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CIBC unveils data studio at Communitech Data Hub

Last month, Communitech cut the ribbon on a new Data Hub in uptown Waterloo, a 19,000+ square foot facility housed in a former police station devoted to accelerating data commercialization for Canadian companies.
Communitech launched the venture with three founding partners: the City of Waterloo, Quantum Valley Investments and CIBC. On Monday, CIBC brought partners to the Communitech Data Hub and introduced them to the new CIBC Data Studio to get the ball rolling on a fresh approach to big data.
“The purpose of this space is to give our teams the ability to work where all the data action really is, which is in Kitchener-Waterloo,” said Jose Ribau, Senior Vice President and Chief Data Officer at CIBC. For Ribau, setting up shop at the Communitech Data Hub is about “being closer to the talent and to technology solutions that might be available to us,” because CIBC is “sitting on a lot of data, and looking for more advanced ways to tackle business problems using data.”
For Ribeau, the possibilities for how these insights can help customers are nearly limitless. He gave the example of a traveller who has booked a trip to Portugal with a CIBC credit card. If they’ve booked

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5 essential tech-y Twitter accounts to follow

Like everything in life, success is often all about who you know, or in some cases who you follow. If you’re looking for advice on how to land your next VC or beat the mid-day energy slump, here are the people (and news organizations) you should follow to stay motivated and in the loop.

1. @TechCrunch

If you don’t already follow them, TechCrunch may soon become your go-to source for tech news. The tech blog has got your back when it comes to providing real-time breaking news.  Find out exactly what’s happening in Silicon Valley and around the world, plus read interesting analysis and opinions from the best in the industry.

2. @RyersonDMZ

Looking for the latest gossip the upcoming entrepreneurs or where you can find the latest accelerator programs? Then our online channel is a must follow and also includes exclusive news about new startup partnerships, programs across the globe, seminars and success stories. Craving more startup news? Check out our online magazine here.

3. @TheNextWeb

The Next Web caters to early-stage entrepreneurs by keeping readers in the loop about all the remarkable stories and updates taking place in the exciting world of tech. Widen your knowledge on tech news by reading opinionated perspectives and get access to exclusive TNW deals on the hottest gadgets and services, here.

4. @BetaKit

Rather than just giving you breaking news, BetaKit focuses on telling you only what you need to know about the Canadian startup landscape and why. BetaKit provides in-depth analysis of everything you want to know about the tech industry with a focus on the Canadian market. For more than 140 character tweets, check out their website.

6. @AnilDash

If you’re looking to learn more about venture capitalists, how to attract investors, diversity in Silicon Valley and abroad then Anil Dash is your guide. He offers knowledge on how to help people of colour break into tech and why it’s important to diversify the tech industry.

The post 5 essential tech-y Twitter accounts to follow appeared first on The DMZ.

Originally Published by Ryerson DMZ

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Communitech @20: How Vidyard’s road to success led back to Waterloo Region

Frosh week, 2005. Michael Litt and Devon Galloway are freshmen in the University of Waterloo’s systems design engineering program. During a scavenger hunt, the new classmates team up for an ice cream-eating competition. One must stand behind the other, reaching his hands under the man in front’s armpits to feed him. The first pair to empty their bowl will win.
Galloway claims a lifetime of summers at his family’s cottage have prepared him to ace this thing. He hands Litt the spoon and instructs him to shovel as fast as he can. “I threw away the spoon and grabbed two handfuls of ice cream and shoved them in his face,” says Litt, laughing at the memory. “We won.”
“We’ve been known to break the rules a fair bit over the years,” Galloway chimes in.
Lessons learned: (1) Go your own way; (2) always win.
Skip to late 2009. Litt is in Silicon Valley, finishing a co-op placement with Cypress, a global supplier of semiconductor technologies. He will soon return to Waterloo Region, where he was born and raised. Galloway flies west to join him for the drive home. For much of the 4,200-kilometre journey, they talk Internet video.
“We had been interested in

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AI and data the focus of Google for Entrepreneurs Exchange program

