If money talks, Velocity has a heck of a lot to say.
The University of Waterloo’s flagship entrepreneurship program announced this week that companies with current or past ties to Velocity have collectively raised more than US$2.4 billion in investment since the program launched in 2008.
In the past seven months alone, Velocity-related companies have raised US$700 million – a 40 per cent increase over the US$1.7 billion that had been raised collectively by the end of 2020.
Velocity also reported an increase in the numbers of financing deals so far this year. In the first half of 2021, companies related to the UW program had completed a collective 80 per cent as many investment deals as they did in all of 2020.
Most of the recent investment has be raised by a handful of spectacularly successful Velocity graduates, such as retail platform Faire, which announced a US$260-million Series F round in June, and edtech firm ApplyBoard, which announced a CDN$375-million Series D raise, also in June.
Velocity has a long list of other successful alumni – Vidyard, Nicoya, Bridgit, ProNavigator, to name just a few – and a stable of promising startups that are still in the program.
“We continue to see the Velocity alumni scale companies that can reshape entire industries,” said the program’s Executive Director, Adrien Côté. “Supporting the next generation of founders poised to build the next billion-dollar companies is what we are focused on.”
In addition to the investment success, Côté cited other success metrics that highlight the value of the Velocity program:
- Four startups were accepted into the famous Y Combinator program in California over the last 14 months (since Velocity was founded 13 years ago, a total of 40 Velocity startups have been accepted into the Y Combinator program).
- Two Velocity companies were accepted into the IndieBio program in San Francisco in the last 12 months (six since Velocity began).
- Two Velocity founders received prestigious Thiel Fellowships in 2021 (among nine Velocity founders since 2008).
Côté praised the entire tech ecosystem in Waterloo Region, including the role played by Communitech in supporting tech companies. But he said his focus is always on the founders.
“It’s really a testament to them and their work, to be able to develop businesses that have this degree of massive scalability,” he said. “We're just honored to support them on their journey.”
Velocity was started as a residence community for entrepreneurial students at the University of Waterloo in 2008. In 2010, the Velocity Garage was created and located in the same building as the Communitech Hub in downtown Kitchener. In 2023, Velocity is scheduled to relocate across Joseph Street to a UW-owned 90,000-square-foot renovated warehouse space called the Innovation Arena.