With Silicon Valley ‘godfather’ Steve Blank looking on as a judge, Nicoya Lifesciences pitched its way to a $50,000 prize on Friday night, as the new Communitech Rev sales accelerator graduated its first cohort.
Two other companies among six who pitched, Bridgit and PiinPoint, took home $25,000 each from the Communitech Rev Centre Stage pitch event, in which Blank – creator of the Lean Startup movement and a leading thinker on how build scalable companies – posed some penetrating questions.
His queries, which often focused on specific business metrics, caught a few founders flat-footed, adding tension to the proceedings and leaving any math-challenged audience members scratching their heads.
Nicoya’s technology, which incorporates nanotechnology, biochemistry and optical sensors, makes particular types of scientific testing easier and quicker. It also promises to radically reduce the cost of certain medical tests.
Blank – who judged the pitches along with Carol Leaman, CEO of Waterloo-based Axonify, and Alec Saunders, Microsoft’s Principal Technical Evangelist in Canada – has written previously on the potential for significant disruption in medical research.
The judges also awarded Bridgit, a communication platform for construction projects, and PiinPoint, whose software helps retail businesses choose the best locations to open outlets.
The honour capped a particularly strong week for Bridgit co-founder Mallorie Brodie, who just three days earlier had pitched at the C100’s inaugural Venture North event in Toronto and won $15,000 for the company. Bridgit was among seven startups from the Toronto-Waterloo corridor who competed before a panel of Silicon Valley investors that included Ajay Royan of Mithril Capital Management.
Also pitching at Centre Stage were Blitzen, whose process automation software targets businesses; Set Scouter, a platform for connecting film producers with shooting locations; and Aterlo Networks, which helps online television viewers in less-populated areas to overcome limited Internet service. Communitech corporate partners Deloitte and Christie sponsored the event.
Given Rev’s focus on building scale and getting companies to $100 million in annual revenue as quickly as possible, all the companies detailed how they planned to reach significant revenue milestones.