All posts by planetweb contributor

Toronto MakerKids startup empowering kids to do big things

MakerKids is the #1 kids workshop in Toronto. Thousands of kids have taken our STEM programs in Coding, Robotics and Minecraft. Our Camps, After-School & Weekend Programs and Birthday Parties empower children to be creators, not just consumers.

Who started the company? Do you / team members have tech background?

Jenn Turliuk is the CEO of MakerKids. Jenn had a transformative and empowering moment when she coded a website at 12 years old that received thousands of views. This propelled her take on more challenges and give her self-confidence. Jenn then continued her studies as an adult at NASA’s Singularity University where she studied how to connect education and exponential technologies.

Jenn’s career highlights include doing marketing and PR for the Matterform 3D Scanner crowdfunding campaign (which raised over $471K – the most-funded Indiegogo campaign outside the US), helping build a 3D printer for a music video, launching an SMS-based disaster relief project during Hurricane Sandy, being selected as a Startup Chile entrepreneur (as part of a program run by the Government of Chile to foster entrepreneurship locally), creating her own self-education program which involved being 1 of the top 6 finalists in a competition to shadow Dave McClure of 500 Startups, leading the Canadian launch of Tide Pods (P&G’s biggest launch in 27 years), running Canada’s largest business plan competition (the Queen’s Entrepreneurs’ Competition), writing one of Forbes Greatest Hits articles and doing a TEDx talk in Spanish.

MakerKids is designed and created by industry professionals and makers (NASA’s Singularity University graduate, engineers, entrepreneurs, teachers and speakers from Queen’s University). Our instructors come from a wide variety of backgrounds, including music, theatre, 3D design, game design and engineering. What all instructors have in common is the love for teaching!
How are you being financed?

We have programs and camps throughout the year. We also teach our programs offsite at many schools.

What do you think will be / is a big obstacle to overcome?

There are many perspectives about technology and many about children, media and digital technology. When kids should go online? How much screen time? We realize that many kids are already introduced to video games, computers and phones before they come to MakerKids. Our goal at MakerKids is to encourage kids to use technology positively, effectively and wisely. Technology can do a lot of good and people can do a lot of good – that is one of the values we push. There is apprehension about the new digital world (for adults and kids) and we this is a concern we have considered.

How do you go about finding good developers / IT guys for your company?

Our staff come from a variety of backgrounds. We search many sources and industries to find the best fit. Experience teaching and working with kids is key. We have created premium training over the years to teach our new instructors our approach to teaching, coding, robotics and Minecraft.

See video of instructors at MakerKids:

Who is your biggest competition?

Coding and kids STEM programs are a growing industry and new. The landscape is always changing and there is much space for all of us to grow. The more kids reached, skills learned, and positive change that can happen are wins for us.

How are you intending on taking your company to million dollars in revenues? In what markets?

We have been in Toronto for over 6 years and we are always looking to grow and expand. This may be in the form of additional locations and school programs.

What is the big lesson you’ve learned (success or failure) with this project.

Technology, which affects STEM education, is always changing. This means we always stay current, move quickly and be well versed with emerging technology. We were the first and largest makerspace for kids and have unique programs you can’t find anywhere else. This is a big success for us by propelling the maker movement here in Canada and abroad further.

Website: http://www.makerkids.com

15 Amazing Look Inside Photos from Tech Offices around Canada

Companies like Amazon.com , Facebook, Shopify , Google and Hootsuite are moving, opening offices across Canada in cities such as Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal and employing thousands of tech professionals.

Here is a quick glance into some of them:

Shopify 

Fine looking office

A photo posted by Rachel Zhao (@oysterearth) on

View this post on Instagram

In zone after work hours! 💻

A post shared by D E S I G N E R M A R E K (@designer_marek) on

New @shopify office in Montreal is open for business.

A photo posted by Mark Hayes (@_markhayes_) on

 

Amazon

 

Facebook

Our trip to #toronto's #facebook office! We had an amazing time.

A photo posted by ezresults (@ezresults) on

 

Wattpad

 

Remember when this happened? #WattpadStarsTO

A photo posted by wattpad (@wattpad) on

 

Wattpad HQ #WattpadStarsTO

A photo posted by Peyton Novak (@peyton_novak) on

 

Google 

 

Some of our students and our team at the #GoogleToronto office. (Can you see that the #Google sign is a fish tank?)

