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Jose found that a solution was needed, particularly in the hospitality industry, for outdated HR practices and training pain points that can make a business inefficient and training ineffective.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. AzaresCanadian 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.