Calgary Startup NiDUm Making TrainIng A Breeze

NIDUM is led by Venezuelan-born, Canadian serial entrepreneur and restaurateur Jose M. Azares. Jose is reimagining the future of how businesses tackle their HR training processes by combining virtual technology with immersive learning and colliding them with an evolving multi-sided platform.

Jose found that a solution was needed, particularly in the hospitality industry, for outdated HR practices and training pain points that can make a business inefficient and training ineffective. This type of training using virtual reality as a medium hasn’t been owned by anyone in the tech or HR industry across North America. And the augmented training module program by NIDUM can be applied to any industry, on any scale. 


Who started the company? Do you / team members have tech background? 

Jose is the founder of NIDUM, and he created the company based on his own need as a restauranteur (with no industry experience). Prior to opening his restaurant, he developed his first startup company Rigware, a construction management IT startup that concentrates in the execution, pre-commissioning and turnover phases of oil and gas projects. He is the primary team member with technology experience. 

The company’s tech leader, Nirali Shah, is the primary lead to develop the platform and training modules. From simplifying user experience to integrating virtual reality, to developing our clients’ training content, she has brought the vision of the product together. With more than 15+ years of experience, she is the lead developer and VR technologist.

How are you being financed? 

Since inception last year, Jose has been bootstrapping the creation of NIDUM its first version of the product. He has been personally funding all aspects of the business, from hiring contractors to employees, to marketing to business operations. As of June 1, NIDUM has entered its earliest stage of funding, the seed round, using a crowdfunding campaign on Canadian platform FrontFundr.com. 

What do you think will be / is a big obstacle to overcome? 

Now, the immediate obstacle to overcome is the seed round. Normally early-stage funding for tech companies is extremely hard in normal conditions since they need to prove somehow they have mitigated all the associated risks with launching such a business. Now, with existing market dynamics is making it even more complicated. 


The next issue to overcome after raising the seed round will be to streamline the product development process as NIDUM reaches its  Product Market Fit inflection point, but by picking the right investors, it could be able to leapfrog some of the issues associated with such a complex process.

How do you go about finding good developers / IT guys for your company?


First, it’s important to have a good culture in the company, a culture that thrives with innovation, creativity, freedom, transparency, honesty, and diversity.

In specific with developers, NIDUM partnered with local development schools such as Lighthouse labs that work closely with eager students wanting to upgrade their skills and learn new technologies. The startup is working with an emerging technology Virtual Reality (VR) which makes the company a little more desirable than just coding.

Don’t rush things, it’s not a sprint, it’s a triathlon! Pick your battles, be aware, let it flow, and trust the process!

Jose M. Azares

Canadian serial entrepreneur and restaurateur, Nidum

Who is your biggest competition? 

Competition always comes in layers, not only from one facet, in NIDUM’s case. The competition includes virtual reality consultancy firms that offer eLearning and HRTech platforms, but shockingly the largest competitor is the status quo practices – one-on-one and group training sessions, paper manuals, and/or peer training.

The company occupies a unique market space within the training sector due to its hybrid model. The combination of immersive technologies, eLearning, analytics, and application integrations are part of the proprietary multi-sided platform.

Though someone could try to copy the company’s technological approach, what separates NIDUM is its social impact values – ensuring inclusion is a defacto business practice.

NIDUM’s social impact focus is to democratize employment opportunities, giving people from vulnerable communities (mental or physically challenged, people of color, refugees, immigrants, indigenous, low-income, homeless) to have access to training material that: A) reduces learning barriers B) enables them to have confidence and understanding when applying or training for work. C) Provides employers with data information about new recruits and/or  employee engagement using each training module. 

For the last proof point, being able to track new recruit engagement is the most beneficial because the training modules can be sent to a prospective employee, and thi eliminates the potential for stereotyping a future employee – solely basing their eligibility on their willingness to participate, learn, and train.

From there, turning over data and training modules is not a common practice for profit to non-profit within HR, and NIDUM sees it as an opportunity to provide further resources to equip agencies who help those from vulnerable communities enter the workforce.

How are you intending on taking your company to million dollars in revenues? In what markets? 

From Jose: “EASY…. by not thinking about that. Creating a company with exponential growth has nothing to do with ” million dollars in revenues”, but with focusing on creating a product that genuinely brings added value to your customers. Startups need to concentrate on understanding their early adopters, behavior, interaction with the product, so you can sustainably keep bringing added value and create a scalable product that all audiences could use!

