Tag Archives: tech

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Jose found that a solution was needed, particularly in the hospitality industry, for outdated HR practices and training pain points that can make a business inefficient and training ineffective.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

CRTC To Regulate Tech Firms like Facebook and Google in Canada

Canadian government is set to introduce a new law, where it will give special powers to CRTC, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications, to regular tech companies in Canada.

Government said that it will provide updates to the new legislation, to give more power to CRTC, which will include letting CRTC issue licences, fine companies that do not comply and force companies to provide commercially sensitive information.

It’s about the future of the entire industry. It’s not about any one particular streamer or studio. That’s why we encourage the government to have as many tools available as possible so that we have flexibility in a new-and-improved Broadcasting Act that can adapt to this fast-changing, dynamic market.

avatar

Reynolds Mastin

President of the Canadian Media Producers Association

The current Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act is outdated the way it is now, as it was written before the internet. Canadian government said that Canadians are afraid that their culture is being threatened by big tech giants like Netflix and Facebook.

Because firms like Facebook and Netflix are digital, they do not require license to operate in Canada, and do not have to play specific percentage of Canadian content to viewers.

letterkenny
This Canadian television sitcom comedy series showcases the antics of the residents of Letterkenny, a small rural community in Canada.

While it is nice to see Canadian government to play active role to ensure that Canadians across this beautiful land can login to stream their shows like Letterkenny and Tout le monde en parle, they have to be careful as well.

It is interesting to see new power to police by CRTC being announced shortly after Google’s announcement of creation of 5,000 new jobs in Canada.

The problem is if Canadian government provides unlimited powers to CRTC and CRTC starts imposing fines left and right, some tech firms might pull their products away from Canada.

This is exactly what happened with political ads few years ago. Canadian government changed the election laws when it comes to advertising. Facebook decided to comply while Google said that it will disallow any politic ads in Canada on its platform.

While Heritage Ministry is giving more powers to CRTC, the Finance Department is set to start requiring foreign tech companies in Canada to collect and remit federal sales taxes. This media tax is already being collected in both Quebec and Saskatchewan.

Liberal government is in its minority right now in the parliament, so it will need another party’s support to pass the laws above. The way it stands right now, both Bloc Quebecois and NDP , are willing to support the Liberals.

Toronto’s Number of Tech Jobs DoubleS in 5 Years

A total of around 60,000 people were employed in the tech sector in the city of Toronto in 2019. That’s 16.6% increase from 2018. If you compare the tech jobs’ employment to 2014 for example, the IT sector in the City of Toronto has almost doubled.

Looking at the research, you can see that these companies choose to locate in Toronto because Toronto is a tech centre that offers a diversity of education and culture that builds successful organizations.

avatar

John Tory

Mayor of Toronto

John Tory, Mayor of Toronto, has said most companies choose to pick downtown for their location but some expand and open offices in North York, Etobicoke, etc.

Tory said he was happy with the numbers but more must be done when it comes to access to opportunities in some neighborhoods in Toronto, as well as, improving transit around the city.

UPDATED: IT Teacher in Quebec? You Might Need To Choose Between Your Religion or Your Job

UPDATE: The bill has now passed and is officially a law in the province of Quebec. Quebec’s bill 21 is the only jurisdiction in North America with a religion-based dress code, meaning you can fired for religious attire you wear to work. Quebec has also included a clause where so called “securalism police” will check in on work place to make sure no religious attire is worn, and “the targeted employee could be subject to disciplinary measures for failing to comply.” Hélène David, the Liberal critic that was against the horrendous bill in Quebec, said “It’s a sad day.”


Quebec government has announced that they have tabled the secularism legislation bill soon to come into full force in Quebec.

Francois Legault’s Coalition Avenir Quebec government has declared that they will ban the wearing of religious symbols by public sector employees in position of authority, such as teachers, prosecutors, judges, and police officers.

