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The global startups fueling the new-age space race

SpaceX. Blue Origin. Virgin Galactic.

These are just a few of the high-profile businesses set to disrupt the multi-billion dollar commercial space industry in the coming years. While they may not be well known to the general public some of today’s most successful entrepreneurs  — Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson — are sinking millions into this new-age market.

Startup space

Investment in the industry is taking off and it’s not hard to see why.  These days companies can explore space like never before thanks to better technology, cheaper products and lighter materials.  According to CNBC, in 2016 investors pumped $2.8 billion into space-related businesses last year.

Today’s most prominent space enterprises range from one-stop satellite shops to do-it-yourself space travel companies. Kepler Communications is one of the few Canadian startups competing (and succeeding) in the cut-throat business. 

Accelerating outer space success

Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s easy for newcomers hoping to succeed in the industry. The space market is capital intensive and requires deep pockets to fund research and cover costs. Thankfully these days a series of space-focused accelerators and incubators are hoping to fix that.

In the last five years, global programs — like Starburst, Space Startup Ecosystem, Lightspeed — have focused on helping astropreneurs get their business off the ground.

While the future is always unknowable, because things change growing support is a good sign for entrepreneurs entering the market. To learn more about the growing space market and how Canadian co-founder Mina Mitry found success listen to the latest BusinessCast episode, hosted by Robert Gold above. For more from BusinessCast, make sure to visit our official iTunes page.

The post The global startups fueling the new-age space race appeared first on The DMZ.

Originally Published by Ryerson DMZ

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The biggest tech fails of 2017

Building a business empire from scratch is never easy. It takes a lot of work to turn an idea into a money-making enterprise. Unfortunately, 2017 saw some of the industry’s biggest and, most prominent startups, go under.

From wifi-connected juicing machines to anonymous social sharing platforms, these are some of the biggest technology fails from this year.  


This high-end juicer was designed with health consumers in mind, but in the end, Juicero ended up alienating investors and getting squeezed out of the industry it hoped to one day dominate.

Throughout its run, the U.S. startup raised a whopping $120 million to get its product on the market. While the machine’s $400 price tag was enough to put off most consumers, a damning feature by Bloomberg was what ultimately led to its demise. The report found that users could merely squeeze the company’s fruit packs by hand, which all but rendered its pricey juice machine worthless.

Lesson: This hardware startup overpriced its product and failed to find lasting traction with consumers. The biggest lesson entrepreneurs can take away from this experience is to always listen to your customers and pivot when necessary.

Yik Yak

For a long time, investors believed Yik Yak would be the next Facebook. The location-based app allowed users to anonymously chat with anyone in their vicinity. It was also incredibly popular with students (the same demographic that helped push Facebook to its current billion-dollar valuation). Since launching in 2013, it had raised approximately $73.5 million, but its success came to an abrupt end earlier this year.

The app was later banned in some U.S. schools due to high rates of cyberbullying and researchers also discovered that Yik Yak profiles could be hacked to expose a user’s real identity. All of these combined led to a steep decrease in user downloads and earlier this year the company shut down for good.

Lesson: The app’s anonymity, which led to high rates of cyberbullying, was one of the main reasons that led to its untimely downfall. It’s important for entrepreneurs to continually beta test and triage new problems as they happen. In fact, a similar anonymous app is already doing that and hoping to find success.


Jawbone is now officially out of business. The Silicon Valley favourite was at one time an unstoppable juggernaut in the wearable industry and 
once valued at $3 billion.

One of its biggest problems were its legal troubles. Health rival Fitbit sued the company in 2016 for a wide range of causes, which included patent infringement and trade secrets.

In addition, Jawbone’s hardware also played a pivotal role. The company’s UP health tracker famously encountered a series of product setback and production woes after launching in 2011. All of this eventually led to a series of high-profile executive exits and later bankruptcy in 2017.

Lesson: This one could easily be summed up as bad luck, but Jawbone’s real problems can be traced back to its fast-paced rise to the top. The company raised an incredible amount of money in a short time. It attempted to grow its product base at the same unsustainable rate, which led to product deficiencies. In the end, Jawbone neglected its customers in the pursuit of more money and paid the price.