You can’t create a scalable product unless you truly understand your clients, mission, and values!

Focusing on the ” million dollars in revenues” question it’s something called the Shiny Object Syndrome. You must concentrate on your product, clients, and employee, and mission – and exponential revenues will come as a by-product.”

Currently NIDUM operates in the Canadian market (primarily in Alberta), but also has international client Noble House Hotels based out of the U.S. Long-term goals would be to be in major North America markets. 

What is the big lesson you’ve learned (success or failure) with this project?


From Jose: “Don’t rush things, it’s not a sprint, it’s a triathlon! Pick your battles, be aware, let it flow, and trust the process!”

Amazing story of a Venezuelan coming and contributing to Canadian economy. How did end up in Canada?

For Jose, he immigrated to Canada after he graduated with his civil engineering degree in Venezuela and decided to go to Concordia University in Montreal for his Masters in Engineering and Construction Management. Right after graduating with his Masters, he was hired by Suncor Energy, and worked for five years as capital growth project manager.

However, being an entrepreneur is in his blood so he really wanted to dive into a startup. He loves to be more versatile and entrepreneurship provides that opportunity, to jump industries and find solutions for existing barriers.

His first startup, Rigware was created after Suncor. He had decided to go to McGill for his MBA, but as fate had it, he decided to partner with a friend in the program and they dropped out to create the SAS software, which was sold to ATCO after they realized it was no longer scalable.

He decided to finish his MBA in 2014 in Austin, Texas, an incredible entrepreneurial hub, and during that time, he came across this unique burger called HopDoddy. Visiting it every weekend, friends encouraged Jose to bring the concept back to Canada as his next entreprenuerial venture as he didn’t want to be in tech or oil and gas.

With a gap in the marketplace, Jose identified the need for a boutique burger bar in Calgary, that was not only innovative with its food and milkshakes, but with a quirky and fun brand that hadn’t been seen in the city. Without any industry experience, he quickly moved and learned how to create the next niche thing in the city and opened RE:GRUB! The restaurant’s focus on inclusivity and hiring employees with disabilities or marginalized backgrounds created not only an opportunity for social impact with the brand, but has raised awareness for the need in employment democratization in the workforce.

Working From Home? Work From The Beach in Barbados With This Year Long Visa.

As we speak to more and more tech entrepreneurs and developers across Canada, we see that most of them are now allowed to work from home at least until January 1st, 2021 or some even as far out as mid summer 2021.

So this could be your one time chance to continue working but instead of -20C temperatures and snow, experience beaches and maybe even do some surfing?

One Year Beach Visa

Eastern Caribbean island of Barbados has launched a Barbados Welcome Stamp, one-year remote working visa, that gives Canadian a right to live as well as work in Barbados for up to one year.

The officials in Barbados have started accepting applications for this year long visa and you can use their portal to apply now. They promise 72 hour turn around to let you know if you are accepted or not.

Good thing to know that you will not be liable to pay Barbados Income Tax while working remotely.

Imagine now you can do your Zoom calls from a real beach, instead of just selecting it as your background.

Barbados Visa Restrictions

You do need to be making over $67,000 Canadian dollars a year, and you will need to pay $2,700 Canadian dollars for single visa application or $4,000 Canadian for a family application.

You will also need to make sure you have a valid health insurance while in Barbados. Your province insurance won’t cover it, and most private insurances only cover about a month or less. So you might need to spend few thousand dollars on a third party health insurance.

Covid19 in Barbados

If you are worried about Covid19 in Barbados – do not be, they only had 106 cases so far.

Fast Internet

Barbados government also boasts about the fastest fibre internet and mobile services in the Caribbean. They also say housing can be found for around $1,300 Canadian a month.

Things to Keep in Mind – Travel Advisory

Do keep in mind that if you do go, coming back to Canada, will put you into 14 day quarantine. Also if cases in Canada do increase, air carriers might cut the flights from Barbados to Canada.

Such things in Barbados are a different in Canada: harsh penalties for drug possession including weed, you are not allowed to wear camouflage clothing and sex acts between members of the same sex are illegal over there.

If you do decide to go to Barbados, you will need to get tested for Covid19 and show that at the airport before you fly as well as to immigration officials over there.

Barbados’ officials said that even though program just opened up, they have a large number of people applying from Alberta and Quebec.

Canadians Take on Barbados

We have asked William Ottley, Web System Administrator in Toronto area, who have spent 4 years living and working in Barbados, what he thinks about Barbados.