A photo posted by Miami Ad School Toronto (@miamiadschoolto) on

Googler for the day #google #toronto #googletoronto #cooloffices

A photo posted by Henry Hayes (@henry.j.hayes) on

At Google office this evening for some fun stuuff. #google #googletoronto #downtown #toronto #nda #socool

A photo posted by Shane Pikelin (@shanepikelin) on

 

Tech Startup Conference RESOLVE TO came to Toronto in January 2017

UPDATED This even has already happened. Here is what you missed:

https://twitter.com/i/moments/838807309212086275

This coming January, the team behind Montreal Startupfest is launching ResolveTO in Toronto. An event held in Canada’s largest city, combining Startupfest’s unique vibe with the latest enterprise thinking. The event will bring together the best of young startups and large organizations, for a look at innovation, disruption and emerging markets. Next year, let’s resolve to transform ourselves, and business as we know it, in the face of radical, constant change on a global stage.

https://youtu.be/kYbG4jzb500

 

With ResolveTO’s focus on startup growth, acquisition, and business development, we’ll look at how early-stage companies can dance with incumbents and giants. We’ll look at scaling, acquisition, and enterprise partnerships. We’ll contrast the slow, deliberate growth of predictable business models with the reckless, often unregulated scaling of new ones.

Agenda for the conference:

See more / buy tickets: www.resolveto.com

Toronto / San Francisco startup SnapEDA making it easy to build hardware

SnapEDA is a parts library for circuit board design. We provide digital content — similar to blueprints — that help designers bring products to life quickly. Our library is used by tens of thousands of hardware designers, from small shops to engineers at household names like Samsung.

SnapEDA is building the canonical library for circuit board design that every hardware designer will use. By providing ready-to-use building blocks for design, our library shaves days off product development time, allowing designers to focus on optimization and innovation. Tens of thousands of engineers worldwide rely on SnapEDA to design faster, whether they’re making smartwatches, drones, or robots.

Who started the company? Do you / team members have tech background?

As an Electrical Engineer who wanted this product to exist, Natasha Baker (founder) decided to delve deeply into learning software a few years after graduating to get it off the ground. Once she did that, she recruited other engineers and computer scientists to take it to the next level. Team is now consist of 6 electrical engineers and a designer.

How are you being financed?

The company was initially self-funded, but we have since raised funding from investors.

Natasha Baker and SnapEDA team

Who is your biggest competition?

Our biggest competitor in “not invented here syndrome”. Traditionally designers have made their own digital content for circuit board design, right down to the generic bits and pieces. The hardware world has not yet embraced the modular, open source approach that software development has. And for good reason — unlike software, circuit boards exist is the real world, which makes errors very costly and time-consuming to resolve. However, once designers use SnapEDA and see its unique approach to verification, they don’t switch back to their old ways of doing things.

What is the big lesson you’ve learned (success or failure) with this project.

With this project being Natasha Baker’s first startup, she has learned that startups have a lot of ups and downs. Think of it like a sine wave. Learn methods of bouncing back into the positive and you’ll be unstoppable!

Startup moved from Toronto to San Francisco

You were based in Toronto before but now you have moved to San Francisco – why is that? 

The company was started in Toronto. Both Natasha Baker and our product manager Mike Tang graduated from the University of Toronto from the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) program. In the early days, the strategy was to recruit interns from local schools, including the Computer Science program at U of T, Computer Engineering at Waterloo and several designers from the New Media joint program between Centennial College and the University of Toronto. These students helped us bring things to life on a lean budget, and learned a ton in the process. To this day, we still consider them a part of our team, even if they have gone off to work on their own projects or in completely different industries.

Once we got into Y Combinator, we moved the company to the Bay Area for now because this is where a lot of semiconductor and electronic design software companies are based.

Website: www.snapeda.com

Montreal startup Flystro makes it easier to film using drones

Flystro is an online marketplace connecting companies with drone pilots everywhere for aerial filming services. using Flystro, companies from different industries like real estate, construction or events, can easily find a drone pilot and be sure they are receiving the best price and product.

Real estate drone video:

 

 

Who started the company? Do you / team members have tech background?

Flystro was launched by two co-founders: Bassam Rhou (CEO) who is an aerospace engineer and a MBA graduate with 8 years of experience in aerospace industry, and Marwan Benyoussef (CTO) who is a software engineer with ten years of experience in major software projects. Both co-founders shared the same passion for drones and decided to work together to build a platform to disrupt the aerial filming industry.

How are you being financed?

Flystro was initially bootstrapped by the co-founders. Later, Flystro received funding from various sources like Futurpreneur Canada. Start-Up Chile and Fondation Montreal Inc.
Flystro was graduated from the Founder Institute Montreal (2015), Start-Up Chile (2016) and National Bank of Canada – HEC Accelerator (2016).

