LaunchPad Laurier program aids students in creating successful

LaunchPad Laurier program aids students in creating successful
LaunchPad
Laurier program aids
students in creating
successful startups
PAGE 18
Also inside:
TAKING
FLIGHT, 12
INTERACTIVE
SIGNAGE, 40
FUTURISTIC
TRANSPORTATION, 62
Ideas = research + talent + location
Engineered with a focus on your success. Companies located in the
David Johnston Research + Techology Park have all the elements they need
to generate ideas for now and for the next generation.
It’s Today’s Technology Playground
www.rtpark.uwaterloo.ca
*That is, ALL tech companies—from
startups to mid-size companies & large firms!
We help tech companies start, grow & succeed*
Receive world-class mentoring through our EIR program. Protect what
you’ve built with the TechLife Benefits & Insurance Program. Connect
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FUEL
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GROW YOUR
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BUILD
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Post a job or find a job at waterlootechjobs.com. Recruit or
attend a Tech Jobs+ recruitment events and virtual career
fairs. Develop your team using North America’s largest Peer2Peer
Network. Keep your employees engaged with workshops and
events. Protect your employees with the TechLife Benefits &
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CONNECT
We hold 50+ events per year ... find the ones right
for you! Connect to tomorrow’s workforce through
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innovation within data services with the DATA.BASE project ...
& DISCOVER
How can we help you? Find out at communitech.ca
1-855-390-TECH (8324)
@communitech
Learn how
to turn your
ideas into
businesses.
MORE THAN
1,800
COMPANIES FOUNDED
BY SCHOOL OF BUSINESS
& ECONOMICS GRADUATES
Laurier’s School of Business & Economics creates
an immersive educational experience that produces
adaptive graduates who make their mark in leading
technology organizations. More than 1,800 of
our graduates have founded their own companies
— many of them right here in our community —
with the business management knowledge needed
MORE THAN
to commercialize innovation. Many are leading
40
tech sector organizations and thousands more
play pivotal roles in pushing Canada’s innovation
OF OUR ALUMNI ARE
CEOs AND PRESIDENTS IN
THE LOCAL TECH SECTOR
agenda forward.
pursue a degree:
Bachelor of Business Administration (co-op option)
Bachelor of Arts in Economics (co-op option)
Bachelor of Business Technology Management (co-op option)
Master of Arts in Business Economics (co-op option)
Master of Business Administration (co-op option)
Master of Finance (co-op option)
Master of Science in Management
PhD in Management
wlu.ca/sbe
MORE THAN
120
OF OUR ALUMNI ARE
IN SENIOR POSITIONS IN
THE LOCAL TECH SECTOR
WILFRID LAURIER UNIVERSITY
Waterloo | Brantford | Kitchener | Toronto
4 y Technology Spotlight
INDEX
Technology Spotlight
SEEING BEYOND BLACKBERRY
Waterloo Region’s many success stories
are catching the eye of investors — page 6
ON THE COVER
A TOOL FOR TEAMWORK
Igloo helps clients build intranet and extranet
solutions for their employees — page 48
AN INNOVATION ECOSYSTEM
BETTER MOBILE VIDEO
It’s a key attribute that smart cities develop and
nurture — page 6
Avvasi Inc. of Waterloo helps service providers
track the quality of video sessions — page 50
THE WORLD IS TAKING NOTICE
GIVING POLICE A HAND
Communitech’s Iain Klugman sees a local
acceleration of tech entrepreneurship — page 8
Magnet Forensics makes software that recovers
deleted data from computers — page 51
A GIANT IN GAMING
SENDING SOMETHING PHYSICAL
EA’s Kitchener office helps the firm produce
games designed for mobile devices — page 9
Togethr offers a mobile app that helps users send
cards and gifts to family and friends — page 53
CREATING CONNECTIONS
DESIGNED FOR CHARITIES
Communitech had 40 members when it began
in 1997. Today it has almost 1,000 — page 10
iNotForProfit Inc. offers a smartphone app that
helps groups promote their cause — page 54
LOOK, UP IN THE SKY!
LEARNING THAT LOOKS GOOD
Aeryon Labs of Waterloo makes flying robots that
are steered using tablet computers — page 12
Waterloo startup Busy Brain Media designs
educational games for children — page 55
DAVID BEBEE, RECORD STAFF
COMPETING CITIES
Jessica Chalk is the CEO and co-founder of TrafficSoda, a startup that is
developing software to drive targeted traffic to websites. Story, page 18.
HEALTH-CARE INNOVATION
THINKING AHEAD
TAKING ON THE GIANTS
FLEET MANAGEMENT
TAPPING INTO KICKSTARTER
UW’s Stratford campus offers programs in the
emerging field of digital media — page 15
Maluuba, a local startup, is developing a
language processing platform — page 26
BigRoad Inc. of Kitchener has developed a
smartphone app for trucking firms — page 38
Crowdfunding money spurs production of
smartphone-styled wallets — page 58
KEEPING IT CONFIDENTIAL
VISUAL EXPERIENCES
A BETTER WAY TO HIRE
FREEDOM FROM CHEQUES
Kitchener’s I Think Security specializes
in encryption technology — page 17
Christie Digital hopes to seize opportunities the
digital world is presenting — page 28
Kitchener startup Qwalify helps employers find
people compatible with their firm — page 39
Maxime Corso says Billee.ca helps to simplify
business-to-business payments — page 60
LAURIER LAUNCHPAD
BIG PLAYER, SMALL MARKET
TARGETED ADVERTISING
IT’S TAKING OFF
Program helps Wilfrid Laurier University students
and alumni to start businesses — page 18
Peer Group of Kitchener has a large footprint in
the world’s computer chip industry — page 31
Weston Expressions connects mobile device
users to digital advertisements — page 40
WatServ’s Tom Doerner says cloud computing is
an idea whose time has come — page 61
A HIGH-TECH WONDERLAND
KEEN TO GROW
SHOPPERS GET THE WORD
A CAR THAT WILL DRIVE ITSELF
Research Entrepreneurs Accelerating Prosperity
(REAP) explores new technologies — page 20
Coreworx makes project management software
for complex oil and gas projects — page 32
Reebee’s app lets consumers download digital
flyers to smartphones or tablets — page 42
Steven Waslander is director of the University of
Waterloo’s autonomous vehicles lab — page 62
A LOCAL SUCCESS STORY
SHE’S A LOCAL GIRL
EXPANSION DIFFICULTIES
WHO’S WHO
Teledyne Dalsa continues to prosper as a division
of Teledyne Technologies Inc. — page 22
Jen Evans is past chair of the Information
Technology Association of Canada — page 33
Founders talk about problems faced in growing
their companies — page 43
A directory of technological companies in the
Waterloo Region area — page 64
A ‘CANADIAN GEM’
GIFT GIVING MADE EASY
AN INDUSTRY SURVIVOR
ELECTRONICS PACKAGING
Com Dev International’s products are among the
unsung heroes of the space industry — page 23
Giftopia’s online gift registries let users create
wish lists for family and friends — page 35
Rebellion Media CEO Ted Hastings has had a wild
ride in the digital media world — page 44
Pixus Technologies of Waterloo sells products for
the embedded computing market — page 69
A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE
HONOURING NIKOLA TESLA
SIMPLE IDEA, BIG POTENTIAL
ADVANCE WARNINGS
Organization offers support and mentoring for
women in technology — page 25
Tesla Projects Laboratory sells recreations of the
Serbian engineer’s inventions — page 36
MappedIn of Kitchener hopes to become the
Google Maps for indoor spaces — page 46
UW researchers are working with IBM to better
forecast damaging storms — page 70
Cambridge remains keen to attract emerging
tech- and knowledge-based firms — page 14
Publisher: Paul McCuaig
Editor-In-Chief: Lynn Haddrall
160 King St. E., Kitchener, ON N2G 4E5
519-894-2231
Technology Spotlight is published by Grand River
Media, a division of Metroland Media Group Inc.
Advertising director: Donna Luelo
Editor: Ron DeRuyter
rderuyter@therecord.com
Contributing writers:
Ryan Bowman, Terry Bridge,
Bob Burtt, Justin Fauteux,
Linda Givetash, Chuck Howitt,
Lisa MacColl, Neil McDonald,
Mathew McCarthy, Dave Pink,
John Schofield, Rose Simone,
Sam Toman, John Vessoyan
Mespere LifeSciences has a device that will help
heart disease patients and hospitals — page 56
Contributing photographers:
David Bebee, Chloe Ellingson,
Adam Gagnon, Marta Iwanek,
Peter Lee, Mathew McCarthy,
Philip Walker, Robert Wilson
Advertising sales: Waldy Willms
wwillms@therecord.com
entrepreneurs
THE
For Mike McCauley, it started
with a missed delivery.
He imagined a better way to get packages to busy people.
He and his team found the support they needed to build and launch
BufferBox at the University of Waterloo. The business was acquired
by Google 18 months after they graduated. uwaterloo.ca
MIKE McCAULEY, BASc ’11, Mechatronics Engineering
Identifying a need » Envisioning an answer » Making it a reality
C003700
WATERLOO | Entrepreneurial from the start.
6 y Technology Spotlight
COLUMNS
Good news stories abound in
Waterloo Region’s tech sector
A
common element is emerging in
icant.
press releases regarding Waterloo
Region’s technology sector.
to prosper through innovation.
But BlackBerry’s success or failure will not
This year’s Technology Spotlight highlights
determine the future of the local high-tech sector. It
some of those stories. Larger, established compa-
has played a huge role in the sector’s
nies like Com Dev, Christie Digital and Teledyne
contain a reference to BlackBerry.
development, but it is only one of
Dalsa continue to look to the future as they build on
There’s often a line that goes some-
about 1,000 technology companies in
innovations of the past.
thing like this: With all the bad news
the region.
Many of them
about BlackBerry, we have a good
Newer companies like Igloo and Coreworx are
As Communitech CEO Iain Klug-
quietly making a name for themselves in their
news story about a company that is
man points out in a column in this
markets. Startups like Magnet Forensics, Avvasi,
growing and adding staff.
year’s Technology Spotlight, the
Mespere, MappedIn and Aeryon are demonstrating
BlackBerry’s shrinking market
tech sector, far from sputtering, is
the ability of the area’s technology entrepreneurs to
share and struggle to survive has
gaining momentum. Technology
take promising ideas in innovative new directions.
dominated headlines for months. It
businesses are being launched at an
hasn’t been a happy story.
Ron DeRuyter is The
Record’s business editor.
Regardless of how the story about
There are plenty of good news stories to go
increasing rate. The region abounds
around. Regardless of what happens to BlackBerry,
with success stories — startups that
the local tech sector has a bright future. n
the region’s best known company and brand un-
are gaining traction and attracting the attention of
folds, the impact on Waterloo Region will be signif-
investors, and established companies that continue
Ron DeRuyter is The Record’s business editor. He can be reached
at rderuyter@therecord.com.
Region’s innovation ecosystem among world’s best
T
here has been a lot of talk
local governance; and superior collab-
driving local prosperity and global
companies across industry sectors
recently around the
oration among all of its citizens and
competitiveness.
will also continue to emerge and
world about smart cities
organizations.
The innovation ecosystem that
thrive as a result of the strong local
today thrives and prospers in Water-
ecosystem. Likewise, foreign inves-
nities. Today, with access to high-
tion of naturally evolving and trans-
loo Region encourages new startups to
tors in every sector see the region and
speed broadband, wireless technolo-
forming, prospering and growing
grow at a rate of two per day — adding
its talent base as a significant re-
gies and related infrastructure, every
since the early settlers
up to more than 1,000
source and consequently it is a desti-
community has the opportunity to
in the 1800s. It’s in our
over the past few years.
nation for big global brands such as
move from the periphery to the centre
DNA. The Intelligent
Their survival rate
Google, Electronic Arts, Toyota, Sie-
in virtual and economic terms.
Community of the
after five years is an
mens, Manulife and Rimowa, among
others.
and intelligent commu-
Waterloo Region has built a tradi-
Year Award for Water-
amazing 85 per cent,
cities and intelligent communities is
loo, the IBM Smarter
almost double the
the innovation ecosystem that is
Planet recognition for
global average of 45 per
ialism found in the region’s informa-
developed and nurtured, which helps
Cambridge, and Kitch-
cent.
tion and communications technology,
local and regional innovation to
ener’s recognition for
thrive.
excellence in urban
One of the key attributes of smart
This ecosystem is the result of
The region is also
John Jung
planning and reuse of
The diversity and entrepreneur-
life sciences, education, finance and
recognized as the
advanced manufacturing sectors all
centre for innovation
benefit from the innovation ecosys-
many things that are both tangible
its brownfield sites has given Waterloo
in Canada based on the high number
tem that is thriving in the Waterloo
and intangible. In addition to a robust
Region significant global recognition
of patents it registers. Homegrown
Region.
technology and communications
as a diverse, innovative, entrepreneur-
companies such as Open Text, Tele-
infrastructure, significant engage-
ial and collaborative community.
dyne-Dalsa, Desire2Learn and Black-
improving innovation and strong
Berry, among others, did not create
community support and engagement
ment by people and their attitudes
The universities and college, espe-
A combination of a continuously
and actions can make or break this
cially University of Waterloo, are
the ecosystem, as many would be-
may be the secret sauce to create
ecosystem. These “people factors”
world renowned for innovation and
lieve. Instead, they are the result of
prosperity. Or maybe that is: “What is
include a highly talented and engaged
organizations from Communitech to
this ecosystem.
in the water in Waterloo?” n
community; strong leadership in
Canada’s Technology Triangle help to
government, institutions and busi-
promote and develop this ecosystem
our region will continue to transform
ness; a high degree of confidence in
locally and internationally, further
themselves over the years, many more
While homegrown companies in
John Jung is the chief executive officer of Canada’s Technology Triangle. He can be reached at
john@techtriangle.com.
Startup city
Vibrant Tech Cluster
•
•
•
•
•
More than 900 tech firms including 600 startups
Communitech, world-leading accelerator
Golden Triangle Accelerator Network of angel funders
Executives-in-residence mentorship network
University of Waterloo, Canada's engineering
and computer science university
• Waterloo Region Small Business Centre services
Talented People
•
•
•
•
Four internationally recognized universities
Canada’s number one ranked polytechnic college
More than 50,000 students
Home of co-operative education
Get a Canadian Startup VISA... is your work visa expiring? Your startup
may qualify for an expedited work visa in Canada
Get SR&EDed.... Canada offers your startup the most competitive scientific
and experimental research and development tax credits on the planet.
Get great people.... there are more techies per capita here than anywhere
else in Canada... we're geek central!
Cool Landing Pads
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Kitchener's Innovation District
Awesome high-end office spaces
Business accelerator/shared services
Short-term lease spaces
Urban live-work lofts
Downtown incentives
World-class festivals and events
Vibrant, diverse, welcoming community
Looking for the best place to startup? Welcome to Kitchener,
Ontario Canada. More than 900 tech companies and hundreds of
startups call this area home, and Kitchener is at the center of it all.
Electronic Arts, Google Canada, BlackBerry, Desire2Learn, Christie Digital,
OpenText, Square, MioVision, Thalmic Labs, Well.ca and hundreds of
others have chosen Kitchener, just one hour from Canada’s
cultural and financial core.
Make contact with STARTUP CITY, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.
A partnership of the City of Kitchener, Waterloo Region Small
Business Centre and Communitech
Thom Ryan, Senior Business Development Officer
519-741-2200 x7826, kitchener.ca
8 y Technology Spotlight
COLUMN
Momentum is picking up in
Waterloo Region’s tech sector
A
s the Technology
l
applications he receives from Uni-
most venerable companies, Canadi-
Spotlight makes its
invest here; the five-year target was
versity of Waterloo students “are
an Tire, to help transform the tradi-
annual pass over
three.
better than those we get from stu-
tional retail experience for its cus-
Waterloo Region’s
Saw eight multinational firms
It gets better. De-
dents of any other
tomers through cutting-edge in-
university.”
novation.
tech community, it illuminates yet
loitte found that for
another year in which our momen-
every public dollar
tum has grown.
invested, our digital
this point, two stu-
continue to look to Waterloo Region
strategy returned $14
dent-spawned start-
as a key strategic location. They
preneurship activity beyond expec-
to the region’s GDP.
ups that passed
include Twitter co-founder Jack
tations of just a few years ago is
And when it comes to
through Y Combina-
Dorsey, whose mobile-payment
clear not only in the statistics we
the companies we’ve
tor — Thalmic Labs
company Square is opening an of-
keep, but in the exciting new direc-
helped to launch, 83
and Vidyard — raised
fice here; Google, which chose Com-
tions it is pushing us.
per cent remain in
venture capital in-
munitech as its only Canadian loca-
vestments of $14.5
tion among seven new entrepre-
million and $6 mil-
neurship hubs across North Amer-
The acceleration of tech entre-
First, a few of those numbers
business five years
As if to underscore
Iain Klugman
All the while, global tech players
from this year’s Deloitte study of
after starting up,
Communitech’s impact. The study
nearly double the industry average
lion, respectively, within weeks of
ica; and mobile tech giant Motorola,
checked in on the first three years of
of 45 per cent.
Graham’s statement. Meanwhile, a
drawn here by the world-class mo-
third, BufferBox, was acquired by
bile talent developed most notably
Google late last year.
by BlackBerry.
our five-year digital strategy,
That speaks volumes about the
launched in mid-2009.
strength of our support network and
In three years, Communitech:
quality of mentorship available in
l
Helped attract $394.2 million in
Waterloo Region.
More meaningfully, these young
While staff reductions at Black-
entrepreneurs chose to return to
Berry have been painful for our
equity investment to local tech com-
It’s little wonder the world has
Waterloo Region to build their com-
community, we have every reason to
panies. Our five-year target was $100
taken increasing notice of us this
panies rather than stay in Silicon
be confident about the future, given
million.
past year.
Valley, where many of their inves-
these repeated votes of confidence
tors are based.
in our tech ecosystem. We’re also
l
Supported creation of 1,189 compa-
Last November, Waterloo Region
nies, more than 10 times the five-
appeared on Startup Genome’s list
year target of 100 companies.
of Top 20 startup ecosystems in the
tech push into new frontiers, in-
displaced BlackBerry employees
world.
cluding space. Through our DATA-
find new opportunities, more of
.BASE program, we’re helping to
which are sure to materialize in the
founder of the startup world’s most
build a commercial ecosystem
months ahead. n
prestigious accelerator program,
around data collected by Canadian-
jobs at existing companies, surpass-
the California-based Y Combinator,
built low-orbit satellites. We’ve also
ing our five-year goal of 5,000 jobs.
told Fast Company magazine that
been engaged by one of Canada’s
l
Supported creation of 2,421 new
jobs at startups, exceeding our fiveyear goal of 2,000 jobs.
l
Supported creation of 5,254 new
This past January, Paul Graham,
The past year also saw Communi-
doing everything we can to help
Iain Klugman is the president and chief executive
officer of Communitech. He can be reached at
iain@communitech.ca.
ALPHABETICAL LISTING
AERYON LABS
AVVASI
BIGROAD
BILLEE.CA
BLACKBERRY
BUSY BRAIN
CHRISTIE DIGITAL
COBRA WALLETS
COM DEV INTERNATIONAL
COMMUNITECH
COREWORX
CROWDFUNDING
ELECTRONIC ARTS
GIFTOPIA
12
50
38
60
10
55
28
58
23
10
32
58
9
35
IGLOO SOFTWARE
INOTFORPROFIT
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ASSOCIATION
INTELLIGENT MECHATRONIC SYSTEMS
ITHINK SECURITY
LAURIER LAUNCHPAD
LONE WOLF REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGIES
MAGNET FORENSICS
MALUUBA
MAPPEDIN
MESPERE LIFESCIENCES
PEER GROUP
PIXUS TECHNOLOGIES
QNX
48
54
33
62
17
18
14
51
26
46
56
31
69
62
QWALIFY
REEBEE
REBELLION MEDIA
RESEARCH ENTREPRENEURS ACCELERATING PROSPERITY
TELEDYNE DALSA
TESLA PROJECTS LABORATORY
TOGETHR
TRAFFICSODA
UNIVERSITY OF WATERLOO
UNIVERSITY OF WATERLOO, STRATFORD CAMPUS
WATSERV
WESTON EXPRESSIONS
WOMEN POWERING TECHNOLOGY
39
42
44
20
22
36
53
18
15
15
61
40
25
Technology Spotlight y 9
GAMING
Electronic Arts goes mobile
Justin Fauteux, Special to The Record
M
ost people do a double
take when they see Ian
Crawford’s business
card. There just aren’t
many people in Waterloo Region who
work for one of the largest video game
companies on the planet.
“It’s funny, I show my business card
to people because they say ‘What do
you mean you work for EA?’ Then they
see the logo and it’s, ‘Oh that EA,’”
says Crawford, director of studio
operations at the Kitchener office of
gaming giant Electronic Arts – more
commonly known as EA.
“Even people that don’t know video
games seem to know EA. It’s pretty
cool.”
With the prominence of startup
culture in Waterloo Region, a massive
company like EA isn’t what immediately comes to mind when people
think of the local tech industry. However, EA’s Kitchener office came from
startup roots.
The studio was created in 2009
when EA bought Kitchener-based
startup J2Play, which was founded by
Rob Balahura – a classmate of Crawford’s at the University of Guelph – in
2006. Crawford was working at J2Play
when EA acquired it.
“At the time we had some technology that made it easy for flash game
developers to put their games on to
Facebook and other social sites and
include social features like chat and
leaderboards and stuff like that,”
Crawford says, adding that of J2Play’s
seven employees, he and two others
still work in EA’s Kitchener office,
while a fourth also stuck with the new
company, but relocated to California.
J2Play’s technology not only incorporated a social aspect into online
gaming, it also enabled users to reach
across platforms, including mobile
devices. According to Crawford, Balahura started working on developing
multiplayer games for mobile devices
as soon as smartphones had the capability to support them. “Once mobile
devices became connected, Rob dove
in head first and started doing some of
the really early work in mobile multiplayer gaming,” he says. “The idea
was not to be a games company but to
be a technology company that made it
easier for game developers to target
those platforms.”
EA’s Kitchener office falls under
the company’s All Play label, which is
devoted to developing “purely digital”
games, that is games that don’t use
consoles like Xbox 360 or Playstation 3.
They typically are designed for mobile
devices and online social networks.
Gaming giant’s Kitchener office takes its most popular
picks and creates versions for players on the move
PHILIP WALKER, RECORD STAFF
Ian Crawford is the director of studio operations in the Kitchener office of Electronic Arts. The office currently is working
on software development for a mobile game called The Simpsons: Tapped Out.
Currently, the studio is working on
software development for three games
designed for mobile devices: The
Simpsons: Tapped Out, a city-building game set in the world of the iconic
cartoon; Scrabble, a mobile adaptation of the classic board game; as well
as an unannounced title. The Kitchener studio also has a team working on
shared technology components that
are used in multiple games.
In the past, Crawford’s team has
worked on EA’s World Series of Poker
app, as well as its free online gaming
site, www.pogo.com.
For the most part, EA Kitchener
works on “server-side software,”
which Crawford explains as “the
pieces that give the connectivity and
the social aspect to the games.” However, in the case of Scrabble, the game
design, art and production are all
being run out of the downtown Kitchener office – a big reason why the local
staff has grown from 22 to 43 since
April.
While EA is best known for its
sports games, which include the highly popular Madden NFL and FIFA
Soccer franchises, and landmark
games such as The Sims and Medal of
Honour, Crawford says the mobile
gaming industry is getting bigger and
bigger as smartphones and tablets
become more technologically sophisticated and prominent.
“Mobile gaming is big business,”
he says. “Companies like Google and
Apple have made it easier than ever to
consume content (on mobile devices)
and for people to spend money on
there. So the industry is huge and
definitely growing.”
Many of EA’s established games
are available for mobile devices. However, Crawford says there’s much more
to the process than taking a game that
works on a console and making it work
on a phone or tablet. “We don’t say
‘Let’s take FIFA and make it run on a
Electronic
Electronic Arts
Arts
Business: Develops video games
Founded: 1982; established presence in Waterloo Region in 2009 as a result of
acquisition of J2Play
Global headquarters: Redwood City, Calif.
Employees: 9,000 wordwide; 43 in Kitchener
Shares: Trade on Nasdaq under the symbol EA
phone,’” he says. “It’s more about
asking ‘how do we make the most fun
soccer game on a mobile device?’”
And often times even some of the
most classic console games make the
jump to mobile seamlessly. “As a kid, I
was big fan of the Final Fantasy series
from the first one and it’s funny, I
replayed Final Fantasy One on my
iPhone maybe a year and a half ago
and I think I enjoyed it more as an
adult than I did as a nine year old,”
says Crawford. “It was the exact same
game. It was extremely cool.”
At the Kitchener office, the idea of
creating a gaming experience unique
to a mobile platform is taken to another level. “We really focus on the kind of
titles that there isn’t a console equivalent for,” says Crawford.
“These are strictly casual games.
You’re not going to play Scrabble on
your PS3. It just isn’t going to happen.”
While it may not be the EA most
people are familiar with – no, you
won’t find any professional athletes in
motion capture suits at the Kitchener
studio – Crawford is proud to be part of
such a well-known company. “(J2Play)
getting acquired by EA was not something I ever would’ve expected,” he
says. “And something that still from
time to time feels pretty surreal.” n
10 y Technology Spotlight
STARTUPS
Communitech evolving to
support growing tech sector
Rose Simone, Record staff
I
t all started at Tom Jenkins’
kitchen table over a couple of
bottles of red wine.
The year was 1997 and the
region’s newest technology companies were taking off. Open Text, the
company Jenkins was then president of, was doubling sales. Software
company MKS was growing as well.
Research In Motion (now BlackBerry) was about to become a publicly traded company and just one
year away from launching the
world’s first Smartphone.
But the technology sector was not
a coherent whole and executives of
the early technology firms wanted to
fix that. That’s how they ended up at
Jenkins’ kitchen table.
They set out to convince Vince
Schiralli, who previously held executive positions at a number of companies including IBM, to become the
first president of a new organization
called Communitech. They were
persuasive. Schiralli got on board.
“The rest, as they say, is history,”
Jenkins says.
Local high-tech executives already had a breakfast club called the
Atlas Group, where people like Jim
Balsillie, former co-CEO of RIM,
Randall Howard, former CEO of
software company MKS, and others
would get together to talk about
their businesses.
But Communitech was to be a
connector that could do much more.
The 40 founding members, including
technology companies, post secondary institutions and government,
agreed to each kick in $5,000 to join,
which was a lot of money for some
still-fledgling technology companies, Jenkins recalls.
Today, the inside of the former
Tannery building in downtown
Kitchener is throbbing with activity.
Communitech moved into the building at Charles and Victoria streets in
2010 and set up the Communitech
Hub, billed as an “innovation hub”
for the region and beyond.
Communitech now employs 74
people and operates with a mix of
private sector and public sector
funding. Its network of members has
grown to 850 and it represents a
cluster of more than 1,000 technology companies in Waterloo Region.
The Accelerator Centre, the University of Waterloo’s VeloCity program and LaunchPad have space in
PHILIP WALKER, RECORD STAFF
The Communitech Hub in downtown Kitchener is a hive of activity with startups working to bring their innovative
technologies to the market.
the Hub and do numerous startups.
In 2012, Communitech launched a
“seed accelerator,” the $30-million
Hyperdrive program, which invests
money in promising startups and
provides them with mentoring and
other resources. The Hub also houses the Canadian Digital Media Network. Launched in 2009, as part of
the federal Centre of Excellence in
Commercialization and Research
program, it includes 24 regional
hubs across Canada that are devoted
to growing Canada’s digital media
companies.
Communitech has extended its
reach by acting as technology project co-ordinator to bring researchers, and small and large companies
together in bigger technology endeavours. Earlier this year, it received
federal funding to pull together
university and private sector partners in the Toronto and Waterloo
Region area, in order to get new
ultra small satellites into near-Earth
orbit and make use of the data from
those satellites. It is spearheading a
project, called DATA.BASE, that will
help businesses take the huge
amount of data generated by satellites and sensors and turn it into
useful applications, products and
services.
Large technology companies
like Open Text, Christie Digital
and BlackBerry also have a presence in the Hub. Companies that
strictly speaking are not technology businesses also are there. Earlier this year, retailer Canadian Tire
opened up a digital development
lab there.
The Hub has become “a microcosm of the broader ecosystem” says
Iain Klugman, Communitech’s chief
executive officer. All the activity at
the Hub is transforming the region,
as it hits a “critical mass” of technology companies, he says. “There are
not many communities in the country that are in the position that we
are in right now.”
The region has had its ups and
downs since Communitech was
launched 16 years ago, but even with
the massive layoffs at BlackBerry,
the tech sector is bustling. Commu-
nitech says there are almost 30,000
workers in nearly 1,000 companies in
the local technology cluster.
Communitech is tracking some
550 technology startups that were
formed in the region over the past
year. “That’s about two per working
day,” Klugman says. Although the
startups won’t all survive, he says
they are like “shots on goal.” The
more there are, the more likely some
will score and grow into successful
mid-sized and large companies.
The organization also plays a key
role in keeping as much talent in
Waterloo Region as possible. It has
sponsored technology job fairs, and
partnered with the provincial government and the City of Waterloo to
launch Tech Jobs Connex, a job
action centre for laid-off BlackBerry
employees.
Jenkins says the heart of Communitech has not changed. Programs
and services such as workshops,
seminars, luncheon speakers, peerto-peer networking and mentoring
continue to be an essential element
of what it does. ‰
Technology Spotlight y 11
‰ “It has evolved but the networking
is still at its very core,” Jenkins says.
John Baker, chief executive officer of educational technology company Desire2Learn, is chair of Communitech’s board. He was introduced to the organization in 2000,
when his company was launched
and had only two employees. Today,
Desire2Learn employs 800.
“When there were just two of us
in our company, Communitech gave
us an opportunity to do a five-minute presentation in front of its members at one of the luncheon events,”
Baker recalls. “It was an incredible
opportunity to find clients and we
met a whole bunch of service providers who introduced themselves to
us.”
Communitech is now at a stage
where it wants to not only nurture
and invest in startups, but also accelerate the growth of mid-sized and
larger companies. “The real value
for the big technology companies is
being able to dock with the smaller
companies,” Klugman says. That’s
why Communitech has also become
a project co-ordinator, such as in the
project to develop applications from
the “big data”’ generated from satellites. It’s all part of the broader mandate of “backing the entrepreneurs,”
Liz Afolabi
he says.
Klugman notes Communitech’s
board continues to be dominated by
the founders of technology companies. “They are highly competitive,
constantly looking at what the competition is doing and very supportive of us trying something new. They
know that things may not work out,
but that we should give it a whirl.”
Jenkins says Communitech is
unique, not just in Canada but also
from a global perspective. Its ability
to connect companies reflects the
unique culture of Waterloo Region,
he says. “I think team work, collaboration and the spirit of entrepreneurship really is in the water in
Waterloo,” he says.
That unique culture is one of the
reasons why Communitech was
invited to join the Google for Entrepreneurs Tech Hub Network in
September. It is one of only seven
hubs in the North American network. As a member of the network,
Communitech will receive support
from Google, both financially and
technologically, and improved access to Google experts and products.
Communitech’s evolution has not
finished. Klugman says there are
still gaps that need to be addressed,
such as improving access to capital
Ryan Tremblay
Iain Klugman
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF COMMUNITECH
Communitech
Communitech
Mission: Improve Waterloo
Region’s competitiveness and
visibility as a world-class
technology cluster
Membership: Almost 1,000
companies
Founded: 1997
Executive team: Iain Klugman,
CEO
Address: 151 Charles St. W.,
Suite 100, Kitchener
Tim Sinnott
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and offering programs to help midsized, high-growth companies
achieve their potential.
He’d also like to see better transportation links between Waterloo
Region and Toronto. He envisions
the corridor between Waterloo Region and Toronto becoming a thriving technology cluster. “That would
open us up to a much broader talent
pool and access to global customers
and capital,” he says.
Jenkins sees this region as becoming a big player in the next evolution of the web, in which wireless
internet connections will be embedded in everything, from cars and
street signs to objects such as desks
and medical devices, as well clothing and personal objects.
“The lingua franca of all of this is
mathematics and we have a strong
base in our region at the University
of Waterloo in mathematics. So we
are well positioned to take advantage of that next evolution of the
internet,” he says.
While the talent has always been
here, the region also now has an
advantage in having Communitech
help knit it all together, Jenkins
says. “Twenty years ago, we had
great talent, but we didn’t have that
base.” n
Jason Hynes
waterloo@bereskinparr.com | 519.783.3210
www.b ereskinparr.com
1 .88 8.36 4.73 11
Toronto | Mississauga | Waterloo | Montréal
12 y Technology Spotlight
AERIAL SYSTEMS
Aeryon Labs’ new robot takes flight
MATHEW McCARTHY, RECORD STAFF
David Giessel watches the Scout (left) and SkyRanger unmanned aerial systems fly during testing at Aeryon Labs.
Mathew McCarthy, Record staff
A
MATHEW McCARTHY, RECORD STAFF
Jose Henao assembles a SkyRanger.
MATHEW McCARTHY, RECORD STAFF
Angelica Ruszkowski uses a camera assembly alignment
tool at the office.
ping pong table is set up
among lamp-lit workstations stacked with electronic components at Aeryon
Labs’ offices in the north end of Waterloo. It’s a scene that’s not uncommon in
Waterloo Region’s tech sector.
But there isn’t much play going on at
Aeryon at the moment. At least not
inside.
Some 15 kilometres away, at Snyders
Flats in Bloomingdale, David Giessel, a
field application engineer at Aeryon,
shows a small group of employees how
to operate the company’s Scout and
SkyRanger flying robots. The small
four-rotor flying machines are steered
by touching a location on a digital map
on a specialized tablet computer. The
system does all the navigation and
flight calculations.
