12th July 2010

Know Your Stuff Because It Could Be Important

Make It RightYesterday while we were at the grocery store, I was killing time at the checkout by perusing the magazine stand, and noticed that Mike Holmes (Holmes on Homes, Holmes Inspection) has a magazine. Who knew? So, being a fan of his shows and because it had an article on smart homes, I bought the magazine. (I wonder if the sales guy we’ve been dealing with for our modular home design is tired of hearing “Mike Holmes said…or…I saw on Mike Holmes’ show…”) One of the magazine’s features is a “bookmark it” blurb, and this issue’s featured bookmark was the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s home (or office) inventory tool, Know Your Stuff™. This is a very handy – and free – tool that those of us with an abundance of high-tech and high-priced equipment should use – just in case. IBC

According to the IBC’s info page, “The Know Your Stuff™ tool will help you to build a room–by–room record of your belongings and calculate replacement costs. A home inventory will help you get the right insurance coverage and make it easier to file a claim, should you need to. And with IBC’s free, secure, online storage you will have access to your inventory anywhere, anytime.”

MaRSMaRS today launched a new commercialization program called TechStart! Consumer, following an open call for promising start-ups in the consumer digital media space. A total of 15 aspiring ventures have been chosen for the 16-week intensive boot camp program led by MaRS Advisors and subject matter experts from the industry.

The program was created in response to the growing demand of consumer-facing digital media companies seeking advisory services, mentorship and market connections from MaRS to help refine their business models and market penetration strategies. The TechStart! program combines advisory, peer-to-peer interactions and focused sector-specific education into one intensive, fast-paced program.

In the last year alone, MaRS’ client portfolio – the approximately 600 Ontario-based companies actively working with MaRS advisory services – has seen a 61 per cent increase in digital media ventures. Today, digital media companies represent 50 per cent of the broader information technologies practice area.

TechStart! Consumer is composed of 10 intensive advisory-driven sessions that cover a range of important business-building topics including: market assessment; user experience design; business modeling; consumer branding; and market launch.

“We hope that TechStart! Consumer will allow us to further our business model and refine our strategy,” says Kuhan Puvanesasingham, Co-founder of Price My Ride, one of the participating companies. “Not only will we be able to closely work with a broad group of seasoned MaRS advisors and experts, we’ll also be able to share our energy and enthusiasm amongst other participants.”

“The TechStart! Consumer program is the first of its kind in Ontario. Creating a meaningful experience for 15 companies is challenging, but the program has been designed to meet the considerable demand from entrepreneurs for this type of immersive learning experience, working closely with both advisors and other entrepreneurs,” says Krista Jones, the MaRS Practice Lead who is spearheading the program. “We have benchmarked a number of acceleration programs internationally in the design of TechStart!, and we believe that the program will help catalyze, scale-up and enrich our entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

In addition to launching TechStart! Consumer, MaRS is also renaming its ICT practice to ICE – Information technology, Communications & Entertainment – to better reflect the growth of consumer facing start-ups working with MaRS.

“Repositioning our practice name is the right response to a fast-changing marketplace,” says Jones. “It better reflects the types of clients we attract and work with today. ICE is just a more succinct, sharper and relevant way to describe our focus and expertise beyond traditional ICT to include consumer and entertainment-based ventures.”

Winnipeg’s Indigo Rose Software has released AutoPlay Media Studio 8 Personal Edition for use on Microsoft Windows 7, Vista and XP. This new version of the company’s popular visual software programming environment is being offered free for non-commercial users. The program is designed to help encourage the development of free software applications and utilities by students, hobbyists, open-source programmers and freeware developers. Read the rest of this entry »

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