What do you think will be / is a big obstacle to overcome?

A big obstacle to overcome will be the drone regulations. Currently there are many restrictions in operating drones for commercial purposes. However, the government authorities in various countries are working on new regulations that will remove several restrictions without impacting the public safety.

How do you go about finding good developers / IT guys for your company?

We found that the best way to find good developers or designers is networking. Several startups recruiting events are organized from time to time where entrepreneurs can find highly skilled individuals who are looking to work with a startup.
Another good way to find motivated skilled IT guys is to use websites like Angelist or f6s which offer a big database of highly skilled potential candidates.

Who is your biggest competition?

We were the first in Canada to launch a marketplace for drone filming services. Currently, most of our competitors are few early stage startups that are mainly in US. We are differentiating ourselves by offering added value features and by helping drone pilots to have their certifications. For example, we are offering free templates to apply to Transport Canada for aspiring drone pilots in Canada.

How are you intending on taking your company to million dollars in revenues? In what markets?

Currently we are operating mainly in North America for industries like real estate and events. We are planning to expand geographically to other promising markets like Europe and South America and to be more present in some industries like inspection and infrastructures.

What is the big lesson you’ve learned (success or failure) with this project.

The biggest lesson I have learned is the importance of keeping the focus. Entrepreneurs are always tempted by opportunities that can move them in too many directions at the same time. As entrepreneur, you have always to ask yourself if any action you plan to do is in line with your vision and strategy. If the response is no don’t do it!

Website: http://www.flystro.com

VW buys Vancouver startup PaybyPhone

Volkswagen Financial Services AG and PayByPhone today announced that the financial services division of Volkswagen Group has acquired PayByPhone, the world’s leading parking payment provider. The deal positions Volkswagen Financial Services AG as the clear leader in mobile payments and parking sectors, while providing the foundation for future PayByPhone growth globally and continued innovation.

In 2016, PayByPhone has already processed more than $250 million in payments and is adding approximately 7,000 users per day to their already substantial base of more than 12.5 million registered users.

“With the acquisition of PayByPhone, we are now the leading provider for the processing and mobile payment of parking. In the future, we will be bundling this know-how in a separate business field around the theme of parking,” said Dr. Christian Dahlheim, the management board member responsible for sales and marketing at Volkswagen Financial Services AG.

Amazon Prime Video launches in Canada (… and it’s cheaper than Netflix!!!)

Amazon unveiled Amazon Prime for Canadians, which will include free two-day shipping with no minimum purchase for a $79 annual fee. That is 35% cheaper than Netflix and you also get additional perks listed below.

Customers around the world can now enjoy popular new original series like The Grand Tour from Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May (currently the top-rated TV show on IMDb with an overall rating of 9.4 and over 20,000 votes) and award-winning Amazon Original Series like The Man in the High Castle, Transparent, Mozart in the Jungle, Tumble Leaf and more.

See reviews of top TV shows on Amazon Prime Video below (please note not all available in Canada – for what’s available see below):

 

As an Amazon Prime Member you will also get the following benefits – what are you waiting for? 

  • FREE Two-Day Shipping on eligible items. Note: If the item you’re ordering is out of stock or unavailable to ship, we’ll get it to you two days after it’s back in stock. Remember to check the cut-off time shown on the detail page. Orders over $1,300 may require a signature.
  • Free Standard Shipping on eligible items.
  • Discounted One-Day and Same-Day Shipping where eligible.
  • No minimum purchase for shipping benefits.
  • Prime Video: Unlimited streaming of movies and TV episodes for paid or free trial members. For more information, go to What’s Prime Video?
  • Prime Photos: Secure unlimited photo storage in Amazon Drive. For more information, go to About Prime Photos.
  • Twitch Prime: Members get exclusive discounts on physical games pre-orders and new releases.
  • Twitch.tv users who link their Amazon Prime account get ad-free viewing on Twitch, a free Twitch channel subscription every 30 days, and exclusive access to free game content. For more information, go to Twitch.tv.
  • Prime Early Access: Get 30-minute early access to select Lightning Deals on Amazon.ca. For more information, go to About Prime Early Access.

List of what is on Amazon Prime Video in Canada as of today is below. The list is very short compared to the Netflix line up.


