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Mentorship for Better Technology Decisions: Lessons from Google Mentor Day with Madusha Cooray

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Mentorship for Better Technology Decisions: Lessons from Google Mentor Day with Madusha Cooray

In this episode of BusinessCast, powered by DMZ, Madusha Cooray sits down with host Robert Gold to talk about the benefits of technology-focused mentorship for founders and developers.

Madusha, who previously worked with over 2,000 founders at an incubator space and is now the DMZ lead for Google Developer Launchpad, shares important lessons from North America’s Google Mentor Day, which took place at the DMZ on July 20, 2019.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • What Google Mentor Day is all about, including who attended this year’s event and how it was structured
  • Four lessons about mentorship that are useful for any founder faced with a technology decision
  • How tech advancements are changing the speed at which startups can push out products
  • Why Google Developer Launchpad partnered with DMZ for this event and what’s in store for the future
  • The one thing Madusha encourages all disruptive innovators to keep in mind when looking for a mentor

If you’re facing tough technology decisions at your startup or are considering mentorship as a means of propelling your tech stack, you’ll benefit from this listening to this podcast.

Listen below.

Isaac Olowolafe Jr. talks Black Innovation Fellowship

Diversity fosters innovation, but looking at some tech accelerators across the country, you may not find the most diverse crowd.

That has, at least, been the experience of Isaac Olowolafe Jr., founder of the Toronto-based asset management firm Dream Maker Corporation.

When Olowolafe Jr. launched Dream Maker Ventures, the tech-focused investment arm of the company, the entrepreneur noticed something across the ecosystem: almost everyone was Caucasian. 

The son of African immigrants, Olowolafe Jr. didn’t see his community represented within Toronto’s startup community. To solve that problem, Olowolafe Jr. partnered with the DMZ to launch the Black Innovation Fellowship, a first-of-its-kind initiative designed to help Black entrepreneurs achieve success. 

Sitting down with BusinessCast host Robert Gold, Olowolafe Jr. traces his own journey as a business leader and outlines some of the barriers entrepreneurs from racialized communities face when trying to launch their own enterprises. 

But it’s not all bad news. Olowolafe Jr. takes us through what needs to be done to diversify Canada’s startup community at-large, and how the Black Innovation Fellowship is doing just that.

Listen below.

Sampler this: Marie Chevrier talks the future of digital marketing

Consumers love free samples. But there’s something illogical about the tried-and-true marketing method.  

Entrepreneur Marie Chevrier saw the problem with this tactic when she was a brand ambassador in university.

While handing out sample products to anyone who would walk by, Chevrier realized there had to be a better way to strategically utilize the power of free samples.

Fast forward to today and Chevrier is the CEO of Sampler, a startup that helps brands distribute physical product samples to digitally targeted customers.

Chevrier joins BusinessCast host Robert Gold to take us through her journey starting Sampler, from simple idea to effective marketing engine, and how her company is reorienting sample-marketing in the digital space.

Amazon has even taken notice. The e-commerce behemoth began offering targeted product sampling as a way for brands to increase sales earlier this year.

That may seem like bad news for Sampler but, for Chevrier, hearing that Amazon was entering the same space as her company was the best day of her life.

Chevrier takes us through why that’s the case and the future of digital marketing in this edition of the BusinessCast Podcast powered by The DMZ.

Free samples not included.

How to incubate creativity

Using a person’s brainwaves to find the perfect music to induce a state of zen. “The Three Musketeers” made into a queer, feminist web-series. An analytics platform that utilizes an array of data points to find soon-to-be famous artists.

These are just some of the success stories to come out of Ryerson’s Transmedia Zone, an industry-leading storytelling incubator that helps artists become entrepreneurs.

But how, exactly, do you incubate creativity? Can business and art truly come together in a cohesive manner?

To find out, BusinessCast host and managing partner at Bennett Gold LLP, Robert Gold, sits down with Emilia Zboralska, interim director of the Transmedia Zone and academic specialist in the Canadian media landscape.

“We encourage people to fail fast” says Zboralska, explaining how the Transmedia zone pushes its team to adopt a rapid validation cycle so they’re never stuck on an idea that isn’t viable.