“The training brings a holistic approach to their job,” says Giessel, referring to the handful of workers who
spend most of their day assembling the
aerial vehicles and otherwise would
not get to test drive the finished product.
The assemblers seem to enjoy
watching the 2.4-kilogram SkyRanger
power up, hover, and then fly off over
the grassy field.
“At first it has a lot of novelty to it,”
says Giessel. ‰
Technology Spotlight y 13
‰ But a veteran of thousands of flights,
he finds the excitement lies elsewhere.
“The flying is pretty boring,” he says.
“The system takes the direct interaction out of your hands. But the work
it enables you to do, is pretty interesting.”
Giessel first used the Scout while he
was working at the University of Alaska, where he partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in a project to count the
population of Steller sea lions in the
Aleutian Islands. “It wasn’t feasible to
go out on some of these rocky islands,
so we used the Scout,” says Giessel,
who was hired by Aeryon in 2012.
This year, Aeryon released the SkyRanger, an upgraded version of the
Scout that is designed to meet military
and government specifications.
It can fly up to 50 minutes at a time,
an improvement of 25 minutes over the
Scout, and automatically returns to the
user when the battery life gets critically low. It can carry a variety of image
stabilized cameras, that can shoot
high-definition video and high-resolution still images. It also doesn’t need to
be assembled and disassembled on-site
like the Scout, but instead folds up and
fits into a carrying case.
Aeryon, founded in 2006, is targeting military, police and government
markets, and also is pursuing commercial markets. The company made headlines in 2011 when Libyan rebels used
the Scout to determine the location of
enemy forces as they advanced on
Tripoli in their campaign to overthrow
dictator Moammar Gadhafi. n
MATHEW McCARTHY, RECORD STAFF
MATHEW McCARTHY, RECORD STAFF
Cindy Chiasson (left) assembles a SkyRanger vehicle.
Components for unmanned aerial systems are
assembled at the company’s office in Waterloo.
MATHEW McCARTHY, RECORD STAFF
Daniel Stachowski (left) and Bruce Hildesheim examine a part for a SkyRanger.
MATHEW McCARTHY, RECORD STAFF
Rotors for the SkyRanger unmanned aerial vehicle await assembly at Aeryon Labs in Waterloo.
14 y Technology Spotlight
Cambridge tech cluster dreams
Competition in the
high-tech tri-cities
Chuck Howitt, Record staff
W
hen Lorne Wallace financed the
construction of a high-end office
building on the east side of Cambridge in 2005, he originally called it
the Cambridge Technology Campus.
He dreamed of filling the three-story building
with its eye-catching frontage on the Can-Amera
Parkway with tech startups. Something magical
was emerging from the tech ecosystem around the
University of Waterloo and companies like smartphone-maker Research In Motion, now BlackBerry, and Wallace wanted a piece of the action.
Years earlier, in 1990, Wallace had launched a
tech startup of his own. With partner Des O’Kelly,
he had dared to think that real estate offices across
the continent would want a seamless package of
software geared to their needs. They were right.
Today, their company Lone Wolf Real Estate Technologies boasts a client list of 9,500 real estate brokerages across North America, a workforce of
nearly 200 and $20 million in annual revenues.
But Wallace missed those adrenaline-filled days
when the company was just a startup with five
employees. “We would shoot from the hip and blaze
ahead.” An incubator of the kind that was pumping out novice companies at the Accelerator Centre in Waterloo would give him a chance to share
those experiences with tech entrepreneurs in
Cambridge.
As part of his vision, he bought an abandoned
pharmaceutical building next door, and had it
gutted and cleaned out. “My intention at the time
was to turn it into a cool, funky incubator-type
space,” he says.
His dream hasn’t quite worked out the way he
hoped. The Cambridge Technology Campus is now
called the Can-Amera Corporate Centre. It has its
share of software companies besides Lone Wolf,
including OnX Enterprise Solutions, Software AG,
Celltrak, Alvarnet and Trustwave. But all are
relatively small, mature firms or branch offices.
There are no tech startups to speak of and not
nearly enough computer firms to fill a second
building.
Efforts by Wallace to convince Communitech,
the association representing more than 1,000 tech
firms in the region, to come from its base in Kitchener and Waterloo to have a look at his empty building didn’t work out. Facing a tax bill for a building
he couldn’t fill with the kind of tenants he wanted,
he was forced to sell. “It was very frustrating,”
Wallace says.
Communitech did rent a small office in the
Can-Amera Corporate Centre in 2010 to support
startups in Cambridge and Guelph, but it closed
quietly two years later.
When it comes to high-tech, the deck is stacked
against Cambridge, says Wallace. With its two
universities, Waterloo is the “epicentre” and
Kitchener is a close second because of its geographic proximity, he says. While Cambridge has
its share of software companies, it is “perceived by
government and the chamber of commerce and
everybody as a warehouse and a factory-type
town,” Wallace says. “It’s a shame because we sit
on the pipeline of (Highway) 401.”
While Cambridge has struggled to establish a
PETER LEE, RECORD STAFF
Lorne Wallace, chief executive officer of Lone Wolf Real Estate Technologies, outside the building on
Can-America Parkway in Cambridge that he tried to develop as an incubator for tech startups. His dream
never panned out so he sold the building.
tangible technological presence in the city, the
same can’t be said for Kitchener. A sprawling old
leather tannery, once considered an eyesore in the
downtown, has been converted into a funky, eyecatching mix of brick and beam called the Tannery.
It houses tech stars such as Google and Desire2Learn as well as the Communitech Hub, an
incubator space bursting with tech startups from
far and wide.
The Tannery has transformed downtown Kitchener into a thriving tech stronghold that rivals and
in some eyes, even eclipses, the more antiseptic
atmosphere found amid the newer buildings
around the University of Waterloo.
Drawn by the magnetic pull of the Tannery, tech
firms are gravitating to downtown Kitchener. This
has prompted the City of Kitchener to consider
renovation grants so startups have decent offices
to move into in the core area.
The Breithaupt Block, located in a former boot
factory not far from the Tannery building, is starting to fill up with more tech companies. In September, Motorola announced it has opened an office in
the building to house developers who can work on
software and apps for its smartphones.
Not wanting to be left out of the action, Cambridge is considering renovation grants as well.
There is some question whether such grants are
even legal. Municipalities can’t offer financial
incentives directly to companies to lure them to
their turf. But they can offer grants to landlords
within a defined area of the city to fix up their
premises to house these companies.
Kitchener Mayor Carl Zehr supports the concept of renovation grants because it ties into the
city’s economic development strategy of serving as
a startup city. In this case, it’s helping second-stage
startups looking for more space as they grow, he
says. “We can start companies but the most important part is to create the environment in which
they can grow here and not go to Silicon Valley or
New York City or wherever,” he says.
Despite Wallace’s view that more could be done
to attract tech firms south of the 401, Cambridge
Mayor Doug Craig has no problem with the city’s
economic development strategy. “We’re an advanced manufacturing town. We’re not in the
region here to simply mimic or try to live up the
standards of other communities.”
Cambridge is the only city in the region with a
considerable supply of industrial land, he says.
Much of it has been sold and this has shaped the
nature of its economy, he notes. And while Waterloo and now Kitchener are setting the pace in the
high-tech sector, advanced manufacturing requires its share of leading-edge technology as well,
he argues. The only Lexus line outside Japan is
made at the Toyota plant in Cambridge, to cite one
example, Craig says. As well the city is home to
such other advanced manufacturing companies as
ATS Automation Tooling Systems, Centra, Rockwell and Frito-Lay.
Within the technology sector, firms such as
Com Dev International, Practice Solutions, Fibernetics and e-Sentire call Cambridge home, says
Leah Bozic an economic development officer with
the city. But Cambridge could be doing more to
attract emerging tech and knowledge-based firms
such as engineering, computer-design, scientific
and technical businesses, she admits.
Its economic development plan includes a goal
to develop an incubator space for the knowledgebased sector in conjunction with the University of
Waterloo’s School of Architecture in Cambridge,
the Small Business Enterprise Centre and Conestoga College, she says.
Iain Klugman, chief executive officer of Communitech, says the association opened a small office in
the Can-Amera Corporate Centre as a pilot project
to serve tech startups from other parts of the region. One of its goals was to conduct an inventory of
tech firms and resources in the city. Once that work
was completed, the office was closed, he says. “We
achieved what we set out to do.”
Municipalities should not be competing with
each other for tech bragging rights in the region,
he says. In his view and in the eyes of the world,
Waterloo Region is one tech cluster. “It doesn’t
matter what you think. It’s what the rest of the
world thinks.” n
Technology Spotlight y 15
EDUCATION
Curiosity
drives
innovation
Curiosity drove the first quantum revolution
that enabled us to understand the quantum
world. Today, our researchers are controlling
quantum systems and using them to develop
quantum technologies. Ultra-powerful
computers, unbreakable cryptography,
MATHEW MCCARTHY, RECORD STAFF
Ginny Dybenko, executive director of the University of Waterloo’s Stratford
campus, says the school’s graduates will have the flexibility to prepare for
the “crazy shifts” in the digital world.
UW’s Stratford campus
prepares students for
the jobs of the future
Neil McDonald, Special to The Record
T
his university trains
students for careers that
might not yet exist.
The University of
Waterloo Stratford campus offers
undergraduate and graduate programs in the emerging field of digital media, an innovative and fastmoving area whose future is impossible to predict. Try and imagine,
for example, the kinds of apps you’ll
be able to download for your mobile
device in five years.
Ginny Dybenko, executive director at the 42,000-square-foot campus, insists that students who graduate from the school’s Global Business and Digital Arts undergraduate program and Master of Digital
Experience Innovation graduate
program will have the skills and
resources necessary to keep up
with whatever challenges techno-
logical change might throw at them.
“We have no idea what jobs will
be available or of interest in five
years,” she says. “We have no idea
what the world’s going to look like
but if we can provide (students)
enough tools in their toolkit, then
we really feel that we’ll provide the
student with the most important
thing, and that’s the flexibility to be
able to (move) with industry as it’s
going through its crazy shifts.”
Located on the edge of downtown
Stratford, the gleaming, threestorey open-concept building, completed in 2012, stands in stark contrast to the dilapidated train repair
facility on whose former parking lot
the university now stands. A partnership between UW and the City of
Stratford, the campus is a symbol of
the evolution of the town — and
nearby Waterloo Region — from a
manufacturing centre to a hightech hub. ‰
quantum devices and nanotechnologies of
unprecedented precision – these are just
some of the discoveries being pioneered at
the Institute for Quantum Computing.
Welcome to the next quantum revolution.
iqc.uwaterloo.ca
16 y Technology Spotlight
www.pwc.com/ca/technology
Right from
the start
The path from inspiration to innovation
is steep. But it’s not a path you have to
take on your own.
At PwC, we’ve helped many entrepreneurs
through the challenges of defining,
financing and managing their start-up
business.
With a great idea and the right support
you’ll be well on your way to success.
Contact one of PwC’s business advisors for more information about how
we can help you meet your business challenges.
Paul Hendrikse
Jennifer Psutka
519 571 5736
paul.hendrikse@ca.pwc.com
519 570 5706
jennifer.psutka@ca.pwc.com
Jay McLean
519 570 5759
jay.j.mclean@ca.pwc.com
© 2013 PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, an Ontario limited liability partnership. All rights reserved.
3737-01 1013
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‰ “In some ways, what we are really doing here is we’re devising the
university of the 21st Century — the
welcoming of the community, the
welcoming of business in our classrooms,” says Dybenko. “We think of
industry as our customers, to be
honest, because they’re the ones
that hopefully will hire our students.”
Unlike in other schools, smartphones and other digital devices
are welcome in UW Stratford’s
classrooms, whose high-tech interiors offer other unique touches such
as a garage door that can be pulled
down or rolled up to accommodate
varying class sizes.
Dybenko suggests the school has
been “inundated” with interest
from businesses, such as banks,
retailers, technology companies
and insurance firms, who are eager
to engage with students in what she
says is the only program of its kind
in North America. And although
students — there are 239 this year —
are enrolled in a “premium program,” with equivalently high
tuition rates, Dybenko says parents
are as impressed as business leaders with the breadth of the students’
education. “We belong to the arts
faculty, which we love, but we also
interact with mathematics, computer science, engineering, environment, applied health sciences,
so we invite professors from other
faculties in to teach in our classrooms. It’s really multi-faceted.”
The school focuses on three key
areas that are central to the future
of digital media:
•UX, or user experience, “how a
customer, and to be honest an employee, interacts with the corporation … everything from employee
attraction and retention, right
through to customer engagement
and satisfaction,” says Dybenko.
•Gamification: not the designing
of new video games but the science
of understanding, “the kind of addictive behaviour, reward systems
and so on and so forth, that the
gaming industry has so successfully deployed and apply those to what
we like to say are ‘real games’,” says
Dybenko. For example, an application in health care might involve a
way to reward patients for taking
medication.
•Interactive digital signs, like
the three-storey high display powered by projection tiles from Christie Digital that dominates the foyer
of the campus.
“There isn’t an aspect of the
world that digital media isn’t going
to touch,” Dybenko said.
With students coming from
different educational backgrounds,
Dybenko says the school’s emphasis on project-based learning actively encourages collaboration between “left-brained” students with
a background in technology and
those who come from the “rightbrained” creative arts. “We see
there the real genius, I think, of
what we’re up to here and that is
teaching respect between the two
sides of the brain, if you like,” she
says.
“At the end, if we can teach a
level of respect, to teach the leftbrained people the contribution
that they really can make, that’s
great,” she says. “But also the contribution that a strongly rightbrained person can make and vice
versa. I’d say we’ve really advanced
the markers significantly.”
A former dean of the school of
business and economics at Wilfrid
Laurier University and longtime
executive with Bell Canada, Dybenko says the business world is
increasingly on the lookout for
employees with strong artistic
skills, attributes that have not historically been sought after in the
boardroom. “I’m born and bred in
industry,” she says. “I’m not saying
the bottom line isn’t important, but
what I’m saying is that there are
things that can come out of the
creative side that can bring revenue
to that bottom line, that can attract
and retain the best employees.”
The school is also associated
with the Stratford Accelerator
Centre, where three of its students
are already working on developing
their own businesses. Dybenko says
she found the sheer number of
students with entrepreneurial
plans surprisingly high. “Fifty per
cent said that they felt that their
long-term plan was to start their
own business, which I just find
fascinating,” she says. “Not all
businesses work out but I think it’s
important to try and it’s important
to encourage the students to try.
And if you’re going to fail, (that’s)
fine. Fail early, fail fast … and try
your next idea out. And so that’s
what we’re all about here.”
So those jobs that don’t yet exist?
There’s a good chance graduates
from the UW Stratford campus are
the ones who will create them. “I’m
really serious when I say that these
kids are going to change the world,”
Dybenko says. n
University
University of
of Waterloo,
Waterloo, Stratford
Stratford campus
campus
Mission: Foster collaboration to drive innovation in digital media
Launched: 2012
Students: 239
Executive team: Ginny Dybenko, executive director
Address: 125 Patrick St., Stratford
Technology Spotlight y 17
DIGITAL SECURITY
Keeping secrets in a cloud
Kitchener’s I Think
Security locks up
sensitive data
Dave Pink, Special to The Record
T
hink of Cedric Jeannot as
a locksmith for the people
who keep their secrets in a
cloud.
In a world where more and more
corporations are relying on the
pooled resources and virtualization
of cloud computing, Jeannot, the
founder of Kitchener-based I Think
Security, equips them with the encryption technology to keep confidential information confidential.
“I’ve just always enjoyed cryptography and mathematical puzzles,
and because of that I took an interest
in document security,” says Jeannot,
the startup’s chief executive officer.
“And I wanted to be the best I could
be at it.”
Jeannot was born in France and
grew up in the African nations of
Djibouti and Gabon, but he started
his business in Kentucky, where he
was finishing off his PhD dissertation on the securing of electronic
documents at the University of Louisville. When he heard of the supportive atmosphere for high-tech
startups at Waterloo’s Accelerator
Centre, he applied and was accepted.
“I said to myself, ‘I guess we’re
going to be Canadian.’ Canada is the
best of both worlds. It has a quality of
life that is similar to Europe, but it
has business opportunities like
those in the U.S.,” he says. “It’s a
good balance.”
I Think Security has since “graduated” from the Accelerator Centre.
In August, it moved its nine full-time
and two part-time employs to offices
at Ottawa Street and Westmount
Road in Kitchener.
Being a Canadian-based company is helpful when it comes to
branching out into other regions of
the world where Canada is looked
upon in a friendly way, says Jeannot.
“When we go somewhere, there are
no roadblocks. A company like this
has to be international from the
get-go, and being in Canada is a huge
advantage for us.”
I Think also maintains a sales
office in New York City, where it has
started to do business with the financial community. The company is
doing business in 15 countries and
“they don’t care if we’re Canadian,”
Jeannot says.
PHILIP WALKER, RECORD STAFF
Cedric Jeannot, chief executive officer of I Think Security, holds the company’s QSolution data security product.
II Think
Think Security
Security
Business: Digital security
Founded: 2009
Executive team: Cedric Jeannot, founder and CEO
Employees: 11
Address: 645 Westmount Rd. E., Suite 11B, Kitchener
The firm’s next move will be
toward the Middle East, probably to
Dubai and Bahrain. Then, Jeannot
will look south toward Latin America, and in particular Mexico, Chile
and Ecuador. All the while, Jeannot
says he appreciates the support of
the Canadian government. “They
are really making a huge effort for
us. It is a huge competitive advantage for us. We have it, and we’re
leveraging it.”
Ultimately, he says, the company’s success will depend upon how
well it can protect information
while, at the same time, allowing
access to all those who need it. The I
Think system is coded to allow that.
“This way our customers have a
secure way of letting someone else
have a look at their documents, and
the comfort of knowing that the
security of those documents is not
being compromised,” says Jeannot.
They can be read, but not stored or
copied, and they can’t be passed
along to others. “We’ll make sure
that it’s for their eyes only. It’s what
we call a boomerang document. It all
comes back.”
I Think also offers an educational
tool that makes electronic textbooks
available to students for a prescribed period of time. As well, I
Think provides what Jeannot calls
“a predictive analysis.”
“Based on that analysis we can
predict who in your organization
will leak documents,” he says. “We
analyze user patterns. We protect
against a theft before it happens
based on how employees use documents, their patterns. There is a
correlation between document us-
age, and leakage.”
With a suite of products in place,
Jeannot says he will now turn his
attention to growing the business,
provided he can find the right people
to make that happen. “Our biggest
challenge is getting access to the
capital, and access to the talent we
will need to grow. Not just technical
talent, but high level marketing and
sales people,” he says.
“We’re lucky because we’ve got
some good technical people, but
what we need are business people.
It’s one thing to take a company from
startup to $50 million in sales, but
getting it from $50 million up, that
takes a different skill set, and there’s
not that many people in Canada who
can do it. We’re less likely to find
them here.
“We have half the equation,”
Jeannot adds. “We’re very good at
building the product, but less good
at selling it.”
But Jeannot is confident about I
Think’s future. “It’s a good business
because everyone is interested in
security,” he says. “Privacy is an
illusion.” n
18 y Technology Spotlight
STARTUPS
“There is so much to do, you don’t even know where to start. When it comes to a business, there
are so many ups and downs and so many speed bumps. You need a lot of support.”
Jessica Chalk,
CEO AND CO-FOUNDER OF TRAFFICSODA
DAVID BEBEE, RECORD STAFF
Jessica Chalk is the CEO and co-founder of TrafficSoda, a startup that is developing software to drive targeted traffic to websites.
LaunchPad helps Laurier students
get businesses off the ground
A
rmed with a business
administration degree
from Wilfrid Laurier
University and previous
experience at a startup, Jessica Chalk
helped launch TrafficSoda, a business that is developing tools to help
drive targeted traffic to websites.
But even with her background,
starting a business was daunting.
“There is so much to do, you don’t
even know where to start,” she says.
“When it comes to a business, there
are so many ups and downs and so
many speed bumps. You need a lot of
support.”
Fortunately, she didn’t have to
look far for support. She got into
Laurier LaunchPad, a program that
is available to Laurier students as
well as alumni who want to start a
business.
Laurier
Laurier LaunchPad
LaunchPad
Mission: Help students and alumni of Wilfrid Laurier University launch
businesses
Executive team: Steve Farlow, executive director of Schlegel Centre for
Entrepreneurship
Address: Communitech Hub, 151 Charles St. W., Kitchener
“We don’t just say goodbye to our
alumni. They get to come in here,
and stay until they commercialize
their business,” says Steve Farlow,
executive director of the Schlegel
Centre for Entrepreneurship at
Laurier. The centre runs LaunchPad.
Laurier is known for its business
school and many of its graduates go
on to work large multinational corporations. ‰
Technology Spotlight y 19
‰ But the university is unique in the
way it integrates entrepreneurship
into many of its programs, Farlow
says.
It offers pre-requisite undergraduate entrepreneurship courses to
students in all faculties, whether
they are taking business or not. The
goal is to give all students, even those
in science, music, arts and social
work, the skills to identify a good
business idea, evaluate its viability
and set up, grow and manage a business if they choose to do so. “We
believe in creating the next generation of business leaders who have
applied experience,” Farlow says.
“They are in real demand both in the
emerging companies of today as well
as established companies.”
Laurier runs LaunchPad at the
Communitech Hub in downtown
Kitchener as well as at the Laurier
Toronto campus. Laurier also has a
work space in the Accelerator Centre
in Waterloo for the more established
companies in the program. That’s
where TrafficSoda is now located.
Farlow says that after Schlegel
Centre for Entrepreneurship began
10 years ago, “it became very apparent to us that the desire to build and
create something resided not just in
the business school, but in arts and
in science, in music and social work
and everywhere.” While graduates
in the past sought secure jobs in big,
established industries, many of
today’s young people are interested
in building something new, he says.
There are about 30 ventures in
different stages of creation in
LaunchPad. Many of them are technology companies. They include
startups such as Symple ID, which is
trying to take the pain out of forgetting user names and passwords,
E.Engine, an online funding platform, and Catchr, a smartphone
application aimed at improving
accessibility and reducing the cost of
public transit.
The program also accepts applicants who want to start other types
of businesses or are involved in nonprofit organizations. “Part of our
mission is to create social enterprises, not just the traditional for-profit
businesses,” Farlow says.
To get into the program, the
founders need “a unique, profitable,
scalable business idea,” Farlow says.
If accepted, they can stay in the program as long as they are advancing
toward commercialization. Not
everyone who applies gets in. “We
say no if we don’t think there is a
level of uniqueness or a true competitive advantage to the business,”
says Farlow. Applicants are also
rejected if it’s just a self-employment
idea. “We are really looking for those
entrepreneurs who are builders and
ROBERT WILSON, RECORD STAFF
Steve Farlow (left), executive director of the Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship at Wilfrid Laurier University, and Dave
Inglis, Laurier LaunchPad’s entrepreneurship community co-ordinator, work with students in LaunchPad’s space in the
Communitech Hub.
who are thinking way beyond just
themselves. We want the businesses
that are scalable and will potentially
grow and employ people.”
During the week, LaunchPad
participants meet potential customers and work on the next stage of the
development of their business. On
Tuesday nights, they meet to report
on their progress, and give each
other feedback and suggestions.
Dave Inglis, LaunchPad’s entrepreneurship community co-ordinator, notes that the program uses
the “lean startup” method, a structured process for starting a business
that focuses heavily on validating
whether the entrepreneur actually
has something that meets a market
need. Too often, entrepreneurs
spend a lot of time building a technology, only to discover it’s not something people need or want. LaunchPad forces them to test and validate
their ideas, Inglis says.
Inglis says LaunchPad also helps
entrepreneurs understand when a
business isn’t viable. He had that
experience with a business called
Concussion Toolbox that he founded
when he was a kinesiology student at
Laurier.
The business developed a smartphone application that could be used
to assess whether an injured athlete
had a concussion. It was a good idea,
“We believe in
creating the next
generation of
business leaders
who have applied
experience.
They are in real
demand both
in the emerging
companies of
today as well
as established
companies.”
Steve Farlow,
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE SCHLEGEL
CENTRE FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP
but Inglis says it wasn’t viable as a
business.
He sold the intellectual property
and transitioned out of it. He is now
working as the director of operations
in the Canadian branch of the Sports
Legacy Institute, a non-profit organization that advances the study, treatment and prevention of the effects of
brain trauma in athletes and other
groups who are at risk of suffering
concussions. It was hard to let the
business go, but Inglis says LaunchPad helped him avoid wasting too
much time and “made me realize
what still I had in front of me.”
Farlow says that even when a
business doesn’t work, participants
learn something. Later, they may
start another business and “the
probability of success is much higher.”
TrafficSoda is working on its
software and business model and
hopes to soon begin beta testing. The
company was started by Robert
Farnham, a serial entrepreneur with
extensive experience in online marketing. He had a set of strategies for
driving traffic to websites but he
wanted to create a suite of online
tools for that purpose. He brought
Chalk on board as a co-founder to
help him create the business. The
startup now also has a chief technology officer who is creating a “dashboard” of software and online tools.
It has been a huge amount of work
to get this far, Chalk says. Starting a
technology company may seem
glamorous but “it takes a lot of work
and a lot of perseverance,” she says.
The support that came through the
LaunchPad program has been invaluable. “It gave us the communication and the support and the structure to take this idea and run with
it.” n
20 y Technology Spotlight
INTERACTIVE DIGITAL MEDIA
A glimpse into the digital future
Neil McDonald, Special to The Record
F
or the uninitiated, taking a tour of the lab
run by Research Entrepreneurs Accelerating Prosperity seems more like being
whisked around a futuristic science-fiction film set than a former felt factory.
Located in the Quarry Integrated Communications building in St. Jacobs where the program,
known as REAP, set up shop in 2011, the Felt Lab
offers a head-spinning trip into a not-too-distant
future that promises to be dominated by interactive
digital media.
Items embedded with augmented reality software, for example, perform minor miracles when a
tablet or smartphone is passed in front of them.
Those miracles range from the practical — translating signs into the language of your choice — to the
astonishing, as when a man on a magazine cover
turns imperceptibly from static picture to talking
head, suddenly alive and animated.
A virtual art gallery displayed on cube projection tiles developed by Kitchener-based Christie
Digital can be toured just by leaning your body this
way or that. Even more mind-blowing: when you
stop in front of a painting, the artist appears next to
you on a similarly tiled column to talk about the
piece you’re viewing.
PETER LEE, RECORD STAFF
Jill Tomasson Goodwin and David Goodwin of the
Research Entrepreneurs Accelerating Prosperity
program sit on a display of 3D mapping screens
showing images from paintings by Amy Ferrari.
At the helm of this high-tech wonderland are
REAP’s co-founders, University of Waterloo arts
professors David Goodwin and Jill Tomasson Goodwin. The idea for REAP grew out of a project called
Seeding a Lead, which explored the possibilities for
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interactive digital media created by Christie Digital
in the theatre world (Christie, along with Quarry, is
a founding partner of REAP). The students Goodwin and Tomasson Goodwin hired as research
assistants for the project, however, ultimately
helped the idea for REAP take shape.
“The moment of real insight for REAP was that it
wasn’t about seeding an industry, it was about getting students to be the seeders, to get students to
extend the ideas, to get students to start businesses,
to get students to make all the connections,” says
Goodwin. “And then we realized it wasn’t about
taking technology into industry, it was about getting students to become the agent and the collaborators.”
A non-credit UW program, REAP draws students
from various faculties at the school. They are soon
put into ‘sprints,’ intensive sessions where ideas are
quickly developed and put to the test.
“From the minute you come in here, you’re trying
stuff out and you’re trying to get ideas to work, and
then you’re working with other people who are similarly committed but often (with) different skills,”
Goodwin says.
Though they can’t earn credits toward their degrees, students who remain with the program are
paid for their time, creating a real-world environment that Goodwin says helps foster achievement. ‰
Technology Spotlight y 21
‰ “You can be hired, you could be fired, you can
come back for more projects. It makes it a little
less like a classroom and a little bit more like a
transition into taking responsibility for your
success.”
“We really feel strongly about quick and dirty
proof of concept, learning the skills of how to test
an idea out from the very start, and not to persist
with things just because you’ve been assigned
them, but to review and pivot and change and
adapt, to make the best use out of an opportunity,”
he says. “And that’s a huge skill for our students to
master.”
REAP does not expect students to invent new
technologies, but rather to innovate using what
already exists, an idea Goodwin calls “platform
entrepreneurship.”
An early success story is Arc Media, a videography company founded by REAP students Jon
Lucas and Andrew Askes that creates ‘explainer
videos’ for technology companies.
Being able to work together on various projects
before they started Arc last year “allowed us to hit
the ground running and get things done quickly
and efficiently,” says Askes.
“REAP allowed us to work with cutting edge
digital display technologies which has been beneficial in many of our Arc Media projects,” he adds.
And “the team of executives and fellows has continued to mentor our team and provide us with
guidance since graduating from the University of
Waterloo.”
Lucas and Askes are examples of students who
Research
Research Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs
Accelerating
Accelerating Prosperity
Prosperity
Mission: Explore new technologies, particularly
those involving interactivity, responsiveness and
digital displays
Founded: 2011
Address: University of Waterloo with Felt Lab at
1440 King St. N., St. Jacobs
caught the “REAP bug,” says Tomasson Goodwin.
“Way back when with Seeding a Lead, we realized
that the student body was just ripe for this kind of
exposure and possibility in REAP,” she says.
“What we’re finding is that the students who get
the REAP bug, who get the entrepreneurial bug,
are serial entrepreneurs. So all of a sudden, they
see opportunity everywhere.”
The lab is for more than just students, however,
and has recently started hiring ‘REAP professionals,’ a step Goodwin says “has accelerated our
progress considerably.” It’s also a place where
interested clients can come and develop businessto-business relationships, says Tomasson Goodwin.
“We’re trying to facilitate that collaboration
and collision of ideas and people,” she says. “The
technologies are there as opportunities for people
to come together and think outside the box about
whatever problem they want to solve. Technology
is the facilitator, the vehicle, but it’s still in the end
about imagination, creativity, people coming
together to create opportunities to solve problems
and then, of course, to communicate those out to
the world.”
REAP incorporates the concept of the ‘living
lab,’ where research is conducted in and for the
community, far away from the ivory tower.
“We’re not about exclusion or white coats or
anything else,” says Goodwin. “We’ve had schoolchildren in here, we’ve had artists and high school
students, industry sometimes come and use the
space as a creative zone for their teams. It’s been
quite a wide range of opportunities, but that’s
what we like. The magic is in the mix. You can
have the best toys, but if you don’t have cool kids,
you don’t have a great sandbox.”
And, though developing futuristic technology
may be just another day at the office for Goodwin
and Tomasson Goodwin, they’re always on the
lookout for the next thing. “I would say almost
every week we hear about a new technology and
about every month we acquire one,” says Goodwin. “And on top of that, we have more people who
are coming to try out things so we’re kind of reaching that point now where it’s feeding itself. There’s
opportunity coming in, there’s equipment coming
in, there are people coming in and, if you wait a
week, you’ll see a whole other set of opportunities.”
It’s an exciting world. “I think that’s the biggest
excitement of all is to see the new technologies
coming up that create possibilities for people to
engage with each other via technology differently,”
says Tomasson Goodwin. n
weare_Community
weare_Technology
Waterloo is a great place to live,
do business and enjoy a culturally rich
lifestyle. Ranking first overall in FDI
magazine’s “Top 10 American Micro
Cities of the Future” (2013), “Among the
best places to do business in Canada”
by Canada Business (2013) and
winner of the world’s “Top Intelligent
Community” (2007) this small
(pop. 129,100) but vibrant city
has a lot to offer.
People move here – and stay here –
for the quality of life.
wearewaterloo.ca
22 y Technology Spotlight
DIGITAL IMAGING
Teledyne Dalsa thrives on challenges
John Schofield, Special to The Record
T
eledyne Dalsa is no stranger to extreme environments. To guide NASA’s
Curiosity Mars Rover, the
Waterloo Region technology pioneer
created cutting-edge image sensors
that operate flawlessly on the red
planet’s rough terrain, 563,000 kilometres from Earth in temperatures
ranging from –127 C to 40 C. For National Football League replays, its
high-resolution cameras can capture
bone-crushing, freight-train tackles
in vivid, video detail.
But in marketing its new, groundbreaking image-sensor technology
for X-ray applications, the company
is facing a truly daunting prospect:
dentists. “For intra-oral dental,
you’re selling into the distribution
chain for dentists, and dentists are
very frugal,” says chief executive
officer Brian Doody. “It’s different
from our typical market because it’s
dominated by a small number of very
powerful dental distributors.”
It’s the kind of challenge Teledyne
Dalsa loves to sink its teeth into. That
innovative spirit and customer focus
help explain why, 33 years after its
founding as Dalsa by University of
Waterloo electrical and computer
engineering professor Savvas Chamberlain, it remains one of Canada’s
most successful tech firms. With
about 1,000 employees worldwide —
400 of them in Waterloo — Teledyne
Dalsa generated an estimated $232
million in revenues in 2012, making it
the 34th largest Canadian-based
technology company in terms of
sales, according to the Branham
Group, an Ottawa-based technology
consulting firm. In Waterloo Region,
it ranks fourth after BlackBerry,
Open Text and Christie Digital.
Along with its traditional
strengths in precision digital imaging for industry and advanced semiconductor manufacturing, the company is looking to imaging technologies for X-ray and infrared applications for future growth. By all
accounts, its acquisition by California-based Teledyne Technologies
Inc. in 2011 has only made the company stronger. “The fit with the parent
company seems to be going well,”
says Andrew Bisson, vice-president
of consulting services for Branham
Group. “They continue to work off
each other in moving the business
forward.”
