BC New Ventures Competition

The startup will take home $110,000 in prize money 

Sometimes, hard work does pay off. Take Reza Varzidehkar.  

Varzidehkar had an idea to start a smart business card company and, in 2019, went to 100 events in 100 days to try and get his name out there. Even COVID, which came to Canada about two weeks after Varzidehkar launched Ovou, couldn’t stop the ambitious founder.  

Today, the Vancouver-based platform facilitates some 4,000 connections a day, and is trusted by clients like Re/Max and the US Army Recruiting Operation. And, tonight, it won the New Ventures BC Competition, presented by Innovate BC, and its top prize of $110,000. The company’s platform works with all smart phones and doesn’t require an app.  

“It’s an honor to receive this award at the 2022 New Ventures BC Competition and be recognized for all of our achievements to date,” said Varzidehkar. “We are very grateful for all of the guidance and support we’ve received, and look forward to using the winnings to accelerate our next stage of growth.” 

West Vancouver-based Shopify app maker Beam Commerce took the $60,000 second place prize, while Victoria biotech outfit VoxCell Bioinnovation was awarded third place and $35,000.  

Meanwhile, Burnaby’s Yield Exchange, a GIC negotiation disrupter, won the Woman-Led Venture Award ($10,000); Acel Power, a Vancouver-based electric boat drive system manufacturer won the Sustainability Prize ($10,000); Courtenay-based Nyoka, a producer of safe and sustainable biochemical lighting, won the Regional Start-up Prize ($10,000); and Immfinity Biotechnologies, a Vancouver-based biotech company, won the $6,500 Diamond in-the-Rough Award.  

The Alumni Impact Award went to Burnaby-based Semios, a precision-farming agtech platform helping farmers produce better crops and save money. Semios first participated in the competition in 2011, and has since gone on to make several acquisitions, raise over $225 million in capital and make major contributions to the local Canadian economy.