Six Career Lessons from AC Grad Axonify

Carol Leaman, president and CEO of Axonify, recently shared some of the key lessons she’s learned throughout her career as a serial entrepreneur as part of Entrepreneurship 101’s Lived It Lecture series.

Here are the key takeaways from Carol’s talk.

1. You can’t force the market to expand. When she worked in the virtual reality space, Carol learned that you cannot force the market to expand. This realization led her to partner with her main competitor in order to squeeze out the rest of the competition.

2. As a CEO, never stay with a company that acquires yours. Culture is important and it’s something that Carol lives and breathes. She stayed on after her previous company was acquired, but quickly realized that she and the new CEO had very different ways of thinking.

3. Never give up a chance to network. You never know who you will run into or who they might know.

4. Think through what could go wrong. If you start a company with friends or family members, be sure to consider what could possibly go wrong. If you don’t have the right group together and something goes amiss, relationship issues may get in the way of fixing problems.

5. Don’t delay finding paying customers. The sooner you can make a dollar—or more!—the better off your company will be, even if it’s not “perfect.”

6. Be willing to shift. Move your company in the right direction by paying attention to what is happening in the market. You need to be willing to shift if something isn’t working out.

To read the full article, click here.

Helping define success in Waterloo

Video series looks at why entrepreneurs are choosing Waterloo

Today the City of Waterloo launched a five-part video series, entitled Why Waterloo, aimed at explaining Waterloo’s growing appeal.

“There is a buzz about our city and we all feel it,” said Mayor Jaworsky during this year’s state of the city address. “Whether we are long-time residents, established community leaders, young students…or youth about to embark on their post-secondary journey, we all know that Waterloo is the place to be.”

In the series, a selection of local businesses spanning different industries are asked to share what being in Waterloo means to their organization.  Common themes like talent, collaboration, support and quality of life are prevalent throughout the series.

We’re excited that the first installment showcases the Accelerator Centre. Watch as Paul Salvini, CEO and Shane Pegg, VP Strategic Initiatives answer the global question: Why Waterloo?

Having just received $8 million in funding from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southwestern Ontario to support AC JumpStart, and an additional $200,000 over four years from Waterloo city council, the AC is set to expand; supporting more clients, more graduates, and making a bigger impact in the community. For more information about the Accelerator Centre, visit acceleratorcentre.com.

For more information about the city’s economic development initiatives, visit wearewaterloo.ca.

AC Grad Kik introduces in-chat browser

Facebook has developed an app platform for Messenger, but underdog rival Kik has continued its focus on putting the entire web in chat after upgrading its in-app sidebar browser into a full-blown browser for its messaging app.

The change means that Kik users can now summon a full browser inside their chats with friends. Previously the browser was limited, since it was loaded from the sidebar as part of the chat window. This change translates to a more immersive experience, which lets Kik’s 200 million registered users surf the web while talking to friends; for instance I could listen to Soundcloud while chatting. It also gives them the option to easily share web pages and services in chats.

To read the full article, click here.

Identify a Problem. Develop a Solution.

How iKlyk Dental is changing the future of dental software

Feda Bashbishi, CEO, iKlyk Inc.

Feda Bashbishi, CEO, iKlyk Inc.

A trip to the dentist was all it took to spark Feda Bashbishi’s inventive mind, changing his career path in 2014.

Feda left California back in 2004, feeling his life needed a transition and looking to advance his career in software development.

After moving to Waterloo from California, Feda landed a job at a company that provided secure payment solutions for the financial services sector. Back then, the organization was shipping out thousands of CDs with software updates to customers.

Coming from a technical background, Feda immediately saw an opportunity to improve efficiencies and pitched the idea of moving the company away from the desktop application to a web-based application.

There was a mixed reaction when Feda pitched such a large scale change; some saw the value, but many were hesitant to implement a transformational shift. But Feda proved his concept by demonstrating the cost effectiveness of web-based vs. desktop, and in the end, they implemented his proposal.

He saw a problem and knew he could fix it. It was a transition that reinforced his belief that you have to be customer focused, that every feature in a product must solve a problem for the customer.