Machine vision cameras, vision
processors and software for automatic inspection, process control and
robot guidance in industry still ac-
ROBERT WILSON, RECORD STAFF
Brian Doody, chief executive officer of Teledyne Dalsa, holds one of the
company’s digital X-ray detectors. The detector converts X-ray images to
digital images.
count for about half of Teledyne Dalsa’s revenues, says Doody. The equipment is used to inspect products such
as flat-screen TVs and solar energy
cells, but also for automated toll
lanes or red light cameras at intersections. The company also does
custom work, including specialized
imaging sensors for the Mars Rovers
and for high-resolution, satellite
earth imaging.
Teledyne Dalsa’s advanced semiconductor manufacturing facility in
Bromont, Que., is the only full-production semiconductor plant in
Canada, and one of the world’s leading manufacturing facilities for
micro-electro-mechanical systems,
or MEMS. Doody describes MEMS as
micro-machines on a chip, as opposed to micro-circuits. They’re used
for an increasing variety of applications, including cellphones and medical devices. Last year, Teledyne
Dalsa teamed up with IBM Canada,
the University of Sherbrooke, the
government of Quebec and the federal government to celebrate the opening of the $218 million, Bromontbased MiQro Innovation Collaborative Centre, or C2MI. The facility
is dedicated to commercializing
technology in MEMS and microelec-
tronics. “In these two fields, it’s the
most advanced centre in the world,”
says Doody. “It’s instantly become
renowned for its capabilities.”
Teledyne Dalsa’s main growth
engine over the next 12 to 24 months
will be its professional imaging products for the scientific and medical
markets, which Doody predicts will
add “multiple 10s of millions of dollars” to the bottom line each year. Its
professional imaging division is
based in the Netherlands, but much
of the production will take place in a
new facility in Waterloo. The company’s X-ray detector products convert
X-ray images to digital images, and
can be used to replace X-ray film. The
images are not only more detailed,
but can be saved or transmitted, and
require a lower X-ray dose to produce. The detectors can also be used
for real-time X-ray video, which can
be used for minimally invasive surgery. A “major medical equipment
maker” — Doody declines to say who
— will begin selling the X-ray products this fall.
Teledyne Dalsa’s next source for
expansion will come from its infrared imaging technology, which can
detect images from heat instead of
light. “In a technology company,”
Teledyne
Teledyne Dalsa
Dalsa
Business: Digital imaging and semiconductor products
Founded: 1980
Executive team: Brian Doody, CEO; Silvio Favrin, executive VP finance
Ownership: Owned by Teledyne Technologies Inc.
Employees: 1,000, including 400 in Waterloo
Address: 140 Frobisher Dr., Waterloo
Doody says, “you always have to look
ahead at what product you’re going
to sell — not only in the next quarter,
but five years from now.”
The infrared products can be used
for military applications, industrial
inspection, firefighting, transportation security, or to measure heat loss
in buildings. Due to its military uses,
however, U.S. infrared technology
manufacturers face export restrictions, says Doody. Because of those
barriers, Teledyne Dalsa will effectively compete in the global market
with only one other company, which is
based in Europe. “We’ll have an open
market for ourselves,” says Doody,
“and that’s a key part of our strategy.”
Teledyne Dalsa’s overall growth
strategy is largely unchanged since
the $341-million takeover by Teledyne Technologies in early 2011. The
company still takes a long-term view
and invests heavily in innovation to
stay ahead of the market. But as part
of a large, U.S.-based multinational
now, Doody says there has been a
shift in culture to more frequent and
formalized reporting to meet stringent corporate compliance requirements. In addition, the acquisition
gives Teledyne Dalsa access to cutting edge technology across the larger company, and has created excellent career opportunities for its staff.
There is also a stronger focus on
monthly and quarterly financial
results. “We’re learning some good
things from Teledyne,” says Doody,
“about how to run the company and
return value to shareholders.”
In other respects, notes Doody —
who was employee No. 4 when he
joined Dalsa in 1985 — the company
still has the heart of a small Canadian technology firm. Even now, its
culture is heavily influenced by its
founder, Savvas Chamberlain. The
professor emeritus at UW and member of the Order of Canada resigned
as chair in February 2011, when the
acquisition was finalized. But the
company’s website continues to
feature a detailed profile of him.
Chamberlain had a unique ability
to match innovation with real customer needs, says Doody, and that
remains a guiding principle. “Most of
us learned how to manage and solve
problems under Savvas’s tutelage,
and we’re all still here,” says Doody.
“When we have a particularly difficult problem, people will still say,
‘Well, Savvas would have done it this
way.’ ”
In a brutally competitive global
market, that philosophy is still
reaping big rewards for Teledyne
Dalsa. n
Technology Spotlight y 23
SATELLITE COMPONENTS
PHILIP WALKER, RECORD STAFF
Michael Pley, chief executive officer of Com Dev International, says the company continually strives to make its satellite components lighter and smaller.
A ‘Canadian gem’ in satellite market
Major North American manufacturers depend on
Cambridge-based Com Dev to make magic happen
Chuck Howitt, Record staff
T
he next time you watch your favourite
TV show or visit one of your favourite
websites, you might want to say a thank
you to Com Dev International.
The Cambridge-based company makes satellite
components that receive signals from Earth, improve the quality of those signals and reroute them
back to the appropriate location on the ground.
These quirky-looking Com Dev devices — called
switches, filters and multiplexers — are among the
unsung heroes of the space industry. Without
them, those expensive behemoths up in the stars
wouldn’t be able to do their job.
What’s more, these Com Dev components, also
known as transponders, have hitched a ride on
more than 80 per cent of commercial communications satellites ever launched. That works out to
more than 900 satellite contracts in the nearly four
decades of the company’s existence. “If you’re
watching TV at home, odds are 95 per cent of the
TV channels are being broadcast through Com Dev
equipment on satellites one way or another,” says
Com Dev’s chief executive officer Michael Pley.
The company, which employs about 1,300 people
in Canada, the United States and England, is the
“premier Tier-2 supplier” of routing equipment in
the satellite industry, says Pley. It supplies every
major satellite manufacturer in North America,
Europe and Asia. Business titans such as Boeing,
Lockheed Martin and Raytheon count on Com Dev
Com
Com Dev
Dev International
International
Business: Equipment for satellites
Founded: 1974
Executive team: Michael Pley, CEO; Cary
Calhoun, CFO; Mike Williams, president Com
Dev International Products division
Employees: About 1,300 at facilities in Canada,
the United States and the United Kingdom
Sales: $208 million in fiscal year ended Oct. 31,
2012
Fast fact: Com Dev equipment has been
installed on more that 900 satellites
Shares: Trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange
under the symbol CDV
for parts.
As such, Com Dev is the “big gorilla” in its category, says Pley. “But when you’re the big gorilla
you can’t be complacent because people are always
looking to try and grab some of your market
share.”
The company, which posted sales of $208.6 million in fiscal 2012, cranks out thousands of these
switches and multiplexers a year at its main
211,000-square-foot facility on Sheldon Drive in
Cambridge, and plants in Ottawa, Aylesbury in the
United Kingdom and Los Angeles, near the major
satellite manufacturers in the U.S.
For the most part, it’s highly precise work carried out in squeaky clean surroundings. When you
tour Com Dev headquarters you walk down sealed-
off corridors and gaze through glass windows at
production workers, dressed in white lab coats and
hair nets, bending over fine pieces of equipment.
One spec of dirt or hair can mess up a $5-million
piece of machinery so there’s no room for error. A
satellite stays in orbit for an average of 15 years.
Bringing it down for repairs is out of the question.
“Being in the space market, you have to be 100 per
cent reliable. Once it’s in space, it can’t afford to
fail,” says Pley.
When Irish immigrant Val O’Donovan founded
Com Dev in Montreal in 1974 it was partly to leverage knowledge he had gained inventing a new
type of multiplexer, which combines multiple
signals into one data stream. He moved the company to Cambridge in 1979 to tap into the deep talent
at this area’s post-secondary institutions.
Pley joined Com Dev 30 years ago when the
company was still a “pioneering business” where
engineers sat around in a lab trying to create new
products. Nowadays, production is much more
standardized to keep costs down and volumes up,
says the 53-year-old Toronto native and McMaster
University engineering and business grad.
As with computers, the goal with every new
switch or filter is to make it smaller and lighter
than the previous generation. “Every gram on a
satellite counts because every gram means you are
using fuel,” Pley says.
Although Com Dev relies on outside suppliers
for machine parts, housings, circuit boards and
the like, the complex nature of its products requires the company to do much of its production in
house. In fact, the company designs, fabricates and
electroplates many of its own parts, says Pley.
“We’re pretty vertically integrated.” ‰
24 y Technology Spotlight
‰ Com Dev’s product mix hasn’t changed a great
deal since the early days, yet the level of sophistication has. At one time, satellites transmitted
microwave signals on a much lower frequency
called the C-band. Eventually they moved up to
the Ku band and then the Ka band, the standard
frequency today because of its ability to handle
broadband internet and thousands of TV channels. When you move up in frequency, the parts
“become much smaller and the precision required to actually make them is much greater,”
says Pley.
While more revenue comes from commercial
satellite operators than any other segment, Com
Dev also makes components for military, civil and
government markets. In fact, those two sectors
account for a larger piece of the revenue pie with
each passing year. The civil market has taken off
because countries in emerging markets, lacking
traditional land line infrastructure, are using
satellites to build new communications networks.
Responding to this trend, Com Dev has established small sales and assembly offices in China
and India.
Growth in those markets is one of Pley’s goals.
But before he could tackle that challenge another
one was waiting to be moved from its stuck position on the launch pad. When Pley was named
CEO in 2010, he took the controls of a company in
turmoil. His predecessor, John Keating, had just
been fired after the company reported a surprising quarterly loss and was forced to reduce revenue forecasts for the year. Tendering blunders on
naccord Genuity, says Com Dev has a “phenomefive fixed-price contracts were doing serious
damage to the company’s finances, not to mention nally strong core business” in the development
and manufacture of transponders for satellites.
its reputation in the industry.
He puts its market share at more than 80 per cent
Pley’s first order of business was to complete
in the transponder market and calls the company
the satellite contracts as efficiently as possible
a “Canadian gem.” Young also likes the bottomand fix the tendering process so the mistakes
line potential of Exacdidn’t happen again. No
tEarth, Com Dev’s project
longer would the company
to use microsatellites to
bid on risky contracts
monitor ocean-going ships
outside its core compefrom space. With the ventency. “We were more seture, Com Dev is making its
lective about what type of
own satellites for the first
contracts we wanted to do
time.
and what parts of the marBut the days of Com Dev
ket we were going to adstock returning to the $40
dress,” he says.
range where it stood in the
The company laid off
Mike Pley
1990s are over, Young says.
about 200 employees and
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
OF COM DEV INTERNATIONAL
In the wake of debacles
the last of the troublesome
such as Nortel, investors
contracts wasn’t complethave fled from the tech
ed until December 2012,
sector back into the rethree long years after the
source industry, he notes.
problems surfaced. When
After falling to a low of
all the bills were added up,
$1.55, Com Dev stock has risen steadily over the
the final tally in cost overruns came to a shocking
past two years and now trades in the $4 range.
$25 million.
Although chief executives are rarely happy with
It was a baptism of fire for Pley, but under his
where the shares of their company are trading,
steady hand, Com Dev has returned to profitabiliPley admits he’s pleased with the growth.
ty and posted solid financial results for six con“We have done everything we said we would
secutive quarters. The next goal, he says, is to
do,” about fixing the core business, he says. That
grow the company’s top line using the same fiand the potential of ExactEarth seem to have
nancial discipline.
impressed investor analysts, he says. n
Robert Young, a technology analyst with Ca-
“Being in
the space
market,
you have
to be 100
per cent
reliable.
Once it’s
in space,
it can’t afford to fail.”
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Technology Spotlight y 25
SUPPORT
Group empowers women
Organization mentors
those who take the
leap into technology
Lisa MacColl, Special to The Record
W
omen Powering Technology is a
non-profit organization that provides mentoring and support for
women in technology. It was
launched in 2012 when a group of women with
successful careers in Waterloo Region’s tech sector
decided they needed to find a way to support women pursuing careers in technology. We talked to
Angelique Mohring, Women Powering Technology’s chair and co-founder, about the organization
and her experience in the technology sector. She is
the founder and president of GAIN X Inc., a consulting firm that focuses on tech companies.
PHILIP WALKER, RECORD STAFF
How was Women Powering Technology formed?
For me, the idea came about when I was travelling for business. I was working with a group of
men, and when you are working on a tech project,
you often work 20 hour days, and after day 11, I
remember thinking how much I wanted to have a
glass of wine with another woman and discuss
things from a different perspective. I started talking with my colleagues, and we decided to form
Women Powering Technology. We have chapters
right across Canada, and we are expanding into
the U.S. and the U.K. For example, the Waterloo
chapter has approximately 400 members. We are
completely volunteer driven. We don’t have any
paid staff.
Why is there a need for an organization for
women in technology? What unique traits do
women bring to the table?
Statistically, men still far outnumber women in
senior technology roles. I don’t know how many
times in my career I’ve been the only woman in the
boardroom. Those of us who have blazed the trail
and succeeded need to support and mentor other
women.
Women tend to approach technology issues
differently than men. They do more detailed critical analysis. For example, a man will get very
focused at solving the problem at hand, while a
woman tends to look at not only the problem, but
the larger implications, and that brings a positive
dynamic to any team. You can’t succeed without
taking care of the hundreds of little details that
make or break your business and women tend to be
stronger at finding unanticipated issues. I have
men asking me all the time how best to recruit,
promote and retain women in technology positions. Our organization encourages the dialogue.
Women want the bigger clients, bigger salary,
bigger responsibility, but they think they need to
have 100 per cent of their ducks in a row before they
go for it. They need to have all the courses, all the
information … whereas men in the same position
will take the leap of faith with only 30 to 40 per cent
and learn the rest on the fly. No one is up to date
about everything in technology right now; it’s
changing too fast. We need to empower women to
Angelique Mohring, chair of Women Powering Technology, says there is a need for an organization that
supports women in technology because men still far outnumber women in senior technology roles.
take the leap and learn as they go.
How does Women Powering Technology support
and mentor women in technology?
We hold monthly networking events that are
open to men and women. We have a different topic
each month like professional development, building your personal brand, creating a road map for
your career or practical things like dealing with
big data. At these events, there are opportunities
for networking, which can drive the local and global economy. I’ve seen women find beta testers for a
new product, or find a job, build partnerships or
make sales. Startups find solutions to common
problems, and all that activity drives economic
growth.
We are also building connections to the global
technology sector. I am taking 10 Canadian technology businesses that are either founded or cofounded by women to New York City to network
with companies who are interested in doing business with us. That will stimulate the economies on
both sides of the border. We are also building connections in major technology hubs such as the U.K.
and India.
Where do you want the organization to be in one
year? In five years?
In one year, I’d like the organization to have
established strong roots in the U.K. and U.S.A., and
continue to build our base in Canada. In five years,
I’d like WPT to be a strong presence in every technology hub in the world.
You do a lot of mentoring at Communitech and
Women
Women Powering
Powering Technology
Technology
Mission: Provide support and encouragement
for women in the technology sector
Founded: 2012
Executive team: Angelique Mohring, CEO; Julia
Rosien, chief marketing officer; Cynthia McIntyre,
CFO
VeloCity. What do you think is the biggest misconception entrepreneurs have?
How long it takes to be successful. The startups
have innovative ideas and they think the idea will
sell itself and they’ll all be millionaires by Christmas. The Google, the LinkedIn, the Twitter, the
Facebook — those are the exception. Starting a
company requires an enormous amount of time
and marketing. You can’t do it alone. You need to be
willing to take help, advice and guidance from
anyone who will offer it. If a startup has any hope
of success, the owners need to find a way to plug
into the more mature ecosystem.
What’s the biggest challenge for women in technology?
On a global scale, I’m concerned with the drop in
female enrolment in engineering, math and technology. In addition, I see three main challenges:
Confidence: Women need to find the courage to go
for the big project, the big client or the big promotion with less than 100 per cent of the ducks in a
row. No one has 100 per cent of their ducks in a row
in tech, because tech is changing too quickly. However, you also have to be willing to continuously
upgrade your skills. You need internal stability —
confidence that you can learn — and external agility because the ground keeps shifting.
Conversation: Men want to hire, promote, and
retain women in technology roles, but they aren’t
sure how to go about it. They also are raising
daughters, and they don’t want their daughters to
experience the gender inequality. WPT provides
an avenue for the conversation to take place. When
I was doing strategic planning for WPT, I had six
men and six women at the table to prioritize.
Culture: I’ve hit the glass ceiling a few times in my
career. Men several levels below me are making
tens of thousands of dollars more. The percentage of women CEOs is still low, so women have
few mentors to learn from. Men ask me constantly how to find and recruit women to senior positions on boards and companies. WPT provides
opportunities for women to learn from each other’s success. n
26 y Technology Spotlight
LANGUAGE PROCESSING
PHILIP WALKER, RECORD STAFF
Kaheer Suleman (left), Maluuba’s principal engineer, natural language processing, and Andrew McNamara, the firm’s infrastructure architect, demonstrate the
startup’s natural language processing software.
Speak naturally and Maluuba
will try to answer your question
Lisa MacColl, Special to The Record
I
magine you are in a strange city and you ask
your smartphone where to eat pho and you
receive not only the names of several Vietnamese restaurants, but also directions and
ratings. Imagine being able to invite guests, add
the dinner get-together to your calendar and do it
all with voice commands.
That is the technology Maluuba is creating. It
may seem similar to Apple’s Siri personal assistant application, but the Waterloo startup’s founders insist their language processing platform is
superior and they are confident they can mount a
serious challenge to the computer giant’s technology.
Maluuba is the brainchild of University of Waterloo graduates Sam Pasupalak, Kaheer Suleman,
G Wu and Josh Pantony (who left the firm earlier
this year). Pasupalak became intrigued with the
notion of creating a perfect programming lan-
guage while learning about ‘concurrent’ language
in the classes of UW computer science professor
Peter Buhr. Buhr talked about a language that
could solve every programming issue and dubbed
it Maluuba. Pasupalak asked Buhr if he could use
Maluuba as his company’s name. Buhr agreed and
the business was launched in August 2011.
Pasupalak met Wu during a course in artificial
intelligence, and soon discovered that they both
had a strong interest in entrepreneurship.
Wu had experience in infrastructure algorithms and had spent a co-op work term at Amazon. Suleman, the firm’s principle engineer, natural language processing, was interested in machine learning and has just completed his master’s
degree in information retrieval.
Mohamed Musbah, Maluuba’s product manager, says Pasupalak and Suleman originally intended to build a robot that could answer any question a person could have but were persuaded to
look at a smartphone intelligent system instead.
They recruited Wu and Pantony and started working on an interactive interface that would allow a
user to book a flight with voice commands.
If you asked your smartphone to “Get me two
tickets to Denver,” the app would identify departure locations based on the user’s current location,
connect with Expedia or other travel sites, ask the
user the class of seat he or she was interested in,
find available flights, and book the tickets.
“It was our prototype of how to build a device
that could talk to any device, ask any question and
get an answer,” says Musbah.
Ironically it isn’t in our current product. There
wasn’t enough interest.”
In the fall of 2011, Maluuba won a VeloCity Venture Fund competition, which gave the startup
$25,000 and office space in the VeloCity Garage. It
secured $2 million venture capital financing from
Samsung Ventures in February 2012 after Pasupalak pitched the company’s product at a Meetup.com conference in San Francisco. ‰
Technology Spotlight y 27
‰ “That was the turning point for
Maluuba,” says Musbah. It enabled
Maluuba to officially launch at Techcrunch Disrupt conference in San
Francisco in September 2012.
Unlike Google, which returns a
series of web links when a user
searches for something, requiring
the user to click on each link and
explore further to decide if the link
is the right one, Maluuba tries to
answer the question the user is
asking.
Maluuba’s app uses speech recognition and natural language processing, and is able to work with
dialects and local idiomatic speech.
“If you ask about weather in New
Hampshire, Siri might give you a
list of pet stores to buy a new hamster,” says Musbah. “Maluuba will
give you a forecast. Maluuba looks
at location and probability, and
gives a better answer. You don’t need
to think of the specific keywords to
ask.”
Andrew McNamara, the startup’s infrastructure architect, says
the goal is to build an app that the
average smartphone user will understand how to use, and that ultimately will be so straightforward
that even the most technology chal-
Maluuba
Maluuba
Business: Natural language processing technology
Founded: 2012
Executive team: Sam Pasupalak, founder and CEO; G Wu, founder and
director of business operations; Kaheer Suleman; founder and principal
engineer
Employees: 21
Address: 121 Charles St. W., Suite 324, Kitchener
lenged person can use it with ease
because all they will have to do is
“speak naturally, ask a question and
Maluuba will provide the answer.”
Maluuba is currently available
on Android and Windows Phone
platforms, and will be available on
Apple iOS and BlackBerry in 2014.
The company says the platform
can be used with any smart technology and it plans to expand to other
applications, including smart television.
Recently, it received feedback
from a woman whose husband was
visually impaired and used Maluuba to be able to use his smartphone.
That prompted the company to start
thinking about other applications
that could assist people living with
physical challenges.
The company, which recently
moved from the Tannery building in
downtown Kitchener to offices on
Columbia Street in Waterloo, says it
has experienced steady growth, but
declines to disclose the number of
users.
Finding employees with the right
skills is one of the challenges the
company faces as it grows. It currently has 21 employees.
“We need experts not only in code
but also in speech recognition, natural language processing and everything in between,” says McNamara.
“Many of the experts are in Silicon
Valley, and it can take some convincing to get them to move to Waterloo.
However, Waterloo’s becoming better known as a good tech place to
work. With Waterloo’s expanding
reputation, it’s becoming easier to
secure investments, which is always
a challenge when you’re growing a
tech business.”
Not surprisingly, a big challenge
Maluuba encounters is overcoming
skepticism about the potential of its
technology.
The startup is seen to be “taking
on Google and Apple and we don’t
have a chance going up against the
giants,” McNamara says of the reaction it tends to get. “We are sticking with our own vision and we will
continue to deliver an app that will
provide exactly what the user wants
first time.”
The startup’s founders are convinced of the power of their technology, and ambitiously state that their
goal is for Maluuba to become the
ubiquitous platform for natural
language search within five years.
“We are a ‘do’ application, not a
search application,” says Musbah.
“We want Maluuba to be synonymous with natural language process
applications. We are building an
application that will answer any
question anyone can ask and be
straightforward and simple to use.”
Wu adds that “in five years, I
would love Maluuba to be the go-to
product for millions of consumers
who are looking for quick and exact
results for queries in their everyday
lives.” n
28 y Technology Spotlight
DIGITAL IMAGING
Projecting a bright future
Christie Digital
turns the world
into a giant
artistic canvas
John Vessoyan, Special to The Record
I
nside their 300,000-square-foot
facility in Kitchener, Paul
Salvini and his team at Christie Digital are always trying to
develop ways for people to jump out
of their seats in amazement. One of
their newest inventions may do just
that.
The company’s new Mirage 4K35
and 4K25 projectors are designed for
3D applications for advanced visualization in the automotive, locationbased entertainment, government
and military markets. The 3D digital light processing projectors offer
a resolution of 4096 by 2160 pixels at
120 frames per second. The result:
Images that are five times faster
than the standard rate you would
see cinema content.
Christie says the technology is
ideal for theme park rides and simulations that are fully immersive.
“That’s revolutionary, that kind of
performance,” says Salvini, Christie’s chief technology officer.
“The result is absolutely stunning.”
“There’s always that appetite in
this world for higher visual quality,
and until we can replicate reality —
we’re not there yet — we’re getting
there. It’s a fantastic challenge for
our team and that’s what keeps us
excited and motivated here.”
Christie’s impact has been felt
around the world as its projectors
have been used at the summer
Olympics in Beijing and the Winter
Olympics in Vancouver during the
opening and closing ceremonies, as
MATHEW McCARTHY, RECORD STAFF
Dave Paolini, manager of media and public relations at Christie Digital, sits in the EGG, a portable 3D environment that
delivers virtual reality without edges. EGG stands for edgeless graphics geometry.
well as in cinemas, on television
broadcast sets and at large outdoor
attractions. “That’s Christie’s
strength, being able to turn anything into a giant artistic canvas,”
says Salvini.
“So we see a lot of these outdoor
events, very bright projectors
stitched together, and it’s quite
amazing how that can be used to
transform spaces and create these
amazing visual spectacles.”
Another new initiative from the
visual technologies company is the
enhancement of its 3D projection
mapping technologies by taking
multiple projectors and putting
Christie
Christie Digital
Digital
Systems
Systems Canada
Canada Inc.
Inc.
Address: 809 Wellington St. N.,
Kitchener
Employees in Kitchener: 700
Parent company: Christie Digital
Systems USA Inc., founded in
1929
Worldwide employment: almost
1,500
Owned by: Ushio Inc. of Japan,
Canadian presence established
with acquisition of the projection
systems business of
Kitchener-based Electrohome Ltd.
in 1999
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images on a physical object. An
example was displayed during InfoComm 2013 in Orlando, Fla., earlier this year. A one-fifth 3D scale
model of an Audi R8 was created
from digital renderings; using
Christie projectors and MicroTiles
display systems, features were projected onto the ‘canvas.’
Using a console, an operator
could configure the car’s design,
including the colour and the style of
rims.
“What’s amazing here is that
you’re looking at a physical object,
and it’s unbelievable, it looks real,”
Salvini says. ‰
Technology Spotlight y 29
feed the flame
MATHEW McCARTHY, RECORD STAFF
Paul Salvini, chief technical officer at Christie Digital, with one of the
company’s high-resolution digital projectors.
‰ “This is important because the
way people want to be able to see
things is to be able to touch and
interact with things in a physical
way,” he adds. “When you just have
an image, a 2D image on a screen, it
doesn’t have the same impact as an
actual physical object in 3D.”
Hospitals and health-care centres are using another one of Christie’s inventions.
The hand-held VeinViewer is a
high-definition, non-invasive vein
illumination device designed to
show vascular imaging on the
skin’s surface. The tool can read
what is under your skin and provide the precise location of your
veins, which has made life easier
for health-care professionals, Salvini says.
Another impressive innovation
from Christie is EGG, which stands
for Edgeless Graphics Geometry.
EGG is a portable elliptical simulator that offers a virtual reality
environment that is seamless, without any edges. Eight projectors are
stitched together on a single surface in high resolution, with highframe rates and special technology
that is designed to reduce the
amount of smearing and blurring.
The machine is used for flight and
air traffic control simulation or any
time you need to replicate a “real
world visual environment,” says
Salvini.
Christie’s growth and survival
in a fast-changing industry is the
result of careful planning, he says.
The company, which employs 700
people at its plant and office on
Wellington Street North and a
warehouse on Trillium Drive, is in
a strong position because of the
investments it made in digital cinema. As cinemas started converting
from film projectors to digital,
“Christie was in the right place at
the right time,” he says. “That led to
much of the growth of the company.”
Salvini believes Christie will be
Success in technology begins with the spark
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MATHEW McCARTHY, RECORD STAFF
An employee of Christie Digital
walks by MicroTiles displays in the
lobby of the company’s Kitchener
facility.
able to conquer future challenges
because it has access to a deep pool
of talented and intelligent individuals in Waterloo.
“Traditionally, one of the biggest
challenges in growing a company is
being able to have access to the
right people,” he says. “One of the
luxuries we have in the Waterloo
Region is access not only to highly
technical people, but also people
with a strong background in business and creativity.”
With the right people in place,
Christie only has to seize the opportunities the digital world is
presenting. “For us, the challenge
will be in making sure that we can
move the company successfully to
grow beyond projection, to really
be able to anticipate what the world
will be ready for in terms of visual
experiences, and then be able to
deliver those experiences to the
marketplace in the right way,”
Salvini says. n
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Technology Spotlight y 31
SOFTWARE SYSTEMS
Peer Group is smart about
factory automation software
Dave Pink, Special to The Record
T
he software developers at
Kitchener’s Peer Group
have been leaving some
rather large footprints on
the world’s computer chip industry.
“We believe that every computer
chip on the planet has been touched
by production equipment with our
software on it,” says Mike Kropp,
the privately owned company’s
president, chief executive officer
and co-founder.
Peer Group develops software
that improves the performance and
productivity of automated production equipment used in the manufacture of computer chips. “We are
the market leaders in the space we
are in,” says Kropp. “The biggest of
the big use our software.”
Kropp and fellow co-founder
Robert Harris launched Peer Group
in 1992 after they left ATS Automation Tooling Systems, where they
ran the Cambridge-based company’s software systems division.
Kropp says they gained a thorough
understanding of the automation
process at ATS. “Our expertise was
in the manufacture of software
systems, and I saw that there were
opportunities for a software company doing automated factory software,” he says.
Harris is now chair of the company’s board, but does not participate
in the company’s day-to-day operations.
From humble beginnings the
company has grown quickly. Peer
Group has 134 employees and had
revenue of $14.7 million in 2012. It
ranked 156th on Branham Group’s
2013 list of Canada’s top technology
companies.
As well, despite the head-shaking
skepticism of some, it was the first
tenant in a reconditioned factory
building at 72 Victoria St. S. in
Kitchener’s old industrial core. It
moved into the former furniture
plant in 1999, laying the foundation
for the tech cluster that now thrives
in the Tannery district. “We saw
what this space could be,” says
Kropp.
Peer Group has added 40 employees in the last two years, including
engineers, people with degrees in
computer science and engineering,
and people that Kropp says “feel
PHILIP WALKER, RECORD STAFF
Mike Kropp, chief executive officer of Peer Group, gives credit to the company’s
"very smart engineers" for its success in the factory automation software
market.
Peer
Peer Group
Group
Business: Factory automation software
Founded: 1992
Executive team: Mike Kropp, founder and CEO; Robert Harris, founder and
chair; Caren Clemens, controller
Employees: 134
Address: 72 Victoria St. S., Suite 400, Kitchener
comfortable with mechanical concepts.” They work in an industry
where the demands and expectations of the market place are high,
and the intellectual agility of the
software designers is essential.
“Our products are mission critical,”
Kropp says. “They cannot fail. Uptime is critical. It can’t stop. There
has to be zero downtime.”
The company’s equipment designers are constantly evaluating
and re-evaluating their product.
“We do software in the same way
that civil engineers build bridges,”
Kropp says. “We do planning, and
we do thorough testing. You don’t
start by pouring the concrete first.”
In 2003, Peer Group acquired the
European division of TRW’s semi-
conductor systems integration
business, giving it a window into
Europe. Based in Dresden, Germany, this branch operation employs
25 people, mainly engineers, and
provides expertise in equipment
automation testing, equipment
supplier management and advanced process control solutions.
Other acquisitions followed. In 2008,
Peer Group acquired the CCS Envoy
product testing suite. One year later,
it bought the software connectivity
business of Asyst Technologies.
The company, which also has
home-based business development
staff in Austin, Tex., and Pittsburgh,
faces a sizable challenge in that it
operates in a mature market that
places a high value on innovation.
“Our challenge is selling to a market
that is fairly mature ... a mature
market that is innovating like crazy,” Kropp says. “What we see are
fewer customers to sell to, and fewer
pieces of equipment.”
That equipment has become
much more sophisticated, transforming larger and larger silicon
wafers into smaller and far more
intricate chips. “In some cases the
equipment is moving individual
atoms,” Kropp says. “This industry
is constantly innovating.”
He says Peer Group relies on the
talent of its “very smart engineers”
to keep developing innovative products that will allow the company to
expand its footprint. “We need to be
smart if we are going to grow, so we
have to provide more value in our
product and put even more of a footprint on the industry. We need to be
able to support our customers, and
if there’s a need for an upgrade we
have to do it quick.”
Customers purchase a development licence to use Peer Group
software. The software is delivered
either electronically, or on a CD.
The company has no customers
in Canada. “We’re a 100 per cent
export business,” Kropp says. About
70 per cent of the world’s chip-making facilities are in Asia.
Still, Kropp says there are big
advantages in being based in Canada, and specifically in Waterloo
Region. Canadian government tax
programs such as the Scientific
Research and Experimental Development program provide financial
advantages to companies doing
high-tech research and development. As well, the region’s postsecondary institutions produce a
pool of talented software engineers.
And the cost of living in the region
is lower than in the U.S. or Europe.
Despite the global nature of the
business, Kropp says there’s no
substitute for frequent personal
contacts with the customers,
through networking events and
regular participation at international trade shows. “Our market is
fairly small,” he says. “We know all
the chip makers (there are about 40
of them), and all the equipment
manufacturers (about 300 of them).
You need to be part of the club, with
a demonstrated record of performance.” n
32 y Technology Spotlight
SOFTWARE
‘Biggest little oil company’
DAVID BEBEE, RECORD STAFF
Ray Simonson (left), chief executive officer of Coreworx, Peter Walker, vice-president of product management and marketing, and Ronak Patel, marketing and
communications specialist.
Coreworx feels
right at home in
Waterloo Region
Dave Pink, Special to The Record
I
n a world bustling with increasingly complex petro-projects,
one Kitchener company feels
right at home.
“We are the biggest little oil company in Kitchener,” says Ray Simonson,
chief executive officer of Coreworx
Inc.
The company develops project
management software for some of the
world’s most complex oil and gas
projects, as well as some infrastructure and power projects. That software
ensures that the engineers and technicians working on those projects
have a thorough up-to-the-minute
understanding of what’s going on,
what’s needed next, and their role in
making it happen.
Of course, that puts considerable
pressure on the firm’s software developers. “At this moment, around the
world, there are $70-billion worth of
projects running on our software,”
says Simonson. “These projects cannot fail.”
In the old days, engineers would
bring in boxes and boxes of documents
and blueprints. They’d sit down
around a table and try to work things
out — a scenario that is now unthinkable, given the worldwide scope and
the geologic challenges that confront
any new oil-drilling venture.
“It’s the scale we help to manage,”
says Peter Walker, the company’s
vice-president of product management and marketing. “Where we excel
is in the very large scale projects. The
more complex, the more we excel.”
The Coreworx client base, he says,
takes in the corporations behind “any
large, complex project with multiple
partners, and alternative ways of
doing things.”