Movies:

Action & Adventure:

Wanted
The Mummy (1999)
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
The Mummy Returns
Fast & Furious
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
The Fast and the Furious
2 Fast 2 Furious
Fast & Furious 5
Miami Vice
The Missing
The Hulk
The Incredible Hulk
Doom
Green Zone
Battleship
Van Helsing
Apollo 13
Jarhead
The Man with the Iron Fists
Darkman
Fighting
The Scorpion King
The Hornet’s Nest
The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury
The Chronicles of Riddick
The Ghost and the Darkness
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Sanctum
Paul
Serenity
Galaxy Quest
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Crocodile Dundee
Waterworld
The Four Feathers
Scorpion King 2: The Rise of a Warrior
xXx
xXx: State of the Union

Crime:

Scarface (1983)
Wanted
Miami Vice
2 Fast 2 Furious
Fast & Furious
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
Littleman
Freedomland
Fast & Furious 5
Gigli
Smokin’ Aces
Breach
xXx: State of the Union
State of Play
Green Zone
Public Enemies
American Gangster
Changeling
The Black Dahlia
The Life of David Gale
Half Baked

Drama:

Charlie St. Cloud
Children of Men
American Beauty
The Express
Sanctum
Punch-Drunk Love
Charlie Wilson’s War
The Forgotten
Elizabeth: The Golden Age
The Four Feathers
Freedomland
Leap Year
Rent
Maid in Manhattan
Radio
Fighting
Across the Universe
The Good Shepherd
Patch Adams
The Best Man
Fatal Attraction
The Ghost and the Darkness
The Wolfman
Ghost
Field of Dreams
Apollo 13
Big Miracle

Kids & Family:

Despicable Me
Curious George
Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet The Wolfman
Babe
Nanny McPhee
Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein
Mr. Bean’s Holiday
The Tale Of Despereaux
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax

Comedy:

Bridesmaids (2011)
Mamma Mia! The Movie
American Reunion
American Pie 2
American Wedding
The Aminal
Little Black Book
Tomcats
Punch-Drunk Love
About a boy
Charlie Wilson’s War
Superstar
Littleman
The Brothers Solomon
Nanny McPhee
The Flintstones
I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry
Gigli
Couples Retreat
Maid in Manhattan
American Dreamz
Are We There Yet?
13 Going on 30
Brüno
Monty Python’s Meaning Of Life
Get Him to the Greek
Funny people
The Break-Up
The New Guy
Happy Gilmore
Meet the Fockers
Meet the Parents
Crocodile Dundee
Crocodile Dundee II
Weird Science
The Out of Towners (1999)
Little Fockers
Dazed and Confused
The Fighting Temptations
Role Models
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Galaxy Quest
Mr. Bean’s Holiday
Sixteen Candles
Leap of Faith
Accepted
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
The Five-Year Engagement
Forces of Nature
Dead Man on Campus
Knocked Up
Baby Mama
The Blues Brothers
Half Baked
Dear God
Nuts!

Thriller:

The Adjustment Bureau
Sanctum
Devil
xXx
Smokin’ Aces
The Skulls III
Breach
Dawn of the Dead
Rear Window
The Thing (2011)
Twelve Monkeys

Bollywood Movies:

Sultan
Sarbjit
Prem Ratan Dhan Payo
Don
Don 2
Fan
Ready
Ek Tha Tiger
Talaash
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
Dil Dhadakne Do
Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania
Kapoor & Sons
Aashiqui 2
Fukrey

Animated:

Despicable Me
Curious George
Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet The Wolfman
The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury
Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein
The Tale Of Despereaux

TV Shows:

Amazon Original Series:

The Grand Tour
The Man In The High Castle
Transparent (Season 1 and Season 2)
Hand Of God
Mozart in the Jungle (Season 1 and Season 2)
Red Oaks
Julian Fellowes Presents Doctor Thorne

Top TV

The Grand Tour
Fear the Walking Dead
The Man In The High Castle
Transparent (Season 1 and Season 2)
Community (Season 1 to Season 6)
Justified
Startup
Hand Of God
Mozart in the Jungle (Season 1 and Season 2)
The Night Shift (Season 1 and Season 2)
Red Oaks
Chi’s Sweet Adventure (Subbed)
Julian Fellowes Presents Doctor Thorne
The Night Manager
Wishenpoof!
Just Add Magic

Anime TV:

ViVid Strike!
Magical Girl Lyrical NANOHA StrikerS
Magical Girl Lyrical NANOHA
Magical Girl Lyrical NANOHA A’s
The Great Passage
BATTERY the animation
KABANERI OF THE IRON FORTRESS
Shin chan Spin-off vol.1 Aliens vs. Shinnosuke
Chi’s Sweet Adventure (Subbed)