During a check-up back in 2008, Feda noticed his dentist using a traditional desktop application to manage his practice. It sparked a conversation and Feda learned that his dentist wasn’t happy with the software – it took too much time to manage and didn’t offer the flexibility needed to run the practice the way his dentist wanted.
Feda dug a little deeper and found that most dentists were suffering with the same problem: outmoded software that didn’t allow them to protect the data of their clients, access their schedule remotely, and back up their data.

So why didn’t they just change to something better? Because there simply wasn’t a better option.

Feda however, had a solution in mind. He approached his sister-in-law Reem and pitched an idea about creating an online practice management solution that made it easy for dentists to manage their practice on a secure and accessible platform. Reem was already interested in starting her own tech company and had a considerable amount of experience from contributing to her husband’s dental office – it was a perfect match.

“We set out to build something that anyone could use,” said Feda.

With the combined skills of Feda’s MBA, M.Sc. Eng., and Reem’s PhD in Computer Science, they focused on creating something better, something that would make life for his dentist, and every dentist, easier. That’s how iKlyk Inc. was born.

iKlyk is a web-based application that offers dentists and their staff a reliable, innovative, and secure practice management solution for their daily use. With iKlyk, dental companies can protect patient data; access their data anytime, anywhere; track transactions which minimizes embezzlement; and automatically update their software, meaning the product is always up-to-date.

Feda and Reem already had a considerable background in both Business and Tech. However, they wanted to immerse themselves in an entrepreneurial community, learning from peers in a similar position and gaining access to mentors who could help shape their business model.

“You need the expertise, you need people who are hands-on, who can help lead you in the right direction and we get that at the Accelerator Centre,” said Feda.

“Our vision for iKlyk is to set the standard in providing the best practice management solution for dental offices to ultimately provide premium patient care,” said Feda. iKlyk strives to be the number one solution for dentists looking to take their practice management software to the next level.

iKlyk is about to launch their first beta product and they’re confident that the dental community will embrace their solution.

It’s difficult to identify a problem, but developing and implementing a business solution is even harder. It requires initiative, leadership and a dedicated team.

Get to know iKlyk

Accelerator Centre growth fueled by City of Waterloo investment

City contribution of $200,000 allows the AC to make a bigger impact

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Today, City of Waterloo council approved a grant of $50,000 annually from 2015 to 2018 for the Accelerator Centre to support plans for expansion in the community and allow the AC to continue growing strong, sustainable companies in Waterloo Region.

“With close to one-third of our population consisting of students, Waterloo has a deep labour pool of highly-trained, educated, skilled professionals and entrepreneurs,” says Justin McFadden, executive director of economic development, City of Waterloo.  “It’s important to our community that we keep this talent pool here in order to leverage these skills and entrepreneurship in order to maintain our position of leadership as a dynamic technology and innovation hub.”

“We’re pleased to have the ongoing support of the City as we seek to increase our impact in helping entrepreneurs build and scale their businesses here in Waterloo,” says Paul Salvini, CEO of the   Accelerator Centre. “I believe the strong partnership we see from the City of Waterloo is central to why so many of our graduates choose to develop their businesses here.”

The Accelerator Centre has mentored over 130 early-stage start-ups that have created 1300 new jobs, and generated $400 million in revenue and funding. Of the 45 companies that have graduated from the Accelerator Program, more than 85 percent have remained in Waterloo region.

For more information about the city’s economic development initiatives, visit wearewaterloo.ca. For information about the Accelerator Centre’s programs, visit acceleratorcentre.com/programs.

AC Grad Magnet Forensics nominated for the 2015 4cast Awards

Magnet Forensics recently announced that Internet Evidence Finder (IEF) has been nominated again, in two categories, for the 2015 Forensic Forecast Awards: Phone Forensic Software of the Year, and Computer Forensic Software of the Year.

Last year, Magnet Forensics took home the award for Computer Forensic Software of the Year for the second year in a row. With our expanding efforts in mobile forensics, they hope to not only defend our title in the Computer Forensics category, but also shake things up in Phone Forensics.