Coreworx software “complements
the environmental and regulatory
framework,” says Walker. “Safety
drives what we do. And it drives most
of the sophisticated players in the
industry.”
“What we’ve done is what I like to
call more active project management,” says Simonson. “It’s really
about defining a schedule. There’s a
complex set of interactions that go
with any large project. It’s about
tracking things and knowing how to
control and manage risk. And if that
was easy, they wouldn’t need our software.
“The age of easy oil is over,” he
adds.
Simonson grew up in British Co-
lumbia and initially worked in the
forestry industry. In 1996, he co-founded BlueGill Technologies, a startup
that developed electronic billing and
payment software. BlueGill, which did
its software development in Waterloo,
was acquired by Atlanta-based CheckFree Corp. in 1999. CheckFree closed
the Waterloo office in 2005. “I’ve spent
17 years in the corporate system working to improve efficiency and working
to improve the efficiency of capital
projects,” says Simonson.
Coreworx was originally started in
2000 as the North American branch
office for a Norwegian company that
was heavily involved in the development of North Sea oil sites. When
the Toronto-based operation was put
on the market in 2005, Simonson and a
partner picked it up.
At the time, Coreworx had fewer
than 30 employees. Now, it has 50 employees, mainly technical staff, stationed in the Kitchener head office,
and another 20 in Calgary. “That could
double in the next year or so,” says
Simonson. “And over the past eight
years we’ve invested $35 million in
research and development,” he adds.
Simonson moved the company
Coreworx
Coreworx
Business: Software for managing larger capital projects
Founded: 1997
Executive team: Ray Simonson, CEO; Erik Vander Ahe, senior vice-president
operations; Greg Barratt, senior vice-president sales; Peter Walker,
vice-president product management and marketing
Employees: 50
Address: 22 Frederick St., Suite 800, Kitchener
from Toronto in 2006, to take advantage of the “vitality” he saw in Waterloo Region.
From its beginnings as a company
focused entirely on the U.S. and Canadian market, Coreworx has gone international in a big — and somewhat
unintentional — way. When Saudi
Aramco, the mammoth national oil
company for Saudi Arabia, came
knocking on their door a few years ago
looking for software, Simonson wasn’t
keen on taking it on as a customer. The
job looked a little too daunting. “We
said no,” he recalls. But the Saudis
eventually won the Coreworx execs
over, and Coreworx software is now
widely used in the Middle East. More
recently, SinoPet, the Chinese national oil company, came looking for software.
“We are managing projects on a
number of fronts, picking the best
opportunities,” says Walker. “It’s an
embarrassment of riches.”
“In this industry we see the snowball effect,” he says. “As engineers
move from project to project they like
to take our software with them.
“It’s a small industry,” says Simonson. “Everybody knows each other.”
The challenge, Simonson says, is
finding the money to finance the
growth his company needs. He’s
turned to the investment bankers of
New York and Boston for help. “We
believe we could grow twice as fast as
we are,” he says. “There are opportunities for us around the world and we
have to be there.” n
Technology Spotlight y 33
DIGITAL MARKETING
From technophobe to respected
leader in Canada’s tech sector
John Schofield, Special to The Record
S
he was born into one of
Kitchener’s oldest manufacturing families — a
self-described “technophobe” who studied political science and dreamed of becoming a
diplomat. Then Jen Evans discovered the internet and her world
changed.
It was 1997 and Evan, the founder
and CEO of Sequentia Environics, a
Toronto-based digital marketing
firm, and former chair of the Information Technology Association
of Canada, was working in Japan,
managing about a hundred expat
employees for a private language
school. When a technician arrived
one day to install an internet connection and the first website flashed
on the screen, Evans was transfixed.
“I still remember watching this
Yahoo page load and thinking, ‘Oh
my God, I don’t know what that is,
but it’s the future — and I want to do
it.”
That twist of techno-fate marked
the beginning of Evans’ rise to her
role today as a respected leader in
Canada’s technology community.
As the driving force behind Sequentia Environics, which she founded
in 2002, she is a Canadian pioneer in
the field of digital marketing.
In June 2012 she was named chair
of the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) for the
2012-13 term and continues to be
actively involved in the group.
“Jen has made a great contribution to ITAC and the information
technology community in Canada,”
says Brian Doody, ITAC’s current
vice-chair and the CEO of Waterloobased Teledyne DALSA. “She’s a
very strong and skilled individual.”
Evans’ roots on her mother’s side
reach deep into Waterloo Region’s
industrial past. In 1880, her great,
great, great grandfather, Hartman
Krug, founded Krug Furniture,
which still thrives today. As a youngster, Evans helped out in the business. She thinks back to when she
was seven and gluing labels on wood
samples for the sales force.
Evans returned to Canada from
Japan in 1997 determined to find a
job in technology — regardless of
the qualifications required. When
she applied for a job as a firewall
support technician with Torontobased BRAK Systems, she had to
CHLOE ELLINGSON, SPECIAL TO THE RECORD
Jen Evans grew up in Waterloo Region. She now runs Sequentia Environics in Toronto and is past chair of the Information
Technology Association of Canada.
admit to company founder Robert
Herjavec she had no idea what a
firewall was.
Herjavec, a former panellist on
the popular CBC-TV show Dragons’
Den and a current “shark” on its
U.S. counterpart Shark Tank, hired
her instead to improve BRAK’s
website and later promoted her to
marketing manager.
“I love people who have drive and
ambition,” Herjavec says, recalling
his decision to hire Evans. “When I
first met Jen, she had both of those
in spades; light on technology, but
long on ambition.”
At BRAK, Evans was bitten by
both the entrepreneurial bug and
the marketing bug. She became
involved with Webgrrls, an organization for women in technologyrelated careers. She was also instrumental in the formation of DigitalEve, a similar group that boasted
chapters in 40 countries at its
height. Her work with these groups,
Information
Information
Technology
Technology
Association
Association of
of
Canada
Canada
Mission: Represent the interests
of the information and
communications technology
industry
Executive: Karna Gupta,
president; Brian Doody, CEO
Teleydine Dalsa, vice-chair
Address: 5090 Explorer Dr.,
Mississauga
she says, helped to raise her public
profile, landing her spots, for example, as a technology commentator for the Business News Network.
The collapse of DigitalEve with
the post 9/11 economic slump hit
Evans hard.
“It was my first experience with
not overcoming obstacles, not knowing what to do,” she says. “Failure is
one of the hardest things to deal
with, but as technology entrepreneurs, we need to figure that out
because it’s a day-to-day reality.”
In 2002, as a senior marketing
executive with Cognicase, now part
of Montreal-based CGI Group, Evans took an $11,000 package and used
it to start Sequentia Communications. Its clients today include Bell,
Intel Canada, and Hewlett-Packard.
Five years ago, she sold 25 per cent
of the company to the Environics
Group, the Toronto-based marketing research and communications
conglomerate. ‰
34 y Technology Spotlight
‰ Last year, Stamford, Conn.-based
Gartner Inc., the influential technology research and consulting
firm, added Sequentia Environics to
its 2012 Marketing and Channels
Cool Vendors Report.
“Sequentia’s founder, Jen Evans,
saw in 2002 (years before the social
media revolution found its way into
marketing) how communities of
everyday people were all too eager
to act as spokespeople for brands
(whether those brands liked it or
not),” analyst Richard Fouts wrote.
“More than 100 communities later,
Sequentia continues to help its
clients turn customers (even prospects) into brand ambassadors and
salespeople.”
Through its Atom Agency division, Sequentia still specializes in
digital content marketing, using
email newsletters and social media
to build online communities around
products.
But last year, it unveiled a new
secret weapon, SqueezeCMM (content marketing measurement), a
subscription-based software product that helps companies measure
what forms of online advertising are
generating actual sales and how
much revenue they’re producing.
They’re the kind of metrics that
marketers love — and rarely receive
with traditional media such as print
and TV. A Fortune 50 technology
company and one of the Big Three
automakers have already signed on
as major clients. Evans is so bullish
about the product’s potential that
she now plans to sell Atom Agency
and devote herself full-time to
SqueezeCMM.
From her vantage point working
with some of the world’s most dynamic tech companies and on the
ITAC board, Evans sees a very
healthy technology sector in Canada that’s spawning “some of the
most amazing innovation and the
coolest companies.”
“Where we continue to have a
gap,” she says, echoing a common
refrain, “is incubating companies
that are showing promise into Canadian success stories. We need to do a
better job of nurturing them and
getting them to the scale of growth
that the Canadian industry can
support.”
Tax incentives for research
should be expanded to include commercialization, she suggests, and
public and private-sector procurement policies should be amended to
“I still remember
watching this
Yahoo page
load and
thinking, ‘Oh my
God, I don’t
know what that
is, but it’s the
future – and I
want to do it.”
Jen Evans,
FOUNDER AND CEO OF SEQUENTIA
ENVIRONICS
make it easier to buy goods and
services from emerging Canadian
technology companies. If there’s a
way around global trade treaties,
she adds, governments should even
consider purchasing quotas to promote the growth of Canadian tech
companies.
“Canada should be a proving
ground,” she says. “We wouldn’t be
giving people money, but giving
them the means to get the money to
get to the next stage.”
At the same time, Evans believes,
Canada needs to better target the
support it already provides to budding companies. She decries what
she calls “startup fetishization” — a
business climate that glamorizes
startup companies, no matter how
solid their business model is.
“There are 100 accelerators in
Canada now,” she says. “That is
insane. We do not need that many.”
As a successful female entrepreneur, Evans has another item on her
wish list for Canada’s tech sector:
harnessing the entrepreneurial
potential of Canadian women.
Allocating funding based on
gender is not a good idea, she’s
quick to note. What women do need
is a stronger support system, especially around children. But Evans,
who is not a mom, notes that any
effort to encourage women to start
more businesses would face an
ingrained cultural barrier, as much
as a business one.
Companies with women on their
boards perform better, she says.
“The irony is that what makes
women great managers can make us
terrible entrepreneurs.”
Clearly that’s a hurdle that Evans
cleared a long time ago. n
Technology Spotlight y 35
STARTUP
Giftopia makes gift giving easy
Personal online
registry ensures a
pleasing present
Lisa MacColl, Special to The Record
Y
ou open a gift with excitement and then pause as
the gift giver waits in
eager anticipation of your
reaction. You frantically try to think
of something positive to say about
the worst gift ever. Randall Bird,
founder and chief executive officer
of Giftopia Inc., had one of those
moments when he received not one
but two Shop-Vacs for Christmas
one year. He decided there had to be
a way for people to get the gifts they
wanted and the idea behind Giftopia
was born.
Giftopia, launched in 2011, developed a personal online gift registry
called Eventastic Giftopia that allows users to create wish lists and
send the link to friends and family.
Bird, a serial entrepreneur with
many successful ventures to his
credit in fields ranging from manufacturing to wine and restaurant
consulting, has been “boot-strapping the projects” personally. He
started at the Accelerator Centre in
Waterloo with “little old me and one
desk” and the business has grown to
eight full-time employees plus co-op
students.
“Giftopia is a simple idea, but a
complex execution,” says Bird. To
illustrate the complexity, he cites
the example of a grandmother who
thinks her grandchildren are always the same size as the last time
she saw them. Giftopia’s registry
allows users to update sizes and
preferences.
“Had I known how big this thing
had to be behind the scenes, I might
have avoided going down the path
but I’m so glad I did,” Bird says,
adding that “I knew I was on to
something when my 19-year-old
approved of the idea.”
The gift registry, which Bird
describes as his “big furry teddy
bear — everyone loves it,” prompted
the creation of two related sites: a
wedding registry and an event planning site. Both run on the original
platform.
Bird says it was a natural evolution to go from the gift registry to a
wedding site. “I was trying to think
of ways to market Giftopia, and who
gets more gifts than a bride and
groom,” he says. “The wedding site
evolved from there.”
ADAM GAGNON, SPECIAL TO THE RECORD
Randall Bird (in pickup), chief executive officer of Giftopia, and his team work out of the Accelerator Centre in Waterloo.
Giftopia
Giftopia
Business: Personal online gift registry
Founded: 2011
Executive team: Randall Bird, founder and CEO
Employees: 12
Address: 295 Hagey Blvd., Waterloo
The wedding registry, branded as
Eventastic Weddings, is free for
brides and grooms. They can create
a gift registry and send out a link to
all of their guests. They also can use
the wedding site to send out invitations, receive replies, track gifts,
receive monetary gifts, send video
thank-yous and share photos.
Professionals such as photographers, wedding planners, DJs and
musicians, bridal shops and bakers
pay a fee to be featured on the wedding site.
Bird notes that the wedding registry is an environmentally friendly
option for brides and grooms. “It
can be sold as a green alternative,
because a bride and groom can send
video invitations, electronic gift
registry and video thank-yous. A
bride and groom can do 150 thankyou videos in under an hour.”
The wedding registry is an effective marketing tool for the original
gift registry. “Every wedding is one
bride and groom and about 150
guests,” says Bird. “When those
guests see how great our universal
registry works they tend to gravitate to it.”
Bird and his staff promote the
wedding registry at wedding shows.
He says more than 90 per cent of the
brides they see sign up for the service. While the cost of attending
shows in Canada and the United
States is large — more than $100,000
— the payoff is that “we get in front
of the brides, really understand
what they want, need and value,” he
says. “Having done over 50 bridal
trade shows, we are able to put our
finger on the market in both Canada
and the U.S.”
The event planning site, branded
as Eventastic, was launched recently after a year of beta testing. The
site allows users to organize any
type of event. They can send invitations, sell tickets, track progress,
and accept cash donations or collect
funds for a group gift. There is no
charge to use the site for events that
are free. A service fee is applied if
you sell tickets for the event.
The site incorporates a rewards
system to encourage ticket sellers to
promote and sell tickets. Tickets
purchased through the site can be
refunded if the event is cancelled.
An event also can be linked to a profile on the wedding registry site for a
stag and doe or shower, and invitations can be sent using the bride
and groom’s existing guest list.
Bird says Giftopia is succeeding
through word of mouth, as people
who receive links from the site tend
to also sign up. There also is a significant conversion rate from the wedding registry to the personal gift
registry.
Wedding guests receive an email
after the wedding inviting them to
check out the personal gift registry.
While the wedding registry is marketed mainly through trade shows,
Eventastic is being promoted
through a full-on digital marketing
campaign.
But gaining traction for the sites
is not easy. “If you build it, they will
not come,” says Bird. “It’s the biggest mistake younger entrepreneurs make. You might have the
greatest app in the world, but if you
don’t get the word out, you won’t
succeed. It’s all up to you to make
that market traction happen.”
Bird praises Communitech and
programs like the Accelerator Centre in Waterloo for the support they
provide new businesses. “Thank
goodness there are places like the
Accelerator Centre and Communitech to help us old guys and the
young ones,” he says.
Bird notes that when he set up
shop in the Accelerator Centre he
was the oldest entrepreneur there.
“After a while, they started calling
me a Cog, which I thought meant I
was a cog in the wheel,” he says.
“Turns out it stood for ‘cool old guy.’
I guess that’s a good thing,” he says
with a laugh. n
36 y Technology Spotlight
INVENTIONS
Engineer brings Tesla’s
inventions back to life
N
Sam Toman, Special to The Record
emanja Jevremovic has a
homemade earthquake
machine in his condo.
His is an electric version based on the original model built
by inventor, engineer, futurist and
beloved Serbian, Nikola Tesla.
Legend has it that in 1898 when
Tesla first tested his invention (which
was small enough to fit in an overcoat
pocket) it nearly shook his New York
City building to pieces before Tesla
destroyed it with a sledgehammer to
avoid criminal charges. “You turn it
on and it produces tremors,” Jevremovic says. “This one is too weak.
But the one we are going to produce
has better tremors and more frequency range. All things have their natural
frequency, and if you hit it …” Jevremovic’s eyes light up, “…Boom,” he
whispers, making an exploding gesture with his hands.
Jevremovic’s condo building in
south Kitchener is still standing, his
wife Jovana hasn’t fled the room, and
he’s not in jail, but that doesn’t mean
his earthquake machine doesn’t
work.
Jevremovic is the founder of Tesla
Projects Laboratory Inc., a Kitchenerbased company that specializes in
producing handcrafted, accurate,
artistic and working versions of Tesla’s inventions. Besides Jevremovic,
who handles electrical engineering
duties, the “we” of Tesla Projects
includes three partners in Serbia who
craft the handful of Tesla reproductions for sale and Jovana, a graphic
designer who manages the website
and designs promotional materials
for the company.
Though Tesla has a dedicated
following among engineers, he is
often overshadowed in American
popular culture by contemporaries
such as Thomas Edison and Guglielmo Marconi. There is much debate
surrounding which of these men
invented what and when, but Tesla’s
contributions to radio communication, wireless transmission, X-ray
technology and the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply
system made him an undisputed giant
in what is known as the Age of Invention.
Jevremovic has had an interest in
the somewhat mysterious inventor
for most of his life. Born in Belgrade
and raised in Sarajevo, Jevremovic
MATHEW McCARTHY, RECORD STAFF
Kitchener couple Jovana and Nemanja Jevremovic run Tesla Projects Laboratory out of their condominium.
claims to be related to Tesla through
marriage. But that’s mostly a coincidence. The real attraction came when
he joined a youth radio design club
and first learned about the enigmatic
inventor.
Growing up in the former Yugoslavia, Jevremovic studied the sciences but ultimately earned a postsecondary degree in sports science.
But after moving to Canada in 1995 he
was unable to transfer his education
to a meaningful career. “I didn’t love
American sports,” he says. “If you
don’t love something you can’t truly
do it.”
So Jevremovic switched gears and
began studying something he’d loved
since his youth radio club — electrical
engineering. He received a degree in
the subject from Conestoga College.
Today, he works full-time at L3 Wescam, a military and defence surveillance company in Burlington and is
pursuing a doctoral degree focusing
on Tesla’s wireless technology.
Jovana also attended Conestoga
College where she studied graphic
design. Today, she works at Things
Engraved. Both she and Jevremovic
work on Tesla Projects in their spare
time. “I don’t want my wife to depend
on this. Unless I get 1,000 orders,” says
Jevremovic. “This is museum stuff.
This is not something you will be
selling like crazy.”
Each Tesla recreation is based on
the original design patented by the
inventor himself. Following a trip to
the Nikola Tesla Museum in Serbia,
Jevremovic says he “gained the trust”
of the museum director who granted
him access to the supporting materials that help explain the purposely
vague patents.
Putting his electrical engineering
skills to the test he built his first recreation, a small version of a Tesla coil
oscillator, in 2001. “The first time I
turned it on, it worked,” says Jevremovic. “This amazed me. As an
engineer I’ll tell you, nothing works
the first time. It meant I have the
ability to translate these patents.”
Proving he could bring the patents
to life helped him make a case to the
Serbian craftspeople who would become his partners that together they
could tap into (or create) a market for
recreated Tesla inventions.
Each Tesla invention for sale (via
an online catalogue created by Jovana) has an electrical system designed
by Jevremovic. How each piece looks
is the responsibility of the Serbian
partners who handcraft all of the
mechanical wood and metal components, and custom-build each device
to the buyer’s specifications.
The result is part work of art and
part elevated science experiment.
Jevremovic and his partners use
materials and tools that not only
honour the turn-of the-century craftsmanship of Tesla’s original machines,
but make the patented inventions
almost impossible to duplicate. “This
is 100 per cent handmade, even the
screws,” says Jevremovic, pointing at
a stunning reproduction of Tesla’s
Egg of Columbus. “When we sell this,
we don’t want people to bastardize it.
The screws even have a different
thread than is common.” ‰
Technology Spotlight y 37
Tesla
Tesla Projects
Projects
Laboratory
Laboratory
Business: Recreates inventions of
Nikola Tesla
Executive team: Nemanja
Jevremovic, founder and CEO;
Jovana Jevremovic, CFO and
marketing
Address: Kitchener
JOVANA JEVREMOVIC
A replica of Tesla’s Egg of Columbus, one of the main attractions at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, which Nikola
Tesla used to demonstrate and explain the principles of a rotating magnetic field.
‰ Each piece sells for $2,000 to $50,000.
Tesla Projects has sold pieces to museums and private collections in
France, Italy, Germany, Croatia, Japan and beyond. But so far sales in
North America have been slow.
Tesla Projects made its official
debut in September 2012 when it showcased a number of pieces at Communitech in downtown Kitchener. Since
then Jevremovic has enlisted the help
of Communitech mentor Jesse Guild
to help with a business plan. “We are
just starting,” admits Jevremovic.
“People are interested, but can we
make it cheap enough for people to
buy? So far, this is as cheap as we can
make it.”
Mass producing and grinding out a
profit isn’t all that important to Jev-
removic. He hopes that instead of
buying an inert sculpture, a collector
could have a beautiful working (and
entertaining) piece of art. “We would
develop all of this for nothing,” he
says. “If people didn’t want to buy it,
that would be OK.”
More customers may be on the
horizon. Jevremovic hopes to debut a
recreation of Tesla’s teleautomaton
boat in 2015. It’s an ambitious, and
hopefully attention-grabbing, attempt
to recreate an invention that was
patented in 1898 and presented at
Madison Square Garden to the U.S.
military officials as a fist radio controlled robotic device.
What about the earthquake machine? Will that ever be for sale? “We
will make a real, accurate electromechanical oscillator,” Jevremovic
says, using the earthquake machine’s
scientific name. Though a timeline
for this isn’t set, he does hope to offer
it for sale one day.
It could be a hot item. If it works for
Jevremovic he will have done what
the guys from the popular TV show
MythBusters weren’t able to do — get
the earthquake machine working. n
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38 y Technology Spotlight
APPS
BigRoad puts fleet management
for trucking into high gear
John Vessoyan, Special to The Record
T
he evolution of technology
has made people forget
about the days of maps,
compasses and the horse
and buggy.
Trucking companies and their
drivers have clearly benefited from the
development of online maps, GPS and
smartphones. Now, a Kitchener startup is pushing the technology into new
territory.
BigRoad Inc. has developed a
smartphone fleet management application, called BigRoad, for trucking
companies. It’s the No. 1 trucking app
on the Android platform. At the end of
July, BigRoad also was launched for
Apple’s iOS iPhone and iPad devices.
With about 95 per cent of the industry still doing driver logs on paper,
BigRoad is going against the grain
with its technology. The company has
automated driver logs and turned
them into an electronic tool so drivers
can show them to a roadside inspector
if they get pulled over, and keep track
of how many hours they drove during
a delivery. “It’s really quite important
because truck drivers have to be able
to demonstrate where they have driven in a day, how many hours have they
driven, so that they don’t fall asleep at
the wheel,” says Kelly Frey, Big Road’s
co-founder and chief executive officer.
The company, whose executive
team includes Kelly’s brother, Terry,
and Dan Collens, was incorporated in
December of 2010 and officially
launched in July of 2011. Kelly says
they started with a grassroots approach; they got drivers on their side
by giving them something that solved
their on-road problems. Drivers then
took the information back to their
fleet managers to show them how
BigRoad’s technology operates.
Working in BigRoad’s favour was
the increasing use of smartphones for
business functions, and pending legislation in the United States that will
approve on-board electronic logs. That
law is expected to be implemented in
2015.
Terry Frey, the company’s cofounder and chief operating officer,
says it didn’t take a lot of effort to
convince trucking companies to get on
board with BigRoad’s software. “Part
of the design goal early on was to build
something that’s very relevant and
interesting for the drivers, saves them
time and makes it easier for them,” he
PETER LEE, RECORD STAFF
Dan Collens (left), chief technology officer of BigRoad, Kelly Frey, chief executive officer, and Terry Frey, chief operating
officer, started the business because they believed in a better way for trucking companies to manage their fleets.
BigRoad
BigRoad
Business: Electronic log app for truck drivers
Founded: 2011
Executive team: Kelley Frey, CEO; Terry Frey, COO; Dan Collens, chief
technology officer
Investors: Laurence Capital Corp.
Address: 645 Westmount Rd. E., Kitchener
says. “We’ve been quite successful in
that. The drivers find it, use it and tell
their friends about it … We make it
easy for them to include their fleet
into their results. The biggest thing is
having them try it. They try it and we
have a high success rate in them wanting to use it and adopt it as a solution
for their business.”
Ray Werbicky, general manager of
B.J. Bear, a Kitchener-based trucking
company, did a trial run using Big
Road’s app and immediately fell in
love with it. “It was fantastic, never
seen anything like it,” he says. Before
Big Road, B.J. Bear gave cellphones to
the drivers of its 35 trucks. They have
ditched the cellphones and given
drivers tablets to utilize the app. With
the app, Werbicky can track logs in
real time and keep an eye on his fleet.
“It’s very affordable. It works well,” he
says.
Collens, also a co-founder of Big
Road and the company’s chief technology officer, says that designing the app
with the driver’s needs in mind in-
volved more than making it visually
attractive and easy to use. “We design
our products with the mindset that the
driver is a professional who deserves
respect,” he says. “We try to empower
the driver to do a better job, keep more
accurate logs of his or her daily activities and communicate more effectively with customers and colleagues.”
BigRoad, which employs 12 people,
has enjoyed early success with more
than 100,000 downloads of its smartphone app. Users pay $15 a month for
its fleet management services. However, there are still obstacles in the company’s path as it looks to grow the
business, which is supported financially by funding from Laurence Capital Corp. and the Investment Accelerator Fund.
“The biggest challenge is really
sales and marketing challenges,” says
Kelly, who previously worked for BSM
Wireless, Turnpike Global Technologies and Descartes Systems Group.
“We’ve got to continue to build our
brand, spread the word and get into as
many hands as possible.”
“We truly do believe that we’ll be
the first mass-adopted application for
trucking,” he adds. “Our goal is a
million users and we feel comfortable
that we’ll be able to get there.”
Terry, who like his brother has
worked for Descartes Systems Group,
as well as ActivPlant Corp., notes that
the company has lots of sales leads
coming in. Qualifying those leads to
pursue the best ones is a critical part
of the sales process, he says.
“We are right where we thought
we’d be. It’s a matter of managing the
opportunities effectively for revenue.”
Collens, who was one of the founders of Kaleidescape, another local
startup, says BigRoad has “really just
scratched the surface” of what needs
to be done to modernize the systems
used in the transportation industry.
“We have big plans,” he says. “Fleet
operators needs simple and powerful
reports and dashboards. We want to
help connect shippers and truckers
more efficiently than ever before to
increase fleet utilization, drive down
costs and reduce payment delays.”
In August, BigRoad graduated from
the Accelerator Centre in Waterloo
and moved into offices at Ottawa
Street and Westmount Road in Kitchener. It also has opened a sales and
marketing office in Silicon Valley in
northern California. n
Technology Spotlight y 39
RECRUITING
Qwalify captures top talent
Kitchener startup has
created ‘the eHarmony
for the job market’
Justin Fauteux, Special to The Record
M
ost people spend more waking hours
at work than they do with their
spouse. So why not treat finding a
place to work a bit more like finding
a mate?
That’s the basic idea behind Kitchener-based
startup Qwalify, which founder and chief executive
officer Phil Noelting describes as “the eHarmony
for the job market.”
Typically, filling a vacant job is a pretty standard practice that hasn’t really changed in decades. When an employer has an opening, it advertises a job description with a list of responsibilities, while job hunters send in cover letters and
resumes hoping they fit the criteria.
Noelting can’t stand that age-old approach. “It’s
such a stupid, broken system,” he says. “Unfortunately, most companies treat hiring more like a
transaction than an actual relationship, when it’s
really a relationship.”
In 2009, shortly after graduating from Babson
College — a renowned business school just outside
of Boston, Mass. — Noelting took his observations
on the current practice of hiring, and turned them
into a company called Skillter Inc., which offered
consulting services to employers looking to engage
the next generation of workers. Looking to take the
idea of Skillter to a new level, Noelting, a Toronto
native, founded Qwalify in Boston — where many
of the company’s investors are located — in August
2010, before moving the company to the Accelerator Centre in Waterloo in October of the same
year. The company, which has seven full-time employees, recently moved out of the centre into offices at the corner of Westmount Road and Ottawa
Street.
Noelting argues the current “post and pray”
mentality most companies use to fill vacant jobs
puts both the employer and the potential employee
at a disadvantage. The employer, he says, ends up
picking from a group of applicants who are simply
“putting on a face” in the hopes of getting the job.
Meanwhile whoever gets the job is immediately
put in what Noelting calls a “transactional relationship” where they’re merely looking to satisfy
their list of duties, without really believing in the
company.
The whole process is reactive in nature. In Noelting’s eyes a proactive approach would suit both
sides much better. That’s where Qwalify comes in.
In true eHarmony fashion, Qwalify aims to
match employers with people who are compatible
with their company. Qwalify’s services are broken
down into two streams: one for employers and one
for those looking for work — referred to as “job
seekers.”
For job seekers, the whole thing is free. Someone looking for work simply visits Qwalify.com,
fills out a quick personality quiz very much akin to
the ones found on online dating sites and are then
given the opportunity to “introduce” themselves to
DAVID BEBEE, RECORD STAFF
Phil Noelting, founder and president of Qwalify Inc., says there are better ways for companies to find the
right employees than the traditional “post and pray” method.
Qwalify
Qwalify
Business: Software platform for employee
recruiting
Founded: 2010
Executive team: Phil Noelting, founder and
president
Employees: 7
Address: 645 Westmount Rd. E., Unit 11,
Kitchener
companies they’re compatible with.
While companies that use Qwalify’s services
are still able to broadcast vacant positions in a
traditional fashion, job seekers are not looking at
job descriptions and duty lists. Noelting says the
idea is for people looking for work to look for a
company they can identify with. “People buy into
visions a lot more than they buy into duties,” he
says. “If an employee can’t relate to what they’re
doing and feel proud of their job, it’s a matter of
time before they get disengaged and they’re no
longer an effective employee for themselves and
for their company.”
This idea certainly calls upon job seekers to do
some introspective thinking, to determine where
they truly want to work, but it also calls on employers to do some introspection of their own. “Every
company has a purpose,” says Noelting. “We call it
a simple significance. It’s all about urging companies to find that simple significance and then
broadcast it to the world to rally their troops.”
Companies pay Qwalify a monthly fee — $50 on
the low end, $250 on the high end — to look for
people who share their vision, people who Noelting says will always make the best employees.
They use Qwalify to “build a talent bank” so that
when a job becomes available they can look down
the list of job seekers who have introduced themselves and find the one who has the skills necessary for the specific job — all done through an
interface that’s keyword searchable and can use
parameters to find the best match for the job.
Noelting hopes this proactive style of recruitment and hiring will become the norm and replace
the current practices of job boards and sending
resumes to the dreaded “careers@companyname.com,” which he says “nobody likes writing
to …. And I have yet to find a manager that actually
checks that email regularly and responds to every
person.”
Even the traditional idea of the resume is in
need of an update, Noelting argues. “I talk to my
grandparents about how they wrote their resumes
and it’s very similar (to today). It’s crazy,” he says,
adding studies have shown more than 90 per cent of
resumes are either exaggerated or made up, “so
statistically if you’re lucky, one of ten candidates
are truthful.”
In Qwalify’s system, job seekers’ profiles are
connected to their LinkedIn account so whenever
they update their profile on LinkedIn, it’s visible to
the employers they’ve interacted with.
As of late August, Qwalify has nearly 400 companies using its services. Noelting won’t disclose the
total number of job seekers using the service, but
he does point out one company has a talent pool of
“hundreds.” n
40 y Technology Spotlight
INTERACTIVE SIGNAGE
MARTA IWANEK, RECORD STAFF
Douglas Lusted (left), chief executive officer of Weston Expressions, founded the company with Vlad Pisanov (centre) and Ashok Patel.
All signs point to a bright future
Terry Bridge, Special to The Record
F
or Douglas Lusted, the ‘ah-ha’ moment
came when he was describing his new
business idea to a potential client.
Lusted, chief executive officer and
co-founder of Weston Expressions, initially had a
concept for a mobile-to-screen advertising device
to be used on escalators.
Weston Expressions
specializes in targeted
interactive advertising
The young entrepreneur explained his plan,
and in doing so realized what a great idea he had
just by the client’s reaction.
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“As I was describing this thing we were building, his whole face lit up and he was like, ‘I’ll buy
that right now. Get me 350 units of them, I want to
install them, I want to test them. Let’s go,’ ” Lusted recalls.
“Once I heard that it was kind of a no-brainer. I
heard that maybe five or six times and said, ‘OK,
I’m going to focus on this screen-to-mobile project,’
and that was really the initial idea of Linkett.” ‰
NON-STOP FLIGHT DESTINATIONS
AIRPORT CODE
Technology Spotlight y 41
‰ Linkett is the name of the device that connects
mobile users to digital signage and advertisements. What separates Linkett from similar
technology is its two-way ability.
This system — no bigger than the size of your
hand — is attached to a digital sign and can track
how many people walk by, stop and look at the
screen, and tap their mobile device to it. Of vital
importance, it can tell the difference between
those three actions, and all in real time.
“We’ve developed algorithms to show you which
ad is performing best,” Lusted explains, showing
four examples of ads on an analytics page.
“So right now the Da Vinci Code (ad) is doing
the best because it’s had 122 people walk by it, 60
people look at it and 19 people actually tap their
mobile device up to the screen.”
Through tapping, consumers can receive coupons for products and interact with the screen.
Weston Expressions will launch a test run with
15 retailers in Waterloo Region and Toronto this
fall.
Lusted, a native of Ajax, is only 21, and a thirdyear business student at the University of Waterloo. The escalator idea, which he started chasing
during his second year of studies, helped fund the
overall project.
His pitch won a $25,000 grant through the VeloCity Venture Fund, which awards $300,000
annually to promising startups and a spot at the
VeloCity Garage at in the Communitech Hub in
downtown Kitchener.
The Creative Destruction Lab in Toronto also
was influential in the startup’s early success.
Weston Expressions participated in the program
for about six months. “They really helped guide
us through mentorship and advisers, the path we
should go with this new project,” Lusted says.
