NBC News Partners with AC Grad Kik

NBC News has launched an official account on Kik, a mobile-first chat network with more than 200 million users.

The news division’s account will allow Kik users to find and share real-time news content tailored to topics of their choice.

Users can search for and send a message to the username ‘NBCNews.’ After sending a keyword such as ‘politics’ or ‘technology,’ they will receive story and video content from the news site.

NBC News will also be able to push messages to Kik users, including popular videos or breaking news items.

To learn more, click here.

AC Grad Clearpath Robotics and Christie Digital make 3D video game with robots

Check out the video here!

AC Grad Perspecsys announces expansion into Germany

Perspecsys, the leader in enterprise cloud data protection solutions, today announced it has extended its presence in Europe to Germany. The move will enable it to meet the rapid growth it is experiencing in the region.

“Since their emergence in 2012, Cloud Access Security Broker solutions have grown in importance and today are the primary technical means of giving more control over SaaS security. This technology will become an essential component of SaaS deployments by 2017.”

Perspecsys’ AppProtex Cloud Data Protection Platform is currently used by some of Germany’s largest enterprises to maintain compliance with data privacy and security requirements as they adopt the cloud. In industries as diverse as manufacturing, banking, investments, and healthcare, Perspecsys’ unique solution, which ensures that sensitive data never leaves the corporation’s control at any time, has enabled enterprises to use the cloud in new and powerful ways.

To read the full press release, click here.

Eventastic Launches Cutting-Edge Event Management Platform

Eventastic, an AC Graduate specializing in online ticketing, launched their new event management platform today.

The innovative site offers features that tailor to user-experience and functionality.

“The new platform offers customizable event websites, that are faster and simpler to create, with additional E-Commerce security,” explains Eventastic’s President, Randy Bird. “However, the pièce de résistance is the all new SaaS model that allows users to drive revenue, data, or donations through their company and events!”

The new platform was developed to improve customer experience, and increase awareness of the many services and features Eventastic offers. The design and functionality align with the high standard Eventastic has set within the event industry.

“Over the last year, we’ve been developing, at great expense, this user-centric platform; it wildly surpasses our beta platform. We’ve been ready to launch for weeks but waited. We weren’t going to launch it until it was perfect,” says Bird. “Perfect being defined as automatic in simplicity.”

Since its soft launch in 2014, Eventastic has graduated from the Accelerator Centre, relocated into its own local office, and has hosted more than 10,000 worldwide events on their site, from small parties to large conferences in unique venues, proving that this new event website is just one of Eventastic’s many successes.

You can explore the new platform by visiting www.eventastic.com.

AC Grad Clearpath Robotics named one of Canada's most innovative companies

Clearpath Robotics

Location: Kitchener, Ont.
How it Innovates: Most industrial robots are riveted to a factory floor, performing one basic task over and over again. The unmanned vehicles made by Clearpath Robotics are more likely to be found navigating an oilsands tailings pond. That’s because Clearpath, founded in 2009, has developed autopilot software so its robots can move around more or less autonomously.

To view Clearpath Robotics profile, and other recipients, click here.

AC Grad Plum hopes to replace Resume with something more scientific

Caitlin MacGregor was launching a new company to sell a Canadian software product in the United States when she discovered that if she hired someone who didn’t work out, it would cost the company around $300,000.

Determined to get it right the first time, she decided to use psychometric evaluations (also known as aptitude or personality tests) to vet every candidate.

It led her to look at people who didn’t have the education and experience that a software distributor would normally be looking for.nOne of those candidates who scored highly was Christine Bird.

“If we had relied on the traditional hiring process, she’d never have made the shortlist,” MacGregor, who hired Bird and began grooming her for management.

Now, Bird is MacGregor’s co-founder at Plum, a Kitchener-based startup that wants to make psychology-based assessments one of the first steps in the hiring process.

“Resume’s have no predictive ability,” MacGregor says.

Plum uses an test to measure personality, problem-solving ability and social intelligence, things that MacGregor says are better predictors of what a person will be good at.

To read the full press release, click here.

Check out the Journey of AC Grad Clearpath Robotics

With the recent announcement of Clearpath’s Series A Funding, we thought that we’d take a look at Clearpath’s humble beginnings to see just how far our company has grown and what our robots have been up to over the years.

Check out our beautifully yellow and black infographic (because you know those are our favourite colours) below showing you just some of the things we’ve accomplished since 2009 and a glimpse into the not the distant future.

RENOMii inks exclusive Canadian agreement with Home Hardware

Easy-To-Use Web Software available through Home Hardware Building Centres

Home Hardware Stores Ltd., Canada’s largest dealer-owned hardware, lumber, building materials and furniture cooperative, has entered into an exclusive agreement with RENOMii Corp. to sell an easy-to-use web software program to facilitate better communication between contractors/renovators and their customers.

The RENOMii change order manager and customer communications application is a Cloud-based tool that keeps the lines of communications open between home owners and contractors, custom home builders and renovators.

Said RENOMii co-founder and CEO Scott Baker, “Our application will keep everyone on the same page during a home renovation or home build, and keep the associated costs under control.”

RENOMii will be available in every Home Hardware Building Centre across Canada. Accessible in most locations by the second quarter of this year, RENOMii will introduce a French version for the Quebec market in the second half of 2015.

RENOMii’s solution for contractors is available online with two suggested retail pricing options.  The RENO is a $99. per project fee which gives contractors 100MB of storage, free support and the ability to add unlimited users. RENO ELITE is $1,299 per year or $125 per month and gives contractors unlimited projects, 500 MB of storage and free support.