To cast your vote, click here!

AC Grad TitanFile announces extended partnership with Hitachi Solutions America

TitanFile Inc., a private correspondence and file sharing platform for legal professionals and other businesses, today announced that the company will be showcasing its new integration with Credeon Cloud Data Protection browser technology, a product of Hitachi Solutions America, Ltd., at ABA TECHSHOW 2015 at booth #714, making it the first, and only, offering of its kind to the legal market.

Credeon prevents unauthorized parties from accessing confidential data. Credeon’s solid security features, such as client-side encryption and remote encryption key management, enable users to encrypt and store data on their own terms.

The latest integration between TitanFile and Credeon leverages the newest technological advances in browser technology. It brings the features and capabilities of Credeon to the TitanFile application within the browser, without requiring the user to download and install any software or plugins. The new implementation is an industry first and based on the HTML5 Web Cryptography API standard currently being developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

To read the full press release, click here.

CABI Summit deepens connections between Canada’s Incubators

On March 30, over 40 members of the Canadian Association of Business Incubators (CABI) came together in Waterloo for the first CABI Leadership Summit to talk about the future of incubation/acceleration and how we can continue to support the development and growth of successful businesses.

The Accelerator Centre hosted representatives from across Canada, including Vancouver, St. John’s, Winnipeg, and Whitehorse, for a series of panel discussions that looked at:

  • How are accelerators & business incubators collaborating?
  • Open data and cyber security
  • The role of universities in incubation
  • Creative funding models
  • How to connect and leverage maker and hacker spaces
  • Are Canadian accelerators and business incubators making a positive impact?
  • Global trends and national best practices

Particular highlights were the keynote session with Pat Riley, CEO, Global Accelerator Network, and a research presentation from Waterloo’s DEEP Centre policy think tank.

Social entrepreneurship pitch contest supports next big idea

The AC’s Andrew Jackson helps select the winners of the Big Ideas Challenge

A company that uses smartphone technology to improve vision care in India was among the big winners at a pitch competition designed to elicit big ideas in health and well-being. EyeCheck, a for-profit vision-care company, won mentorship and access to AC Pathfinder, a market validation platform developed by the Accelerator Centre, at the inaugural Big Ideas Challenge for Health and Wellbeing at the University of Waterloo this week. It uses smartphone technology and proprietary hardware to provide much-needed vision assessment in India with just two pictures.

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Tania Del Matto of St. Paul’s GreenHouse, Rachel Friesen of EyeCheck and Andrew Jackson of the Accelerator Centre.

The other winning pitches consisted of ways to address mental health issues among students, heart-friendly meal delivery and meaningful leisure for older adults, and support for breast cancer survivors. They each received the grand prize of a term’s stay in St. Paul’s GreenHouse, the first and only live-in campus-linked accelerator in Canada focused on social innovation and entrepreneurship.

“The Big Ideas Challenge for Health and Wellbeing was intended to encourage undergraduate students to develop innovative interventions, for which the primary purpose is to improve the quality of life of individuals or communities,” said Tania Del Matto, director of GreenHouse.

“We’re proud to partner with St’ Paul’s to encourage social innovation”, added Andrew Jackson, VP, Client Services at the Accelerator Centre. “It’s encouraging to see a group of young entrepreneurs building businesses aimed at addressing difficult challenges.”

About the winners:

• Marlena – Committed to meaningful leisure for older adults of all abilities by creating books to meet the needs of older adults with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other conditions.

• Panic, Anxiety, & Stress, Support (PASS) kit – A first aid kit for mental health and wellbeing to address the increasing incidence of mental health issues among students.

• Heart Helpers – A non-profit, heart-healthy meal delivery program that offers older adults at risk or living with cardiovascular disease a simple, inexpensive way to reduce their risk factors by modifying their diet.

• Node– Offering smart, beautifully designed, custom-fit compression sleeves for breast cancer survivors suffering from lymphedema.

The Faculty of Applied Health Sciences is hosting the program in partnership with St. Paul’s GreenHouse.