“Unlike a lot of mentors, it’s very hands-off. You
go into a boardroom with seven of Canada’s most
successful entrepreneurs. They would give you
three milestones and basically it was hit these
milestones or don’t come back.”
Weston Expressions, which has seven fulltime employees, is also working on an interactive
point-of-purchase terminal. If someone walks by
an ad and sees a product he or she wants, he or
she can simply tap their credit card to the screen
— no need for a mobile device — and purchase it.
The product will be shipped to their home in a
streamlined process that skips going to a store or
buying online at a later time.
“We think that’s going to be a big game changer in the world of advertising because instead of
having someone see an ad and go to the point of
MARTA IWANEK, RECORD STAFF
Douglas Lusted, chief executive officer of Weston Expressions, demonstrates the company’s Linkett
interactive digital signage system.
Weston
Weston Expressions
Expressions
Business: Digital signage technology
Founded: 2012
Executive team: Douglas Lusted, founder and
CEO; Ashok Patel, founder and COO; Vlad
Pisanov, founder and chief technology officer
Employees: 7
Address: 151 Charles St. W., Kitchener
sale, it’s: there’s an ad, I want it, I’m going to buy
it,” Lusted says. “We think, maybe not short term
but long term, that’s going to be quite a game
changer.”
What about people who are concerned about
the privacy aspects of data collection and unwanted spam advertising? “What makes us different is we don’t spam people, we just attract
people,” says Lusted.
“We’re not a push service, we’re a pull service.
So it’s not like you’re going to be walking by a
sign and your phone goes off. You actually have to
touch the screen.”
The goal, Lusted says, is to make the consumer
want to tap.
Weston Expressions believes the technology
will be enticing for retailers as well as consumers
because it targets advertising to people who actually are interested in their products. For example, it won’t send sporting goods offers to a woman who only ever purchases high-end clothing
products. “Qualify that consumer,” Lusted says.
“We start to learn more about who they are
and their demographic. For example, we know
that John tapped three times while he was in
Toronto on our system, but all three times it was
for Nike shoes. So the next time he taps, we’ll
offer him a Nike product. No one’s really been
able to make advertising tailored like that.”
Although a third-year student, Lusted is still in
some second-year classes due taking time off to
focus on the burgeoning business. He might have to
slow down his studies even more as Weston Expressions heats up. But regardless of how things turn
out, it’s something he’d do over again without hesitation.
“In a heartbeat,” he says. “Even if things don’t
go well, the amount of stuff I’ve learned going
through this experience, if this business fails I’m
just going to start the next one.” n
Serving the Waterloo and Stratford Accelerator Centres, and
the Communitech Hub, the award-winning Accelerator Program™
provides unique services and mentorship dedicated to accelerating
the growth of technology start-ups and early stage companies.
Discover more about our ecosystem at
www.acceleratorcentre.com
295 Hagey Boulevard
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42 y Technology Spotlight
APPS
Reebee delivers flyers digitally
Lisa MacColl, Special to The Record
T
obiasz Dankiewicz and
Michal Martyniak like a
good bargain. They also
appreciate the value of
flyers, the newspaper inserts that
promote sales and other specials.
When they were growing up in
London, Ont., they both had paper
routes that included delivering flyers
and they noticed how much their
customers counted on receiving the
flyers on time every week. Some customers would tip them as much as $10
in appreciation of timely flyer delivery.
Dankiewicz and Martyniak, who
went to the same high school in London, looked for flyers to continue their
bargain hunting when they moved to
Waterloo to study mechatronics engineering at the University of Waterloo.
However, students typically don’t
receive flyers so they looked for digital versions instead. The process was
cumbersome, often requiring a site by
site search.
The two fledgling entrepreneurs
decided to design something better.
“We started from a simple idea:
wouldn’t it be great if we could search
flyers on our iPad,” says Dankiewicz.
After creating a mockup of their app,
the pair headed to shopping malls to
gauge the response. After talking to
shoppers about existing digital flyers
and hearing negative comments, they
demonstrated their prototype. Response was overwhelmingly positive
and Reebee was born.
Dankiewicz and Martyniak bootstrapped the launch of the company
themselves. After running into Mike
McCauley, a founder of BufferBox, a
parcel delivery system startup that
was acquired by Google in 2012, they
learned about VeloCity, a program for
startups at UW that also runs a venture fund competition. They entered
the competition and were among the
four winners in the winter 2012 session. They received $25,000 as well as
office space in the VeloCity Garage. In
August 2013, they received an additional $35,000 in funding from VentureStart, a program run by the Mississauga-based RIC Centre. Recently,
they have been working hard to seek
investors in California through the
Y-Combinator program. They won’t
disclose how much they raised, but do
say they exceeded their goal.
Reebee is an app that delivers flyers to smartphones or tablets. Consumers can download it for free, and
can customize delivery by postal code
or city and province. Every week, new
ROBERT WILSON, RECORD STAFF
Tobiasz Dankiewicz (top) and Michal Martyniak, founders of Reebee, pose with
a giant iPhone display featuring their digital flyer app.
flyers are uploaded to the site. Users
can search both active and upcoming
flyers. “We want users to be able to log
on and answer ‘what can I buy today,’ ”
says Dankiewicz. “Sales start dates
tend to be staggered and nothing
frustrates a shopper more than buying something on Thursday, only to
have it go on sale on Friday. By giving
users the option of seeing upcoming
flyers, they can make better shopping
decisions.”
The app, which has more than
160,000 users across Canada, has
earned a 4.5 star rating at the Apple
App store.
Dankiewicz notes that Reebee has
strong customer retention. “Fifty per
cent of our users use the application
weekly, and 75 per cent use it at least
once a month,” he says. “In contrast,
some branded apps will see 25 per cent
of their users download the application and never open it, and 20 per cent
Reebee
Reebee
Business: Digital flyers
Founded: 2012
Executive team: Tobiasz
Dankiewicz, founder; Michal
Martyniak, founder
Employees: 4
Address: 151 Charles St. W.,
Kitchener
will open it once. We’re pleased with
our progress so far.”
Martyniak, who is married to
Dankiewicz’s sister, says he has been
surprised by the user penetration
across the country because it has been
achieved without any targeted marketing. “Although a large percentage
of our users are located in Ontario, a
significant amount are located in
western and eastern provinces as well
as Quebec. We even have an appreciable amount of users in the northern
territories in Canada. The app spread
organically nationwide very quickly.”
Retailers send Reebee flyers in
PDF form along with geographic
distribution information. It’s more
complicated than it sounds. “Products
that are advertised in flyers and their
sale prices are very region specific,”
says Martyniak. “Some retailer flyers
will have over 50 different flyer versions across Canada. We use the information retailers provide us to
deliver the correct flyers based on
location without any additional effort
for users.”
Retailers pay a fee to post their
flyers on Reebee. In return, they receive real-time statistics about buyer
behaviour, user response to flyers,
where users are located and what time
of day or day of the week they check
flyers.
Dankiewicz says most retailers
run websites and many are developing a social media presence as well.
However, people who go to those sites
or follow those companies through
social media typically already are
customers of the retailer. By making it
easy for consumers to scan flyers,
Reebee is getting at the heart of how
consumers and retailers connect.
While the concept has been wellreceived, the business side of Reebee
has proved to be more of a challenge.
Dankiewicz says he and Martyniak
say they had a “just jump in and go”
approach to starting the business and
had no knowledge of things like incorporation, business taxes or HST. Being part of Communitech has helped
as other entrepreneurs were able to
refer Reebee to professionals who
could assist them with business matters, leaving them to focus on the
application.
Reebee is not profitable yet and
continues to focus on investing in the
application to provide the best user
experience possible for both consumers and retailers. Dankiewicz and
Martyniak have chosen not to include
in-app advertising, believing strongly
that if the app is good it will stand on
its own merits. ‰
Technology Spotlight y 43
“With pressure to
reduce print as well as
consumers absorbing
more content through
mobile devices,
Reebee provides the
transitional platform
starting with digital
flyers”
Tobiasz Dankiewicz,
REEBEE CO-FOUNDER
‰ To make the app more user friendly, the startup plans to add more
features, including one that will
allow users to build a shopping list
from featured items in flyers. “Reebee’s goal is to be the best way for
consumers to discover deals from
local retailers,” says Martyniak.
“With pressure to reduce print as
well as consumers absorbing more
content through mobile devices,
Reebee provides the transitional
platform starting with digital flyers.
We believe we are providing the best
way for users to discover local retail
products.”
Expansion into the United States,
a move that is often suggested by the
app’s users, is a possibility. It isn’t
going to happen immediately because the startup has plenty on its
plate, and only four employees, including the founders. “I think our
users would be surprised to know
how small we are,” says Dankiewicz.
He notes that uploading the information every week is quite labour
intensive because 100 per cent accuracy is critical. “If you don’t give
accurate information, users don’t
come back,” he says. Consequently,
expansion is something Reebee has
to ponder carefully. “The sheer size of
the U.S. market is daunting, but it is
our goal for a few years from now,”
says Dankiewicz. “We need to be
bigger first. In five years, we would
like to be the go-to application for
flyer distribution.” n
Growing a tech
company presents
many challenges
W
e asked the founders and CEOs of local technology
companies about the biggest challenge they face in
growing their businesses. Here are their responses:
think our biggest challenge is
getting known. When I get in front of
an organization and I show them what
we do, and the demo, and what we’ve
done for other organizations, I watch
people’s eyes light up, it just clicks. The
challenge is always getting in there.
Sometimes they just can’t find us, they
don’t know a solution like this is out
there, but they’re thinking about it. Part
of it is an internal challenge. One of our
key focus areas this year is our own
marketing and our own sales
techniques to actually drive that traffic
and drive awareness.”
“T
JONATHAN GROVER, CEO,
INOTFORPROFIT
HONGWEI LIU, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO,
MAPPEDIN
“O
“O
“I
ur biggest challenge is getting
access to the capital and
access to the talent we will need to
grow . . . not just technical talent, but
high level marketing and sales people.”
CEDRIC JEANNOT, CEO AND FOUNDER, I
THINK SECURITY
ur challenge is selling to a
market that is fairly mature . . . a
mature market that is innovating like
crazy. What we see are fewer
customers to sell to, and fewer pieces
of equipment.”
“O
MIKE KROPP, PRESIDENT, CEO AND
CO-FOUNDER, PEER GROUP
his is cliché, but I think building
the team is one of the hardest
things. Of all the things we’ve done I
think the thing I’m the most proud of is
the team we’ve built. If I just keep the
lights on, I know we’re going to win with
the people we have. That’s a great
feeling to know that you’ve got people
that don’t just care about a paycheque,
because ours suck, but who really
cares about what we’re trying to do and
they’re extremely confident. It’s very
hard to keep that kind of growth but
maintain that kind of quality in your
team.”
ur biggest challenge is finding
the kind of capital we need to
grow. We believe we could grow twice
as fast as we are.”
RAY SIMONSON. CEO, COREWORX
or us it’s the urgency of the
education. Right now we’re still
working with our proactive recruitment
model, the full platform, so certain tools
are taking off like wildfire. But the whole
notion of the proactive platform is an
educational component. Most HR
people understand they should want to
do it, but it’s not on their strategic
agenda today.”
“F
PHIL NOELTING, FOUNDER AND
PRESIDENT, QWALIFY
ur first biggest challenge was
we were building a product
and we thought ‘oh we can’t release it
until we have this feature, we have to
wait until we have that feature,’ and it
turned into ‘we’re never going to
release this thing.’ At some point we
were just like ‘Ok, let’s just buckle
down, get the post card function down
and release it on Android.’”
“O
KEVIN SIMPSON, CO-FOUNDER,
TOGETHR
ven though we specialize in
Tesla patents — the
reproduction of electro-mechanical
functional models, exclusively — and
there is almost no real competition, our
biggest challenge remains to make
affordable models for the wider market
as the museum exhibit cost is too high
for the average consumer. This year,
we have released the first model for
collectors, which has the same
museum quality, just reduced in size
and without compromise in
functionality, materials and aesthetics.”
“E
NEMANJA JEVREMOVIC, CEO, TESLA
PROJECTS LABORATORY
y biggest struggle is finding
and hiring qualified
personnel.”
“M
TOM DOERNER, FOUNDER AND
PRESIDENT, WATSERV
n
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44 y Technology Spotlight
DIGITAL MEDIA
Rebellion CEO has had wild ride
PHILIP WALKER, RECORD STAFF
Ted Hastings, chief executive officer of Rebellion Media, has gone through many ups and downs during his tumultuous career in the world of digital media.
the backing of American Capital, which remains
an investor.
Hastings is the first to admit nothing is guaranteed in the relentlessly shifting world of digital
to pick up the pieces.”
media. But he believes the insights he gained
Hastings was unaccustomed to rough waters.
during those difficult days, have improved the
He had brought to Geosign an impressive record
odds Rebellion Media will never face the same
of success as the CEO of Waterloo-based Global
fate.
Beverage Group, or GBG. Through organic
“Ted has an uncanny ability to understand
growth and a series of acquisitions, he transthis space — and it’s not an easy space,” says
formed the company into
Kevin Tuer, managing
North America’s largest
director of the Kitchesupplier of distribution
ner-based Canadian
software to the directDigital Media Network.
store delivery market,
“He’s certainly tenawhich consisted primaricious and driven, and
ly of soft drink bottlers. In
he’s executing a strategy
2006, with about 200 emthat by all indications at
ployees on the payroll, the
this point is working
company was sold to High
well.”
Jump Software, a subsidRebellion Media has
iary of 3M, the Minnesotagone through more than
based conglomerate.
one incarnation since
Hastings took a number
the collapse of Geosign
of GBG’s top executives
in 2007. As the ashes of
Kevin Tuer,
MANAGING DIRECTOR OF CANADIAN DIGITAL MEDIA NETWORK
with him to Geosign to
the failed firm still
implement a similar
smouldered, Hastings
growth plan there. Little did they know what was
and Geosign founder Tim Nye went their sepcoming.
arate ways, with Hastings heading up a new inThe collapse was a harrowing experience that
ternet publishing venture called Moxy Media.
might have destroyed some executives. But
In late 2008, convinced the biggest internet
through sometimes confusing twists and turns,
brains were in California, Hastings rebranded
Hastings, backed by his trusted team from the
Moxy as Tsavo Media and established its headGBG days, weathered the storm and maintained
quarters in San Diego. ‰
Success of online publishing company came on
the heels of a near-death business experience
John Schofield, Special to The Record
T
ed Hastings has scaled the summit of
success — and the president and CEO
of Waterloo-based online publisher
Rebellion Media has been burned by
the fires of failure.
The Stratford native’s near-death business
experience came six years ago on the hair-raising
ride known as the internet industry. He was only
months into a new job as president of Geosign
Corp., a Guelph-based online publishing firm
with an eclectic assortment of more than 180
websites and an overwhelming reliance on payper-click advertising.
With about 200 employees and hiring hand
over fist, the venture seemed so promising that
only months into his tenure, Hastings helped
land $160 million in financing from American
Capital Ltd., a Maryland-based private equity
firm. It was the largest single private equity deal
a Canadian web venture had ever landed.
But weeks later, for reasons still unknown to
Hastings, online titan Google changed the mysterious algorithm that guides its searches, and
Geosign’s web traffic fell through the floor. Almost overnight, 90 per cent of the company’s
revenue was wiped out. “It went as close to zero
as you’d want to go,” says Hastings, a Wilfrid
Laurier University business grad. “We were left
“Ted has an uncanny
ability to understand this
space – and it’s not an
easy space. He’s certainly
tenacious and driven, and
he’s executing a strategy
that by all indications at
this point is working well.”
Technology Spotlight y 45
‰ All the while, he continued to fine-tune the
Geosign model, creating and acquiring a more
limited number of websites in specific verticals
like sports and entertainment, and working to
find the right balance between advertising and
e-commerce.
In 2010, he sold Tsavo for $75 million to Cyberplex Inc., a publicly traded, Toronto-based
internet firm, and stayed with the company for a
year. Finally, in 2012, he and a team of investors
paid $32 million to reacquire Tsavo, with the
intention of keeping it private. It was rebranded
as Rebellion Media. “My desire was, can we do a
number of acquisitions to build a large and diversified digital media company,” says Hastings.
“That‘s what I signed on for with Geosign. And
my opinion was I could do that best in the private
market rather than the public.”
So far, so good. Since April 2012, Rebellion has
acquired 13 digital-media businesses — most of
them special interest websites. It currently employs about 180 people, half of them in its head
office in Waterloo’s trendy Bauer Buildings complex. The company also has locations in Toronto,
Guelph, Seattle and Denver.
Its websites span the sports, technology, entertainment, lifestyle, home décor, health and wellness, and mom categories. The brands include
Fightline.com, a mixed-martial arts news site,
SaffronRouge.com, which covers cosmetics,
Geekaphone.com, designed to help users make
the best cellphone choice, and HomeSav.com, an
e-commerce site that features unique, high-end
home furnishings.
Rebellion
Rebellion Media
Media
Business: Digital media
Founded: 2012
Executive team: Ted Hastings, CEO
Employees: 180
Address: 150 Caroline St. S., suite 406, Waterloo
Rebellion Media also owns Jingu, a mobile
chat app for BlackBerry phones, and Mobile
Mom, which provides pregnancy information on
mobile devices. By acquiring the two mobile apps,
says Hastings, Rebellion now has the expertise
required to create a mobile strategy, which is so
essential for every digital media company.
In shopping for acquisitions, Hastings says
Rebellion Media targets websites run by founders who are passionate about their subject area,
but are struggling to achieve growth and revenues. It shops for sites that typically attract between 300,000 and one million visitors a month.
The acquisition cost is “all over the map,” says
Hastings, and depends on the profits the sites are
generating.
Each owner’s motivation for selling also varies. Allan Fisch, co-founder of Toronto-based
HomeSav.com, says he agreed to an acquisition
deal last July because he believes Rebellion’s
large audience, strength in online marketing and
expertise in mobile technology can help HomeSav.com increase its own customer base and
content. “We believe it is a great idea to combine
these assets,” he told the Waterloo Region Record,
“and make a huge digital media company that
provides tremendous value.”
The Rebellion network currently draws about
30 million unique visitors a month, says Hastings. He hopes to increase that to 100 million
visitors a month and generate revenues exceeding $100 million annually.
In the internet market, he believes there’s lots
of room for growth through acquisition and consolidation in Canada and beyond. But the real
key, he notes, is understanding your audience.
Rebellion Media is investing heavily in analytical software and other tools designed to help the
company better understand its users’ tastes and
habits. The end goal is a personalized digital
media experience. By getting to know its customers better, Hastings says, Rebellion Media can
shift more from advertising to e-commerce,
which offers higher margins.
As the pace of change only quickens, Rebellion
Media is taking a long-term approach to building
what could be Canada’s first digital media giant.
For Hastings, it’s a matter of completing some
unfinished business. “Some of it is finishing
what I intended to do at Geosign, and some of it is
not having the ability to quit,” he says. “On the
flip side, it’s a pretty exciting business to be in,
even though there are some incredible highs and
lows.”
After the wild ride he’s had in digital media,
Hastings says anything else might seem dull by
comparison. “I still have a very competitive
drive, so I enjoy challenges because they keep you
on your toes,” he says. “That being said, a year’s
stability would be fine.” n
46 y Technology Spotlight
NAVIGATION
Steering through complex spaces
MappedIn creates
a road map
for the indoors
Justin Fauteux, Special to The Record
A
ll Hongwei Liu wanted
was air conditioning. It
was the summer of 2010
and Liu, then a University of Waterloo student fresh off a
co-op work term at Research In Motion, now BlackBerry, heard that one
of his friends was going to be living
in an on-campus residence called
Velocity. The big sell for Liu at the
time: the residence had air conditioning.
So Liu applied to live at Velocity,
which he soon found out was not
only a residence but also an on-campus incubator for student-run startups. In his first week at the residence
— referred to as “boot camp week,”
where the students are put in groups
and challenged to build something in
the first weekend — Liu was teamed
up with Leander Lee, Mitchell Butler
and two other students. What they
came up with seemed simple
enough: Google Maps for indoor
spaces.
“That’s a pretty obvious idea and
it seemed like something we could
hack up in a weekend,” says Liu.
That simple idea became what
Liu, Lee and Butler do for a living.
MappedIn was born out of that
brainstorming session at the Velocity residence and at its core the company is looking to be, just as Liu says,
the Google Maps for indoor spaces.
Liu, now 22 years old, serves as
chief executive officer, and does most
of the meetings with clients; Lee, 23,
is the chief technology officer in
charge of back-end design; and Butler, 22, runs the front-end interface.
Together, the three former UW students — after working on MappedIn
between school assignments for a
year, they decided to suspend their
studies in 2012 — run the 13-person
company.
MappedIn offers a free mobile app
as well as interactive kiosks that
allow users to navigate indoor spaces such as malls, university and
college campuses, and casinos by
offering step-by-step directions from
one location to the either.
Venues using the technology can
use the app and digital kiosks to
broadcast additional information
such as what’s on sale at a mall or
what events are happening on
campus. ‰
PHILIP WALKER, RECORD STAFF
Hongwei Liu, chief executive officer of MappedIn, says the company’s indoor mapping technology not only helps people
find their way, it also helps venues understand how people move around their location.
Technology Spotlight y 47
‰ “You get someone’s attention by
giving them way-finding information, but they want to know more,”
says Liu, adding that the other big
service MappedIn offers venues is
analytics on how patrons move
around their location. “They can
see, for example, what are the top
five searched stores (on the kiosks
or the app) in the mall in a given day,
in a given week. They can study how
people move around once they get
inside a location. There’s really no
other way of tracking that.”
As of early September, seven
locations were using MappedIn’s
technology: the Conestoga Mall,
Casino Rama, the Sheraton Centre
in downtown Toronto, the Uptown
Waterloo Business Improvement
Area, the University of Waterloo,
Conestoga College’s Doon, Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph campuses, as well as the Communitech Hub
in downtown Kitchener, where the
startup’s office is located.
In MappedIn’s early days, Liu
says the founders decided to focus
on malls and after putting in the
system at Communitech, their first
outside client was Conestoga Mall,
which has been using the system
since late 2011. Since then, their
focus has broadened. According to
Liu, there aren’t many limits to
where the company can expand.
“We can get as big as the world,
basically. The sky’s the limit,” says
Liu. “Any place where it’s big or
confusing (could use MappedIn’s
technology). It doesn’t even need to
be strictly inside, an amusement
park for example would be a great
application.”
With that growth in mind, Liu has
spent the summer bouncing back
and forth between Toronto and Waterloo searching for more clients.
That search has brought in two big
fish: Sport Chek Canada’s 80,000square-foot store in West Edmonton
Mall and 10 Dundas East, a building
at Yonge and Dundas Square in
downtown Toronto that includes a
Cineplex Cinema, the Milestones
and Jack Astor’s restaurants, as well
as a host of retail stores.
According to Liu, MappedIn is in
talks with a host of other companies,
but he can’t yet go into detail. However, Liu does say he’s met with the
Royal Ontario Museum and “pretty
much every university in Ontario.”
For Liu and his partners, MappedIn is more than a company; in
many ways it’s become their personal mission. “We’re certainly not in it
to sell (the company) to the first guy
who comes knocking, and there’s
already been a few,” Liu says. “We
want to be the ones who set the standard, we want to be the guys who
define what it is to have an indoor
geographic system.”
The three founders believed in
their idea enough to invest $20,000 of
their own money to get started and to
leave university to see it through.
However, their road has not been
without some hard lessons and tough
calls. In November of 2011, an investor put $200,000 into the company
after seeing Liu on BNN TV’s The
Pitch. While he can’t go into specif-
MappedIn
MappedIn
Business: Interactive navigation system and directory for indoor spaces
Founded: 2011
Executive team: Hongwei Liu, founder and CEO; Leander Lea, founder and
CTO; Mitchell Butler, founder
Employees: 13
Address: Communitech Hub, 151 Charles St. W., Kitchener
WHO SHOULD
RUN THE
INTERNET?
Read about CIGI’s research project on Internet governance
www.cigionline.org/internetgovernance
ics, Liu says things “fell apart” with
the investor, who is no longer in the
picture. Asked how the company
manoeuvered through that situation,
he responds, “Lawyers.” It was a
“lesson learned. We got over it.”
Then in the spring of 2012, Liu
and former MappedIn employee
Desmond Choi — who later left the
startup on good terms — auditioned
for a student special of the CBC
Television show Dragons’ Den. The
dragons — prominent Canadian
investors — were all interested in
the company and Liu ended up
agreeing to a deal with three of them
that would give up 25 per cent of the
company’s ownership for a $375,000
investment. However, after the taping, Liu realized the deal wasn’t
quite right for the company and
ended up turning it down.
At the time of the Dragons’ Den
taping, MappedIn was in talks with
Esri Canada, who Liu says “literally
wrote the book” on geographic information systems. The company
has since been able to work with and
raise money from Esri.
When it comes to the future, Liu
isn’t afraid of being ambitious. He’d
like to have 100 clients by the end of
the year. As for the long term,
“there’s no limit.” n
48 y Technology Spotlight
SOCIAL INTRANETS
A cool way for workers to meet
Igloo encourages
office connection
John Vessoyan, Special to The Record
I
ADAM GAGNON, SPECIAL TO THE RECORD
Ivan Chevelev (left), Igloo Software’s technical product manager, and Dan Latendre, chief executive officer, along with
Norm, one of the firm’s mascots.
smaller by giving employees an easy
way to connect and collaborate. Latendre gives an example of a large
global organization that has a workforce of more than 1,000. An employee
in Canada has never communicated
with an employee in an overseas
nation such as Japan. The worker in
Japan just uploaded a file on the
network’s server and asked the Canadian employee a work-related question. This is where Igloo’s technology
comes in.
“I can look at her profile, she’s the
VP, she’s worked here, she has this
title, she has these connections,”
Latendre says, explaining the benefits of Igloo’s technology. “So now I
start creating a little bit of a trust
around this person even though I
PACKETWORKS
Since 1996
R0011662835
n Dan Latendre’s business
world, people, not companies,
are paramount. The focus, he
says, should be on giving the
necessary tools to employees so they
can communicate effectively and
seamlessly.
“We’ve got to get the most out of
our people in making them connect,”
says Latendre, chief executive officer
of Kitchener-based Igloo Software. “If
you don’t focus on your people now,
you’ll never get your company to
where you want it to be.”
Latendre’s goal as leader of Igloo
is to offer other companies around
the world a platform for social connectivity. He describes Igloo as a
social business software organization that builds a platform around
the social media cloud, an emerging
technology trend. Everything Igloo
does is social, mobile and 100 per cent
delivered in the cloud.
Companies use Igloo’s services to
build corporate intranet and extranet solutions — they help employees work better with colleagues by
keeping their content and conversations in one place.
Latendre says it’s all about connecting people and information inside their place of employment. It’s
like having a Facebook and LinkedIn
environment inside your company.
“We actually have a saying: if Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter had a
baby, it would be Igloo,” he says. “It’s
really the first time that I’ve ever
seen in the last 25 years where three
technology trends are converging
together. It’s actually changing the
way technology is implemented. ”
It’s also making the working world
have never met them. Because why
would I share my knowledge with
you? That’s what makes me valuable
to the company. But you start building trust and loyalty through more
social connections.”
Consolidating all corporate
knowledge in one common repository is a big advantage for organizations, says Ivan Chevelev, Igloo’s
technical product manager. “With
our software, there is an ever-evolving knowledge base around content.
With our social tools, they can evolve
this knowledge by being able to collaborate on it. Instead of having to
ask around for information, then
determining where the information
lives, it is in one unified environment. You just log in, and it is all
there.”
Latendre says Igloo is well-positioned to take advantage of the movement toward BYOD, or Bring Your
Own Device. Increasingly, employees
are using their own smartphone,
tablet or laptop for work, a trend that
poses new challenges for corporate
IT departments. “Igloo is ideally
suited to address this challenge because it’s a web-based intranet solution that works anywhere, across any
device — Mac or PC, tablet or smartphone,” says Latendre.
He adds that if employees are
bringing their own device to work,
they also likely are using Facebook
and Twitter, which means they are
familiar with the behaviours and
standards of those social networks. ‰
Start it. Build it. Protect it.
Ask your neighbours… Chances are
they’re running on our Internet.
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CIGTech
Technology Spotlight y 49
Chevelev says that in the early
‰ “But Igloo should not be confused
days Igloo sometimes was overwith personal social networking,” he
whelmed by its desire to integrate a
is quick to add. “It is fundamentally a
host of new product ideas in each
workplace productivity tool that can
new software release. “Essentially,
be used to enhance collaboration and
satisfying a variety of multi-staketap into the collective knowledge of
holder groups was a challenge we
the entire organization.”
had to overcome,” he says. “We had a
Igloo became a privately owned
lack of resources to complete these
company in 2008, four years after its
tasks. No matter how big or how
software platform was developed for
small an organizathe Centre for Intion is, ambitions
ternational Goverwill always exceed
nance Innovation
resources.”
(CIGI), a think-tank
He says the comin Waterloo founded
pany recently
by former Research
streamlined the
In Motion co-chief
development proexecutive officer
cess. “We’ve come
Jim Balsillie. Latto a point of feature
endre, a tech insaturation that the
dustry veteran who
market is happy
previously worked
with, and now we
for companies such
have the time to
as MKS, Delrina and
focus on upgrades. I
Open Text, was
believe it is imporhired as chief intant to focus on a
formation officer at
specific applicaCIGI and oversaw
tion, and to perfect
the development of a
it. Balance is key,
platform that could
and I can happily
facilitate collabsay we have a great
oration among rebalance.”
searchers into globLatendre says
al governance isone challenge his
sues. The platform,
company still faces
called Igloo, was so
is securing enough
successful it was
venture capital
spun out as a comDan Latendre,
funding to finance
mercial entity with
CEO OF IGLOO
growth. He notes
Balsillie serving as
that the social busichair of its board.
ness software industry is projected to
Today, Igloo powers more than 5,000
be worth $5 billion globally by 2017.
global collaboration sites in more
“What is the right amount of money
than 80 countries, says Latendre.
to take and how do you use that monWhen Igloo was developed, the
ey?” he asks. “For a company like us
letters in its name stood for Internato grow to that next billion-dollar
tional Governance Leaders and Orcompany, we’re going to need $25-$30ganizations Online. The name was
million investment to take it to the
retained when it became a for-profit
next step — to really have explosive
business. Latendre has said he liked
growth.”
the name because it suggested a
The company secured $6.7 million
community gathering place, an exin a second round of venture capital
ceptionally strong structure and a
funding last year, with RBC Venture
Canadian identity.
Partners and Ontario Capital
The company, which employs
Growth Corp. serving as the lead
about 50 people in its office in downinvestors. It received initial venture
town Kitchener, and also has small
seed funding of $4 million in 2004.
offices in London, England, and St.
Latendre says large infusions of
Gallen, Switzerland, has a client list
that includes the American Academy venture capital are difficult to obtain
in Canada. “So where you have to
of Family Physicians, Nextel Inlook is venture capitalists in the U.S.
ternational, Kimberly-Clark, The
Keg Steakhouse and Bar, David’s Tea, There are only a few venture capitalists firms in Canada who can write
Harry Winston and the ATP World
that kind of cheque.” n
Tour, just to name a few.
“We actually
have a saying:
if Facebook,
LinkedIn and
Twitter had a
baby, it would
be Igloo. It’s
really the first
time that I’ve
ever seen in
the last 25
years where
three
technology
trends are
converging
together.”
Igloo
Igloo Software
Software
Business: Social business software
Founded: 2008
Executive team: Dan Latendre, CEO; Mark Stevenson, vice-president finance;
Andrew Dixon, senior vice-president sales and marketing
Employees: 50
Address: 22 Frederick St., 6th floor, Kitchener
50 y Technology Spotlight
VIDEO ANALYTICS
Avvasi keenly focused on quality
Waterloo company
concentrates on
viewing experience
John Vessoyan, Special to The Record
M
ate Prgin isn’t blessed
with psychic powers,
but he has a good grasp
of where the future is
headed when it comes to the vast
world of mobile video technology.
It was in 2007, around the time
when Apple released its first iPhone,
when Prgin started to think about the
future of video. After a few moments
of pondering, a clear answer came to
him: video is going mobile. And so
began his journey.
“That was the catalyst that showed
us that the phones are getting good
enough, the networks are finally
getting good enough that you can
watch video,” Prgin says.
However, the infrastructure for
watching video on mobile devices
wasn’t ideal; there was a need to create tools for service providers to
ensure that the quality of the videoviewing experience would be superb.
That’s how Avvasi Inc., a specialist in
video analytics, came to be.
The tools Avvasi creates help
mobile service providers know in
real-time what the quality of experience is for every subscriber’s video
session, and then give them the
means to improve the quality.
Prgin, the Waterloo company’s
chief executive officer, says that in the
early days he had to make lots of assumptions. For one thing, he had to
assume that smartphones would
succeed and that people would frequently watch videos on their
iPhones and BlackBerrys.
“You have to make a bet on what it
is that you think the market is going
to do, then you have to figure out, ‘OK,
how am I going to build this,’ ” he
says.
“And the challenge was that for
this type of solution, you need to find
people with expertise in video, IP
networking and in wireless networks.
It’s a whole cross section of technology experience. Our competitive advantage is we have been able to build
an exceptional team with deep expertise in all these areas which we are
continuously growing.”
Avvasi focuses on measuring,
improving and monetizing video
viewing. First, Prgin says, the company must measure the quality of the
experience, and understand if it’s
MATHEW McCARTHY, RECORD STAFF
Mate Prgin, CEO and co-founder of Avvasi Inc., sits next to a video quality
management solution rack at the company’s headquarters in Waterloo.
working well and how it’s working. To
do this, Avvasi essentially created a
new standard for video QoE (quality
of experience) measurement.