Position of authority is defined as the power to tell the other person what to do.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bvj1Gh9AXwV/

That means when the bill becomes a law, and you decide to apply to work for the Quebec government in the position of authority, such as teachers, prosecutors, judges, or police officers – you will need to take off that kippa, turban, cross or hijab when showing up for work or risk losing a job.

Quebec Public Security Minister, Genevieve Guilbault, has announced that repercussions can be severe if you refuse to take off your religious garb. She said that:

“People can advise police services, like they do to have any other law applied. The law is the law.”

List of Quebec Public Sector Departments

  • Executive Council of Quebec
  • Secrétariat du Conseil du trésor
  • Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
  • Ministry of Culture and Communications
  • Ministry of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade
  • Ministry of Education, Recreation and Sports
  • Ministry of Employment and Social Solidarity
  • Ministry of Families, Seniors and the Status of Women
  • Ministry of Finance
  • Ministry of Government Services
  • Ministry of Health and Social Services
  • Ministry of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusion
  • Ministry of International Relations
  • Ministry of Justice
  • Ministry of Labour
  • Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Regions
  • Ministry of Natural Resources and Wildlife
  • Ministry of Public Security
  • Ministry of Revenue
  • Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks
  • Ministry of Tourism
  • Ministry of Transport
https://twitter.com/ramaswife/status/1111671284168122368

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, was taken aback by this populist decision by Quebec’s government saying:

It is unthinkable to me that in a free society, we would legitimize discrimination against citizens based on their religion.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer usually never sides with liberals but on this Bill 21 he openly disagreed with Quebec government:

“Our party will always defend individual freedoms. I think a liberal, a society based on fundamental freedoms and openness, must always protect fundamental individual rights and should not in any way impede people from expressing themselves and in any way by infringing on those fundamental rights.”

In response to criticism, Quebec’s Immigration, Diversity and Inclusiveness Minister Jolin-Barrette said.

“Quebec is a nation. No one contests this reality and our fundamental right to decide our own future and the orientations of our society.”

Bloc Quebecois, political party in Canada devoted to Quebec sovereignty, has also decided to send a message to people in Canada to mind their own business by renting out the following bill board and putting it in Ottawa, not too far from the Canadian parliament.

Quebec government announced that there is nothing to worry about and they will work with everyone involved to make sure everyone is satisfied. The bill also includes so called “grandfather clause,” which means that if you were an employee before May 28, 2019 this law does not apply to you.

So if you are starting a new job on May 29, 2019 or after in the public sector in Quebec and do not want to part with your religious garments you might be fired because of your religion.

Harvey Levine, executive director at Quebec Jewish association, said that the new bill is “an assault on the fundamental rights and freedoms of Quebecers.

So now you need to decide whether to keep wearing that kippa or support your family financially. Decisions, decisions…

46 Canadian Tech Startups That Raised Money Last 3 Months (04-07 2018)

We have been taking some deserved time off and neglected to update some VCs’ moves and money raised in the last few months or so (April – July 2018). Here is recap of what happened in Canadian tech when it came to raising money. Once again, Toronto and Montreal companies dominated the tech scene. Congrats to all!

* Any money raised over $10M are in bold letters. 