Canada is at the precipice of “the next industrial revolution in media” says Zboralska as traditional media platforms are slowly losing audiences to newer platforms.

In this episode, Zboralska shares some of the exciting ways the Transmedia Zone is disrupting the Canadian media landscape and what’s next in the realm of storytelling, both online and in the real world.

For anyone wondering how a creative idea can become a practical business, this edition of BusinessCast powered by The DMZ is just for you.

Streamlining patient care with Manny Abraham

Doctors depend on a wide array of systems to provide patient care.

There’s just one problem: none of the them properly talk to each other.

That’s why Manny Abraham created Orbcare Inc., a platform that merges the information doctors use and patients provide, making sense of it all to streamline patient care.

All sorts of similar pain points exist in the medical field and, Abrahams, with over twenty years of experience in the sector, joins BusinessCast host Robert Gold to dive into the exciting fusion of innovation and medicine.

Biotech and healthcare startups are some of the fastest-growing in the world of technology. Investors of every sort are hoping to take a slice of the pie, so much so that healthcare and biotech companies raised over $28 billion in 2018, according to PitchBook.

Abrahams takes us through why it’s such an exciting time for innovation in healthcare and why Canada is uniquely placed to be a major player in the sector.

Expect all that and more in this edition of the BusinessCast Podcast powered by The DMZ.

Robot vs. humans: Workers of the future

Last week U.S. burger restaurant CaliBurger made a surprising hire. It onboarded a burger-making robot called Flippy.

The machine, made by Miso Robotics, can flip between 100 and 300 burgers every hour and run for 100,000 hours on a single charge. Essentially, it’s a super cook that takes zero breaks and requires no pay.

Understandably, labour critics are worried about what Flippy, and other robots like it, mean for the human workforce. In the end, Flippy was taken offline after one shift due to human issues, but it provided a sneak peek into what will soon be society’s fully-automated future.  

As technology advances, more businesses will likely adopt fast-paced robots that can maximize output and potentially displace human workers altogether. In fact, it’s already happening now at an alarming rate. Foxconn, a Chinese supplier that counts Apple and Samsung as clients, replaced 60,000 of its factory workers with robots. Meanwhile, banking group Swedbank now relies on AI- focused virtual assistant Nuance Nina, a robot that can provide a “human-like” experience, for its customer service needs.

Foxconn Technology Group, one of the world’s biggest electronic manufacturers, replaced 60,000 human workers with robots.

While shocking it’s just the beginning of what’s to come. A Mckinsey & Company report found up to 800 million workers could lose their jobs due to automation by 2030.

Business 2.0

 
To some degree, it was only a matter of time before robots took over human jobs. Tech firms have spent years perfecting how to create better, faster robots. In the process, these technological advancements are transforming decades-old legal frameworks designed to protect workers.

Although, replacing humans with robotic workers isn’t as easy as it sounds, at least not yet. Manufactures cannot simply fire humans and replace them with robots, due to work obligations. Those obligations include giving appropriate notice and consultation on redundancies.

Jobs robots are already doing:

An example of new workplace liability issues can be found in driverless cars. Manufacturers are using the latest digital technologies to help vehicles run using little-to-no human impact.

In those circumstances, if something goes wrong a number of different stakeholders would be liable for an accident. It also means companies will need to raise compliance issues under data protection laws. Robots open up more ways to capture personal data, which make companies compliant with privacy laws. 

The robot revolution

 
Aside from the liability side, an influx of robot workers could also have dire ramifications on society. “Possible mass unemployment could lead to human catastrophes and a wave of migration,” according to a report by the International Bar Association.

The effects could especially be devastating in developing countries that rely on low-skilled jobs. “About 47 per cent of total U.S. employment is at risk,” the reports adds, while up to 70 per cent of total employment in countries like Thailand are at risk.

Fast-paced automation means robot worker issues aren’t going away anytime soon and likely impact the law long into the future. Existing regulations will give way to legal grey areas that will require lawmakers and companies to play a pivotal role in navigating the future.  For companies, this means being more forward thinking when it comes to integrating new robots into their workplace until the law catches up. Already, companies right now are finding out the hard way that automated technology can be costly when it malfunctions.