The post The biggest tech fails of 2017 appeared first on The DMZ.

Originally Published by Ryerson DMZ

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M-Theory: On net neutrality, the medium is part of the message

The prospect of the repeal of net neutrality in the U.S. is terrifying, and its effects would be felt well north of the 49th parallel (globally, really). There’s been plenty of news coverage, running the gamut of rhetorical skill, knowledge proficiency, and political agenda.
If some small good can come from this debacle, it’s that some of the coverage provides an interesting and educational look at how to address, engage, and educate an audience.
None of the examples that follow are from pro-repeal writers. Because honestly.
Of course, we need some good ’ol clickbait, so let’s start with this dredged-up piece on the lack of net neutrality in Portugal that’s making the rounds. In truth, though, the tiered system of internet access mentioned in that article only applies to mobile, and Portugal is subject to broader EU-wide laws as well. But hey, they tried.
A lot of coverage was just rather generic and dry. It might appeal to a specific professional or technical audience, but can be a slog for the average online reader. See this Wired article with its depth of detail and numbers or Gizmodo’s “the day after” legal take. Plus, a vague “it ain’t over til it’s over” ending doesn’t really satisfy

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We Built This – Encircle: Insurance claims, simplified

Encircle is a cloud-based app that bridges the gap between the traditional brick-and-mortar insurance companies and their policyholders through automation and modern visual communication tools to process claims faster. By utilizing a mobile phone’s camera and allowing all parties to track the progress of claims in real time, Encircle eliminates bureaucracy, boosts trust and enhances the overall experience for both insurers and customers.
Paul Donald, Encircle’s CEO and co-founder, envisions multiple future applications of the platform beyond insurance, in industries including engineering, construction and hospitality.
Read more about the company on Communitech News or visit the company website.
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With the rise of Toronto comes greater responsibility

Toronto is one of the top tech cities in the world. Our influence is felt around the globe and for good reason. The city of 6.2 million is the largest in Canada and home to a long list of successful companies that range from artificial intelligence startups to fintech firms.

Our secret asset

Although, what sets us apart from our international competitors goes far beyond just our award-winning tech hubs and multi-million dollar trade pacts. Our secret weapon lies in our diversity and generous welfare system. It’s these feature that give founders behind tomorrow’s game-changing companies a chance to pursue their dreams and attract top talent and companies from south of the border.

“Toronto has always been great. It just took political forces outside of our control for others to realize it” @asnobar

Although that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. We need to learn how to better collaborate and create lasting partnerships with other Canadian tech institutions. Through this, we can ensure our startups benefit from any new innovation taking place within our borders. The beauty of Toronto lies in the fact that we’re not Silicon Valley North or a replacement for San Francisco. We are Toronto and proud of it.

To read the full story, visit Huffington Post by clicking here.

The post With the rise of Toronto comes greater responsibility appeared first on The DMZ.

Originally Published by Ryerson DMZ

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The best techy holidays gifts for entrepreneurs

Finding the right gifts for loved ones can be tough. If you’re stuck on a budget, buying the perfect present — that’s both useful and functional — can seem almost impossible. Thankfully, we’re here to help.

Whether you’re shopping for a banking billionaire or a teenage mogul in the making, these gifts are bound to please. Take a look at our list of top suggestions for $50 or less below.

Camkix universal 3-in-1 camera lens kit
Gift guide lens_kit

This affordable kit is the perfect present for entrepreneurs who rely on their camera for professional-looking pictures for both work and play. It’s high-tech band and lenses are compatible with smartphones and tablets and easily sync to Bluetooth so users can share photos wherever they are.

Price: $12.49/Amazon

Satechi desk charging hub

If you’re in need of a fashion-friendly USB port look no further. The Satechi charging hub can accommodate up to seven devices at one time and includes velcro straps to prevent cable clutter. It’s sturdy enough for even the clumsiest entrepreneur and comes with surge protection, anti-scratch silicone pads and a five-year warranty to guarantee you’ll only be one outlet away from a full charge.

