13th July 2011

Unhaggle Founders Presenting at International Startup Festival

unhaggleWith consumers and the business community falling for online automotive marketplace Unhaggle.com and its compelling promise to eliminate the time and hassle of negotiating a new car deal – it’s only natural that the founders are attending the upcoming International Startup Festival in Montreal.

Taking place from July 13-15, the International Startup Festival invites talented entrepreneurs with fast growing and innovative companies to present their businesses to top-tier investors and founders from around the world.

“We started Unhaggle because most people hate negotiating or just don’t have the patience to do it, particularly with car dealers. I realized this after a frustrating experience going through the car buying process myself,” explains Andrew Tai, co-founder, Unhaggle.com. “I wished there was an easier way to get a great deal without having to visit multiple dealers and haggling… and now there is with Unhaggle.”

“The Internet has made it easier to comparison shop for almost every product imaginable, so why not new cars?” asks Radek Garbowski, co-founder, Unhaggle.com.  “We are the only source that provides Canadian consumers with true market based pricing on new cars by getting dealers to compete online.  At the same time, we provide dealers with an efficient way to sell more and faster.”

Launched three months ago, here’s how Unhaggle works:

  • Customer builds the exact vehicle they want, selects local dealers to compete for their business and pays $47 on Unhaggle.com
  • Selected dealers are invited to submit their best offer for either the exact vehicle requested or an available alternative (e.g., different colour)
  • All dealer offers are presented to the customer for comparison
  • Customer clicks ‘Accept’ on Unhaggle.com to reserve an offer, providing a small deposit which is credited to the purchase price
  • The winning dealer is revealed and the customer personally completes the transaction and picks up the new vehicle at the dealership

“For less than the cost of a tank of gas, Unhaggle offers car buyers the convenience of not having to negotiate with any dealers, and the peace of mind of knowing they got a great deal,” adds Neal Shah, co-founder, Unhaggle.com.

The automotive industry is quickly embracing Unhaggle’s innovative model. The company announced today that it has agreed to be the exclusive new car buying service for integration with CanadianBlackBook.com, Canada’s leading resource for automotive pricing information. Unhaggle and Canadian Black Book will be developing and launching services that simplify and streamline the car buying process for consumers and dealers alike.

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13th July 2011

Telefilm Canada and the Rogers Group of Funds renew the Theatrical Documentary Program

Telefilm CanadaTelefilm Canada and the Rogers Group of Funds are pleased to announce the extension of their partnership for the Theatrical Documentary Program for 2011-2012. The upcoming program deadlines are September 2, 2011 for French-language projects and September 30, 2011 for English-language projects.

The goal of the Theatrical Documentary Program is to increase Canadian audiences for Canadian feature films, by encouraging the production of high-calibre feature-length documentaries for theatrical distribution. Telefilm Canada and the Rogers Group of Funds have joined forces to underwrite this Program with the intent to support projects that will be commercially successful.Rogers

Since 2007, this unique public-private partnership has supported some 27 productions including critically acclaimed and award winning titles. Among them are Reel Injun (Reel Indian), Last Train Home, Le Coeur d’Auschwitz, La nuit, elles dansent and Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould.

Applicants may apply for funding support for production and post-production stages. For production funding, the minimum production budget requirement is $600,000 for English-language projects, and $500,000 for French-language projects. There is no minimum budget requirement for applications for post-production assistance.

“Telefilm Canada is delighted to be renewing its agreement with the Rogers Group of Funds to support documentary filmmaking, a genre in which Canadians have long excelled on the international scene,” said Carolle Brabant, Executive Director of Telefilm Canada. “In so doing, Telefilm upholds its commitment to support a diverse range of projects for the screen. We eagerly await the new crop of documentaries destined for theatrical release, and look forward to the unique perspectives they will bring to their subject matter.”

Robin Mirsky-Daniels, Executive Director of the Rogers Group of Funds, added: “Rogers continues to honor its commitment to support documentary production in Canada. We are proud of the role we have played in the financing of hundreds of Canadian documentary films and will continue to do so with the renewal of this program.”

Please note that changes have been made to the eligibility criteria for English-language projects. The requirement regarding the broadcasting licensing threshold has been reduced and is harmonized with the Canada Media Fund’s requirements for their English POV Program (point of view).

