Can’t write? Waterloo startup hopes to help

Ten technology startups will make their pitch in Waterloo, Ont.  Thursday for a chance at pocketing $25,000 and a spot in an accelerator program at the University of Waterloo.

Velocity is hosting its Venture Fund Finals and will be hearing demo pitches from each of the teams vying for one of four spots in the Velocity Garage and $25,000 cash prizes. The Garage is an office space used by University of Waterloo students that are looking for mentoring to help start their companies.

Masters of Business Entrepreneurship and Technology graduate John Zupancic will be one of those pitching. He’s the founder of Wriber, software that aims to help bloggers write by providing suggestions as they type out posts. The idea is to make it easy to create content.

“It came from writing a lot of reports in school,” Zupancic says about his idea. “I pulled way too many all-nighters. I’m not a professional writer by any means and it took me a long time to write something. I wanted to create something that would make it easier for me to actually write.”

That frustration led to his tool that prompts you with questions and suggestions as you write. The pop-ups are designed to help trigger your thinking process and structure your articles. Wriber is currently in the research and development phase, and Zupancic hopes to have a commercial prototype available soon. He’s done some basic testing using Google Docs.

“We saw a 50 per cent increase in productivity,” he says. “Also the content had a flow to it and there was an improvement in quality.”

He’s already raised $25,000 from private investors, and another $25,000 from a grant at the Accelerator Centre in Waterloo.

Bloggers are telling Zupancic they’d like to use the software with WordPress, the Web’s leading blog platform.

“The vision is we want to be like Evernote,” he says. “In the immediate term, we’re exploring a couple different options. For a premium version, you could integrate it with your blog. It would also have trending topics and keyword suggestions.”

Here are the nine other startups Wriber will be competing against, from the Velocity Web page:

  • Blacktree Health: Blacktree is building the ultimate health monitor: a sleek wristband that monitors your stress, exercise, diet & sleep.
  • GoPexo: GoPexo is an online collaborative trip planer, which makes it easy for groups of people to figure out the logistics of their trip.
  • Kite: Kite gives developers a simple and frictionless way to build and launch web apps.
  • LibertyBit: LibertyBit has created an online currency exchange to substantially reduce credit card transaction fees for money transfers.
  • Planleaf: Planleaf has created project management via email.
  • Redro: REDRO is a social mobile ordering platform that provides restaurants with tools to effectively utilize social networks and mobile technologies to encourage customers to discover and eat at their establishment.
  • Sesame IO: Sesame IO is a centralized web platform that streamlines K-12 teachers workflow from planning and assessment to sharing and curriculum tracking to improve personalized learning and school effectiveness.
  • SoundBrush: SoundBrush is building simple, new ways for people to create music
  • Tessoll Tessoll consolidates and simplifies one of the biggest use cases for mobile devices:

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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