Using drone technology to deliver aerial intelligence at scale, Spexi GeoSpatial wins the 2019 Coast Capital Savings Venture Prize.


Spexi GeoSpatial takes top prize at SFU’s largest entrepreneurship competition

April 16, 2019

A start-up that uses drone technology to make geospatial data more accessible has won SFU’s largest entrepreneurship competition.

Spexi GeoSpatial emerged from a slate of promising early-stage SFU entrepreneurs to win SFU’s eighth annual Coast Capital Savings Venture Prize competition, claiming the title of ‘top venture’ and taking home a cash and in-kind prize package worth $35,000.

The start-up aims to empower organizations by using drone technology to deliver aerial intelligence at scale. The firm's cloud-based platform provides a streamlined end-to-end solution that automates drone flights, photogrammetric data processing, and geospatial data analysis.

“Winning the Venture Prize means we can hire additional software engineers to help us scale our cloud offerings faster, and reach our mission of making geospatial data more accessible sooner,” says Peter Szymczak, co-founder of Spexi Geospatial, which also won the competition’s Top Science and Technology award.

“As we continue to gain traction in our initial markets, the additional resources will really allow us to build on our successes and reach our goals sooner.”

Spexi GeoSpatial co-founders Bill Lakeland (left) and Peter Szymczak (right) with CFO Emily Morris (middle).

Co-founders Bill Lakeland and Peter Szymczak met while completing the Management of Technology MBA program at SFU’s Beedie School of Business. Lakeland’s geospatial background and Szymczak’s technical background made them a great pairing for this venture.

Presented by Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection at SFU, the Venture Prize is SFU’s largest entrepreneurship competition. Competitors endured two intensive rounds of pitches to a panel of industry judges and a public audience. Open to SFU staff, faculty, students and recent alumni, this year’s applicants represented a diverse array of ventures – from IoT to services to pharmaceuticals, all vying for a piece of the $75,000 prize pot. 

Notably, this year’s competition saw more female-led companies competing as finalists than in any previous years and finalists were representative of seven of SFU’s eight faculties, reflecting the Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection’s broad and inclusive approach to early ventures and innovation. 


Top Digital Internet award: Anonymous Chat

Top Small Business award: Employ to Empower

Female Founder award: Aplica!

SFU Alumni Founder award: CareCrew and Streamline Athletes

Social Impact award: Davos

Penguin Pivot Prize: BuzzIt

The Venture Prize has been recognizing entrepreneurial excellence at SFU for almost a decade, and is supported by Coast Capital Savings – a key partner for Venture Connection since 2008. 

 “The Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection is an expression of our commitment to the financial well-being of youth and our promise to invest 10 percent of our bottom line in programs that empower young people to achieve what's important in their lives,” said Calvin MacInnis, president and CEO of Coast Capital Savings.

“Through our support for the Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection program and this annual competition, we are excited to help identify, showcase and develop the young entrepreneurs who will become the business innovators, job creators and change makers of tomorrow."  

“On behalf of SFU, I would like to congratulate this year’s applicants and award winners,” says Joy Johnson, SFU’s vice-president, research and international. “As an SFU Innovates program, Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection strengthens SFU’s commitment to innovation by helping students and researchers mobilize their ideas for positive social and economic impact.”  

Spexi GeoSpatial wins SFU’s eighth annual Coast Capital Savings Venture Prize competition.