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13th July 2011

Book4Time Selects TripCraft As Mobile Development Partner

book4timeReservations Software provider Book4Time, Inc. has named US company TripCraft as its mobile development partner, announcing the launch of powerful mobile solutions for both consumers and spa operators later this year. This partnership provides Book4Time customers with world-class mobile capabilities on the TripCraft platform, seamlessly integrated into Book4time’s leading cloud-based spa solutions. Book4Time currently operates in 16 countries, with many of the leading international spa brands utilizing its robust platform.

“We’re excited to launch both consumer and business mobile solutions for our clients, extending our industry leading cloud-based spa software offering into mobile commerce,” remarked Roger Sholanki, CEO of Book4Time. “Leading the industry with the first web-based spa software platform and processing the first real-time online spa reservation, mobile solutions provide a new landscape to continue our innovation and market leadership.”

“This partnership with Book4time is incredibly exciting. We believe our mobile capabilities paired with Book4time’s robust spa solutions makes a powerful offering for spa operators looking to engage guests in new and compelling ways,” says Mike Murray, Co-Founder of TripCraft.

Book4Time’s web-based spa management system has completed over 20 million real-time spa appointments and currently averages over 500,000 appointments every month, peaking at nearly 40% coming from Book4Time’s reservation portals.

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13th July 2011

CardSwap In Top Three for Harvard Business School Alumni New Venture Contest

cardswapThe Harvard Business School Club of Toronto Alumni New Venture Contest winner, CardSwap, advanced to the ‘final 3′ out of 12 companies at the global finals hosted in Boston. The competition brought together regional finalists from HBS Alumni Clubs worldwide, including U.S., Brazil, Germany, India, Shanghai, South Africa and the UAE.

CardSwap is Canada’s largest online platform to buy, sell and donate gift cards. In Canada, each year over $1.0B of gift cards go unredeemed. Canadian’s can now convert their unused gift cards, and merchandiseThe CardSwap team comprised of Zaheed Poptia (MBA 2006), Frances Ho and Desmond Leung, all pictured here with HBS Dean Nitin Nohria. (CardSwap Inc) credits, into cash. Savvy shoppers can further save money by purchasing gift cards for leading Canadian retailers at discounts of up to 30% off and even be notified when a discounted gift card for one of their favourite retailers becomes available.

“The response to our business was very enthusiastic and the educational sessions really helped us refine our model,” said Frances.

CardSwap recently announced partnerships with selected Canadian Charities, including the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – Ontario Region and Covenant House Greater Toronto, where donors can now donate their gift cards to support these worthwhile causes and receive a tax-receipt for their gift card donations.

“We were delighted to have the opportunity to represent the HBS Club of Toronto and Canadian entrepreneurship at-large,” said Zaheed.

The Harvard Business School Club of Toronto is the official organization for the 600+ HBS alumni living in the GTA. The Club organizes educational, social and community services activities for alumni.

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13th July 2011

OneDesk Social Business Applications Help Enhance Customer Engagement

onedeskMontreal’s OneDesk helps businesses become more social by connecting customers, partners, and employees to the product and service development process. OneDesk is leading the market in providing solutions that help companies realize the benefits of social product development, co-creation, and customer-driven innovation.

This blended suite of SaaS applications enhances a company’s ability to:

Engage with customers and take action. Right now, customers are online discussing your products and services. OneDesk helps you leverage social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, discussions, etc.) and other web media (email, portals, etc.) to discover what is being said about your brands, industry and competitors.

OneDesk’s feedback and ideas management tools lets you easily capture customer suggestions, keep on top of conversations, reply to them, and feed customer input directly into the development process. With OneDesk, no feedback is misplaced or lost; instead it is properly categorized, responded-to, and acted upon.

Reduce customer service costs. Building strong customer relationships involves quickly resolving customer issues. OneDesk’s integrated help desk solution allows you to automate your customer service, tap into the knowledge base from employees, partners & customers, while creating and managing a community of loyal contributors.

Simplify the requirements and project management processes. OneDesk lets you easily manage and prioritize product and service requirements. Comprehensive project management and collaboration applications addresses the needs of Project Managers and their teams.

