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McMaster alumnus wins top prize at Lion’s LairFebruary 23, 2018

McMaster Engineering alumnus Matthew Sheridan’s start-up company, Nix Color Sensor, earned the top prize at the 2016 Lion’s Lair business competition in Hamilton on Thursday.

The successful fledgling company, which makes handheld devices that scan and measure the colour of any surface, took home the $65,000 top prize in cash and services during a gala event. The company also won the $1,500 People’s Choice Award.

By using its own light source to provide incredible accuracy, the tiny Nix device effectively eliminates the need for paint chips and fan decks traditionally used in many different industries -from paint, printing and cosmetics to food and agriculture.  

Based out of Hamilton’s McMaster Innovation Park, Nix Sensor launched in 2014 as one of Canada’s first Kickstarter projects where it quickly raised $70,000 (double its goal). Since then, Sheridan has sold 4,000 units to customers in more than 31 countries, including L’Oréal and DSM, a Netherlands-based food-industry company, and he was named the 2015 Ontario Young Entrepreneur of the year.  He also won the 2015 Ernest C. Manning Foundation Award of Distinction in October.

He credits his entrepreneurial success to mentorship he received from both the Innovation Factory and his time at McMaster managing the solar car team. “The textbook skills aren’t going to help you in the real world,” he says, “but managing people on a team, raising funds from donors, figuring out how to run marketing campaigns and working 24/7 in the basement of the engineering building are all good lessons on how entrepreneurship works.” 

McMaster University was one of several sponsors of the event, which was hosted by Innovation Factory and the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce. 

Engineering Physics student Greg DeLaunay was a top 10 finalist in this year’s Lion’s Lair event for his start-up company Tron Club, which offers low cost, subscription-based circuit building kits.

Read more about the Lion’s Lair event and other winners in this Hamilton Spectator article.