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Entrepreneur behind computer interface for the blind wins Innovate Calgary contest

Invici wins $15,000 Perfect Pitch Competition for tech startups
September 16, 2013
Tech Showcase Perfect Pitch winner Douglas Hagedorn is congratulated by Mark Williams of Innovate Calgary.

Tech Showcase Perfect Pitch winner Douglas Hagedorn is congratulated by Mark Williams of Innovate Calgary. Photo by Brad Watson

The startup entrepreneur behind a computer interface allowing the blind to access maps, graphs, calendars and apps, has won the Perfect Pitch Competition hosted by Innovate Calgary.

Nearly 20 local startup companies participated in Perfect Pitch, part of the Innovate Calgary Tech Showcase held on Sept. 12.

The winner, selected by a community of tech fans, was Douglas Hagedorn, CEO of Invici.

Taking the advice shared at the Perfect Pitch Workshop, Hagedorn worked on his pitch and wowed the judges by speaking passionately about Invici’s project.

“I did my master’s degree at the University of Calgary in geography,” Hagedorn says. “The research looked specifically for methods for people who cannot see maps because they are blind or visually impaired. Invici is an extension of that.”

Hagedorn says networking opportunities were one of the greatest benefits of the competition for his startup. “We are really looking for mentors and advisors who had been down this road. This is a massive project and I haven’t done anything like this before in my life, so I want to rely on people who have been successful doing this to share their insight. 

“We are looking to grow the team, so obviously that takes funds, but we also wanted to get the word out and have people realize that we are here for people who are blind,” he says.

Hagedorn and the Invici team won a prize package valued at more than $15,000, including cash, a one-year membership with the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, a one-year corporate identity at the Alastair Ross Technology Centre, two tickets to the 2014 Manning Awards, admission to Innovate Calgary’s Go-to-Market program, as well as a patent assessment by Innovate Calgary’s Licensing Team.

Each participant also received expert advice from Alberta Deal Generator’s Henry Kutarna in his Perfect Pitch Workshop, advice from peers and industry experts, and the opportunity to gain much-needed financial support from investors. 

“Not only do they have a great project but their potential for growth is boundless,” Kutarna says.  “We look forward to continuing to work with this group as they grow and move to the marketplace.”

Innovate Calgary’s mission within the startup community is to accelerate, facilitate, and support innovation in the tech sector. The 2013 Innovate Calgary Tech Showcase and Open House provided over 40 startup companies with the opportunity to network, develop, and learn while showcasing their products to the community.

Innovate Calgary offers technology transfer and business incubator services to researchers, entrepreneurs and businesses within the advanced technology sector, including those at the University of Calgary.