Summary Notes of the 3-minute Pitches @PCHhackathon today! #HackTO #WearableTechnology

This weekend (March 6-8, 2015), I had the opportunity to volunteer at #HackTO, which is a hardware hackathon event hosted by PCH Toronto at MaRS Toronto.

In their first year, there were over 100 participants and 14 teams that came up with very cool smart products caterring to different markets over one weekend. This included executing the research on their identified problem, coming up with a working prototype, and completing a market assessment for their product with a very brief business plan on bringing their product to market. Many of these teams interviewed their target audience, looked into research on their  chosen space, and had products that addressed some common problems many people / industries have nowadays.

The notes below are my live notes taken during the 3-minute pitches. They are extremely rough notes based only on what was presented during the 3 minute pitch. Based on the content captured, it is obvious which presentations really had their pitch put together and well-thought out. I’d say the biggest lesson is learning that even though you may have a really good idea, more importantly, is how you pitch your idea and how well thought out your story is. At the end of the day, it’s about effective marketing, having a solid business plan, and a great product idea that addresses the solutions of problem with a strong market. There’s some food for thought!

Winners: Englighti

Honourable mention: Thunder Steps

2nd place: Alfred

3rd place: Galactic Bot

For more information about PCH Toronto and Highway 1 (accelerator program in San Fran), visit:

Thanks for the experience, PCH Toronto, for letting me gain some new insights and exposure into the startup/hackathon and wearable technology space this weekend!

