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Startup takes home grand prize in pitch competition

TWO UNIVERSITY OF Ottawa students won $20,000 to further invest in their new company in a pitch competition for student entrepreneurs.

Startup Garage, an initiative of the Ottawa Technology Transfer Network which supports student entrepreneurs, held its annual pitch competition Aug. 25. New businesses presented their products to an expert audience of fellow entrepreneurs, and investors from various fields were able to respond. Investment could take the form of financing, mentoring, or networking.

“[Participants] are looking to establish networks, not necessarily financial investment as in Dragon’s Den,” said Catherine Geci, the event’s organizer.

Eight out of 29 applicants made presentations. MicroMetrics, which was already in affiliation with Startup Garage, brought home the grand prize of $20,000 in funding and mentorship.

MicroMetrics was founded in May 2013 by University of Ottawa students Martin Kratky-Katz and Artem Abramov. The company helps other businesses receive instant customer feedback by offering survey software and tablets to stores. These businesses reward customers on-site for filling out the questionnaire and also provide instant customer feedback to their business partners.

At the end of the competition, the judges had their say. Prizes were awarded for best presentation, best business opportunity, and people’s choice. Some of the prizes included cash, and a membership to The Indus Entrepreneurs, a Silicon Valley-based group of entrepreneurs focused on generating and nurturing businesspeople.

One of the investors included Alex Mahon of Algonquin College. Last year, as the student entrepreneurship coordinator at Algonquin’s Office of Applied Research and Innovation, Mahon invested in two start-ups. These companies are now supplied with equipment and technical support as they continue to grow.

“It’s a really solid event,” Mahon said. “If there are other companies that require support, we’d be happy to do that for them.”

Mahon said his eyes are always peeled for possible investments, and that the Startup Garage Pitch Competition is the ideal avenue for that.

Dr. Hassan Khan is one such example. He attended the pitch competition as a spectator and hopes to present in future years. He is developing a product to capture the coal emissions from factories and vehicles before they enter and pollute the atmosphere. They would be filtered and eventually used to produce other materials. Khan hopes that obtaining a master’s in business administration at the U of O will help him market his product.

“I want to see the new technology,” Khan said. “I want to learn what I will have to do in my presentations.”

U of O student Issac Shannon and recent graduate Jesse Moon have started a business called White River Innovation. After starting the company this past summer, they have already patented their product in the United States.

They have created a valve allowing wind turbines to be placed in rivers or lakes to create electricity to power cottages and houses.

“What we are looking for right now is strong mentorship to help guide us,” said Moon.

They are looking to sell their valve to a larger company that could mass-produce and market it, and attended the pitch competition for that reason.

Micrometrics is online at