Internet? At the time I was there the Internet was OK. I had no issues.

How safe was it? i had no issues or fears living down there. there were/are? a few rough places, not many, so just don’t go to those areas. (and i’m not even talking guns)..

Expensive? It all depends on what you want to experience with the money you get from work. if you want to explore the island and drink it all in right away, well that’s $$$, right? but if you go down, and take it real slow, learn the lay of the land, you do ok. by then you will learn the “tourist” areas, and the “non-tourist” areas. where the cheaper stuff is.

Boring? I was never bored. I left after 4 years, because I missed family. otherwise I would have stayed down there..

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William Ottley

Web System Administrator in Toronto area

Final Thoughts

So if you are a software developer or tech professional in Canada, making over $67k a year, this 1 year visa is something to definitely ponder about.

If you consider that a 2 bedroom rent costs $3,000 in Toronto, you can pay half that and live on the beach while continuing to work. Send a postcard or post on instagram and make your friends jealous – you are on the beach while your friends and colleagues suffer in the -20C weather shoveling their driveways.

Are you considering the move? Why or why not?

Federal Government Provides $3m to Tech Companies in BC

If you are a small or mid size business in British Columbia, Canada, you are in luck. Feds will be providing $3m to help you through the recession due to Covid19 virus.

Economic Development Minister Melanie Joly said that $3m will be distributed between the companies shortly.

According to the federal government, more than 2,500 firms will benefit and more than 1,000 jobs will be created.

The $3m fund is part of $304-million Regional Relief and Recovery Fund announced for Western Canada.

Joly said that this $3m fund shows that federal government cares about BC and their technology advancements.

$3m feels like a drop in the bucket considering a lot of small tech companies are out of money and laying off their employees, but better than nothing.

Watch Out, Scammers And Their Convincing Emails

When we first got this email at PlanetWeb we were convinced that it was legitimate but after some deliberation decided not to download the files attached.

So what is going on? Basically if you run a website, scammers will target you saying that you stole his / her images and you will be sued and host provider will be contacted.

The email is very well written – it seems almost like they have hired a copy writer to create this email as it is very convincing.

The email is below – if you get one – just delete it. Did you get one? Write in comments below. Good luck!

Came from:

From: Mel <Mgallery666 @ yahoo.com> Email Incorrect – as It Bounces When You Reply To it

Message Body:

Hello there!

This is Melanie and I am a qualified photographer.

I was surprised, frankly speaking, when I came across my images at your website. If you use a copyrighted image without my permission, you must be aware that you could be sued by the owner.

It’s illegal to use stolen images and it’s so disgusting!

Take a look at this document with the links to my images you used at planetweb.ca and my earlier publications to get evidence of my copyrights.

Download it now and check this out for yourself:

URL RETRACTED FOR SAFETY

If you don’t delete the images mentioned in the document above within the next few days, I’ll write a complaint on you to your hosting provider stating that my copyrights have been infringed and I am trying to protect my intellectual property.

And if it doesn’t work, you may be pretty damn sure I am going to report and sue you! And I will not bother myself to let you know of it in advance.

TRACKING INFO

Unfortunately, can not be tracked, as they are using a VPN

IP: 181.214.224.106

Country: United States (US – NA) – Region: New York(NY) – Postal Code + City: 10013 New York

Proxy Server IP: 181.214.224.106

Country: United States (US – NA) – Region: New York(NY) – Postal Code + City: 10013 New York

Browser is: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:52.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/52.0

Russian Hackers Target Canadian Covid19 Researchers

Russian hackers, Cozy Bear and the Dukes , are being accused of malicious attacks against Canadian, US and UK’s researchers working on Coronavirus vaccine, according to cyber security experts in those countries.

The Communications Security Establishment (CSE) , Canada’s foreign signals intelligence, said Cozy Bear and the Dukes, Russian hacker group believed to be associated with Russian intelligence, is behind the malicious attacks.

CSE said that the hacker’s group “almost certainly operates as part of Russian intelligence services”. Kremlin denies the allegations.

These malicious cyber activities were very likely undertaken to steal information and intellectual property relating to the development and testing of COVID-19 vaccines, and serve to hinder response efforts at a time when health care experts and medical researchers need every available resource to help fight the pandemic.

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The Communications Security Establishment (CSE)

CSE declined to comment whether hackers were able to obtain any secret information about Covid-19 vaccines.

Canada, USA and UK said that Russian hackers use custom malware known as WellMess and WellMail to attack organizations.