Price: $29.99/Amazon


This Bluetooth-enabled button may look unimpressive at first glance but can automate almost any function or device in the office and home. Once placed on a wall or hard surface it can be programmed to regulate everything from control temperatures to dim lights and even send texts using the device’s mobile app. Bonus: It’s weather-resistant exterior and comes with a two-year battery life. 

Price: $34/Amazon

Amazon Fire 7 tablet

Looking for a cheap tablet that does it all? Enter: Amazon’s Fire 7 tablet. The device is thin and lightweight making it more than suitable for busy entrepreneurs on the go. It also boasts a 1.3GHz quad-core processor, eight hours of battery life and access to Alexa, the company’s digital assistant.

Price: $49.99/ Amazon

Seagate 1TB external hard drive 

It’s never been easier or cheaper to find dependable external storage for your computer. If you’re willing to spend a bit more this season, the Seagate 1TB external hard drive is a gift any entrepreneur will appreciate and works with both PCs and Macs. It features a solid-state drive (or SSD), which uses flash memory to store data faster, and provides 1 terabyte of space for all-important documents, movies and other media.

Price: *$49.99 /Amazon

*limited-time holiday offer

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Originally Published by Ryerson DMZ

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Tech Roundup for November 2017

Set your compass
November’s first day was marked by an auspicious announcement from Communitech, namely the unveiling of True North Waterloo, a groundbreaking, three-day, international conference set to take place next May 29th at Kitchener’s Lot42, and peripherally throughout the downtown core.
The theme for the event is the re-set of tech’s compass – the re-establishment of tech as a force for good.
As if to highlight the urgent need for just such an event, on the same day that True North was announced, results emerged of a landmark survey identifying the extent of the gender gap among 900 Canadian tech firms. The sobering findings, detailed in the Globe and Mail and several other publications, included the eye-opening statistic that women hold only five per cent of CEO roles and only 13 per cent of executive positions.
Two weeks later, in an address to that very issue, federal Minister of Small Business and Tourism and Waterloo MP Bardish Chagger led off a Women in Tech luncheon at the Tannery Event Centre by announcing a $20-million increase in a BDC Capital-administered program that directs early investment to women-led Canadian companies.
And speaking of women-led endeavors, Lyndsey Butcher, Executive Director of SHORE Centre (formerly Planned Parenthood) launched

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Tech Roundup for October 2017

Shopify’s triple take
The leaves may be falling but Shopify’s prospects this autumn are soaring.
Shopify, the Ottawa-headquartered e-commerce company, capped a fast-paced month of October in Waterloo Region with a number of developments, not least among them the announcement that the firm intends to add 300 to 500 new positions in Waterloo, tripling its operation here.
Days after its jobs announcement, Shopify unveiled third-quarter results, reporting a 72-per-cent growth in revenue compared to the same period last year. The company additionally took the wraps off an integration with eBay for merchants based in the U.S.
Unsurprisingly, a job survey in October by the website Hired found that 83 per cent of respondents wanted to work at Shopify, a figure eclipsed only by Elon Musk’s SpaceX and tech giant Google.
Dollars and data
While Shopify was busy making money, Kitchener-based AdHawk Microsystems was busy raising it. AdHawk, which makes power-efficient motion tracking systems, announced a US$4.6 million Series A round led by Intel Capital.
AdHawk’s raise was just one of a number of money-related developments in the region.
New Brunswick-based SomaDetect, which took part in the Fierce Founders Bootcamp during the summer and shared in the Fierce Founders pitch competition $100,000 grand prize, earned US$1 million early in October

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The future of Journalism: Tech and news collide

Layoffs have become fairly common in the Canadian journalism industry.

Last month hundreds of journalism jobs were eliminated and more than two dozen community papers across the province shuttered. That’s in addition to the dozens of other layoffs that took place at prominent outlets — Maclean’s magazine, BNN,  Ottawa CitizenMontreal Gazette and more —  this year.