Google for Entrepreneurs (GFE) has been running its Exchange program at Communitech for seven AI and data driven startups from Australia, Canada, the U.S. and Brazil this week, and I just didn’t get it. I didn’t get GFE at all, even though Communitech has been a part of the program since 2013. It seemed to offer an incredible amount of value to everyone involved but Google. GFE’s mission is to “bring together startup communities and create spaces for entrepreneurs to learn and work.”
Genna McKeel, Partnerships Manager at GFE, explained that “our metrics as a team are jobs created and funding raised.” McKeel said GFE’s goal was to help startups “scale, hire more people, meet investors, raise funds and connect with industry experts and customers in different markets.”
But why would Google, a massive Internet company with one of the most recognizable brands on the planet, want to do that?
The Velocity Garage (Communitech Photo: Harminder Phull)
First, it seems really expensive. Google has physical campuses across the globe where people can work, and it provides financial assistance to communities like the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor that have existing infrastructure for startups. It recently announced a significant investment in Geoffrey Hinton’s AI team in Toronto, for

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New evolv1 building in R+T Park to produce more energy than it uses

Tech companies are already showing interest as construction begins on a first-of-its-kind, energy-producing office building in Waterloo’s David Johnston Research + Technology Park.
The 100,000-square-foot building, dubbed evolv1, promises to generate more energy than it consumes after it opens next year, according to the Cora Group, the building’s developer. That will make it Canada’s first multi-tenant commercial building to boast net-negative carbon emissions.
Cora has already lined up two major tenants: anchor tenant EY, and fast-growing mobile tech company TextNow, whose head office currently occupies space in another Cora building in the R+T park. The new headquarters for TextNow – previously located in the R+T Park’s Accelerator Centre – will occupy 25,000 square feet, including 4,000 square feet for an employee fitness centre.
Rendering of evolv1 courtesy of the Cora Group
TextNow co-founder and CEO Derek Ting said “evolv1’s proximity to the University of Waterloo puts us right next to one of the most robust talent pipelines in the world. We’re constantly looking for ways to attract and retain the very best talent and with our mission, our unique culture and now our plan to reside in one of the coolest workspaces in Waterloo, all of the pieces are coming together.”
The Cora Group conceived

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M-Theory: The safety to screw up

On my first day at my first full-time corporate tech job, I unleashed an email virus. I wasn’t the only one, but still… great way to make a first impression. Fortunately for me, the IT guys mostly just made fun of me, and soon became friends (RIP Dr. Dave).
Everyone in tech has one of those stories. A tiny mistake in a line of code blew up your whole platform. A typo resulted in a phone sex line number getting sent to customers instead of your company’s 1-800 number. A confidential email got forwarded to the entire company…
This week a misconfigured database exposed nearly 200 million American voters’ personal information.
If you haven’t experienced one of these Very Bad Days, you will. You may screw up; you may have to clean it up; or you may watch from the sidelines (this time).
Tech is full of humans typically working very hard, very fast and under a lot of pressure. This is a recipe for screwing up.
What happens when it happens says a great deal about a company’s leadership, business intelligence and culture.
A couple of weeks ago there was a Reddit thread about a junior developer who screwed up big time. “Accidentally destroyed

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Nimble Hippo Radio: Ali Asaria on retail and work in the 21st century

Ali Asaria is the founder and CEO of Tulip Retail, a mobile software platform for in-store salespeople; he is also the founder and former CEO of Well.ca, an online retailer of health, beauty and baby products. Previous to that, Asaria worked at BlackBerry in various roles and was best known for making BrickBreaker, one of the most popular mobile games of its time.

Asaria spoke to Nimble Hippo Radio about the changing landscape of retail and the future of work in the 21st century. See more from the Nimble Hippo on Communitech News.
The post Nimble Hippo Radio: Ali Asaria on retail and work in the 21st century appeared first on Communitech News.

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How Knix Wear founder shipped a million undies around the world

When Joanna Griffiths decided to quit her job at the ripe, ol’ age of 28 she never thought her split decision would one day lead her to launch Knix Wear , a Toronto-based lingerie startup, let alone net her over $2 million in sales, she admits.

But that’s exactly what it did and four years after starting the company on the floor of her living room she’s now shipping her high-tech, leak-proof underwear to women across the globe—everywhere from South Africa, to the U.S. and Afghanistan.

While her garments have garnered powerful praise from influencers since its 2012 launch—Metro News Canada, the Wall Street Journal  and New York Times, to name a few—Griffiths’ entrepreneurial journey is far less sexy, she confesses. The now thirtysomething encountered her fair share of problems during the startup’s early years and worked non-stop to get the business off the ground.

“It was scary,” she explains. “Being an entrepreneur is like a series of trade-offs, you’re always evaluating resources versus reward. The more prepared you can be for that type of lifestyle, the more you can think it through and know what your life will look like. I worked 24 hours a day and never stopped.”

