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Launch Academy’s Inaugural Demo Day Sends First Startups into Orbit

It was no April fool’s joke when Ray Walia, Jesse Heaslip, Roger Patterson, and Mike Edwards decided to open the doors on Launch Academy.

Since April 1st they’ve been getting it done, working toward staging a demo day with the firm intent on sending a group of startups into a whole new orbit. The collective vision for Launch Academy is providing space, and an environment for learning, mentoring and exploring innovation & entrepreneurship. Simply put, they’re all about being a “High Energy Reaction Chamber Where a Startup’s Evolution is Ignited And Accelerated.”

On Tuesday evening, with the chance to hear 30 startup teams deliver their best 60-second pitch, over 200 people packed into The Hive (a local co-working space) and make no mistake, the place was seriously buzzing.

The format was simple. The crowd got the privilege to pick the top five; the top five then got the privilege to present for five minutes to a panel of five highly respected and regarded judges: Mike Edwards (GrowLab Executive Director); Boris Wertz (2011 Angel Investor of the Year); Leonard Brody (GrowLab Founder & Principal); Kimberley Kaplan (CEO; Offeron); and Kristina Simmons (Emerging Products and Concepts Manager (Digital) at Lululemon.

With 30 pitches done, thirsts being quenched, some serious schmoozing going on, the voting booth opened and the crowd got down to business.

It’s not a shock that when given an opportunity to be part of such a dynamic place as Launch Academy, a few teams really rise to the occasion. Two teams in particular stood out during their time at the Academy, and have been duly rewarded as the first chosen members of the “Farm Team.” Details of Farm Team program are still forthcoming, but suffice to suggest both Karmahire and Weeve will have a little more rocket fuel in their tanks. Both teams gave great presentations before the top five was announced.

Being mic’d up for 5 minutes, clicker in hand, and the judges focus, this was no elevator pitch—this was storytelling, attention grabbing, and slight bead of sweat time for the top five startups. The spotlight was cast firmly upon:

• Momo-jobs, a next-generation job search platform.

Ockamo, a web analytics application that lets website owners understand their visitors in new and powerful ways.

Netlek, a Hubspot for the little guy, making it easier for small businesses to get new clients and cut acquisition costs by up to 70%.

Battlefy, an online destination for gamers to play and watch e-sports.

Thinkific, a web and mobile education company focused on delivering a truly amazing learning experience.

When the dust settled, there was no question the judges had a challenge ahead. They had 30 minutes to deliberate and pick the top two.

There was more than just your name in a Techvibes story on the line too. At stake were some significant opportunities to tell the story to audiences that can really help move the needle on a startup business, including taking the stage to pitch at the Grow Conference (August 23). As well, everyone had bags packed and passports ready for a Wednesday morning road trip to Seattle with stops at Alliance of Angels and Techstars. Their day would end with a Vancouver and Seattle Meetup party at The Easy.

With a collective drum roll and the first surprise of the night coming courtesy of the judge’s prerogative to change the rules, the top three teams for Launch Academy’s inaugural demo day were announced. Congratulations and best-of-lucks are due to Thinkific, Battlefy, and Netlek.