  • #paid, Toronto startp and world’s leading influencer marketing platform for authentic brand collaborations, raised $9m
  • Agreement Express, a Vancouver onboarding automation software for the financial services industry, received an undisclosed investment
  • Airy3d, a Montreal startup that brings 3D machine vision to any camera, all without sacrificing battery life, footprint, or image quality, raised US$10M
  • Alavida Health, a Vancouver company, offering treatment of alcohol use disorder that combines drug therapy and counselling, raised $2M
  • Algolux , a Montreal startup, empowers cameras to see more clearly and perceive what cannot be sensed with today’s imaging and vision systems, raised $10M
  • ApplyBoard, a Waterloo startup for an AI-enabled marketplace uniquely designed for international students to apply to study at the best institutions , raised $13M
  • Atomic Reach, a Toronto startup that provides content intelligence platform built to help marketers and agencies create high quality, consistent and profitable content, raised $3.4M
  • Auvik Networks, a Waterloo startup, most efficient & profitable way for MSPs to manage network infrastructure, raised $20M
  • AvenueHQ, a Vancouver startup brings together designers, marketers, engineers, writers, and other creative minds, to help marketing for REALTORS®, closed a $4.5M
  • Avrij, a Fredericton, New Brunswick company that develops a tool that lets you determine what online information is important to you, when you want to know it, and how , raised $1.2M
  • BenchSci, a Toronto startup, a reagent intelligence platform that transforms published data into relevant insights for materials and methods, raised US$8m
  • Breather, a Montréal startup that creates modern workspaces you can keep for hours, days or months — all to yourself, raised $45M in additional funding
  • Canary Medical, a Vancouver medical data company, raised an undisclosed amount
  • Coveo, a Quebec City, provider of intelligent and predictive search technologies, raised $100m
  • Cozystay Holdings, a Vancouver vacation rental platform targeting Chinese vacationers, raised $4M
  • Dooly.ai, a Vancouver startup capturing, sharing, and finding the information needed to close business made as easy as taking a note, raised $2M 
  • ecobee, a Toronto home automation company that makes thermostats for residential and commercial use, raised an additional $47M
  • Eddyfi Technologies, a Quebec company that develops and markets advanced eddy current and electromagnetic solutions, purchased M2M, a Paris, France manufacturer of ultrasonic
  • Elastic Path, a Vancouver company, the leader in ecommerce software that empowers the world’s best brands, closed a $43M in additional funding
  • Eventbase Technology, a Vancouver leading mobile event platform trusted by some of the world’s most recognizable brands, raised $6.5M
  • Fiix (formerly known as Maintenance Assistant), a Toronto startup that provides cloud-based maintenance & asset management software, raised raised $12M
  • inkbox, a Toronto startup, providing tattoo that lasts only 4-6 days, raised $13M
  • Instant Financial, a Vancouver startup, provides workers with access to their pay after every shift, raised $11.4M
  • Inversago Pharma, a Montreal biotech startup, raised $7M
  • League, a Toronto company that’s re-imagining employee health benefits, and is on a mission to empower people to live healthier, happier lives —every day, raised C$62M
  • LoginRadius, a Vancouver startup, helps companies deliver a connected customer experience, build an integrated marketing ecosystem, and centralize customer data , raised $17M
  • MedAvail, a Toronto pharmarcy company allowing automated dispensing and medication management technologies, raised $16.6M
  • MindBridge Analytics, an Ottawa analytics company using artificial intelligence to uncover material irregularities in data, raised $8.4M
  • Miovision, a Kitchener startup thtat creates intelligent solutions for in-house and outsourced traffic data collection, raised $15M
  • Motorleaf, a Montreal startup , that uses artificial intelligence to allow crop to grow themselves, raised USD$2.85m
  • NorthOne, a Toronto startup building Canada’s first mobile-first API-based banking platform that helps startups and small businesses bank, manage their finances, raised $2M
  • Polystyvert, a Montréal startup on a mission to recycle polystyrene (PS), also known as Styrofoam, raised C$11M in funding
  • Primal, a Kitchener startup that allows companies to use artificial intelligence to read and interpret text in any form , received $2.3M loan
  • Raven Telemetry, an Ottawa company, that helps manufacturers leverage their data, raised $6.1m
  • Ritual, a Toronto startup that allows social ordering from your favourite local restaurants and coffee shops, closed a $70M
  • SensorUp, a Calgary startup that empowers developers to build applications that connect with everything in the world, raised $2M
  • Stay22, a Montreal startup, providing map-based accommodation tool , raised $750K 
  • Strainprint Technologies, a Toronto startup that provides mobile app for medical cannabis, raised $3.8M
  • Terminal, a Toronto startup that helps businesses build and manage world-class remote technical teams, raised $10M
  • The Stars Group , gaming and online gambling company traded on Nasdaq and the Toronto Stock Exchange, purchased Sky Betting & Gaming, a British-based gambling company
  • TouchBistro, a Toronto company, providing an easy and smart iPad-based POS system for restaurants, cafes, bars, & more, raised additional C$72M
  • TripStack, a Toronto startup, providing customers with all 100,000 direct flights and the billions of missing itineraries in one search , raised $6M
  • Uberflip, a Toronto staartup , content marketing platform, closed a $32m 
  • Veerum, a Calgary startup, tackling a global, epidemic problem that sees $1.6 trillion wasted every year through capital project cost and schedule overruns, raised $3.9M
  • Xanadu, a Toronto startup trying to create the world’s first practical quantum computer, raised $9M
  • Zucara Therapeutics, a Toronto developer of the first once-daily therapeutic to prevent hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in patients with diabetes, raised US$3.9m