Structure the conversation and get the job done. It is important to structure the conversation between employees partners and customers to deliver business value. OneDesk’s social collaboration tools are directly connected to business goals.

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13th July 2011

Huawei to Build WiMAX Network for Manitoba NetSet

manitoba netsetHuawei has won a competitive bid to build a WiMAX network for Manitoba NetSet Ltd. A two-phased project, this network will extend fourth generation WiMAX coverage to rural areas of Manitoba, providing essential broadband Internet access to more than 5,000 new households within the first year.

“There are more than 22,000 households in the southern portion of the province that do not have access to carrier-class broadband Internet services and we are committed to delivering this service to all residents of Manitoba,” said Charlie Clark, owner of I-NetLink Wireless and President of Manitoba NetSet Ltd. “We conducted a laborious search for the right technology partner to help us fulfill our goals. We ultimately selected Huawei as they have a proven track record in WiMAX deployments around the world and have demonstrated their commitment to our project and share our passion to build out Manitoba’s first fully licensed wireless carrier network. Another major part of our decision was that we wanted to ensure that we were able to ‘future-proof’ our network. Our selection of Huawei means that our network is fully upgradable to LTE, once the design standards are ratified.”

Manitoba NetSet is a consortium of the most prominent Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in rural Manitoba which have teamed up to expand broadband network coverage across the province. Its mandate is to serve the regions of the province typically out of reach of the traditional land line services.

“The product portfolio developed by Huawei is providing us the platform required today, and for rolling out future applications of tomorrow,” says Bryan King, one of the founders of the company.

Manitoba NetSet required a cost effective carrier-grade wireless solution designed to maximize coverage for the region by utilizing the company’s 3.5 GHz licensed spectrum.

“Having affordable access to the Internet not only delivers the crucial connectivity demanded by today’s world, but also enables educational and business opportunities, and inspires innovation that in turn will fuel Manitoba and Canada’s economy,” said Sean Yang, President of Huawei Canada. “Internet access is important for all Canadians – no matter where they live – and we are very excited about working with Manitoba NetSet to expand Huawei’s WiMAX coverage across Manitoba and Canada.”

Huawei’s initial engagement with Manitoba NetSet will cover the southern portion of the province reaching from the Saskachewan border to the west, the Ontario border to the east, the U.S. border to the south, and services will also be made available to regions as far north as The Pas. The network will use Huawei’s industry leading SingleRAN base transceiver stations (BTS), which leverage advanced technologies to deliver high-speed access and rich services experiences for both its customers and end-users.

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13th July 2011

Michaels Craft Stores Move Into The Digital Market

michaels Craft supply outlet Michaels is redefining its online and social media customer experience with the introduction of several new digital marketing channels. New additions include: mobile phone coupon acceptance, interactive online ads, a mobile iPhone app launch, Quick Response (QR) codes, a mobile website and text message alerts.

Michaels’ new interactive online weekly ad allows North American customers to view by department or brand, with select products linked to projects and/or how-to videos that enable customers to visualize the final product. Created specifically to make customer’s crafting experiences at Michaels as efficient as possible, the ad provides inspiration, organization and capabilities unlike any other retailer. The online weekly ad also gives customers the ability to share products and projects through social channels such as Twitter and Facebook.

Weekly ad deals can also be seen in Michaels recently launched, free iPhone app for customers that includes coupons, a store locator, the ability to create shopping lists, a QR code reader and in-store event lists. Customers can also access project and product information as part of its company-wide initiative to provide customers with more inspiration and convenience. A free Android app will follow in September 2011. Mobile phone coupon acceptance allows stores to easily scan coupons from customer’s cell phones.

“Our customers are a passionate, connected community and these new channels allow for more tailored and relevant communication,” said Michaels Sr. Director of Digital Marketing Anthony Price. “We know that roughly half of our customers use smart phones and the new online and mobile tools are designed for them to help provide increased inspiration when and where they are looking for it.”

Michaels understands that customers continually look for more ways to engage online, through smart phones and social media. A recent Michaels survey showed that 57% of customers connect to Facebook daily to read or post messages.