Then, it had to figure out how to
improve the quality of experience if
it’s not adequate and take action in
real-time to fix the problems.
Prgin, who co-founded Avvasi
with Michael Gallant, the company’s
chief technology officer and Alex
Leyn, who is no longer with the firm,
explains that when you pop up a video
on YouTube using your smartphone,
sometimes the video is slow to load or
the image can be blurry. If there are
problems, the focus shifts to finding
out what’s happening, why it’s happening and where it’s happening and
then fixing it.
The final piece of the puzzle is
monetization. Avvasi’s goal is to help
service providers make money from
Avvasi
Avvasi Inc.
Inc.
Business: Provides quality of
experience measurement tools for
mobile video
Founded: 2008
Executive team: Mate Prgin,
CEO and co-founder; Michael
Gallant, chief technology officer
and co-founder; John Vukovic,
CFO and vice-president of
operations
Investors: Celtic House Venture
Partners, Tech Capital Partners,
Ontario Emerging Technologies
Fund
Headquarters: 103 Randall Dr.,
Waterloo
video by turning it into a viable service. “We’ve established ourselves as
the lead, if not the reference, for mobile video quality measurement,
pretty much globally,” he explains.
“Next we want to enable service pro-
viders to offer revenue generating
video service with quality of experience that users pay for.”
Prgin has a systems design engineering degree from the University of
Waterloo and an MBA from Richard
Ivey School of Business at Western.
Before Avvasi, he was one of the
founders and CEO of VideoLocus,
which later was acquired by LSI
Corp., and worked in engineering
roles at PixStream, a video systems
networking startup that was acquired and then shut down by Cisco
Systems.
Avvasi employs 60 people in its
office on Randall Drive, where the
core engineering, management and
marketing teams are located. It also
has offices in the U.S., Europe and
Latin America.
The company has been backed
financially by Celtic House Venture
Partners, Tech Capital Partners and
the Ontario Emerging Technologies
Fund.
Two Canadian telecommunications companies have bought Avvasi’s services. Wind Mobile acquired
its video traffic management technology in December of 2011 and Telus
jumped on board this February. Prgin
says a major U.S. tier one service
provider has also signed with Avvasi,
but he can’t publicly disclose the
name.
One of the challenges Avvasi faces
as it grows is finding top-notch talent.
“The local economy here, even during the downturn, there’s always
been a tight labour market,” says
Prgin, whose firm won the Broadband Traffic Management Award in
November of 2012. “Finding good
people has always been a challenge.”
Building a company with an international focus and presence also is
a challenge.
“Ten years ago, when I was building my previous company, people
used to be U.S.-focused. They would
say: ‘Make sure you get into the U.S.
market,’ ” says Prgin. “Today, it’s
really global. From Day 1, we were
pretty much a global company, doing
trials in the Middle East and Europe
and Latin America, U.S. and then
Asia. That’s a challenge for a smaller
company to be able to support and
travel costs … and deal with time zone
differences.
“But the nice thing is everybody
uses the same technologies, globally,
to build their mobile networks,” he
adds. “So it is a very standardized
global marketplace, and that makes
the barrier to entry to all of these
places not too bad.” n
Technology Spotlight y 51
DATA RECOVERY
MATHEW McCARTHY, RECORD STAFF
Jad Saliba (left) and Adam Belsher of Magnet Forensics are focused on running a successful business, and motivated by a desire to aid police and victims of crime.
Magnet probes deleted files
in search of digital footprints
John Vessoyan, Special to The Record
J
ad Saliba is no longer a police officer but he
continues to arm law enforcement agencies and major corporations with tools for
catching and penalizing the bad guys.
His Kitchener company, Magnet Forensics,
produces software that recovers deleted data from
computers and laptops. New this year is code that
has been written to recover trashed messages,
images and chats from Apple iOS and Android
smartphones and tablets.
Local police, the FBI, the U.S. Secret Service and
Scotland Yard use Magnet’s technology when
investigating crimes such as terrorism, murder,
Code able to recover
deleted messages,
images from computers,
cellphones invaluable to
law enforcement groups
mass shootings and child pornography. Major
industries like financial services, oil and gas, and
manufacturing also call Magnet for assistance
when probing internal misconduct, bullying, theft
and data breaches.
These agencies buy Magnet’s software, install it
on their forensic computers, make a replica of the
seized computer, tablet or smartphone, and then
run the program through the device to see what’s
on it.
“Getting data off a computer that’s there is one
thing, but being able to recover the deleted stuff is
really hard because you need special algorithms,”
says Adam Belsher, Magnet’s chief executive officer.
“Basically we look for patterns and header
information. Really what it comes down to is we
reverse engineer all formats of these different
applications. We figure out how they store the data,
what it looks like and what does it look like when
it’s deleted.” ‰
52 y Technology Spotlight
‰ Belsher says this ability offers a
vital tool in the fight against many
types of criminal activity. If you’re
going to search online maps for an
ideal spot to dump a dead body, or if
you Google search local banks
you’re thinking of robbing, you
might want to think twice. “The
thing about our software is no matter what crime it is, there’s usually
some digital footprint people leave
behind,” he says.
“We can get all of their location
data from the device. Law enforcement has used our stuff to find out
where somebody dumped a body
because they were doing Google
searches before on Google Maps.”
More and more, people are using
their smartphones to snap photos
and search online, forcing Magnet
to create ways to investigate those
devices.
“We’re getting a lot of traction
with it because we’re doing something that nobody else can do,” says
Belsher. “There are people who can
get the image off the phone, but they
don’t know how to get to the thirdparty data. That’s going pretty
well.”
He says Magnet wants to dom-
Magnet
Magnet Forensics
Forensics
Business: Digital forensics products for data recovery
Founded: 2009
Executive team: Jad Saliba, founder and chief technology officer; Adam
Belsher, CEO; Scott Williams, vice-president marketing
Employees: 32
Address: 22 King St. S., Suite 502, Waterloo
inate the government and law enforcement niche, grabbing a 50 per
cent market share, and become a
standard product in that sector.
The challenge will be to excel at
executing its business plan. “Just
staying focused on our specific market niche and dominating that market niche,” Belsher says of the challenge.
“A lot of companies get spread so
thin. There’s an allure of this big
market that’s $50 billion, $100 billion
and they chase it and there’s so
many competitors. It’s very, very
hard to compete.”
Saliba, the company’s founder
and chief technology officer, is a
former officer with the Waterloo
Regional Police with an information technology background. He left
the department in 2007 due to an
illness, but returned a year later to
serve as a digital forensics examiner. He started his company in 2009
under the name JADSoftware. The
name was changed to Magnet Forensics in August of 2012.
Belsher had a high-level sales
and marketing position with BlackBerry (formerly Research In Motion). The two men met through
their accountant. In the fall of 2011,
they both quit their full-time jobs to
devote all of their attention to the
startup. Last year, they attended
trade shows and conferences to
promote their technology and started to boost staffing.
The company, located in downtown Waterloo, currently employs
32 people. It has been self-financed,
has zero debt and annual revenue in
the millions of dollars, Belsher says.
Saliba says leaving his full-time
job was a difficult decision to make,
but he has no regrets. “I was wellrooted in law enforcement and really enjoyed what I was doing
there,” he says.
“I thought that would be my career for life. It was a difficult decision. But after looking at what the
potential was we decided to take the
chance and go for it. We’re both
happy we did.”
“We’re not in this to just make a
big pile of cash,” he adds. “Our software really helps victims of crime,
helps police and other investigators.”
Saliba says the company has
grown rapidly thanks primarily to
the quality of its employees. Being
situated in a technology hotbed
works in its favour, he says.
“We’re very close to the University of Waterloo, which has a great
software engineering and computer
science program,” he says. “It’s
right on our doorstep and we’re able
to get a lot of great new grads from
that school who can help us do some
amazing things with this software.
There’s also a great startup community here, a lot of collaborative
work. It’s really the perfect spot for
us.” n
Technology Spotlight y 53
APPS
Delivering ‘real’ gifts in virtual world
Justin Fauteux, Special to The Record
T
he Communitech Hub in
downtown Kitchener is
home to its share of eccentric workspaces. From
modern furniture, to walls covered
in marker, to action figures on top of
computers, the startups that now
occupy the former Lang Tanning
building have certainly made an
impression.
Amid all the quirks, you might
find an orange Teddy bear. If you do,
you’ve found the office of mobile gift
giving service Togethr. Saul, as the
company’s mascot is affectionately
known, was once the top prize at
pitch competition — he has “winner” written on his belly — but now
he is the “heart and soul” of the
office where Kevin Simpson and
Joan Ang come to work every day.
Togethr’s office is simple — it is
home to three people, their computers, a mini fridge and walls covered
in writing and post cards — and its
mission is even simpler: make people happy.
Simpson, a University of Waterloo computer science grad, founded
the company in January of 2012
along with fellow UW alumni Aditya
Sharma and Renjie Butalid. The
three founders had the technical
know-how to start just about any
kind of tech company, but Simpson
— who, in addition to being a founder, now serves as chief technology
officer — says they wanted to do
something that incorporated “positive psychology.”
Gifts — both getting them and
giving them — he says, are one of the
best ways to make people happy,
particularly in an increasingly digital world. “I think some people are
starting to realize, ‘Hey digital is
awesome, but there’s still something
magical about getting something
physical,’” says Ang, who graduated
from UW last year and now takes
care of Togethr’s design work. “On
Facebook or email, you post something or send a message but it gets
buried really fast. The idea of sending something physical is really
personal and you can also stick it up
on the wall and it doesn’t get buried.”
Togethr’s service works through
a free mobile app available on
iPhone and Android — Simpson
says an app for BlackBerry is “getting close” — that allows users to
send customizable post cards, premade greeting cards and gifts to
their family and friends. People
sending gifts can choose from a list
PHILIP WALKER, RECORD STAFF
Togethr designer Joan Ang (left) and co-founder Kevin Simpson spend some quality time with Saul, the startup’s mascot.
of options, ranging from boxes of
cookies to cosmetics and jewelry,
most of which come from local vendors. It then sends it to someone —
either a Facebook friend or a contact
stored in the user’s phone — and the
package is shipped. The gifts range
in cost from about $10 to $60 plus
shipping; Togethr gets a commission of between 20 and 50 per cent on
each purchase.
The post cards, which Ang and
Simpson say have been the most
popular feature, allow for more
creativity. Users select any photo on
their phone, add a message and
Togethr sends it to Kitchener-based
printing company Cober Evolving
Solutions, which prints off and
mails a glossy four-by-six post card.
Sending post cards and pre-made
greeting cards is free.
“People have been using (post
cards) for travel souvenirs for a long
time. Even as other mailing has
declined, people still like to send
post cards,” says Ang, adding that in
addition to sending post cards to
their friends and family, some users
have been sending the cards to themselves as travel mementos.
In the company’s early days, one
of its biggest challenges was making
sure people knew they were actually
sending physical objects. Likely
with visions of e-cards and Facebook’s “gifts” application in their
heads, many early customers
thought their card or gift was purely
virtual. “People were thinking way
back to when they got a Facebook
‘gift’. And it was something like a
picture of a stuffed animal,” says
Simpson. “So early on we had to say
‘No, no, no, you actually get a stuffed
animal.’”
People are starting to understand
the process. At the end of August,
Togethr’s app had been downloaded
753 times and had been used to send
more than 4,000 cards and gifts. But
with that growth has come some
new challenges. “We ran our beta
launch (in November and December
2012) locally, so shipping wasn’t an
issue,” says Ang. “If we had to, we
could just drive to that person’s
place and deliver something ourselves. But when you’re sending
things to Vancouver, the same does
not apply.”
Togethr has sent items to all 10
Togethr
Togethr
Business: Mobile app for sending gifts
Founded: 2012
Executive team: Kevin Simpson, founder; Aditya Sharma, founder; Renjie
Butalid, founder
Employees: 3
Address: 151 Charles St. W., Kitchener
provinces plus the Northwest Territories. Ang and Simpson admit that
for a company made up of engineers
and computer scientists, dealing
with non-technical issues such as
shipping logistics has been an interesting adjustment to say the least.
Ang and Simpson say the next
task for Togethr is to increase its
marketing efforts because in its first
year and a half it could only afford to
focus on the development of its app.
The startup, which still only has
three full-time employees — Ang,
Simpson and developer Jason Gehl
(Sharma and Butalid, the company’s
other two founders have taken on
less direct roles) — was accepted
into Communitech’s Hyperdrive
accelerator program in July. The
move meant new office space and,
more importantly, more funding.
Another item on the agenda
might be a change in the company’s
corporate name. It was incorporated
in January 2012 as BSG Inc., which
stands for Blue Steel Group, a reference to male model Derek Zoolander’s trademark look in Ben Stiller’s
2001 movie Zoolander. “We couldn’t
think of a better name at the time
and we just kept saying ‘Don’t worry,
we’ll change it,’ and then we had to
incorporate and we just said ‘I guess
we’re using BSG,’ ” Simpson says.
He adds that he and his co-founders
had been going through a few different business plans and didn’t settle
on Togethr until two months after
they incorporated. n
54 y Technology Spotlight
APPS
Mixing business and charity
iNotForProfit
creates
customizable
user experience
Linda Givetash, Record staff
N
ot-for-profit organizations rarely have the
resources to utilize new
technology, but one entrepreneur has created a tool to bring
the charitable sector into the digital
world.
Looking for a way to combine his
passions for starting a technology
company and contribute to the notfor-profit sector, Jonathan Grover
came up with the idea for iNotForProfit.
iNotForProfit provides organizations with a customizable smartphone app they can use to promote
their causes by integrating their
online activities — everything from
tweets to donation forms — into one
mobile hub. “It came out of a realization that a lot of the charitable organizations I was volunteering at or
working with, they didn’t have the
capabilities or resources to take
advantage of the same technologies
that gives so many benefits to companies or business,” Grover says.
The app aggregates social media
activity, highlights upcoming events
and includes donation and volunteer
registration functions. It keeps constituents in the know with updates
on their smartphones, requiring
little to no effort on their part to seek
out new information. Rather than
researching ways to support a charity, volunteers and donors can have
opportunities presented to them
when it is convenient for them.
“Charity falls into the passion parts
of our lives but our work and our
personal life typically comes first
and then comes that passion, so very
often it’s not that we don’t want to
connect, it’s that it’s not convenient
for us to connect.… (so) why don’t we
change that paradigm?” Grover says.
The app, available on BlackBerry,
Apple and Android devices, is based
on a subscription model where notfor-profit organizations pay for their
customized version at a price that is
about equal to a cup a coffee a day,
Grover says. The fee keeps his business afloat but is manageable for
charities on tight budgets, he says.
Organizations are not locked into a
contract either, meaning they continue subscribing because the app is
MARTA IWANEK, RECORD STAFF
Jonathan Grover is the founder and CEO of iNotForProfit, a startup that develops mobile apps that help not-for-profit
organizations raise funds and promote themselves.
iNotForProfit
iNotForProfit Inc.
Inc.
Business: Mobile apps for non-profits and charities
Founded: 2010
Executive team: Jonathan Grover, founder and CEO
Employees: under 10
Address: 295 Hagey Blvd., Waterloo
delivering benefits.
iNotForProfit designs each app to
reflect the branding of a particular
charity. The charity can then access
the back end of the app to change
features or update events, send newsletters and integrate new social media accounts on a web-based platform. As new features are integrated
into the app, they become available to
all subscribers at no additional cost.
Grover and his team of less than 10
work out of the Accelerator Centre in
Waterloo. The business initially was
self-funded and has since received
financial and mentorship support
through the centre’s federally funded
JumpStart program. Grover notes
that the mentorship and networking
opportunities provided direction as
the business made early decisions on
issues from financial planning to
marketing, saving it time and growing its capacity. It’s eliminated some
of the trial-and-error process many
startups face as they develop, he says.
“In the startup community here I’ve
got to meet so many of the CEOs that
are currently here but also the (Accelerator Centre) graduates … hearing their success stories and some of
the challenges they’ve encountered
too. It’s immensely helpful,” Grover
says.
Working out of the centre has also
connected Grover to the first dozen
charities — many of them locally
based — that subscribe to the app.
Both Social Venture Partners Waterloo Region and Capacity Waterloo
Region were introduced to iNotForProfit at the Accelerator Centre
and both have since benefited from
the customizable features that support their unique needs.
“People like to have these things
on their devices for convenience
sake,” says Andrew Wilding, director of operations for Capacity Waterloo Region. While the app replicates
much of what his organization offers on its website, it is far more
mobile friendly — an appealing
feature to constituents who are
always on the go.
In addition to using the app as a
promotional tool, Social Venture
Partners has found another practical
use in its daily operations. “One thing
that we want to work on and capitalize on is the feature that’s built in
there to log volunteer hours,” says
Jennifer King, the organization’s
executive director. “Having them
easily go into the app, click a button,
submit their volunteer hours — not
only would we get more accuracy, it’s
also just-in-time information.”
For organizations that rely on
donations and volunteers, iNotForProfit is showing promise as a tool to
help them achieve their objectives.
“Obviously, all of our organizations
have to change to attract some of the
newer entries, people who are involved in volunteering, the younger
generation that are used to using
their mobile devices for different
things,” Wilding says. “It’s certainly
beneficial to attracting that new
generation of donors and volunteers.’
With additional similar success
stories from subscribing not-forprofits, Grover hopes to see his business grow rapidly, gaining between
500 and 750 clients in the coming year.
His goal is for iNotForProfit to graduate from Accelerator Centre with
1,000 clients in early 2015. n
Technology Spotlight y 55
APPS
Counting on educational apps
Busy Brain aims
for learning
that looks good
Lisa MacColl, Special to The Record
J
onathan Baltrusaitis and Roberta Da Re
launched their educational app business
with the notion that the media had to
catch up with the mind.
The founders of Busy Brain Media wanted to
create an educational tool for children that “went
beyond what a library book could do.” In their
opinion, television was too linear and passive. A
computer and mouse, while interactive, was pedantic and cumbersome.
After watching his children play on his wife’s
iPad, Baltrusaitis knew he had found the perfect
platform to create an experience that could be
guided by the user, yet was fluid and visually
appealing. The Waterloo startup would design
interactive, educational games for tablet computers. “We wanted to present information in a different way. Everything we do must be educational: we aren’t just building a game to occupy time,”
says Baltrusaitis.
Da Re came on board as a result of Baltrusaitis’
work in the film and television industry. While
working on a film, he talked to the director about
an idea he had for an educational app about anatomy, nutrition and health. That night, the director
mentioned the project to his wife, Roberta, and
she called Baltrusaitis and said, “I have to be a
part of this. I want to help you get it made.”
Da Re, a chiropractor, is a parent of three
young sons and had designed and presented
shows for children at the Ontario Science Centre.
“I needed a partner to help get it done, another
brain to work it all through,” says Baltrusaitis.
“Roberta was the perfect fit. Our skills and interests complement each other so well. My storytelling and production knowledge from television
lets me produce all of the elements and Roberta
does the lion’s share of the programming. We’re
designing the content together.”
The pair, who launched the business in 2012,
didn’t start out with the anatomy app. They developed a counting game for preschoolers called
Ladybug Number Count. The game, which uses a
combination of photos and animation, prompts
kids to count ladybugs in a variety of settings,
such as the beach, the playground and a mountain.
Baltrusaitis and Da Re used a gaming platform
called GameSalad to develop the game. Baltrusaitis did most of the creative work. He created ladybugs out of clay and painted them, and then took
photographs of them in various locations.
Doing the creative work himself was more
economical and also allowed the duo to retain
control. Baltrusaitis drew on his experience from
the film and television industry. “There are development cycles in television and film,” he says.
“You produce a rough cut, decide what works and
what doesn’t and make adjustments. We knew
hiring a developer would be expensive, and we
wouldn’t have complete control. We decided to
PETER LEE, RECORD STAFF
Roberta Da Re (left) and Jonathan Baltrusaitis, co-founders of Busy Brain Media, took photos of clay
models of ladybugs in various locations for their educational counting app called Ladybug Number Count.
Busy
Busy Brain
Brain Media
Media
Business: Fun educational apps for children
Founders: Jonathan Baltrusaitis and
Roberta Da Re
Founded: 2012
First app: Ladybug Number Count
learn to create the application ourselves.”
The partners did a lot of research, talking to
early childhood educators, checking out other
applications, and reading book after book in the
library. “Our respective children act as our test
pilots,” says Baltrusaitis. “If there is a stage in the
application that frustrates them or isn’t working,
we fix it. Play learning is entertaining if you get
every stage right.”
While taking photos of the ladybugs was labour intensive, Baltrusaitis and Da Re believe
high resolution photos are more visually appealing than Photoshopped images or graphics, and
are well-suited to tablets. “No one is going to believe it’s a real ladybug, but by setting it in real
locations and photographing it and then using
motion technology, we were able to imbue the
little bugs with life,” says Baltrusaitis.
With both partners working full time, one of
the biggest challenges to growing the business is
“carving out chunks of time” to dedicate to Busy
Brain Media, says Baltrusaitis “There are a lot of
early mornings and late nights to develop the app
and market it.”
He was surprised to discover that developing
an app is easier than climbing the rankings in the
app store. To be successful, an app needs to appear
in the top five search results. Many apps have a
“lite” version, which is free, but users must pay to
upgrade to the full version or to unlock modules.
There are also apps that have in-app advertising.
Busy Brain Media does neither. “I don’t like mixing the world of buying commerce with education,” says Baltrusaitis. “Those worlds need to be
separate. When you buy our app, it includes all
future updates. We’re taking a harder road to be
profitable, but we’re sticking to our principles.”
The Ladybug Number Count has received
positive reviews from parenting sites and mom
bloggers. Translating the app into French and
Spanish increased sales as well. Baltrusaitis says
he and Da Re need to do a better job publicizing
positive reviews. “Our philosophy to social media
mirrors our philosophy to app creation — there
has to be a purpose to it,” he says. “We’re not going to tweet just to tweet.”
Baltrusaitis and Da Re are now turning their
attention to the anatomy app. Baltrusaitis says it
is intended to be “an owner’s guide to the human
body for little kids.” It will include anatomy and
physiology components, nutrition and hygiene,
and will be designed to adapt to the age of the user.
Baltrusaitis would like to get it into schools that
use iPads.
Busy Brain would like to line up outside investment in the future, but for now Baltrusaitis and
Da Re want to maintain control until the anatomy
app is launched. “I learned from television that
there’s an advantage to having investors, but the
project can change a great deal at their hands,”
Baltrusaitis says. “When we get to the stage when
we are looking for investors, we will have proven
ourselves in terms of production. They will see
that what we have is really great, and they will
want to help us make more of it.”
Although Baltrusaitis and Da Re have lots of
work ahead of them, they are proud of their
achievements to date. “Our app is unique among
the plethora of counting apps out there,” says
Baltrusaitis.
“We have targeted a specific point in time in
learning numbers and sequencing, and our photographs add visual interest. There is a certain
satisfaction when the finished product mirrors
the vision. We had the ideas for years. We had to
wait for the technology to catch up.” n
56 y Technology Spotlight
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Mespere
on a mission
to improve
health care
John Schofield, Special to The Record
F
or Xuefeng Cheng, the
road from Wuhan to Waterloo was a journey of the
heart — in more ways
than one. Under different circumstances, the chief executive officer
of Mespere LifeSciences, a promising Waterloo-based medical devices
manufacturer, might have stayed in
Wuhan, the metropolis in central
China where he grew up — or Boston, where he did graduate work in
biomedical engineering at Tufts
University. He could have ended up
in Silicon Valley, where he helped
launch two medical device firms
while his wife, Xiaowu Tang, completed her studies.
But when Tang was hired as a
faculty member by the University of
Waterloo’s Waterloo Institute for
Nanotechnology, Cheng followed
his life partner and got to work
laying the foundation for his third
startup. At the Accelerator Centre
in the David Johnston Research and
Technology Park, he and his team
developed the Venus 1000, a relatively compact machine that uses
near-infrared technology to noninvasively measure central venous
pressure (CVP) in the heart, a key
indicator of heart health and the
risk of heart failure. The device
could revolutionize heart disease
management — still the leading
killer in many developed countries
— and help health administrators
trim ballooning costs. “There’s no
one in the world who’s done this —
we are the first,” says Cheng. “It’s
very exciting.”
If the device wins widespread
acceptance, the enthusiasm could
be contagious. For patients, it
would mean an end to the pain and
risk of infection sometimes associated with inserting a cardiac catheter in the neck, chest or groin — a
procedure commonly used since the
Second World War. By making it
easier to monitor heart attack victims after they’re discharged from
hospital, the Venus 1000 would trim
the cost of readmitting relapsed
heart patients, which one estimate
pegs at about $1.8 billion a year in
the United States alone. Hospitals
are under pressure today to release
patients quickly, says John Anders,
the company’s vice-president of
sales and marketing. But family
doctors don’t have the tools to monitor heart patients effectively, and a
significant percentage often relapse
within a month.
Enter the Venus 1000. For Mespere, the machine could open up a
potentially huge market. According
to research released earlier this
year by New York-based Reportlinker.com, the global cardiac
catheter market is worth $2.1 billion, and is growing by an average
of 12.9 per cent annually.
Mespere hopes the Venus 1000
will one day be used even more
widely than cardiac catheters,
reaching into community clinics or
seniors’ residences. “The medical
devices field is a growing and lifesaving field,” says Tofy Mussivand,
director and CEO of the Medical
Devices Innovation Institute at the
University of Ottawa. “The particular importance on the Mespere
LifeSciences devices is the noninvasive aspect, which could have
great potential for health care providers.” ‰
Mespere
Mespere LifeSciences
LifeSciences
Calgary | Montréal | Ottawa
Toronto | Vancouver | Waterloo Region
Lawyers | Patent & Trade-mark Agents
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP
is an Ontario Limited Liability Partnership.
blg.com
Business: Medical devices for non-invasive patient monitoring
Founded: 2008
Executive team: Xuefeng Cheng, president and CEO; John Anders, VP
sales and marketing; Krishna Conjeevaram, VP business development
Address: 180 Frobisher Dr., Waterloo
Technology Spotlight y 57
MARTA IWANEK, RECORD STAFF
John Anders, (left) vice-president of sales and marketing with Mespere LifeSciences, Krishna Conjeevaram (centre), vice-president of business development, and
chief executive officer Xuefeng Cheng display medical devices in the startup’s office in Waterloo.
‰ The Venus 1000 makes measuring
central venous pressure as quick and
painless as checking a patient’s blood
pressure. An adhesive sensor is
placed on the person’s neck over the
external jugular vein and, in seconds, the measurement is displayed
on an attached handheld device with
a corresponding waveform. The
product also comes with a docking
station for calibration and charging.
While prices are not published, Anders says the total package sells for
under $10,000 in Canada.
As Cheng tells the story, the
ground-breaking technology was
developed from scratch in a small
office at the Accelerator Centre. Last
December, the company graduated to
its next stage of growth by moving
into its own office on Frobisher Drive
in Waterloo where, on one floor, eight
employees perform all the key functions, from R&D, testing and assembly
to sales and marketing and business
development. Another four employees work out of the company’s office
in China to manage its supply chain.
Even before it outgrew the Accelerator Centre, Mespere scored some
significant successes. In June 2012, it
met the certification requirements to
sell the Venus 1000 in Europe. A few
months later, it got the green light
from Health Canada. The device is
currently being assessed in several
major hospitals in Canada. Last May,
preference is given to homegrown
Mespere announced separate distritechnology in the domestic healthbution partnerships for Turkey and
care system, no such advantage is
eastern Europe, and discussions are
afforded to Canadian medical techtaking place with potential distribunology firms.
tion partners for western Europe and
Canada is better than many counAustralia. Anders says that 20 units
tries when it comes to providing
have already been sold in Europe and
financial and technical support at
Turkey.
the R&D stage,
In a major
says Cheng. “But
breakthrough, the
once you go to
company recently
market, you’re on
received approval
your own and
from the U.S. Food
that’s the most
and Drug Adminchallenging part,”
istration, and is
he says. “It’s not
ramping up its
easy being the
sales efforts south
world’s first.”
of the border. The
Xuefeng Cheng,
The health-care
product’s U.S.
PRESIDENT AND CEO OF MESPERE
procurement
prospects were
LIFESCIENCES
system in Canada
bolstered last
has to be changed
February when a
to open the way for innovative Canaclinical study completed by the Unidian technology, says Brian Lewis,
versity of Michigan confirmed the
president and CEO of Toronto-based
Venous 1000’s central venous presMEDEC, the association that represure readings are statistically equivsents the country’s medical technoloalent to those obtained through cargy companies. More streamlined
diac catheterization.
processes in Europe and the U.S.
Carving out a market for new
medical technology is slow and some- allow for faster adoption of cuttingedge medical devices. Because of
times frustrating work, says Anders.
that, Canadian firms often end up
Small Canadian startups compete
selling more of their products overagainst huge multinationals that
seas or in the U.S. “One of the things
enjoy established relationships with
we’ve been doing with our memkey decision makers in regulatory
bers,” he says, “is sitting with govagencies and hospitals. And unlike
ernments to determine the best path
countries like Switzerland, where
“There’s no one in
the world who’s
done this – we are
the first. It’s very
exciting.”
forward.”
But Mespere has a business to
grow, and it isn’t waiting for any
special favours. Cheng says the company’s second major product, VA
Oximeter, “is as exciting as the Venus
1000” and will be market-ready by
early 2014.
The device non-invasively measures the oxygen level in venous
blood flowing into the heart — a
critical indicator for the rapid detection and treatment of sepsis. The
life-threatening condition is caused
by severe infections, and is the thirdleading cause of death in hospitals.
With financial backing from the
Natural Sciences and Engineering
Research Council, Mespere is also
working with the University of Waterloo on a third potential product —
a non-invasive, nanotechnologybased device that would allow basic
metabolic panel (BMP) blood testing,
a standard test for heart health, to be
done in a doctor’s office, or even at
home. Currently, BMP testing can
only be done in a hospital.
The company’s drive to create
innovative medical devices shows no
sign of waning. “We’re on a mission,”
says Cheng, “to develop a real, hightech company with rich content.”
And the mission may go even deeper.
“We’re making a difference,” adds
Anders. “We’re changing the way
things can be done.” n
58 y Technology Spotlight
CROWDFUNDING
DAVID BEBEE, RECORD STAFF
Josh Moore holds a couple of the Cobra Wallets he developed with partner Alex Kennberg. They raised more than $51,000 on Kickstarter to pay for tooling to make
the sleek, smartphone styled wallets.
The new-age way of fundraising
Thin wallet bulges with cash after
Kickstarter crowdfunding pitch
Chuck Howitt, Record staff
M
ost entrepreneurs
create and refine their
products before turning to crowdfunding
sites to raise cash. Not Josh Moore.
He was so fascinated with this new
form of fundraising, in which large
numbers of donors invest small
amounts of cash, that he began poring through projects on the popular
crowdfunding site Kickstarter.
It didn’t matter that he didn’t have
a product to raise money for. To him
the concept was so cool he even invested in a few products promoted by
other entrepreneurs.
Moore was a hardware junkie.
The University of Waterloo mechanical engineering grad liked nothing
better than tinkering with inventions at his home in Elora. “I have
dozens of prototypes. It’s what I love
to do in my spare time.”
But the self-employed mechani-
cal designer knew it was much more
expensive to launch a hardware
product than a software platform.
Higher capital costs scared away
investors. Crowdfunding might
hold the key to solving his dilemma.
Moore began talking up the merits of crowdfunding to friends. They
told him he should meet a fellow UW
grad and former Google employee
named Alex Kennberg. He too had
been vocal about his interest in
crowdfunding. They met and began
mulling over ideas. Moore mentioned a prototype he had for a thinner wallet. By a strange coincidence, Kennberg was working on
one as well. In fact, he had 12 prototypes.
The stars were aligned. The wallet would be their first product on
Kickstarter. After preparing a twominute video, photos and descriptions of the wallet, they launched a
35-day campaign in the fall of 2012.
They called their product the
Cobra Wallet. Customers were intrigued. More than 1,100 coughed up
$51,128 for the sleek-looking pocketbook, well beyond the founders’ goal
of $30,000. Moore and Kennberg were
elated. Without crowdfunding, production of the Cobra Wallet “would
have been much more difficult,” says
Moore.
It’s no wonder Moore was excited
by this new form of fundraising. In
essence, it turns the financing model
on its head. Instead of being asked to
buy a finished product that you can
touch, feel and play with, you’re
being asked to buy into an idea or a
concept of a product before it’s built.
Often it’s something new, different or
something that is not on the market
yet. If enough people like the idea and
pony up the cash, production goes
ahead.
In some senses, the concept isn’t
new. Crude forms of crowdfunding
date back to the 1800s. But fuelled by
the internet, micro-financing
through large pools of investors has
taken off like a rocket. According to
the U.S. research firm Massolution,
more than 500 crowdfunding sites
were active around the globe in 2012,
raising an estimated $2.7 billion.
That figure is expected to nearly
double to $5.1 billion this year.
Canada was home to 17 crowdfunding platforms in 2012, says the
Canada Media Fund, but much of the
action has gravitated toward higherprofile U.S. sites such as Indiegogo
and Kickstarter, which is now available in Canada.
Founded in 2009, Kickstarter
roared onto local radar screens last
year when UW grad Eric Migicovsky
raised $10.2 million for his Pebble
smartwatch during a 37-day campaign. The stunning total, still a
Kickstarter record, made Migicovsky an instant tech celebrity.
But more than blind luck and good
timing made Migicovsky’s campaign
successful. In a blog post, he points to
several keys. He refined and improved an earlier version of the
watch based on feedback from 1,500
customers. Before going live on Kickstarter, his video and demo page were
vetted by more than 100 family members and friends. ‰
Technology Spotlight y 59
‰ His team prepared a spreadsheet
of 60 to 70 media contacts and bloggers in the gadget space who wrote
about Kickstarter projects. All were
alerted as soon as the campaign
kicked off. No interview was turned
down. “For six hours a day I just sat
on the phone doing interviews,”
Migicovsky says.
