Wellinks a winner in pitch contest

BY Natalie Missakian

A New Haven startup that makes wearable devices for orthotics and prosthetics was among nine winners of the 2017 Fueling the Growth contest, a pitch competition for technology-driven, female-led companies.

Cofounded by 2013 Yale graduate Ellen Su, Wellinks took third prize Oct. 18 at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, one of three nationwide locations for the contest sponsored by The Refinery, a Westport-based business accelerator.

The $10,000 first prize went to Farmington's LambdaVision, which is commercializing a retinal implant for patients suffering from retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration. Detroit company PathSpot took second-place, winning $5,000.

Simultaneous pitch events also took place in Boston and in Newark, N.J. Finalists were chosen from among 80 female founders.

"Our goal…was to get as many female founders as possible in one-on-one meetings with investors to pitch their companies and get feedback," said Refinery co-founder Janis Collins, who started the competition last year to boost venture capital funding for female-led companies.

The Refinery distributed a total of $60,000 in cash and prizes to first, second and third place winners in each city.

Wellinks won a brand positioning, messaging and tactical marketing session with New York marketing company MakeBrands. The startup plans to launch its first product for scoliosis braces, called Cinch, early next year.

Judges included investors from Angel Investor Forum, Fairview Capital, and Goldenseeds.

Natalie Missakian can be reached at