Additional ways for Michaels customers to interact through digital media include:

– Text message alerts – customers can now receive coupons, project ideas and special event information through their mobile phones.
– Increased social media presence – Michaels uses its Facebook page, YouTube channel and Twitter feed to give customers the opportunity to share their creativity and directly inspire others in the Michaels crafting community.
– Webisodes – Michaels.com hosts how-to webisodes featuring Michaels Creative Expert Jo Pearson and others demonstrating crafting techniques, products and ideas.
– E-Newsletters -tailored to provide ideas, techniques and instructions on the go.

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13th July 2011

Intuit Survey Offers Three Work Life Balance Tips

intuitSmall business owners walk the work-life balance tightrope differently than the rest of us. Because their working lives are spent on their own business, they’re more likely to put in extra hours and still feel they’ve got more balance than a typical employee. Intuit Canada, makers of QuickBooks accounting software have released the findings of a national poll on work-life balance among small business owners and is offering expert tips to help them make the most of the time they spend on their business.

The recent national survey commissioned by Intuit found 88 per cent of the small business owners said they were satisfied with the balance between their personal and professional pursuits. The majority (84%) also feel they have a better balance than if they worked for someone else.

“Small business owners have told us before, work-life balance is as important to them as finding and keeping customers,” said Barb Anderson, QuickBooks product marketing leader. “Through QuickBooks, we help them carve out time for balance by providing tools that help organize and manage their business finances easily and more efficiently.”

Work-life balance is often measured by comparing the amount of time spent on the job against time spent on personal pursuits. However, 97 per cent of small business owners said their view differs from the norm.

“Even though nearly half of respondents (46%) said they work beyond 40 hours a week it’s the sense of ownership over the work they do, the ability to set their own schedule and do what they want when they want that contributes to their sense of balance,” said Anderson.

“Working smarter, not harder is the key to making the most of the time small business owners choose to devote their work and personal lives,” said Anderson. “We talk to entrepreneurs every day and invariably, those who embraced the right tools and strategies are better able to balance their schedules.”

To help small business owners improve their work-life balance, Anderson offered the following tips to help save time when managing finances:

  • Get organized: Having your financial records scattered among a host of file folders or different programs on your laptop is inefficient. Financial management software provides a one-stop snapshot of money coming in and going out of your business so you always know where you stand
  • Stop stuffing envelopes: Send invoices through email and eliminate the time it takes to print, prepare and post them. In addition to cutting out the trip to the mail box, it gets invoices in the hands of your customers immediately
  • Save time with your accountant: Don’t pay your accountant to spend time sorting through your shoe box of receipts. You’ll make the most of your meetings by getting organized ahead of time, and getting the strategic advice you need to move your business forward.

Ultimately the secrets to achieving balance are as varied and personal as the more than 2.4 million small businesses in Canada. Intuit is inviting business owners to share their stories and tips on how they find balance on QuickBooksCanada on Facebook and on Twitter, reference hashtag #qbwlb.  Submissions will be collected from now until July 31 and made available for sharing on the QuickBooks, Facebook page in early August.

 

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13th July 2011

SIGGRAPH 2011 Computer Animation Festival From Gaming to Major Hollywood Films

acm siggraphThe SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival has a long history of presenting a variety of the world’s most innovative, accomplished, and amazing creators of digital gaming, film, and video. The Computer Animation Festival at SIGGRAPH 2011 in Vancouver this August 7th – 11th, provides a personal viewing experience unlike any other. In addition to film screenings, the Festival includes interactive sessions and exclusive learning opportunities to gain industry secrets and advice from some of the most successful professionals in the field.

“Once again, the content in the Computer Animation Festival offers something of interest to just about everyone – from industry newbies to veterans,” said Joshua Grow, Computer Animation Festival Director from The Creative-Cartel. “The content ranges from commercials to gaming. It is truly the year’s unique opportunity to hear directly from the best in the business. It should prove to be educational and inspirational.”

Listed below are just a few of the learning opportunities during the Computer Animation Festival:

Production Sessions

Production Sessions are high-level discussions that showcase the computer animation and visual effects in some of the Computer Animation Festival’s most provocative works. SIGGRAPH 2011 featured Production Sessions include:

The Visual Effects of “Thor” and “Captain America”: So Different Yet So Marvel

Marvel Studios devotes great time and effort to deliver great storytelling, strong visuals, and compelling characters to movie audiences. This session compares the films “Thor” and “Captain America” and shows how visual effects are a critical aesthetic ingredient in their success. Visual effects supervisors Wesley Sewell and Christopher Townsend and their teams from Digital Domain, Double Negative, Whiskytree, Luma Pictures, and Lola VFX review how the films combine beauty and authenticity.