The entrepreneur’s startup story is groundbreaking simply because through it she managed to create an apparel category that had never existed: leak-proof garments. Knix Wear was one of the first to market underwear to women who suffer from incontinence (light leaks), with company offerings later growing to include activewear clothing and period-proof panties for teens and adults.

A look at the breakthrough product that pushed Knix Wear into the limelight:

Her secret to success lies partially in capitalizing on the needs of what she felt was an underserved community. “I remember talking to women, who had kids, that would pick up Depends underwear because it was the closest thing they could find at the store and that resonated with me.”

Although her crowdfunding skills haven’t hurt her company’s overall success either. Since the company’s launch Knix Wear’s team has launched three online campaigns that have exceeded their crowdfunding goals. Her most recent campaign featured the company’s eight-in-one bra and raised more than $1 million on Kickstarter; the largest amount for any fashion project.

Despite her success, she’s quick to warn entrepreneurs about the perils of raising capital online.

“What I’ve seen happen is an expectation amongst entrepreneurs that if you put your product up it will sell like crazy. They underestimate the work it takes,” she says. “It’s probably the hardest work you’ll do in a 30-day period in your life.”

For instance weeks before the company’s latest campaign launched she and her team worked tirelessly to promote the company’s products, line up orders and respond to customers around the world within tight time frames.

In fact, if possible, she suggests new entrepreneurs avoid crowdfunding altogether until they have the capacity to fill large orders on demand. “We’ve learned the hard way from our early campaigns,” she says. “We had this amazing pre-market sales and momentum, but then spent the next nine months just trying to catch up and fill orders. People have to think long and hard about it. It’s not easy as everyone thinks it is.”

While the startup landscape has changed drastically since she launched her business, Griffiths is proud that her team has remained in the city she was born. Toronto entrepreneurs shouldn’t be too quick to leave the city behind these days, she adds. For anyone hoping to mimic her rise to the top she believes flying across the border is a must, but relocating isn’t necessary anymore and encourages entrepreneurs to explore options at home.

“There’s really nice growing and robust ecosystem that’s emerging [in Toronto]. There was definitely a time one-to-two years ago where we thought we had to move to the U.S. because I was getting that feedback from potential investors and now I’m not hearing that as much.”

The post How Knix Wear founder shipped a million undies around the world appeared first on The DMZ.

Originally Published by Ryerson DMZ

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IoT security firm ESCRYPT expands Waterloo presence with new office

In a sign of Waterloo Region’s growing strength as a centre for Internet of Things technology, ESCRYPT – also known as ETAS Embedded Systems – has expanded its local office developing IoT security products and services.
On Monday, ESCRYPT opened a newly renovated 11,000-square-foot space at 419 Phillip St. in Waterloo, a short walk from the University of Waterloo campus. The opening of the new space comes just over four months after ETAS, a subsidiary of German-based Bosch Group, acquired TrustPoint, the Waterloo-based IoT security company.
“With our recent acquisition of TrustPoint Innovations and our plans to continue to grow in the immediate future, it made sense to locate in Waterloo and find a location that we could make our own,” David MacFarlane, General Manager of ESCRYPT in Canada, said in a news release. “The decision to open our Canadian headquarters in Waterloo Region was based on the area’s reputation and culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.”
TrustPoint was founded in 2012 by the late Dr. Scott Vanstone, a renowned cryptographer, and Sherry Shannon-Vanstone. Through the acquisition, ESCRYPT boosted its technical expertise in elliptic curve cryptography and in designing security credential management solutions for IoT applications.
Monday’s office opening was attended by a number of

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Communitech @20: How a five-minute talk put D2L on the road to success

In 2000, when John Baker received a surprise visit from Communitech’s then-CEO Greg Barratt, he was finishing his fourth year at the University of Waterloo and already running the two-person startup Desire2Learn.
Barratt introduced himself and suggested the young entrepreneur, only 23 at the time, become a member of the tech industry hub that had been founded a few years earlier. Baker turned him down – he didn’t have any spare cash – but Barratt insisted, offering the systems design engineering student a free temporary membership and an invitation to give a five-minute talk about his fledgling software company.
“I had very low expectations,” Baker says now of his lunchtime presentation to an audience of about 300. “My hope was that I would get a lead to talk to somebody about a potential client.”
Instead, immediately afterwards, he scored what amounts to a business hat trick: He received investment offers, recruited a future employee and was introduced to one of his first major customers. That experience, and the mutually rewarding relationship with Communitech that followed, is the main reason Baker still calls Waterloo Region home.
Today, Baker’s company – rebranded as D2L in 2014 – is one of the region’s most prominent success

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