ago, this didn’t exist. That’s exactly what [a VC] wants to see in a developing ecosystem. You want to see help from other vehicles in the local community because they know the startups and the founders better than anyone else coming into the ecosystem.”
“Innovate Manitoba is providing an excellent filter for the kinds of startups they want to include and promote in the ecosystem. They’re not diluting the value, so it’s still attractive for VC’s from Silicon Valley to come here,” Soman said.
The Pitch’Day 2015 Winners
1st place | $7,500: TrapTap
TrapTap is a legal, hands-free indicator device that sits on your dash and lets you know if you’re near a speed trap, school zone or red light camera. It also allows you to “tap” the device (connected through an app to your phone’s GPS) to alert other TapTrap users of road hazards speed traps. North refers to it as “your not-so-annoying backseat driver”. The TrapTap device is free with a $50 annual membership fee. North’s plans for his winnings? “We’ll come up with a finalized product, sell to B and B, move on with the consumer model and take over the world!”
North is also co-founder of Advolve Media, which came through Innovate Manitoba’s startup cycle in 2012-2013, winning Best Technology Pitch at Pitch’Day 2012 and finishing just outside of the money at Venture’Challenge 2013. With TrapTap, which also took first place at Ramp Up Weekend 8, North hopes to capitalize on an enormous market that includes 250 million people in North America that spend approximately $8 billion on speeding tickets annually.
2nd place | $2,500, People’s Choice | $1,000 and Best Student Pitch | $500: Comfort Wave Mobile Imaging
Jesse Perry impressed the judges and the audience with his technology for breast-cancer pre-screening. The technology holds the potential to save millions in healthcare costs while offering peace of mind to individuals who can receive almost immediate test results.
Perry shared how the microwave technology, developed by the University of Manitoba’s Dr. Stephen Pistorius, provides early detection potential for areas where there is less accessibility to health services, including mammograms. “We’re not trying to replace mammogram technology. What we’re providing is a cost-effective and fast pre-screening system that can be done more comfortably in any medical practitioner’s office,” Perry said.
Best Research Pitch | $500: MI-LIFE
Sandeep Kaur presented MI-LIFE, an advanced microwave-based technology that can help locate survivors in disaster zones by detecting breathing signals. It also has the potential to be used in healthcare environments.
Of the Pitch’Day experience, Kaur, who is working towards a Graduate Masters Degree in Physics at the University of Manitoba, said, “I’m not from a business background so this was a really good validation of just how great a product this is.”
Best Technology Pitch | $500: Giftmail
Matt Cibinel’s Giftmail, lets you send digital gift cards to anyone via email, text message or Facebook.
Cibinel plans to use his $500 prize to help support updates for the tool that’s designed primarily for local businesses that may lack the resources to break into the online gifting market. “As we expand beyond Winnipeg, we’re looking for the right investor/partner to help us turn Giftmail into an international leader in digital gift giving.”
Best New Product Pitch | $500: popRX
Ali Esmail presented popRX, an automated prescription service described as the “quickest and easiest way to organize and order medication.”
Esmail shared that the win is good validation for what he and his team are doing. “Next steps include finishing the current round of financing and getting out there and expanding,” he said.
Best Social Innovation Pitch: USAFI
Charles Gikwerere of USAFI is the first winner of this inaugural award that recognizes the importance of bringing together ideas and investors to advance social change. In Gikwerere’s words, “USAFI will be to developing countries what the kitchen or bathroom sink is for developed nations.” The product is designed to provide hand-washing availability in conditions where running water isn’t available. Gikwerere cites stats by the World Health Organization that 39 per cent of the world’s population lives without access to proper sanitation – a disparity that was especially evident during the Ebola health crisis in Western Africa.
In addition to trending on the top spot on Twitter (#PitchDay), the event was fuelled by a live podcast hosted by serial entrepreneurs Michael Legary, Chair, Startup Winnipeg; and Chris Johnson, Co-Founder, PermissionClick. Listen in on interviews with the winners, judges, supporters and more.
You can also check out Innovate Manitoba’s YouTube channel to see post-recorded versions of the pitches that were presented at Pitch’Day (coming soon!).
For the winners, and many of the other competitors, the next stop on their startup journey will be Launch’Pad Startup Skills Workshop on Sunday December 6, 2015 at Sports Manitoba.
Want a better view of what it was like inside the presentation theatre?
Check out PanoPla’s 360 view of the event!
Check out all the photos!