  1. Pendula
  • Problem: The way science is being presented to kids
  • 2014 educational toy sales: $3.6M
  • Toy version: Math, physics, music
  • Interactive art. Could be used to get kids excited to learn about science.
  • Sensors on pendulum that trigger sounds. Arduino. Includes a connected app.
  • Target price: $80. Based on the price of the components.
  • Would like to partner with Little Bits
  1. Enlightli (Winner)
  • Based on a concept that already exists: using body heat to create electricity
  • Product: helmet with LED light, powered by body heat to generate electricity.
  • Idea basis: In India, there is a problem with power. Low income families/villagers use bikes as a form of transportation, but this is dangerous.
  • Solution: Helmets with LED lights increases the visibility of the biker and also provides safety. The LED helmet would be powered by the body heat
  • Difference in temperature would generate the electricity. A metal faces your skin, the other side faces the air. The difference in temp creates that light. It takes a few seconds to charge and only holds the charge for a few seconds. With a more powerful metal, it could decrease the amount of time to charge and can hold more energy
  • Marketing idea for crowdfunding: “Buy one, Give one'” model will get the product locally and also donate one.
  • Price point: currently TBD
  • Comment: great use of video and photos in the slide. Text was to the point. Great pitch.
  1. PickMe
  • Opening: looking at photos with family. Sharing stories through pictures.
  • Issue: Older family members aren’t tech savvy enough to see his photos shared via technology.
  • The intellect gap solution built for his grandmother: a device that plugs into the TV and it connects via wifi and stream photos from different online applications. No need to logging in.
  • Leverage: Raspberry Pi. Device plugs into the pi
  1. Joyride
  • Problem: stolen bikes
  • Current: bike locks, register serial # online
  • Their solution: tracking device for cyclists to track it through their phone
  • Product: Looks like a water bottle holder that’s mounted to the bike, so it can’t be ripped off.
  • Once you’re away from your bike, if the accelerometer kicks on, you get a notification text message and it shows you where your bike is – via the app or online
  • Benefits: battery saving (96hrs), low price point, option for monthly subscriptions, Joyride community. Want to create a community
  • How to bring to market? Crowdfunding to see what the community wants (first step), then to better their product
  • Current competitors do this. GPS tracking using sim cards, so it costs more money. This product leverages Wi-Fi.
  • Issue: If the bike is not over public Wi-Fi, it can’t track it. But most major cities now have open public Wi-Fi.
  • Why placement on water bottle holder? The devices needs to be partially exposed. Haven’t thought about potential other parts – limited time during weekend.
  1. Green Thumb
  • Problem: Food security is affecting our later generation…soon
  • Urban farms are the future. Who does this? You and me. People who care about the community and making little steps
  • Product: measures the health of plants in real time and tracks it online – amount of moisture, sunlight
  • Leverages help of the community – social media and community
  • Market: B2B. Super cheap to make – light sensors, etc. Can be powered via lemons or via soil.
  • Already have interested partners: Continuing Studies in FoodSecurity (Ryerson), Change School, Soil for Life (South Africa)
  • Price: $3
  • One per crop sector – per area of plants
  1. Kali
  • Opening: Blind date and being set up. Dating mobile apps (Tinder) – how many of those have been truly awkward.
  • “Kali – escape awkward”
  • Marketing: Canada – 44M mobile and online dating users
  • Competitors: safelet and cuff
  • A necklace with a button that calls your phone — and you’re out of the situation
  • Timeline: 6 months: develop a test product, see what other people want, pre-order online; 1 yr: retail
  • Could cater to men’s market: something to attach to men’s market
  • Leverages bluetooth that sends a message to your phone and then it calls you
  • Talked about the design of their product
  1. HeartBeats
  • BG: People who fall asleep with headphones
  • Smart headphones – a sensor detects your heartbeat
  • It plays faster songs if your heartbeat is faster and slower songs if it
  • Issue for other current competitors it’s very difficult to put all the components into a headphone and still make it look well
  • Product would be a clip-on to attach it to the headphone
  1. Amie (like French word for “friend”)
  • BG: People who feel anxious – there are many situations that make us anxious
  • Product: “quantifying calm and empowering you
  • Mental health: $51B industry( (2008)
  • Tarket market: females
  • Product: tracks your movement and temperature (when you’re fidgeting, how many times, your temperature, the sounds, etc.) Data is all cross-references against different factors (e.g. time of day, day of week, etc.)
  • Tracks different data on a dashboard. Real-time responses. Gives you data to track when and why you’re feeling a certain way.
  • Upcoming wearables trend – devices that track motion
  1. ThunderSteps
  • Phone that is charged via a pair of shoes as you walk
  • There’s a wire that goes from a component in the shoe that connects to the phone
  • Hardware: CPU-like,
  • Goal: 15mins walk = 45mins of talking
  • They have a working prototype
  1. Baby Boss – “Life’s smart button”
  • Niche target
  • Take a device and put smart buttons into it
  • Touch something and have it online – used for tracking stuff you need to buy (that’s it)
  • A pad with 9 icons of products. Once you touch the button, it sends a message to the app to help you track something you need to buy. Your wife might be out and shopping and she’ll see it right away.
  • Their competitive advantage – their product was quick to build…
  • Prototype – pad for baby products, but can be customized
  1. Big Solve
  • Problem: retail experience. Overworked employees who are too busy
  • Big solve – a robotics employee that roams around the store and provides help to find products, provide coupons. (telepresence robots). They exist in the US right now.
  • Product has arms. (competitive advantage) Speaks in different languages
  • Competitor: Telepresence robot
  • Approach: hardware is free. Revenue: via the tablet on the robot. Coupons.
  1. Galactic Bot
  • Youngest team: 10 year olds (grade 2)
  • BG: Learning about stars for young children
  • Product: has a color sensor. Spectrescope.
  • Measure: brightness, color, temperature (RGB). Based on the color, it measures the temperature
  • Used with bright objects and guages the temperature of the bright object based on the color of the object
  • “one galactic bot per child”
  • A product that kids can build themselves for $30 and to feed their interest for stars (Science)
  • Challenging: 1) programming the light sensors, 2) programming the hardware
  1. Alfred
  • “Staying with your loved ones when you can’t”
  • BG: seniors with a walking stick. Most seniors who fell were using a walking stick.
  • Product – attaches to a cane the senior uses. Has a sensor.
  • Features: obstacle detection, fall detection and notification (calls the pre-ID-ed contact)
  • Market: rehab professionals
  • How can the cane detect the difference between an actual fall and just the cane falling? Cane has 2 mechanisms to detect a real fall
  1. Sidekick
  • BG: patients where bracelets that provide paramedics with a few points of medical history. They often have to call a hotline to gain more information…to which they then have to call
  • Sidekick: uses NFC on a smartphone and sends encrypted data about a patient’s medical history to a smartphone
  • All the patient has to do is wear the device. It has one button to activate the device. Patients just wear it. Leveraging the cloud, it can download their patient history whenever it is updated.
  • Battery life of over 1 month, since rarely activated
  • Opportunity: kid market – some kids are unable to communicate their patient history. It’s actually for all ages who are unable to communicate their patient history accurately.
  • Research — paramedics would need to have the app, doctors would need to have the app, etc. There are many players that would need to make this work and universal

Some Learning Notes:

  • Re: The importance of your pitch – being engaging, to the point, having media that adds to the conversation/supplements your talking points or creates the atmosphere you want
  • Ability to lay out the problem well
  • Order of sharing your product – prioritize. Start with your problem and product first.
  • Marketing your product during a pitch is more important than your actual product. Even if you have a great product, you have to be able to track it
  • Product – scalability, marketing, research (depth), intuitive product (easy to understand), fundraising & VCs, knowing your target market
  • Fundraising: Kickstarter, Indiegogo, VCs, etc.
  • Toronto Tool Library

Entrepreneur Panel

  1. Nymi
  2. Ecobee – Wifi connected thermostats
  3. Ringly – connected smart jewelry that tells you about notifications
  4. Vanhawks

One thought on “Summary Notes of the 3-minute Pitches @PCHhackathon today! #HackTO #WearableTechnology

  1. This is the perfect web site for everyone who really wants to understand this topic.

    You know a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that I
    really will need to…HaHa). You definitely put a brand new
    spin on a subject that’s been written about for many years.
    Excellent stuff, just wonderful!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s