Pixar: “La Luna”

Enrico Casarosa, Pixar Animation Studios

“La Luna” is the timeless fable of a young boy who is coming of age in the most peculiar of circumstances. Tonight is the very first time his Papa and Grandpa are taking him to work. In an old wooden boat, they row far out to sea, and with no land in sight, they stop and wait. A big surprise awaits the little boy as he discovers his family’s most unusual line of work. Should he follow the example of his Papa or his Grandpa? Will he be able to find his own way in the midst of their conflicting opinions and timeworn traditions? Following the Canadian premiere screening of “La Luna,” its director, Enrico Casarosa, discusses the journey that led him to create this very personal short and demonstrates the singularly artistic style by which the film was crafted.

DreamWorks Animation: The Yin and Yang of Creating the Final Battle in “Kung Fu Panda 2”

The climax of the CG-animated movie “Kung Fu Panda 2” is an epic battle featuring a flotilla of boats, an ancient Chinese-styled city, thousands of wolves armed for battle, action featuring hundreds of characters in a single shot, stylized graphic lighting, fantastical cannon fire and explosions, and a set of effects-supported Kung Fu moves. This talk provides a unique insight into the making of a CG-animated movie that goes beyond the traditional idealized concept of the pipeline.

Industrial Light & Magic Presents: Getting Dirty: Bringing the Digital Feature “Rango” to Life

This in-depth discussion focuses on the production of Industrial Light & Magic’s first animated feature “Rango.” ILM’s unique approach to the genre brings a new dimension to the animated feature, giving “Rango” the visceral quality that the company is best known for in its visual effects work. The presenters review all aspects of the work from initial asset development through animation, simulation, lighting, and compositing.

Imageworks: The Smurf-alution: A Half-Century of Character Development

Sony Pictures Imageworks animation supervisor Troy Saliba and leading members of their Vancouver animation team take the Smurfs from the most primitive pencil sketch to a contemporary 3D stereo rendering.

Industrial Light & Magic: New Solutions for New Challenges

The Industrial Light & Magic team delves into the effects created for three of 2011’s largest summer films, dissecting the challenges and revealing their solutions. The panel breaks down the visual effects challenges presented on this year’s slate of films including: “Cowboys & Aliens,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” and “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.”

Guerrilla: The Creation of Killzone 3 – Game Production Session

This talk details various aspects of designing and developing videogames at Guerrilla. It highlights methods that are very similar to methods used in the CGI industry, and it illuminates some of the most important differences. And it covers the complete breadth of videogame development from artistic design to production pipelines and tool and engine development.

Real-Time Live!

This program showcases the latest trends and best techniques for pushing the boundaries of interactive visuals in video games and real-time simulations. To help emphasize the difference between these works and pre-rendered works, real-time pieces are demonstrated live on their actual platforms without any post-production. Each live presentation lasts less than five minutes in a fast-paced, 45-minute show of diverse and aesthetically stimulating work. SIGGRAPH 2011 Real-Time Live! highlights include:

Chrysaora: WebGL Jellyfish Simulation

Savannah College of Art and Design

Chrysaora is a real-time jellyfish simulation created entirely with web technologies such as JavaScript, WebGL, WebSockets, and CSS. It uses realistic rendering and simulation techniques similar to those used in modern 3D video games, but it can run in an internet browser on any operating system.

Enlighten Real-Time Radiosity

Geomerics Ltd.

Using Geomerics Enlighten technology, this demo shows how dynamic real-time lighting enhances game play and visual quality in computer games. Enlighten is a cross-platform, real-time radiosity solution that can generate bounce lighting for a game level in a fraction of a frame.

Samaritan Real-Time Demo

Epic Games Inc.