Since 2010, the news industry has seen a steady decline in print newspapers and local journalism. A 2017 Public Policy Forum report found that last year fewer than one in five Canadian households bought and paid for newspapers. Meanwhile, television news revenues have dropped about 10 percent every year. Overall the report found that in the last seven years approximately one-third of all Canadian journalism jobs have disappeared.

As news companies fight for its survival, many are looking outside of the industry for new opportunities. Some of the industry’s biggest names are betting on journalism-tech hybrids and media entrepreneurs to help it adjust to the changing marketplace.

Death by 1,000 papercuts

Today’s downsizing, even at some of the country’s largest publications, isn’t unusual. Legacy news organizations are grappling with falling ad content, increased online competition and an unsustainable revenue model that relies on subscriptions and print advertising.

In order to reverse the industry’s failing economics a new business model is needed. Some of journalism’s top influencers agree. They’re working hard to instil the same type of Silicon Valley spirit that transformed the tech industry within journalism. For example, the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship program encourages its students to develop new “digital media products”. City University of New York‘s Entrepreneurial Journalism certificate program gives students hands-on journalism and tech training they need to start a successful media business.

“Front-end media entrepreneurs are creating news content — from comics-journalism apps and digital voter guides to state watchdog initiatives. Back-end entrepreneurs are building mobile apps, scraping data, and automating tasks.” @janjlab of J-Lab.

In Canada, tech and news stakeholders are doing the same. This week, the DMZ — the number one university-based incubator in the North America — launched the Digital News Challenge Innovation ChallengeThe initiative is a joint partnership with the Ryerson  School of Journalism at FCAD and the Facebook Journalism Project. It will provide early-stage tech companies with the tools they need to push their startup to new levels. It’s hopefully a telling sign of more positive changes to come in an industry still trying to find its footing.

Can (Canadian) journalism survive?

The financial troubles facing Canada’s journalism landscape aren’t unique. Journalism outlets around the world have encountered the same difficulties. Even longstanding institutions, like the New York Times, have seen a decline if not outright collapse over the years.

For instance, this year the NYT added 308,000 new digital subscribers in its first quarter, likely buoyed by the Trump presidency. It also saw its digital revenue rise by a whopping 18.9 per cent. Despite these bright spots its print revenue advertising — the company’s biggest money-making metric — fell by 17.9 percent.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. If newspapers can support emerging media startups, media companies in Canada can flourish and avoid a similar fate. A 2017 journalism report, entitled “Shattered Glass”, found the country’s history of ingenuity is its secret strength.  

So, what does this mean for the future? Entrepreneurs that can create a product that give readers access to more online opportunities are set up to win, says the report’s author Edward Greenspon.

Thankfully, it’s never been easier for small firms to enter the media space. Digital startups that have found multimillion dollar success, like Vox and Buzzfeed, prove that journalism startups can succeed.

The post The future of Journalism: Tech and news collide appeared first on The DMZ.

Originally Published by Ryerson DMZ

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HockeyTech Announces Key Management Promotions

Waterloo, Ontario (November 30, 2017) – HockeyTech, the worldwide leader in providing technologies for the sport of hockey, today announced several promotions and changes to its key management team. In order to better integrate the company’s operations, HockeyTech successfully consolidated its Boston area broadcast center into its Waterloo Ontario headquarters over this past summer. This consolidation necessitated several changes to the company’s organizational structure to continue to manage the company’s growth and it 70 plus employees.
Dan Halliburton is the company’s new Vice President of Business Development and will report to HockeyTech Founder/CEO Stu Siegel. Dan joined HockeyTech in 2013 upon the acquisition of RinkNet, which he had joined in 2009. He has served as the company’s most senior sales and customer relationship resource, and he has played a key part in the growth of HockeyTech. Prior to joining HockeyTech, Dan was the Director of Scouting for the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit from 2002-2009.
Jeremy Reed is the company’s new Vice President of Operations and will report to HockeyTech COO Jim Price. Jeremy joined HockeyTech in 2015 as the company’s Customer Success Manager, and was promoted to Customer Success Director in 2016. He has been charged with building an integrated team to support

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