Paul Chichester, Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre, said that allies “condemn these despicable attacks against those doing vital work to combat the coronavirus pandemic.”

Happened Before

CSE has also confirmed that they are investigation earlier breaches that happened in May and were Covid-19 related also.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, said he denies allegations and that real evidence is needed.

Toronto is #4 On Tech Talent List, Adds 66,900 Jobs In 5 Years

Real Estate firm CBRE ranked 50 cities in North America on their ability to attract tech talent to those cities. CBRE used 13 criterias to rank cities such as tech-talent supply, cost of living, educational degrees and real estate prices.

Toronto ranked #4 on the list, and #1 in Canada for the best city where technology talent wants to come and work.

Toronto did move down from #3 to #4 in this ranking as Washington DC moved 2 spots up to #2 right after San Francisco which is still holding #1 spot.

Seattle ranked #3 and New York City ranked #5 after Toronto.

Some Canadians cities fared well while some others dropped in ranking. Vancouver retained its #12 spot, Ottawa jumped 5 spots to #14, while Montreal dropped 3 spots to #16 and Calgary finally made it to Top 50 List as #34.

Top 25 Cities in North America For Tech Talent

Toronto added an impressive 66,900 jobs or almost 37% more tech jobs over the last 5 years. The second biggest add after San Francisco.

CBRE said that even though Toronto salary raised 11.2% over the last year, it is still much cheaper and more affordable than salaries in US cities.

Toronto Startup BagAway Helps With Your Luggage Storage

Bagsaway is a Canadian startup based in Toronto that offers on-demand luggage storage for travelers all over the world through their online booking platform. Think of BagsAway as an AirBnB for your luggage, so that whether you have a late checkin or early checkout, you’ll never have to be tied down by your luggage. The idea for BagsAway came from our co-founders’ love of travel and the difficulties they experienced missing out on opportunities for adventure while having to babysit their luggage.

Who started the company? Do you / team members have tech background?


BagsAway was started by friends Eugene Veeden and Irina Zusman. Eugene was a software engineer who loved to travel and saw an opportunity in a problem anyone could see upon arrival to destinations across the world – why were all these people lugging bags around?! Irina’s has been heavily active in the startup community since graduating from college, working as a Manager of Operation and Product Development for Touch Taxi Media and acting as a marketing executive for Locomobi and the “Have a Heart for Down Syndrome” Foundation.

How are you being financed?


So far, BagsAway has been bootstrapped, but is proud to be a member of Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone, the top business incubator in Canada.

What do you think will be / is a big obstacle to overcome?


The biggest obstacle for BagsAway is letting people know we’re here! Many travelers don’t know that this service even exists and feel relegated to lugging their suitcases around town with them before checkins or late departing flights. Once people know we exist and have the chance to experience the freedom and security of leaving your baggage with one of our storage partners, they’ll never travel without booking luggage storage again!

How do you go about finding good developers / IT guys for your company?


With Eugene’s background in software engineering, he is the primary developer for the site, but we also work with an agency that helps advise us on technical SEO, design, user experience, and other elements of our website.

Bagsaway Team

Who is your biggest competition?


Our biggest competition greatly depends on where travelers are headed. There are smaller companies that cater only to specific locations, and there are larger companies that have widespread reach in a handful of locations. The goal for BagsAway, however is to be a global solution so that no matter where travelers go, they have a company they can trust to safely and securely store their luggage – and help local small businesses along the way.

How are you intending on taking your company to million dollars in revenues? In what markets?


Right now, we’re focused on improving our website, growing our number of partner locations to include top destinations on all the major continents, and providing excellent service to our customers. Shoring up each of these elements of our business while simultaneously spreading the word about our service will help us achieve our revenue goals. With travel still being restricted in many areas of the world, we’ve had a great opportunity to take a step back and start looking at the changes that we want to make for greater success in the future.

What is the big lesson you’ve learned (success or failure) with this project.


Our biggest lesson came very early – and maybe a touch harshly. In order to succeed, you have to be able to scale and adapt at a rapid pace. BagsAway actually started out as an on-demand pickup and delivery service for travelers. But we quickly realized that this model would be incredibly difficult to scale to areas outside of our local region. With all our investments tied up in this venture we had to quickly figure out how to make the idea work while completely rethinking our business model. Although it was tough to make major changes so quickly, it taught us to always keep listening to our customers in order to continuously improve our offerings. And that is a lesson that has paid for itself 10x over.