” With our exclusive partnership with RENOMii, Home Hardware is proud to deliver on state-of-the-art technologies and services that our contractors and customers have grown to expect, says Sandy Palmer, Allied Building Product Manager with Home Hardware Stores Limited. RENOMii gives contractors, custom home builders and renovators direct access to our quality materials and expert advice as well as the tools they need to deliver on superior renovation and home improvement projects to home owners.

Adds RENOMii co-founder and COO Kara Smith, “Home Hardware has a long-standing tradition of trust with contractors, renovators, builders and homeowners.  We build on that trust, and being supported by Canada’s best-known and respected suppliers of materials, it will only help strengthen the trust contractors, custom home builders and renovators have with homeowners, and grow their business.”

Compatible on any mobile device, RENOMii is simple to use and does not require any specialty software. Contractors create a project in the program and invite the homeowner to review. The homeowner receives a notification from RENOMii which allows them to approve or reject any changes to the project as well as viewing the cost. These changes are directly communicated to the contractor and a record is generated with communications and approvals available for review at any time.

A complete story is great. An incomplete story is better.

Steve Fyke, the AC’s Design Strategy Mentor, on the importance of human-centred design

When it comes to creating a great product, Steve Fyke, the Accelerator Centre’s newest mentor, finds himself saying the same thing almost every day: you can’t trust your intuition.

“Intuition is based on personal experience,” says Fyke. “What you see as intuitive isn’t necessarily the same for other people. If someone else has a very different set of experiences, they won’t have the same sense of what’s intuitive.”

With over 15 years of mechanical, industrial, and design strategy experience, he knows his stuff. Fyke has led a number of advanced research and development projects, most of which looked at integrating emerging technologies into existing systems to improve user experience.

It was during this research that he started to see a major flaw in how many people approach design: they tend to develop new technologies and figure out what problem they’re trying to solve afterward.

“It’s more important to focus on solving a problem from the beginning,” says Fyke. “I started to change my approach by looking at how I could apply new or existing technologies to human problems. Then I’d build a solution based on what I learned.”

So what does good design look like?

“There’s no question that it’s important to have a solid engineering foundation when you’re developing a product,” he says. “But I’ve found that the more you focus on what people need the more likely you are to design something that people enjoy using.”

That’s why he encourages companies to take a human-centred approach to product development: find the human element in a problem and create a compelling story to clearly explain how the product will solve that problem.

“I was impressed with Steve’s approach right away,” says Andre Bodo, CEO of Kineris Inc. “He’s challenged us to think from the patient’s perspective; to see how our product will be part of their life.”

Kineris, a current AC client, is a medical device design firm, dedicated to improving patient care through technology. Their user-friendly SmartBrace™ encourages recovery by allowing patients and care providers to track progress and set goals.

“Working with Steve has enabled us to streamline our product and increase our efficiency,” adds Bodo.  “Most significantly he’s helped us to design a product that tells a story of recovery rather than one of injury.”

Fyke believes that stories are integral to designing a product because people relate to them. “You can create a product that is technically well designed,” he says, “but if you can’t tell the customer how it helps them, they’re not going to want it – they can’t see it fitting into their lives.”

The trick is to tell a story that’s not quite complete – a story with a few holes built into it. “Sometimes people will use your products in ways you never expected. By leaving the story mostly complete it lets your customers fill in the holes with their own experience. That way, instead of your story, it becomes their story – people start to tell their story about your product, and that’s powerful.

At the end of the day, it’s about solving problems and learning new things for Fyke, which is what makes the AC a perfect fit. “I love exploring, learning, and solving problems – mostly solving problems, it’s my favourite thing in the world to do.

“The AC is ideal because it allows me to jump between projects that are at different stages of the development spectrum. Because I have a broad technical background, I can help clients with the design of a product or help tweak their product so that it fits a human need. This allows them to tell that compelling story and get potential customers engaged.”

Of course, the story is never quite complete.

AC Grads Mozzaz and Plum are filling needs in our community

One of the newest graduates from the world-renowned Accelerator Centre program is Mozzaz, which in a short time has grown from the three, including former RIM employees, to more than 20 people coordinating care for children with special needs through technology.

“The first product we developed was for individuals who have life challenges,” said Sammy Wahab, co-founder and CEO of Mozzaz. “They maybe non-functional, non-verbal and our goal was to take the mobile device, which is a powerful piece of equipment, and program it to make their life easier.”

The company designs software for personal computers, tablets and smartphones. The software helps those with disabilities communicate and it also helps caregivers co-ordinate care and communication with heathcare workers more efficiently.

It was a highly personal project for co-founders Sammy Wahab and Rini Singh. The each had a child with a chronic illness and wanted to address some of the gaps they saw in their treatment.

The other graduate from the Accelerator Centre last week, Plum, has also made major inroads in overseas markets with a new hire assessment tool that can determine if a person is the right fight for your company in about five minutes.

Plum, formerly CreamHR, uses behavioural science to see how a potential hire matches up with a company’s needs and its corporate culture.

Caitlin MacGregor said Plum recently opened a new office in uptown Waterloo at the corner of King and Erb, and have made great progress targeting decision makers who were trying to make the human resources process more efficient and use the data available to make better decisions.

They’ve done proof of concept with some massive online job platforms that cater to thousands of online job seekers and had some great exposure.

To read the full article, click here.