Charming and Friendly Toronto Tech Entrepreneur Killed

Described as very charming and friendly by his friends, Matthew Staikos, mostly known for selling his startup company to Blackberry, was murdered in a matter of seconds.

He was walking and chatting with a friend in an upscale Yorkville Toronto neighbourhood on a warm Monday night, when a man from a nearby parked Mercedes jumped out of a car, approached Matthew from the back and shot him in the head. Reportedly there were between 3 to 5 shots fired.

The shooter was described as black male , about 5’10.

Toronto Mayor John Tory responded about recent violence in a twit.

Mathew Staikos studied mechanical and computer engineering at University of Toronto. With his brother George they started a company called Torch Mobile in 2008. Torch Mobile uses the open-source web browser layout engine WebKit to create web applications for mobile phones, Within few years the company was sold to Blackberry for undisclosed amount.

Greek Ambassador to Canada Dimitris Azemopoulos shared his disbelief on Facebook (translated from Greek)

37-Year-old Matthew Staikos, proud Greek and successful Canadian citizen, made us all proud of his without limits love to his mother country and his great achievements in Canada. So this evening, it is honestly so hard to believe the news of his loss. I met him at the time he was trying to established. And I immediately realized that he was going to make it and that he would go high. But I never thought he’d leave us so quickly, so unjustly, so violent.

I read and reread the news in Canadian media and I don’t want to accept that this wonderful man and friend will no longer be among us. But I’m sure his soul has already found its place under the eternal light of God in which he believed himself. The most warmly and through the bottom of my heart condolences to his family. Sometimes it is impossible to express the anguish of our soul. One of these times is also for me tonight writing these lines for my friend Matthew.

Amazon to Bring 3,000 Jobs to Vancouver

Amazon announced that it will be adding 3,000 tech jobs in Vancouver. The jobs that Amazon will be trying to fill would be among e-commerce technology, cloud computing, and machine learning.

The new Amazon office will be located at Canada Post headquarters, at 349 West Georgia Street in Vancouver. Approximate opening date will be sometimes in 2022.

This new office will be a 3rd Amazon office in Vancouver in addition to TELUS Garden office opened in 2015 and Dunsmuir Street office to be opened in 2020.

Alexandre Gagnon, vice-president of Amazon Canada and Mexico said

“Amazon is excited to create 3,000 more highly skilled jobs in Vancouver. Vancouver is home to an incredibly talented and diverse workforce, and these thousands of new employees will invent on behalf of our customers worldwide.”

Amazon is employing over 6,000 employees in Canada, most of them are in tech. By 2022 it seems like Amazon will employing over 10,000 (or maybe even more if Toronto gets selected for HQ2).

BC Premier John Horgan was happy to hear the great news

Unlike Toronto, Vancouver was not selected for the 20 shortlist vying for Amazon HQ2. But nevertheless Vancouver is a very strategic city for Amazon as it is only few hours drive away from Seattle, Washington where Amazon HQ is located as well as short flight from Silicon Valley where most leading tech companies are located.

 

Microsoft has also been considering opening potential offices in Vancouver as proximity to the their offices in Redmond are almost the same as Amazon’s.

In case you missed it, Washington and British Columbia have recently announced plans for high speed train as well as seaplane that will get you around these cities in about an hour.