Samaritan is a real-time demonstration of the latest Unreal Engine 3 technology that shows off DirectX 11 support and DirectX features such as tessellation and displacement mapping, geometry shaders, multi-sampled textures, and Shader Model 5. High-end rendering enhancements include image-based reflections, Bokeh depth of field, subsurface scattering, anti-aliased masked materials, deferred rendering with MSAA support, and high-quality dynamic shadows.

iMedic: Immersive Medical Environment for Distributed Interactive Consultation

Digital Artforms, Inc.

This interactive medical visualization system is based on two hand-held tracked controllers that directly control the position and orientation of two 3D cursors. Button presses enable direct manipulation of space with either or both hands, resulting in intuitive manipulation of the viewpoint. You can place yourself anywhere at any orientation and at any scale with just a few simple gestures.

RealD Presents 3D Day

The Computer Animation Festival also features an entire day highlighting the enormously popular growth of 3D in movies, including an introduction to 3D by 3ality and an excerpt from Disney’s “Lion King” in 3D. SIGGRAPH 2011 3D highlights include:

JURY AWARD

Paths of Hate

Platige Image

Two pilots, driven by blind hate, chase each other in their airplanes and thereby write cryptic messages of madness into the firmament. On their way into the abyss they transform into inhuman and distorted creatures that finally become part of the history of hate.

BEST STUDENT PROJECT PRIZE

Flamingo Pride

The Konrad Wolf Potsdam-Babelsberg Film and Television University

Frustrated being the only straight flamingo in a gay flock, our hero falls in love with a lady stork that flies by. Unable to convince her of his serious intentions he isolates himself and goes through an identity crisis. An intensive encounter inspires him to make a bold move.

IMAX Hubble 3D Visualization Excerpt: Journey Into the Orion Nebula

Space Telescope Science Institute

An excerpt from IMAX “Hubble 3D” takes viewers inside the Orion Nebula to witness the birth of stars and planets. This cinematic scientific visualization, based on data from the Hubble Space Telescope and other observatories, is the result of close collaboration between research astronomers, computer programmers, and visualization artists.

“Green Lantern”

Sony Pictures Imageworks

In a vast universe a small powerful force has existed for centuries. Protectors of peace and justice: the Green Lantern Corps. A new enemy, Parallax, threatens to destroy the balance of power. Their fate and that of Earth lie in the hands of the first human ever selected: Hal Jordan.

Make It Home – Join Us In Vancouver This August For SIGGRAPH 2011

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13th July 2011

OpenText Acquires Global 360

Open TextOpenText has acquired Global 360 Holding Corporation, a provider of process and case management solutions. The acquisition continues OpenText’s expansion into the fast growing business process management (BPM) market, adding to its technology, talent, services, partner and geographical strengths, as well as giving the company important new capabilities in dynamic case management.

The transaction purchase price is approximately $260 million (1), subject to customary purchase price and holdback adjustments.  Global 360 has generated approximately $90 million in trailing twelve months revenue and is profitable.  The transaction has closed in the first quarter of fiscal 2012 and is not part of the fiscal 2011 fourth quarter and year-end results of OpenText. The management team of OpenText will provide further information regarding the future plans of the combined company when it provides fiscal year-end results on August 10, 2011.

“Many global organizations – about sixty percent — already connect their Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and BPM projects under a single strategy.  Customers are moving in this direction and we are accelerating our investment in leading content, process and case management solutions as a result,” said John Shackleton, President and Chief Executive Officer of OpenText. “With the addition of Global 360, we will be able to offer organizations a complete spectrum of solutions from a strong, independent and global solutions provider.”

Global 360, headquartered in Dallas, Texas with customers in 70 countries, is known for its case management solutions, its document-centric BPM, and its emphasis on usability and user experience in its software.  In February 2011, OpenText also acquired Metastorm, a BPM leader with strong and complementary capabilities, including support for human-centric BPM.  Metastorm also offers other solutions that complement Global 360, such as business process analysis and enterprise architecture software.

This increased investment in the BPM market demonstrates OpenText’s focus on strategic acquisitions of technologies that build out its extended portfolio of solutions. The two acquisitions bring an extended base of expertise – some 300 people in R&D alone – dedicated to BPM and dynamic case management solutions, plus a further reach in key verticals such as financial services, energy, government, life sciences and other industries.  OpenText can now solve a much broader range of customer requirements, and at the same time extend its reach across all facets of solutions involving content and business processes. Read the rest of this entry »

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