A company aiming to make champions of its clients and another determined to become the champion in the space of video quality control emerged Wednesday evening as the big winners at Communitech’s Demo Day – the opening day of the two-day Tech Leadership Conference 2017.

TritonWear, which makes a device worn by swimmers that generates data to improve athletic performance, and SSIMWave, a startup that provides the media and entertainment industries with products that monitor and optimize video quality, were the co-winners of the $100,000 grand prize, splitting the money 60-40 respectively. All companies that pitched for the prize money were participants in Communitech's Rev accelerator program.

“It feels great,” said Tristan Lehari, TritonWear’s CEO and co-founder. “There were some amazing companies here. It’s always great to get recognized. There’s some amazing traction with these companies. There’s some amazing stuff being done. It could have been anybody, at the end of the day.”

TritonWear is headquartered in Toronto and has a development office in Waterloo Region. Lehari is a former varsity swimmer at the University of Waterloo.

“I thought the founder [of TritonWear] was fantastic,” said David Brown, co-founder and co-CEO of the accelerator Techstars and one of the four judges for the event.

“I can’t speak for the other judges, but he clearly had a passion for his company and some great technology and thought hard about the market.”

Brown said he was impressed “in particular” with SSIMWave and its technology.

“[I liked] the deep tech,” said Brown. “Super smart. The ability to do science and analytics in way that nobody else [in the market can] understand is a great way to build a business.”

An audience of about 100 investors and tech observers took in the event at the Tannery Event Centre, the first day of TLC 2017. Day 2 unfolds Thursday at Bingemans Conference Centre with a day-long slate of high-profile speakers. It’s the first time that TLC has run two days.

Other companies that made pitches included CloudHawk, which produces GPS-based trackers and remote location tracking for the transportation industry; P&P Optica, which helps food producers with real-time quality inspection of food goods during manufacturing and processing; Sprout Studio, a web-based business management tool for professional photographers; and Staffy, which makes a web- and app-based platform for the hospitality industry, connecting restaurants and caterers with staff on short notice.

SSIMWave emerged from the University of Waterloo, co-founded by Zhou Wang, Kai Zeng and Abdul Rehman. Its Demo Day pitch was made by SSIMWave Vice-President of Marketing Saj Jamal, who recently held the same post at Communitech. Jamal said the firm is on track “to comfortably reach $20 million” in revenue by the end of this year.

SSIMWave provides the media and entertainment industries with products that monitor and optimize video, helping them improve its quality and viewer experience. Their products ensure that content quality remains consistent, from its creation to its delivery with end-users.

“It feels great, being able to communicate what our algorithm and technology can do,” said Jamal. “It’s a difficult one to do.”

“TritonWear’s pitch was wonderful.”

Communitech’s Rev Program helps established companies scale. The program has hosted six cohorts and its companies have raised $9 million in funding since 2015.

Wednesday’s event also included pitches by four companies that have graduated from Communitech’s Fierce Founders program (although they weren’t eligible for the prize money). Fierce Founders is a Communitech initiative designed to help women tech entrepreneurs build their companies.

Companies that pitched included Binary Tattoo, which helps people define their digital identity; Borealis Wind, which has developed a wind turbine de-icing system that improves turbine reliability wind farm revenue, BridesMade which rents size-adjustable dresses for bridesmaids; and Squiggle Park, which makes a reading game for children.

In addition to Brown, judges for the event included Janet Bannister, Partner with Real Ventures; Roger Chabra, Partner, Rho Canada Ventures; and Jamie Rosenblatt, Associate, Golden Venture Partners.

The event was sponsored by Deloitte, Google, BDC, FedDev and the Province of Ontario.