Moore and Kennberg didn’t have a
hot commodity like the Pebble smartwatch for their Kickstarter campaign. What they did have was a gut
feeling that consumers would go for a
cool-looking thinner wallet made of
the same material used in many
smartphones.
They still needed an acceptable
prototype, but getting a hardware
version made at a reasonable price
wasn’t going to be easy. Four different machine tools were required to
make the wallet’s two stainless steel
cores and thermoplastic cover. A
manufacturer in Asia was the cheapest option. Luckily, Moore knew his
away around the Byzantine Far East
market. He had worked at a California fibre optics company for three
years after doing his final UW co-op
work term there. The firm, which
still employs him as a consultant,
used Asian fabrication shops. But the
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
University of Waterloo graduate Eric Migicovsky holds the fundraising record
on Kickstarter. He raised $10.2 million to produce the Pebble smartwatch.
bill for two prototypes of the Cobra
Wallet still came to a hefty $2,400.
Two big questions loomed — the
fundraising goal and the length of the
campaign. While Migicovsky blew
well past his fundraising goal of
$100,000, Moore and Kennberg knew
they could never expect a similar
bonanza for the Cobra Wallet. Based
on his manufacturing experience,
Moore knew the minimum required
to make 1,500 Cobra Wallets was
about $30,000.
More would be great, but if a project fails to meet its fundraising goal
on Kickstarter, no money changes
hands. Set the target too high and
donors would sense that the project
might not meet its goal and be scared
away, he says.
Research told the duo that 30 to 35
days was the optimal length for the
campaign. They could go up to 60
days, but if donations flatlined in the
middle it could be fatal to their
chances. If pledges haven’t cracked
the 20 per cent barrier after the first
few days, your campaign is toast,
says Moore.
Other keys were creating the right
amount of precampaign buzz for a
rush of donations on Day 1 and working social media networks once it
was up and running. “You see that a
lot in some of the campaigns,” says
Moore. “The first day is often their
best day.”
The actual campaign was a blur of
14 to 15-hour days. Recruiting new
donors consumed the daytime hours.
Talk with Asian manufacturers filled
the nights. Moore’s job as a mechanical designer took a back seat.
Despite the long hours, it was
exhilarating. “From developing a lot
of prototypes before and not seeing
market acceptance yet, and then
seeing people pledging real dollars
for your product, it was exciting,”
says Moore.
The first shipments of Cobra
Wallets are scheduled to go out in
December. n
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60 y Technology Spotlight
SOFTWARE
Offering freedom from cheques
Billee.ca brings
banking into
the 21st century
Ryan Bowman, Record staff
B
eginning with a curbside
lemonade stand more
than 35 years ago, Maxime Corso has followed
his entrepreneurial spirit from one
successful business endeavour to
another.
With his latest technology venture, Billee.ca, Corso is hoping to
change the way businesses do business — one transaction at a time.
Billee is an electronic funds
transfer system designed to make
secure payments between businesses easier and more efficient. The
company’s software, which syncs
with any company’s accounting
system, takes care of everything from
cheque approval to auditing requirements to deposits.
Corso, 45, says the Canadian banking system — which still relies heavily on traditional paper cheques — is
archaic, inefficient and expensive.
The current cost to process a paper
cheque, including the envelope,
postage, administrative costs, is
$3.14, he says. With Billee, the cost to
process the same cheque is 74 cents,
he says. “As a country, we’re very
progressive in many things, but as
far as our banking system goes, we’re
still old school,” he says from a quiet
room in the Communitech Hub, the
startup haven where his company,
Corso Innovations Corp., is located.
“People have been paying their
household bills online for 15 years,”
he adds. “Companies need to do the
exact same thing, and they need
special features to do it.”
Those features include top-of-the
line fraud protection and a built-in
reporting system to help companies
better manage their cash flow and
accounts payable.
Corso, who has nearly 20 years of
software experience, says he came up
with the idea for Billee while working with a Kitchener accounts payable company.
“Because I was in payroll and
software, I always assumed that level
of automation would become more
widespread, but it never came,” he
says. So he quit his high-paying executive-level job and set out to create it
himself.
One of his first moves was to team
up with Stoian Topouzov, who was
MARTA IWANEK, RECORD STAFF
Maxime Corso, CEO of Billee.ca, says Canadian businesses lag behind consumers when it comes to adopting online
payment systems.
Billee.ca
Billee.ca
Business: Software for online business-to-business payments
Ownership: Corso Innovations Corp.
Executive team: Maxime Corso, founder and CEO; Stoian Topouzov, founder
and chief technology officer; Brian MacDowall, director of communications
Address: 151 Charles St. W., Kitchener
familiar with banking technology
after working for Symcor, one of the
country’s leading financial processing companies. “He knew my language when I explained it to him,”
Corso says of Topouzov. “He saw the
vision and the potential right away.”
In addition to a formidable business partner, Corso also had a luxury
most tech startups don’t — capital.
“Luckily, because I was a senior exec
for so many years, I was able to stash
away some funds,” says Corso. Other
than a pair of government grants and
a small bank loan, he has funded the
project out of his own pocket for the
past three years.
After the beta launch in April,
Corso attracted several companies,
including some of his neighbours at
The Communitech Hub, to help him
and his team of engineers test the
system. He says the technology has
exceeded his expectations. “The
system works beautifully and does
things even I didn’t even expect it to
do. Everybody seems to love the user
interface and the level of reporting is
phenomenal.”
Billee went live in September and
currently has a “nice group of about
20 early adopters,” says Corso. In the
first few weeks, payments totalling
tens of thousands of dollars were
moved on the system, he says.
Corso hopes to expand to the U.S.
within the next 12 months. In five
years, he plans to have versions of
Billee available in every market
“from Hong Kong to Mexico and
beyond.” The business has five employees.
Users pay monthly software licensing fees ranging from $16 to $220
per month as well as small transaction fees and a one-time set-up fee
to activate the account. Corso expects
approximately 2,500 clients within
the first year and profitability within
eight months.
If Corso’s track record is any indication, Billee promises to be an
international success. After developing and patenting a pneumatically
operated vacuum straight out of
university, he started and sold his
first company by the age of 25. From
there, he went on to work for a Kitchener company specializing in children’s play structures (helping boost
its sales from about $650,000 to more
$10 million in four years) as well as at
a software development company.
But more than an inventor, a salesperson, an entrepreneur or a techie,
Corso sees himself as an innovator.
“My drive is to constantly develop
ideas,” he says. “I love exploring
issues and problems and developing
systematic solutions.”
According to Corso, the biggest
challenge moving forward with Billee will be getting the word out.
“People are used to cheques and
old habits die hard. We are looking
for early adopters that are frustrated
with the use of cheques.”
But once it catches on, Corso says,
there will be no turning back. “I
think Billee is in a space that will
never go away,” he says.
“People will always have to trade
goods and services in exchange for
money. And as the technology
evolves, I want to be at the forefront
of that push.” n
Technology Spotlight y 61
SOFTWARE
WatServ sees a future in the cloud
Shared services
make for a viable
business model
Dave Pink, Special to The Record
I
t’s called cloud computing, but
using remote servers and the
internet to store information
really is just a matter of outsourcing the care and keeping of
your electronic data.
Regardless, says Tom Doerner,
founder of Waterloo-based WatServ,
cloud computing is an idea whose
time has come. Why, he asks, would
any business want to go to the trouble and expense of managing a computer system when WatServ’s virtualization hardware can do it cheaper
and more efficiently? “This whole
idea has taken off. People have embraced cloud computing as a concept,” he says. “Within three years
you’ll laugh if you hear of some business that’s building and maintaining
a computer room.”
Doerner was working at Waterloo’s Open Text Corp., managing its
IT department, with a staff of 118 and
a budget of $1 million a month, when
he got what he was sure was a brilliant idea. The software company, he
reasoned, could profit from the hosting of other companies’ computer
data. “I actually presented a business plan to the executives at Open
Text,” he says.
They were encouraging, but ultimately were not interested, he says.
“I walked out with a nice package,
and I used it to start this company.”
WatServ, short for Waterloo Managed Software Services, was
launched in 2006 with the help of five
investors, but Doerner has since
bought them all out. One of those
investors, Greg Fischer, was hired as
the company’s chief technical officer.
Cloud computing is nothing new,
says Doerner. “The actual word
cloud has been around since the
internet was invented. It was used to
describe how people connected with
it.”
The concept for WatServ was
developed directly based on Doerner’s work at Open Text. “As a
director, I was tied to a budget and
there was a lot of personal incentive
to cut costs. As the years went by, that
became more challenging.”
Doerner realized that other businesses were feeling the same pressure to cut costs. At the same time,
just about every other business was
driven to install and maintain a
MATHEW McCARTHY, RECORD STAFF
Tom Doerner founded WatServ in 2006 to take advantage of the growing
opportunities in cloud computing.
“Business is the best it’s ever been. We boomed
during the 2008 recession. The necessity of
having to cut costs really helped us. It drove
customers our way.” Tom Doerner, WATSERV FOUNDER
computer system to keep up with the
demands of doing business in the 21st
century. Those systems needed to be
secure but also allow the people in
the organization’s various parts to
share information.
“The downside was the complexity of doing just that,” says Doerner.
“It requires a lot of babysitting. It
needs a lot of people to keep the system up and running. I thought I
could run these systems more efficiently and I could increase my bonus.”
An IT department, for most com-
WatServ
WatServ
Business: Cloud computing
solutions
Founded: 2006
Executive team: Tom Doerner,
president and CEO
Employees: 48
Address: 180 King St. S., Suite
602, Waterloo
panies, is a distraction, says Doerner. “The guy who manufactures
widgets has very different needs
than a legal practice. You have to
understand the variability of each
company. I thought that if someone
had that expertise they could leverage the new technology coming
out.
“At Open Text I saw this as one
heck of a business opportunity,” he
says. “I spent eight months researching it, and by 2006 I had gathered
enough information to know there
was a viable business there.”
The cloud is just a pooled resource, shared and paid for by many
customers, says Doerner. “Everything in our business is measured by
the number of users on the system,”
he says. “It’s sold on a subscription
basis, money per user per month. We
spread the cost over thousands of
companies. This sharing of services
is what makes this business model
viable. It will save them hundreds of
thousands of dollars.”
WatServ has customers in 62
countries, with inquiries coming in
regularly from prospective clients
around the world — everywhere
from Norway to Venezuela to China.
Doerner opened an office in Southfield, Mich., in 2008 to deal with the
U.S. market, and he’s just back from
Sao Paolo, Brazil, where he hopes to
open another office. “We get calls
around the clock,” he says. “Business is the best it’s ever been. We
boomed during the 2008 recession.
The necessity of having to cut costs
really helped us. It drove customers
our way.”
He hopes that the Canadian government’s initiative to move its own
files to cloud computing will drive
even more business his way.
Doerner’s family has a long history of business ownership in Waterloo
Region. His grandfather founded
Frank Doerner and Sons in Waterloo
around 1940; his father, Carl, and
Carl’s brothers, founded Northfield
Metal Products in the mid-1970s.
Today, Northfield employs more
than 400 people in a plant on Bathurst Drive in Waterloo.
As he grows WatServ, Doerner
says his biggest challenge is finding
and hiring qualified employees. The
company has 48 employees and is
adding two or three staff members
every three months.
“We’ve never lost a staff member,
or a customer,” says Doerner. “Our
customers line up to give us references. I count my blessings. I happen to
have hit the right business at the
right time.” n
62 y Technology Spotlight
SMART CARS
RATUL DEBNATH, QNX SOFTWARE SYSTEMS
The CAR 2 platform QNX Software Systems developed for this Jeep Wrangler Sahara includes a digital instrument cluster, infotainment system and media player.
Smart cars driving into the future
A
s someone who is frequently on the road
between Toronto and Waterloo, Steven
Waslander loves the idea of a car that will
drive itself.
He could ignore the traffic, relax and catch up on
emails and phone calls while the car took him on
automatic pilot to the University of Waterloo, where
he is an assistant professor in the mechanical and
mechatronics engineering department and director
of the autonomous vehicles lab. If the computer
detected a dangerous situation on the road, he would
take over the driving. But otherwise, he would be
free to do what he wants in the car. It sounds farfetched, but Waslander says that future is closer
than we think.
Google has already rigged cars with sophisticated laser scanners and onboard computers to prove
that driverless cars are possible. They have logged
thousands of kilometres without incident. Some
cars on the road today are already semi-autonomous, with adaptive cruise control systems that
allow the car to maintain a safe distance from other
cars, automatically apply brakes and stay in the
proper lane.
“I don’t think we will be napping in the car any
time soon, but I do think we will be emailing, texting
and phoning more often,” Waslander says. “We will
be able to be distracted drivers and still be safe.”
While Waslander’s lab at UW is working hard to
make self-driving cars a reality, technology companies are already connecting cars to the internet.
QNX Software Systems, an Ottawa-based compa-
ny owned by BlackBerry, is a big player in telematics, the field that integrates telecommunications
into devices. It developed the software behind the
GM OnStar and Chevrolet MyLink systems as well
as other digital instrument clusters and hands-free
calling systems that are in cars around the world.
QNX technology was shipped in about 11 million
cars last year.
At a telematics conference in Detroit earlier this
year, QNX announced that its system has been extended to also support Android apps, opening up a
whole set of new possibilities for apps that could be
deployed in a car environment.
At the same conference, BlackBerry unveiled
technology that will let automakers do “over the
air” software upgrades to keep in-car apps up-todate. ‰
6302-01
Rose Simone, Record staff
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Technology Spotlight y 63
‰ Meanwhile, Waterloo-based Intelligent Mechatronic Systems Inc. (IMS) has developed in-vehicle
“enabler” devices that contain computer chips and
wireless technology, as well as “cloud-based” services that connect people in cars to the internet
using remote servers.
With the technology, almost any car built after
1996 can be a “connected car,” says Otman Basir,
chief executive officer of IMS, which employs
about 100 people, mostly in Waterloo but also in the
United States and the Middle East.
The wireless connections transmit information
about the driver’s location, driving behaviour and
car diagnostics. “We can use that to improve driving behaviour, to allow people to do proactive
maintenance on the car or manage their commuting to avoid traffic jams,” Basir says.
The technology can help a fleet manager maintain a fleet of vehicles, assist a young driver with
driving information and tips, or give drivers information about their gas mileage and faster
routes to a destination. Recently, IMS started working with state governments in the U.S. to develop a
road usage payment system that could gradually
replace the expensive road toll infrastructure.
“There is a huge market in that,” Basir says.
The company’s expertise is in collecting information, analyzing it and generating reports.
“Our business model is really about the cloud
services,” Basir says. “You choose the services you
want, and we will make it work for you and deliver
the services.”
IMS has been involved in usage-based insurance for years, working with big insurers in the
U.S. to deliver a service in which people agree to let
a device in their car collect and transmit information about speed, acceleration and other driver
behaviour, in exchange for lower insurance rates if
they are good drivers. That is especially attractive
to families with young drivers. “Now the insurance rate is not about
your gender or your age
but about what you do
in the car,” Basir says.
The company also is
moving into infotainment services through a
web portal it is developing. It will allow drivers to load their favourite internet radio stations, or use voice to
communicate text,
email or social media
messages.
Cars essentially have
become sensors in the
environment, Basir
says. “If you think about
it, there are 300 million
cars in North America
and so we can now have
300 million vehicles that
are sensors that can tell us about the way people
are moving around and how they’re impacting the
environment.”
According to consulting firm MarketsandMarkets and the GSM Association, a global mobile
industry association, the market for connected
cars will be worth about $98 billion by 2018.
Drivers, automakers and dealers are becoming
more interested in internet-connected cars, says
Andrew Poliak, director of automotive business
development at QNX. Systems, such as reconfigur-
DAVID BEBEE, RECORD STAFF
Steven Waslander (left), director of the autonomous vehicles lab at the University of Waterloo, and graduate
student Sirui Song with a robotic test vehicle and TurtleBot robot.
able digital panel displays and software that provides diagnostic information, can help save manufacturers and drivers money, he says. “So there is
an element of wanting these types of electronics to
reduce costs as well as incur additional revenue
and capture new vehicle buyers.”
But there are challenges. Unlike a smartphone
that is replaced every two or three years, people
buy a car expecting it last 10 or even 15 years. Yet
they want their apps to look modern and they
expect their digital system to “work flawlessly
every time,” Poliak says.
There also are challenges because different countries have
different standards
automakers need to
abide by. For QNX, it is
a big plus to be part of
BlackBerry. The smartphone company is in
165 countries and can
update platforms
across multiple operatOtman Basir
ing systems and across
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
OF INTELLIGENT
multiple mobile netMECHATRONIC SYSTEMS
work carriers around
the world and that is
“what the market is
looking for right now,”
Poliak says.
The automobile was
top of mind as engineers at BlackBerry
designed the BlackBerry 10 smartphones, says Sanjay Nathwani,
senior product manager at BlackBerry. “When you
are in the car, your phone should stay in your handbag, your pocket, your glove box or wherever you
keep it,” he says.
You can pair your BlackBerry 10 phone with
your TomTom navigation device, for example, and
it will not only download your phone book it also
will allow you to use BlackBerry voice control to
send BBM messages or update Facebook or Twitter. “The BlackBerry voice control connectivity
“If you think
about it, there
are 300 million
cars in North
America and
so we can now
have 300
million vehicles
that are
sensors that can tell us about
the way people are moving
around and how they’re
impacting the environment.”
can work for everybody with any car that has Bluetooth in it,” Nathwani says.
BlackBerry is working to make sure that its
smartphones will also work with other technology
such as MirrorLink, which takes the apps on your
smartphone and displays them on a screen in the
car with easy touch buttons and voice control.
A big issue with connected cars is security and
the possibility of hackers getting into the system.
The BlackBerry and QNX systems have just about
the highest level of security certification you can
get, Nathwani says. “Our solutions are always
built with security in mind.”
Another issue is government regulations and
laws designed to prevent distracted driving. “The
challenge is how to make something that is reflective of the brand, beautiful, immersive in a good
way and integrated into the vehicle environment
but is also something that reduces distractions and
accidents,” says Poliak of QNX.
He notes that the company has come out with
products that provide a clearer sound when using
voice because a clearer sound reduces the “cognitive load” on drivers.
Distracted driving will become less of an issue as
cars incorporate more semi-autonomous and even
fully autonomous driving features, says Barrie Kirk,
a partner in Ottawa-based Globis Consulting Inc.
and author of report on trends related to connected
vehicles. “At the moment, connected vehicles and
autonomous vehicles are on separate tracks, but in
the future I see those technologies converging.”
Back at the University of Waterloo, Waslander
says technological challenges need to be overcome
before cars can be truly self-driving. Machines
need to get better at distinguishing between a
cardboard box and a concrete block for example.
Snow that obscures the lines on the roadway also
poses a big challenge. Still, the technology is
evolving at a speed that is “remarkable and impressive,” he says.
Basir of IMS says vehicles increasingly will
become more a part of the “internet of things. The
car will link to your wallet, your computer, your
smartphone, your dealership and to your family
members and other members of society.” n
ACCELERATOR CENTRE
Address:
Phone:
Contact:
Email:
Website:
295 Hagey Blvd., Waterloo, ON N2L 6R5
519-342-2400
Fax: 519-513-2421
Shane Pegg, Director of Strategic Initiatives
spegg@acceleratorcentre.com
www.acceleratorcentre.com
Waterloo Region's high tech success starts here! The Accelerator Centre is a worldrenowned, award-winning facility for technology start-ups and early stage companies
offering services and mentorship dedicated to one goal: accelerate the growth of
successful new technology companies. With over 50,000 square feet of space dedicated
to the unique needs of start-ups and early stage companies, our celebrated Accelerator
Program™ has produced successful graduates such as Miovision Technologies, Clearpath
Robotics, Magnet Forensics, Axonify, and I Think Security.
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The Accelerator Centre offers:
The firm’s hallmarks of delivering the highest levels of excellence, integrity and
professionalism provide clients with customized solutions for the use, licensing,
protection and enforcement of patents, trade marks, copyright, industrial designs,
trade secrets, and issues including transactions, portfolio management, packaging
requirements, and promotional and advertising claims. With depth of experience and
diverse technical backgrounds, Bereskin & Parr offers focused, timely advice and
practical, cost-effective results.
BDO CANADA LLP
Address:
Phone:
Email:
Website:
150 Caroline St. S., Suite 201, Waterloo, ON N2L 0A5
519-576-5220
Fax: 519-576-5471
kitchenerwaterloo@bdo.ca
www.bdo.ca
BDO has over 90 years of experience providing value-added assurance, accounting, tax
and advisory services to a broad range of clients across the country.
• Tiers of business development programs geared to a company’s maturity level and Known for our entrepreneurial culture, BDO understands how your organization needs to
advisory needs
think and act in order to be competitive. With our extensive national and international
• Onsite management expertise, mentorship and education programs
resources and our local presence, we can scale our services to accommodate the
• Fully equipped, turn-key office space in suites of varying sizes
rapid growth characteristic of successful technology, media and telecommunications
enterprises, from pre-profit stage start-ups and venture capital-backed enterprises to
• Full service amenities and administrative support
listed public companies.
• Three locations:
H The David Johnson Waterloo Research+Technology Park
Our experience serving companies in your industry sector enables our professionals to
H Communitech HUB in Kitchener's Tannery Building
offer a broad perspective for making better decisions, suggest proven solutions and
H Stratford Accelerator Centre
provide exceptional client service. They are dedicated to ensuring that your strategic
If you are a fledgling technology start-up or early stage business looking to move to the objectives are given the same attention as daily operational demands.
next stage of maturity, have a product or service that will be ready for the market in With more than 3,000 partners and professionals in offices from Vancouver to St. John’s,
12-18 months’ time, and a management team in place with a business plan to make we have the resources to meet your needs, now and in the future.
that happen, you may be a candidate to become our next Accelerator Centre client. Apply
online at www.acceleratorcentre.com/apply
ORDEN ADNER ERVAIS
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ADVANCED BENEFITS CONSULTING
Address:
Phone:
Email:
Website:
Contact:
39 Durward Place, Unit 2, Waterloo, ON, N2L 4E5
519 576 5678
Toll Free 1 866 733 7771
jimk@advancedbenefits.ca
www.advancedbenefits.ca
Jim Kilgour
Address:
Phone:
Email:
Website:
Contact:
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LLP
Waterloo City Centre,
100 Regina Street S., Suite 220, Waterloo, ON N2J 4P9
519.747.6160
Fax: 519.579.2725
nhenderson@blg.com
www.blg.com
Neil Henderson
The Waterloo Region office of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG) offers a complete range
of day-to-day and transactional corporate, commercial and intellectual property legal
services to individuals and companies of all sizes. Our local lawyers and agents are
Advanced Benefits commits both time and energy to fully UNDERSTAND the corporate
available to assist you with all of your legal services needs .
culture of our clients and prospective clients. We then COLLABORATE with both our
in-house experts, along with our strategic industry partners to identify issues and Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (BLG), the largest full-service Canadian law firm, is driven to
opportunities relative to each client scenario. Once programs are in place, our ongoing help achieve the best possible results for all our clients. With more than 750 lawyers,
role is to GUIDE our clients forward to ensure they get where they want to go and intellectual property agents and other legal professionals in six offices, BLG provides
provide a resource to help navigate any curves the benefits environment might throw corporate, litigation and intellectual property solutions to a wide range of clients
nationally and internationally. And as a bilingual English-French firm, BLG excels under
their way.
both the common and civil law systems in Canada.
We do all of this in harmony with our clients, and with regard to both the Human
Resource as well as the Finance perspectives the plans may impact. Our goal is to deliver Understanding your business and how legal changes affect you today and tomorrow is
the maximum value from your benefits programs, through our ongoing process, as BLG’s business. Like you, BLG believes that nothing less than achieving results through
opposed to focusing on a single event. We create benefit plan solutions that are reflective excellence will do. This commitment to service has resulted in the frequent recognition
of many of BLG’s legal professionals at home and abroad. The Firm is also featured
of the needs and goals specific to your organization.
consistently in various national and international legal publications, including Best
In short, we create leading strategies and customized tax efficient employee benefit
Lawyers in Canada, Chambers Global – The World’s Leading Lawyers for Business, and
solutions that align the needs of the business – and the valued people in it.
The Lexpert/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada.
Advanced Benefits is the proud advisor to the Accelerator Centre and their ‘Accelerated
For more information, visit www.blg.com
Benefits Plan’ available to all Accelerator Centre client members.
Understand. Collaborate. Guide.
BERESKIN & PARR
Address:
Phone:
Email:
Website:
Contacts:
101 Frederick St., Suite 1004, Kitchener, ON N2H 6R2
519-783-3210 Toll Free: 1-888-364-7311 Fax: 519-783-3211
info@bereskinparr.com
www.bereskinparr.com
Tim Sinnott and Jason Hynes
Founded in 1965, Bereskin & Parr LLP is a leading Canadian intellectual property (IP)
law firm serving clients in over 100 countries worldwide. With more than 260 people,
including more than 70 lawyers, patent and trade mark agents, Bereskin & Parr and
its award-winning professionals are consistently rated in Canada as the benchmark for
IP law.
Bereskin & Parr has offices in Toronto, Montréal, Mississauga, and the Waterloo Region.
The firm has dedicated practice groups such as Biotechnology & Pharmaceutical,
Electronics & Computer Technology, Mechanical & Industrial Processes, Chemical,
Automotive, Clean Tech, Trademarks, Litigation, Licensing & Transactions, Regulatory,
Advertising & Marketing, and New Media/Copyright.
The Waterloo Region office provides a full range of IP services with a focus on patents
and IP management for technology companies. In addition to our core patent services,
we provide trade mark, copyright, confidential information advice and strategic
business counsel as it pertains to IP. Members of our litigation group meet with clients
in the Waterloo Region to help advise on enforcement and defense in IP matters. Our
experts on packaging, labeling and other regulatory compliance matters are also easily
accessible to our Waterloo Region clients.
CHRISTIE DIGITAL SYSTEMS CANADA INC.
Address:
Phone:
Website:
809 Wellington Street North, Kitchener, ON N2G 4Y7
519-744-8005
www.christiedigital.com
With more than 1000 employees worldwide, Christie is North America’s only
manufacturer and provider of a variety of visual solutions using sophisticated projection
technologies including LED, DLP® and LCD. Christie’s Canadian manufacturing
headquarters is ISO9001 and 14001 certified. Christie was the first manufacturer of
DLP Cinema projectors for commercial theatre use and today has more than 5,000
theatres equipped and showing digital movies to over three million audiences globally.
Additionally, Christie’s Mirage series projectors were the first purpose-built 3D projectors
and they continue to be the most installed 3D display technology around the world.
Christie holds over 40 AV industry firsts and over 27 industry awards including two
Oscars® for technical achievement from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts &
Technology.
OF
CAMBRIDGE
Address:
Communitech:
295 Hagey Boulevard, Suite 16, Waterloo, Ontario Canada
N2L 6R5
Communitech Hub: 151 Charles St. W., Suite 100, Kitchener, Ontario Canada
N2G 1H6
General Phone: (519) 888-9944
Toll free:
1-855-390-TECH (8324)
Fax: (519) 888-7007
Email:
info@communitech.ca
Founded in Waterloo Region by a group of dedicated entrepreneurs in 1997,
Communitech is the regional hub for the commercialization of innovative technologies,
supporting and building a tech cluster of nearly 1,000 companies that generates more
than $30 billion in annual revenue.
A member of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs, which is funded by the Ontario government,
Communitech supports tech companies at all stages of their growth and development – from
startups to rapidly-growing mid-size companies, to large global players.
Its goal is to create greater numbers of successful global businesses for Ontario and Canada.
CONESTOGA COLLEGE INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY AND ADVANCED LEARNING
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Address: 120 Randall Drive, Waterloo, ON N2V 1C6
Phone:
519-746-8110 or toll-free 1-800-419-8495
Fax: 519-747-0082
Website: www.descartes.com
Descartes (TSX:DSG) (Nasdaq:DSGX) is the global leader in providing on-demand,
software-as-a-service solutions focused on improving the productivity, performance
and security of logistics-intensive businesses. Descartes has over 147,000 parties using
its cloud based services. Customers use our modular, software-as-a-service solutions
to route, schedule, track and measure delivery resources; plan, allocate and execute
shipments; rate, audit and pay transportation invoices; file customs and security
documents for imports and exports; and complete numerous other logistics processes by
participating in the world's largest, collaborative multi-modal logistics community. Our
headquarters are in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada and we have offices and partners around
the world. Learn more at www.descartes.com
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DESCARTES SYSTEM GROUP INC.
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• Threats to your technology infrastructure and architecture
Since 2008, we have approved over $2.3 billion in construction value to accommodate
• Damages to property and business equipment
our growth. Major projects currently underway include the Barrel Yards – a mixed use
• Supply chain and distribution risk gaps
development in the uptown core which will include a hotel, condos, offices, green space
• Errors or omissions in your product or service that could result in financial loss
and public art; The Boardwalk – 1.1 million square feet of land for shops, a cinema and
to customers
medical offices; and the 780,000 square foot Waterloo Corporate Campus to attract
• Lawsuits that name your directors and officers
major technology firms, startups and commercial tenants.
We also recommend strategies that can assist you in raising capital to further develop
The jewel of our city, Waterloo Park, will soon undergo a transformation to enhance your growing enterprise.
our vibrant cultural lifestyle. We are also preparing to launch a new light rail transit in Every technology company comes with their own set of issues and risk tolerance profile.
2017. Projects like these facilitate growth and help Waterloo attract and retain residents, Our focus on thought leadership, depth of industry knowledge in the tech sector, and
visitors,
visitors students and businesses – people move here and stay here for a reason.
reason
experience allows us to offer the best insurance coverage to protect you
you.
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Address: 705 Fountain Street North, Cambridge, ON N1R 5T2
Tel:
519-650-6360
Email:
peter.nickel@cowangroup.ca
Cowan's dedicated technology team understands that the technology landscape is
constantly evolving and that with change comes risk. We work with you to analyze your
risks and create tailored solutions that protect you against:
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COWAN INSURANCE GROUP
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Address: 100 Regina Street South., Waterloo, ON N2J 4A8
Phone:
519-747-8539
Fax 519-747-8553
Email:
Justin.macfadden@waterloo.ca
Website: www.wearewaterloo.ca
Contact: Justin McFadden
Waterloo is a young, diverse and growing community that offers small town charm
with big city amenities. During the last decade, Waterloo has experienced significant
development activity in our universities and research institutes, condominiums,
commercial centres and office buildings.
is consistently ranked among the very best of Ontario’s colleges for the quality of its
programs and services, as well as student, graduate and employer satisfaction.
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CITY OF WATERLOO – ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
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Address:
Phone:
WHO SWHO
299 Doon Valley Drive, Kitchener, ON N2G 4M4
519-748-5220 ext. 3656
TTY: 1-866-463-4484
(program and course information)
HE ITY OF ITCHENER
Email:
askme@conestogac.on.ca
Website: www.conestogac.on.ca
Address: 200 King Street West, PO Box 1118, Kitchener, ON N2G 4G7
Conestoga College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning is Ontario’s fastestPhone:
519-741-2286
growing college, with a broad range of education and training opportunities through
Website: www.kitchener.ca
degree, diploma, certificate, post-graduate and apprenticeship programs, as well as
Kitchener is Startup City.
corporate training programs and part-time studies designed to serve the needs of the
The epicenter of startup has shifted to Downtown Kitchener, supporting a setting for labour market.
innovation in digital media, high tech, life sciences, advanced manufacturing, excellence Conestoga’s network of campuses and training centres across southern Ontario
in education, small business and more, as well as regional head offices and some of provides pathways for students to continue their education in the areas of Engineering,
the world’s largest players in financial services. Vibrant, urban, and unique, Downtown Information Technology, Trades and Apprenticeship, Business and Hospitality, Health
Kitchener thrives in its ability to attract talent, stimulate collaboration and accelerate & Life Sciences and Community Services, Media and Design, Liberal Studies and the
startups. The centerpiece of Waterloo Region, downtown hosts international festivals Conestoga Language Institute.
and is the future of light rail, GO, and public intermodal transportation. It’s also the As a leader in polytechnic education, Conestoga’s contribution to the community can
region’s center for diversity, culture, destination restaurants and venues, and business; a be seen through the accomplishments of our students, who apply their knowledge and
landscape where new Canadians stimulate our economy and enrich living experiences. skills to help fuel the area economy and make Waterloo Region prosper. Conestoga
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50 Dickson Street, 2nd Floor, P.O. Box 669
Cambridge, Ontario N1R 5W8
Phone:
519-740-4683 ext 4623
Contact: Linda Fegan, Director, Corporate Communications and Marketing
Website: www.cambridge.ca
Cambridge, aka Hollywood Cambridge, has often been compared with a historic European
village offering a quaint environment rich with architecture and natural amenities. We
are a welcoming community that prides itself on our unique neigbourhoods of Galt,
Hespeler, Preston and Blair. Cambridge is located at the gateway to Canada’s Technology
Triangle and in a very attractive location to serve Ontario and international markets.
A place where technology converges, the City is home to world renowned advanced
manufacturing companies such as COM DEV, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, ATS,
Innovative Steam Technologies and Babcock & Wilcox. The Cambridge economic base
contains a healthy mix of technology firms from computer systems design, specialized
design services, technical consulting to motion picture and video. The Corporation of
the City of Cambridge was recently named Canada’s first ‘Smarter City’ by IBM and
also recognized as a 2011 ‘ComputerWorld Laureate’ for its use of technology for asset
management. A founding member of Communitech Technology Association, Cambridge
is home to UW’s School of Architecture and Conestoga College’s School of Engineering
and Information Technology. Ask us about opportunities to purchase building lots at the
new Boxwood Business Campus.
COMMUNITECH
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ESENTIRE
Address: 278 Pinebush Rd. #200, Cambridge, ON, N1T 1Z6
Phone:
519-651-2200
Website: www.esentire.com
eSentire®, located in Cambridge, is the leading innovator in Active Threat Protection,
the most comprehensive way to defend enterprises from advanced, never-before-seen
cyber threats. Our Active Threat Protection Platform combines behavior-based analytics,
immediate mitigation and actionable intelligence on a 24x7x365 basis. Our dedicated
team of security experts continuously monitors customer networks to detect and block
cyber attacks in real-time.
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eSentire’s Active Threat Protection solution combines proprietary software technology
with security analyst vigilance to help guard corporate assets, maximize operational
uptime and comply with industry regulations. Network Interceptor and Active Forensics
deliver intelligence and insights to our analysts, who overlay critical security-context
knowledge to make the technology effective and adaptable to both specific customer
situations and the ever-changing threat landscape.
GOWLINGS
Address:
Phone:
Website:
50 Queen St. N., Suite 1020, P.O. Box 2248, Kitchener, ON N2H 6M2
519-576-6910
www.gowlings.com/waterloo
With a long history of advising technology companies and technology users in Canada’s
Technology Triangle, our Waterloo Region Technology Law Group is well-positioned to
provide sophisticated, practical and timely advice. Gowlings is one of Canada’s largest
business and technology law firms with over 700 professionals. Drawing on the strengths
of our corporate, commercial, intellectual property, securities, litigation and government
relations practice groups, we advise our technology clients on mergers and acquisitions;
debt and equity financing; licensing, distribution and strategic alliance arrangements;
intellectual property protection; taxation; employment; immigration; leasing; commercial
litigation; privacy and regulatory matters. Our clients range from start-ups to established
international companies and are involved in all types of technology including software,
advanced manufacturing, biotech, Internet, wireless, semi-conductors and networking.
HEFFNER LEXUS
Our security experts form a “contextual knowledge and adaptation” layer that supersedes
any competitive prevention-only product (i.e. hardware and software). Furthermore, this Address: 3131 King Street East, Kitchener, ON N2A 1B1
(519) 748-9668
Fax: (519) 895-9147
combined dedicated technology with adaptive human service layer maximizes protection Phone:
and is delivered at the 24x7x365 level of vigilance all enterprises require.
Web:
www.heffner.ca
We go beyond simple security incident notification by playing a direct and active role in The Heffner automotive story began on September 1, 1960, when Mr. John Heffner Sr.
the prevention and mitigation of issues before they become dangerous. Our purpose-built opened shop on a small lot on Breithaupt Street in Kitchener. After a few years, the business
Active Threat Protection Platform has been particularly successful in finding and stopping moved to King Street East, across from Rockway Gardens, where it was located for 25 years.
malicious traffic even before anti-virus vendors have identified these new threats.
eSentire is SSAE16, SAS70 and QSA compliant. Protecting over $1.2 trillion in
combined assets, eSentire is the trusted choice of security decision-makers in financial
services, healthcare, mining, energy, engineering and construction, legal services,
and technology companies. For more information visit www.esentire.com and follow
@esentire http://twitter.com/esentire.
FOXNET
Address: 28 Erb Street East, Waterloo, ON N2J 1L6
Phone:
519-886-8895
Fax: 519-886-7456
Email:
info@foxnetsolutions.com Website: www.foxnetsolutions.com
Serving Southwestern Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area for 11 years, FoxNet is a
premier provider of IT solutions for mid- to large-sized enterprises. We are proud to offer
our clients smart, creative solutions for their datacenter infrastructure such as:
• Server and Storage Consolidation
• Virtualization
• Business Continuity
• File Archiving
But wait! FoxNet is expanding. We now offer a variety of services including:
• Enterprise Integration Management (EIM)
• Enterprise Content & Digital Management (ECM, DAM, DRM)
• IS/IT Strategy
• Delivery & Execution Methodologies
Heffner Lexus is family owned and operated, which means the Heffner’s are directly
involved in day-to-day operations and know many of their customers on a first name
basis. Heffner Lexus is committed to the promise of something better and that’s exactly
why they’ve been satisfying customers for over 50 years.
In addition to the New Toyota and Used Vehicle showrooms, the dealership includes an
extensive Parts and Service Department, a state-of-the-art Body Shop, and a full-service
Auto Cleaning and Detailing Centre. As well, leasing can be handled on the premises.
Come visit Heffner Lexus today and see why at Heffner’s “You’re part of the family”.
JOMAR SOFTCORP INTERNATIONAL
Address: 1760 Bishop Street, Cambridge, ON N1T 1J5
Phone:
519-740-0510
Fax: 519-740-9812
Email:
sales @jomarsoftcorp.com
Website: www.jomarsoftcorp.com
JOMAR SOFTCORP INTERNATIONAL in Cambridge, Ontario, develops ‘Next Generation
Software’ based on advanced IT infrastructure and proven innovative functions for
business processes integrated with SmartPhones/Tablets and Enterprise Mobility
Software Solutions to provide real-time information anytime, anywhere.
JOMAR’s ‘Next Generation Software’ supports Manufacturers and Distributors, Smart
Grid Utility Software, Insurance – personal and special groups for life, accident, critical
illness and disability, Police Force Logistics and Field Services as well as Fire Suppression,
Investigation and Emergency Services.
JOMAR SOFTCORP SERVICES in Cambridge, Ontario and JOMAR SOFTCORP USA in
Charlotte, NC provide software support for our customers’ domestic and global business
locations since 1982.
With a reputable and well-established foundation in IT, partnered with our new venture Please see our ad on page 16.
into services, FoxNet is able to solve your business challenges and get you better results,
ARSLAND
faster.
M
CENTRE
FoxNet is proudly partnered with best in class manufacturers Hewlett Packard, Address: 20 Erb Street West, Box 370, Waterloo, ON N2J 4A4
CiscoSystems, NetApp, VMware, CommVault, F5, Quantum, and Riverbed.
Phone:
519-886-2940
Fax: 519-886-5209
Check us out on Twitter @FoxNetSolutions, LinkedIn and Facebook to stay up-to-date Contact: Brad Marsland, Vice President
on industry news, events and promotions.
Email:
lbm@marsland.on.ca
Website: www.marsland.on.ca
FoxNet- We Deliver IT. Better.
Marsland Centre Limited develops, owns, and manages a portfolio of commercial and
industrial real estate primarily located in Waterloo, Ontario. We are a high-value-added
space provider concentrating on custom turnkey office and light manufacturing space for
IFFEN
knowledge-based industries, all of which is professionally space-planned and built to suit. We
offer our clients in-house contracting and construction management services, and a network
Address: 50 Queen St. N., Suite 500, P.O. Box 2936, Kitchener, ON N2H 6M3
of proven, cost-effective, and technically knowledgeable subtrades and consultants.
Phone:
519-578-4150
More info on our properties and current availability is available on our website.
Website: www.giffenlawyers.com/waterloo
Giffen LLP is an innovative, well-respected mid-sized law firm. Our clients range from
ILLER HOMSON
large corporations and financial institutions to small businesses and individuals.
Our lawyers currently represent and have acted for many software, hardware and other Address: Accelerator Building 295 Hagey Blvd., Suite 300 Waterloo, ON N2L 6R5
technology businesses, from start-ups to mature companies. As a result, we have gained Phone:
519-579-3660
Fax: 519-743-2540
an understanding of the unique opportunities and challenges technology companies face, Website: www.millerthomson.com
including short product development and commercialization cycles, proper clearance and Miller Thomson LLP enjoys a reputation as one of Canada's most respected national
protection of intellectual property rights, global distribution and competition, obtaining business law firms. Our consistent ability to provide practical, creative and cost-effective
capital and human resources issues, to name but a few.
advice, combined with an unyielding full-service commitment to our clients and a strong
While Giffen LLP is one of the largest locally-based law firms in Waterloo Region, we dedication to our lawyers, staff and the communities in which we practice, gives us a
also draw on a broad network of counsel in other jurisdictions and areas of specialization unique position in the Canadian legal industry. Miller Thomson’s Kitchener-Waterloo
office has deep roots in the regional landscape, having served this community for
(including patent, copyright and trade-mark lawyers and securities law specialists) to
over 155 years. Today, our over 40 lawyers serve clients in virtually all sectors of
help our clients achieve their goals. Contact Don Olson to find out more.
the economy in all aspects of business law, including information and communication
Our firm is also a proud sponsor of the Waterloo Region Small Business Centre which technology, bio-technology, agribusiness, manufacturing, real estate, construction,
supports many small local start-up high tech companies.
financial and health services, retail, insurance, hospitality and tourism.
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NCR
PACKETWORKS
Address: 50 Northland Road, Unit #100, Waterloo, ON N2V 1N3
Phone:
519-880-7700
Fax: 519-880-7701
Website: www.ncr.com
NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR) is the global leader in consumer transaction technologies,
turning everyday interactions with businesses into exceptional experiences. With its
software, hardware, and portfolio of services, NCR enables more than 300 million
transactions daily across the financial, retail, hospitality, travel, telecom and technology
industries. NCR solutions run the everyday transactions that make your life easier. NCR
is headquartered in Duluth, Georgia and its Payment Solutions organization is based in
Waterloo, Ontario.
Address: 7-515 Dotzert Court Waterloo, ON
Phone:
519-579-4507
Website: www.packetworks.net
Since 1996, we have provided reliable, robust Internet to the Region’s best and brightest
companies. Specializing in difficult non-urban public sector organizations and business
connectivity, we provide high bandwidth at reasonable cost to level the playing field for
remote players.
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For more information on career opportunities, please visit us at:
www.unitron.com/careers
E
Unitron Corporate Office
Address: 20 Beasley Drive, P.O. Box 9017, Kitchener, ON N2G 4X1
Phone:
+1 519 895 0100 Toll Free: +1 877 492 6244
Fax: +1 519 895 0108
Email:
info@unitron.com
Unitron is a global innovator of technologically advanced hearing instruments. We
care deeply about people with hearing loss and work closely with hearing healthcare
professionals to make advanced, purpose-driven solutions available to everyone.
Headquartered in the Waterloo Region, Canada, Unitron, a member of the Sonova
Group, meets the needs of our customers through 20 international offices and through
distributors in a further 45 countries.
V
UNITRON
D
Address: 605 McMurray Rd., Waterloo, ON N2V 2E9
Phone:
519-886-6000
Fax: 519-886-3972
Website: www.teledynedalsa.com
Teledyne DALSA is an international leader in high performance digital imaging and
semiconductors with approximately 1000 employees worldwide, headquartered in
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Established in 1980, the company designs, develops,
manufactures and markets digital imaging products and solutions, in addition to
providing specialized semiconductor products and fabrication services. For more
information, visit us at www.teledynedalsa.com
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TELEDYNE DALSA
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Sandvine’s network policy control solutions are deployed in more than 250 networks in over
90 countries, serving hundreds of millions of data subscribers worldwide, www.sandvine.com
A
Address: 408 Albert St., Waterloo ON N2L 3V3
Phone:
519-880-2600
Email:
sales@sandvine.com
Website: www.sandvine.com
Sandvine’s network policy control solutions add intelligence to fixed, mobile and
converged communications service provider networks to enable services that can increase
revenue and reduce network costs. Powered by Sandvine’s Policy Engine and SandScript
policy language, Sandvine’s networking equipment performs end-to-end policy control
functions including traffic classification, and policy decision and enforcement across
the data, control and business planes. Sandvine’s products provide actionable business
insight, the ability to deploy new subscriber services and tools to optimize traffic while
enhancing subscriber Internet quality of experience.
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SANDVINE
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1-800-433-7300
1-800-465-2327
1-888-937-8538
E
Address: 200-611 Kumpf Dr., Waterloo, ON N2V 1K8
Phone:
519-884-9696
Fax: 519-884-0228
Website: www.onsemi.com
The ON Semiconductor Medical Division brings silicon solutions to life. The division offers
highly-integrated, custom and application-specific solutions for hearing aids, implantable
medical devices and other medical applications. Its diverse product portfolio includes
digital signal processing systems, ultra-low-power memory, mixed-signal ASICs as well as
foundry and advanced packaging services to help medical device manufacturers achieve
new levels of performance, energy efficiency and miniaturization. The division also
offers turnable RF components used by smartphone manufacturers to improve antenna
pperformance and batteryy life.
NON-STOP DAILY AIR SERVICE
American Airlines www.aa.com
Bearskin Airlines www.bearskinairlines.com
WestJet Airlines www.westjet.com
P
ON SEMICONDUCTOR
Classified as an Airport of Entry (AOE), the Region of Waterloo Airport is home to a
growing number of aviation related businesses and offers fully serviced, leased land for
aviation related development. For more information, visit www.waterlooairport.ca
S
Address: 95 King Street South, Suite 201, Waterloo, ON N2J 5A2
Phone:
519-570-5700
Fax: 519-570-5730
Contact: Paul Hendrikse, SWO Technology Practice Leader
Website: www.pwc.com/ca/technology
Taking innovation to the next level - Tech companies are defined by a fast paced
environment, innovative ideas and a rich research and development culture. PwC's
technology industry team understand this culture and has experience helping emerging
and established technology companies find the right solutions for their challenges.
Our team of technology specialists offer insights and targeted solutions, from start-up
financing and tax incentive programs to audit, tax, and business advisory services.
Address: 1-4881 Fountain St. N., Breslau, ON N0B 1M0
Phone:
519-648-2256 or toll free 1-866-648-2256
Email:
ykfairport@regionofwaterloo.ca
Website: www.waterlooairport.ca
Twitter: www.twitter.com/flyykf
Facebook: www.facebook.com/flyykf
Contacts: Chris Wood, Airport General Manager
The Region of Waterloo International Airport offers over 40 flights per week with nonstop daily service between Waterloo Region, Calgary, Chicago and Ottawa providing
one-stop connectivity to over 250 destinations in 40 countries. Seasonal weekly service
to Cancun is available from December through March. Save up to four hours round trip
and pay just $6 per day for onsite parking!
WHO SWHO
PWC
REGION OF WATERLOO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (YKF)
A
Established in 1972, NCR Waterloo is an industry leader in the research, design and
development of innovative technology for financial institutions. For more than four
decades, NCR’s teams of designers and engineers have been developing imaging
solutions that digitally capture and process paper-based transactions like cheques and
bulk electronic payments. Today, NCR’s Waterloo-based teams are exploring new ways
to leverage their experience and expertise to image-based technologies for financial
transactions outside of cheques and in industries beyond banking. NCR’s Waterloodesigned technologies have earned more than 244 patents, earning us a reputation as
a destination of choice for many university co-op students and new graduates looking to
build a rewarding career in the field of software and hardware engineering.
Call to develop your cloud app in our Data Centre in downtown Kitchener.
UNIVERSITY
OF
WATERLOO
Address: 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1
Telephone: 519-888-4567
Website: www.uwaterloo.ca
For more than 50 years, the University of Waterloo has redefined university education as
vital, transformative, and relevant, as an institution uniquely positioned to drive change
at the intersection of academia, industry and society. Dedicated to entrepreneurship,
Waterloo’s distinct ecosystem is built around a creator-owned intellectual property policy
that attracts top students and faculty with a shared passion for turning ideas into impact.
Defined by transformational research, Waterloo inspires the technologies and concepts that
change the way we live, work, play and communicate. Driven by world-leading experiential
and experience-based learning, this institution produces outstanding and immediately
employable graduates, imbued with the confidence and competence they need to lead.
A
R0011667892
WHO SWHO
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The University of Waterloo is one of Canada’s leading comprehensive universities, with
undergraduate and graduate programs in faculties of Applied Health Sciences, Arts,
Engineering, Environment, Mathematics, and Science; and includes professional schools
of Pharmacy, Optometry, Accounting and Finance, Architecture, and Planning.
started it in 1972 in Kitchener and branched out to Waterloo in 1979 moving to its present
location at 545 King Street North across from Conestoga Mall in 1986. Since that time,
the Lowe family has increased the size of their service and parts department, added an
express service lane, and a onsite vehicle detailing service to name a few changes.
We offer a full range of new and used vehicles. We boast an enthusiastic and competent
sales staff to help you every step of the way.
Our service and parts department takes pride in offering top quality service from our
team of factory trained staff. We have expanded our service and parts departments
to satisfy and exceed our customers growing needs. In the last few years we have
added two do-it-yourself carwash bays and an onsite tire storage service available
to our customers. We offer free shuttle service and you can now ClearMechanic View
your service status online with real-time photos of your vehicle while it's being repaired
alongside easy-to-understand illustrations.
In the area of technologies we have added on our website an express service lane web
cam and a carwash web cam so you can see how busy those departments are to arrange
the best time for you to drop by. As well we offer free wireless internet for our customers
in our service lounge and vehicle showroom.
Even with the numerous upgrades and expansions of the last few years, we still offer a
With 35,000 full- and part-time graduate and undergraduate students and more than 350 family-like atmosphere for all your automobile needs.
partnerships with institutions in 60 countries, Waterloo is shaping the future of the planet. Waterloo Honda is a proud member of Kitchener Waterloo Automobile Dealer Association
Little wonder that for 21 consecutive years Maclean’s magazine has named the (KWADA), CADA, TADA, UCDA and Ontario Honda Dealers Association.
University of Waterloo Canada’s most innovative university; and for 14 of the past 21 Please visit us for all your automotive needs. Check out our website at
years has named this institution most likely to produce “the leaders of tomorrow.”
www.waterloohonda.com or tweet us @waterloohonda
A unique intellectual property policy attracts risk-taking students and faculty, whose
ideas are supported through several innovation-focused initiatives. These include:
ILFRID AURIER NIVERSITY
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VeloCity Residence
Wilfrid Laurier University, School of Business & Economics
www.velocity.uwaterloo.ca/residence/
Address: 75 University Avenue West, Waterloo, ON N2L 3C5
The VeloCity student residence provides a unique opportunity for University of Waterloo
Phone:
519-884-0710 ext. 2948
students to live in an innovative and entrepreneurial environment right on campus.
Email:
sbenews@wlu.ca
Website: www.wlu.ca/sbe
Students are given access to the latest technologies and the opportunity to learn from a
Laurier’s School of Business and Economics (SBE) creates an immersive educational
great network of mentors and entrepreneurs.
experience that produces adaptive graduates who make their make in leading
VeloCity Garage
technology organizations. More than 1,800 of our graduates have founded their own
companies and many are in leading positions in the tech sector.
www.velocity.uwaterloo.ca/garage/
The VeloCity Garage houses University of Waterloo students and alumni who need free Accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) – the
space and mentoring to kickstart their companies. These aspiring entrepreneurs join highest standard of achievement for business schools worldwide – SBE has 5,500
other companies building successful startups to learn, collaborate and innovate.
students in our undergraduate (BBA, BA, BTM) and graduate (MABE, MBA, MFin, MSc,
Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre, University of Waterloo PhD) programs.
Laurier SBE was the first in Canada to offer a business co-op degree and is now the
www.conrad.uwaterloo.ca
The Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre at the University of Waterloo largest business co-op in Ontario. Graduates of our co-op program have the highest
explores new ways of commercializing ideas to help entrepreneurs foster innovation, create placement rates of any professional business program in Canada.
new ventures and identify new markets. Offered by Conrad, the Master of Business, The Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship leads a number of innovation
Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET), is a specialized business degree that develops and entrepreneurship initiatives and programs for student entrepreneurs.
leaders who are able to commercialize ideas, discover and exploit new market opportunities, Visit: http://laurierentrepreneur.ca/ for more info.
and introduce innovation and disruptive technology within existing organizations.
Wilfrid Laurier University, MBA Program
The University of Waterloo north campus is a magnet for start-up and established Address: 75 University Avenue West, Waterloo, ON N2L 3C5
companies, drawn to our research and technology park.
Contacts: Holly Patton (Waterloo MBA Programs) 519-884-0710 ext. 3499
David Johnston Research + Technology Park, University of Waterloo
hpatton@wlu.ca
www.rtpark.uwaterloo.ca
Maureen Ferraro (Toronto MBA Programs) 519-884-0710 ext. 6220
Named after the fifth President of the University of Waterloo and the current Governor
mferraro@wlu.ca
General of Canada, the University of Waterloo's David Johnston Research + Technology
Fax:
519-884-6016
Park is a $214-million project that brings together the Government of Canada, the
Province of Ontario, the Region of Waterloo, the City of Waterloo, Communitech, Website: www.lauriermba.ca
and Canada’s Technology Triangle in a unique partnership. Designed to accommodate The Laurier MBA program has a long-standing reputation for excellence and innovation. At
1.2-million square feet of office space on 120-acres (49 hectares), the R+T Park is an the forefront of innovation, the Laurier MBA was the first business school in Canada to offer
innovation centre for Canada’s top technology talent. The park provides a powerfully the fully integrated core. This means all eight of the core foundational business courses in
supportive base for radical, high-impact research. The park is filled with companies the MBA degree are taught in a seamless integrated model that replicates how the real
who seek commanding commercial advantage through technological leadership – business world functions. The Laurier MBA was the first program to offer an innovation and
entrepreneurship option, giving students the opportunity to launch their own businesses
organizations with the vision and drive to shift the ground under their competitors.
while pursuing the MBA degree. At our downtown Toronto campus, Laurier launched the
Proud and active member of AURP, AURP Canada, IASP, NBIA, and CABI
first MBA degree with the CMA designation option. For more than 12 years our MBA/CMA
Stats: Broke ground in 2002, 2012 – 60+ companies, 3500 knowledge workers in nine students have been among the highest scoring students in all of Canada. Going forward
buildings occupying 860,000 square feet. The tenth project in the park is underway and will Laurier will be offering the newest format option in Canada, the MBA with the CPA. CPA
focus on the convergence of global companies with graduate start-ups and co-op students. Canada stands for Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, which is a newly
established and unifying body of Canadian accounting professionals.
Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC)
Researchers at the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo The Laurier MBA program is offered at two campuses, MBA Waterloo and MBA Toronto.
harness the quantum laws of nature to develop transformational technologies. IQC In Waterloo candidates can pursue the full-time one year MBA. The one year fulltime
focuses on four main areas of research: quantum computing, quantum communications, program is one of very few one year options in Canada, and students can choose from
quantum sensing and materials science. Research at IQC is fundamentally interdisciplinary, 10 different specializations within the program. Laurier’s Co-op MBA, is a high-calibre
spanning theory and experiment to pursue every avenue of quantum information program tailored for those students with less than the required two years of full time
science. While the full-scale quantum computer remains a longer-term objective, research work experience. This program allows students to earn the degree and to graduate with
has already spawned the first wave of practical quantum technologies such as quantum real work experience in related fields. For working professionals in the region, Laurier
cryptography systems and quantum sensors.
offers the full content part-time evening MBA program in Waterloo. This is an ideal
format for individuals wanting to pursue the degree while working, and maintaining a
comfortable family life style.
ATERLOO ONDA
W
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Address: 545 King Street North Waterloo, ON N2L5Z6
Phone:
519-746-4120
Fax: 519-746-7337
Website: www.waterloohonda.com
Contact: Lothar Quak
Welcome to Waterloo Honda, a business founded by husband/wife team, Robin and
Phyllis Lowe whose son, Greg Lowe has continued in their footsteps. Greg's parents
The Laurier Toronto MBA program offers the most desirable schedule among MBA schools in
Canada. For more than 16 years Laurier has offered a part-time alternate weekend schedule
that is very convenient for working professionals, balancing school and family life. The Toronto
MBA campus offers several part-time programs, the alternate weekend MBA, the MBA with
Accounting Designation, the MBA with CFA® Accelerated MBA and MBA for CMA’s.
Choose the format that is best suited to you and your lifestyle. This is an opportunity to earn a
degree that will have a significant impact on your future. The Laurier MBA will change your life.
Technology Spotlight y 69
PACKAGING
Small firm structures for success
Managing growth
is part of the
package at
Pixus Technologies
John Vessoyan, Special to The Record
I
n the business world, success
is often associated with
growth. The bigger your company gets, the bigger the financial rewards become.
Business is booming for Pixus
Technologies, a small electronics
packaging company founded in 2009
by Jacques Houde, Eran Weragama
and Paul Kuepfer, former senior
managers with Kaparel Corp., an
electronics packaging company
owned by German-based Rittal Co.
Sales grew more than 50 per cent
during the Waterloo company’s first
two years, and in 2013 year they are
up 25 per cent from 2012. Houde says
sales are projected to grow again in
2014 as the company continues to
add more customers.
However, you are not likely to
hear Houde get too excited about the
future. He’s optimistic, but cautious
about the Waterloo company’s prospects. “In business you have to be
careful in how quickly you grow.
You can implode very quickly,”
Houde, the firm’s president, says in
an interview in his office on Bathurst Drive.
“Right now we’re doing it in a
fairly systematic fashion where
we’re growing it in a controlled way
… putting processes in place, getting our quality system in place,
which will allow us to grow in a
controlled manner, so all hell
doesn’t break loose. I’ve seen that
happen — it’s not what we want to
do. Let’s structure it so we can handle the growth.”
Staying disciplined and focused
are the pillars of continued success,
he says. And you have to know when
to say no. “We’ve had people come in
and ask us for some other stuff — we
can do it, but it’s not our business.
You have to know when to say no
otherwise you get distracted. You
have to be able to serve your customers properly. This business is such
that if you get a bad name, you’re
done.”
Pixus designs and makes electronic packaging solutions for the
embedded computer market. The
company’s three areas of focus are
backplanes (circuit boards that
DAVID BEBEE, RECORD STAFF
Eran Weragama (left), engineering manager at Pixus Technologies, and Jacques
Houde, the firm’s president, stand with one of the company’s electronic
packaging products.
connect several connectors); enclosures and system solutions, including instrument cases and racks;
and components such as side panels, card guides and rails. It distributes products made by other manufacturers, including Rittal and Kaparel.
It has customers in diverse markets, including industrial, communications, aerospace, military, medical, energy and transportation.
Examples of where its products are
used include MRI machines in hospitals, telephone centres, oil well
equipment, manufacturing facilities and military equipment.
Houde, a former engineering
manager at Kaparel, says Pixus has
customers who buy a $10 bag of specialty screws and others that spend
thousands on an electronic packaging box.
Pixus
Pixus Technologies
Technologies
Business: Packaging products
for the embedded computing
market
Founded: 2009
Executive team: Jacques
Houde, founder and president;
Eran Weragama, founder
engineering manager; Paul
Kuepfer, founder and VP sales
Employees: 7
Address: 50 Bathurst Dr.,
Waterloo
Houde studied electronics technology at DeVry College. He says he
was bitten by the computer and
technology bug at a young age and
would spend any money he made to
buy bits and pieces from Radio
Shack to build gadgets. “I have never been out of the tech sector as far
as careers go.”
On the business side, he learned
plenty as one of the founders of
Focus Automation Systems, a Waterloo company that built machine
vision inspection systems. Running
the company, which was launched
in 1987 and shut down in 2007 after
several ownership changes, gave
him helpful knowledge and expertise for growing a business.
Weragama is the company’s
engineering manager. His job is to
ensure clients are at the forefront of
emerging technologies. “Most of the
guys have their own standards,” he
says. “The applications are different. It’s application specific as opposed to task specific.”
Weragama, who studied computer engineering technology at Algonquin College and electronic engineering at Carleton University, says
Pixus works with customers to
resolve their issues.
“We keep working with them,
making sure they have all of the
information they need and help
them de-bug their own applications
because we understand our portion
more than they do.”
As Houde looks into the future,
he points out that one major hurdle
the seven-employee firm constantly
has to jump over is limited resources. “Give us a million dollars and I’ll
turn this into a $10-million company
quickly,” he says. “We have so many
opportunities, it’s hard to keep up,
so we have to be selective of what we
take on.
“Certainly having a small staff
provides some challenges,” Houde
says.
“We get around that by partnering with other companies whose
business is those areas that we either
cannot keep up with or where they
provide expertise that is resource
prohibitive. A simple example would
be electronics assembly. Way too cost
intensive to entertain. ”
Trying to stay up to speed with
new and always evolving software
and technology constantly keeps
the company’s employees on their
toes. “As with any technology company, you have to be keeping up with
what is new or you will eventually
become obsolete,” Houde says. n
70 y Technology Spotlight
PETER LEE, RECORD STAFF
Researchers at the University of Waterloo are using weather forecasting technology developed by IBM, called Deep Thunder, to come up with new models to help
power utilities better predict the impact of severe weather on their electrical systems.
Deep Thunder to help utilities predict weather impact
Bob Burtt, Special to The Record
W
hen violent storms strike, as they did
in Kitchener and other parts of
southern Ontario this summer, the
stakes can be high, not only in terms
of property damage, but also in damage done because of power failures. This summer, thousands of
people were left without power and in some cases
the power wasn’t restored until the following day.
Power utilities will always be susceptible to
storm damage, but the number of incidents and
length of time the lights are out could be decreased
dramatically because of a new weather forecasting
model being developed at the University of Waterloo in partnership with IBM.
“We all know the weather has a great impact on
our electrical equipment,” says Magdy Salama, a
professor and research chair in the department of
electrical and computer engineering at UW.
If the forecasting for this summer’s fierce weather had been better, the damage could have been
minimized, and equipment and crews could have
been deployed and ready to deal with the aftermath
of the storms, Salama says. “What we want to do is
to minimize the effect of weather conditions on the
performance of electrical equipment.”
The research underway at UW is aimed at developing a model that will provide power companies
with more exact weather forecasting and a better
understanding about how many power failures a
utility might expect in a given year.
Researchers are working with a sophisticated
weather forecasting tool known as Deep Thunder.
Developed by IBM, Deep Thunder will provide the
data required to create a new model for forecasting.
It has been used extensively in the United States,
but not in Canada, says Mohamed Sadek, a research scientist at IBM and a post-doctoral fellow
in electrical engineering at UW. Sadek is based at
UW and is working with Salama to develop a better
forecasting model.
IBM’s Deep Thunder group has been doing a lot
of work in Brazil to better predict when flooding
will occur and where storms will cause mudslides,
and also to determine the best way to respond to
weather emergencies. Officials in Rio de Janeirozzz are counting on Deep Thunder to guide planners charged with deciding which facilities to use
and for which games during the FIFA World Cup in
2014 and the Summer Olympics in 2016.
Deep Thunder has the ability to provide what
IBM calls hyper local forecasting — highly reliable
weather forecasts for sites as small as 100 by 100
metres. Using an example from the world of sports,
it says the technology can be used to predict with
reasonable confidence whether the wind velocity
on a 10-metre diving platform will be acceptable to
go ahead with a diving competition.
The model being developed at UW will combine
information about historical power failures with
extremely accurate weather information to predict
future power failures. That will allow power utilities to prepare for problems before they occur and
dramatically reduce the number of outages and
length of time the power is out, Sadek says.
Until now, the impact of weather typically hasn’t
been part of the calculation when utilities choose
who they buy power from. When companies that
generate electricity provide a quote to utilities for
power, they have to indicate how many hours they
think their system won’t be able to meet the de-
mand.
Salama says the model being developed at UW
will indicate how many hours the demand will
exceed the amount of energy being supplied.
“What this model tells you is that your demand
is higher than your generation by that much,” he
says. “So you can either buy more or live with the
shortage. There is a cost either way. So you calculate the cost of buying more energy and the cost of
disruption.”
The model will also factor in the age of equipment. Sadek says that in general the equipment
used by power utilities lasts about 25 years, but its
usable lifespan could vary from 20 years in one
place to 30 in another depending on the climatic
characteristics of each location. “This information
is important for executives to make good decisions,” Salama says. If one company offers one
hour per year in outages and another three or four
hours, the first has a definite advantage.
The project at UW is part of a $210-million research and development initiative in Ontario funded by IBM, the province and the federal government.
The consortium includes seven universities in
southern Ontario and IBM as the lead industrial
partner. Research is focused on helping cities deal
with challenges such as rapid urbanization and
aging infrastructure; health-care challenges associated with rising costs related to chronic diseases;
water conservation and management; software
innovation in high performance and computing
platforms; and energy conservation and management.
All of the research work is supported by IBM
supercomputers and a $90-million data centre IBM
opened in Barrie, Ont., in 2012. n
In 2012, we paid over $1,000,000 in commercial upgrade
incentives across the Waterloo Region. This year make
sure you get paid too!
Perform an energy-efficient project in your facility and get cash back.
Eligible projects include lighting, heating and cooling systems, IT data
centres and more.
when you perform an energy-efficient upgrade in your facility.
R0012358419
Visit www.saveonenergyWR.ca to learn more.
Subject to additional terms and conditions found at saveonenergy.ca. Funded by the Ontario Power Authority and offered by Cambridge and North Dumfries Hydro Inc., Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro Inc. and Waterloo North Hydro Inc.
A mark of the Province of Ontario protected under Canadian trade-mark law. Used under sub-licence. OM Official Mark of the Ontario Power Authority. Used under licence.
Discover the polytechnic advantage …
Community partnerships & applied research
Our Research Partners
Career-focused education
AEMK Systems
BlackBerry
Active learning
BEAP (Bug Elimination and Prevention Corporation)
Cambridge Elevating
Cambridge Solutions
Can-Technologies Inc.
Cyborg Trading Systems
Diftek Lasers
ELS (Engineered Lifting Systems Inc.)
Greentec International
Hematite
Interna Furniture Design
iSILS
Katan Kitchens
Kendall Technology
LoyaltyMatch
Nextide Inc.
NWMO (Nuclear Waste Management Organization)
PlantForm Corporation
ProCase Inc.
Rimowa International
Resource H20
SIMS Recycling Solutions
Sun North Systems/WindTrans Systems
TeTechS Inc.
Toronto Recycling Inc.
Xiris Automation
Pathways to success
For almost 45 years, Conestoga has worked with businesses across our community to
meet workforce needs, support individuals in their pursuit of successful careers, and
build prosperity for our region and our world.
But today’s Conestoga can do much more … providing your company with the
research solutions that will help you innovate and succeed in a global marketplace.
Join our growing list of research partners and help build a brighter future.
… discover Conestoga
www.conestogac.on.ca/polytechnic
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