To learn more about how robots and artificial intelligence are changing the world listen to  Robert Gold, host of BusinessCast. Make sure to also visit our official iTunes page.

 

The global startups fueling a 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. Cheaper products, lighter materials and better engineering is making it possible for companies to explore the final frontier like never before. According to CNBC, 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. The business creates a in-space telecommunications that help satellites better communicate when not near a ground station.. In layman terms, they’re simply, we are building cell phone towers in space.

Accelerating outer space success

 
Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s easy for newcomers hoping to succeed in the industry. It’s a capital intensive market and often requires deep pockets to fund research and launch costs that can run in the hundreds of thousands. 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 an increase in the support and networks available for entrepreneurs is a good sign for a market on the rise.

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.

SoapBox cofounder on his mission to reinvent the workplace


In the TV show The Office a film crew records the fictional lives of employees working in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

While it mostly lampooned the hilarious circumstances the TV characters found themselves in, it also unintentionally highlighted just how inefficient traditional workplaces are.

Thankfully as technology improves the hijinks found in The Office will soon become a thing of the past.

The workplace of the future

 
Brennan McEachran, co-founder of employee engagement platform Soapbox, is one of today’s  new-age entrepreneurs working to transform the Canadian workplace. The company’s online application lets employees easily communicate and pitch ideas to management and their peers anytime, anywhere. Executives can then track how ideas progress and provide better feedback all with the touch of a button. The app breaks down barriers and boosts engagement with workers at all levels of a company.

“Engagement and work are not different. Create processes and habits within organization where collisions happen between people,” @i_am_brennan of @SoapBoxHQ

Companies that learn how to interact with their workers — especially millennials who have now surpassed baby boomers as the largest generation in the workforce — end up boosting their company’s bottom line, he explains.

Gallup researchers also agree. A report from the award-winning marketing company found engaged employees “nearly doubled their odds of success” and that companies with “engaged workforces have higher earnings per share, and recovered from the recession at a faster rate.”

In today’s fast-paced economy companies face competition from not only homegrown businesses, but from entrepreneurs around the globe. An engaged workforce can be the secret weapon that can make all the difference.

To hear how McEachran keeps his staff engaged and to find out what the workplace of the future will look like listen to the podcast. To hear more episodes from BusinessCast, hosted by Robert Gold, make sure to visit our official iTunes page.

The Fintech revolution: How startups are changing the world of finance


A new generation of financial technology startups are changing the world of finance in ways that were once considered unimaginable. They’re making it easier for businesses to manage their investments using artificial intelligence, transfer funds across borders in less time and help clients raise funds using robo-advisors.

Follow the money

It’s not hard to see why financial technology startups are growing in popularity. This year, they’ve managed to raise $8 billion globally, close 469 deals and push six startups into “unicorn” status.

#Fintech startups won’t put banks out of business anytime soon, but they’re growing in influence.

In years past, most financial institutions focused on partnering with emerging startups in order to better leverage their expertise. Although, all that that may soon change.

As the industry continues to innovate, traditional firms are concentrating less on strategic partners and more on outright acquisitions. This allows them to better integrate new technology into their workforce. It also prevents competing companies from benefiting from that same technology.

The revolution behind the scenes

More institutions are seeing how beneficial acquiring startup technology can be for the bottom line.

A 2016 report by IDC and SAP found a quarter of global banks were interested in buying a fintech company. By 2017, Pricewaterhouse discovered that a whopping 50 per cent of surveyed companies planned on purchasing a startup.

Some of the more notable acquisitions made just this year include JP Morgan’s purchase of online payment service WePay for around $220 million and Moneyfarm’s purchase of online advice service Ernest for an undisclosed amount.

So, what’s driving this change? Money, of course.

The same report found that acquisitions increase adoption rates and make it easier to integrate necessary technology. “By adopting one of the many solutions brought by innovators, Financial Institutions can gain incremental returns and find a way to expand new products and services and reach new customers.”

To hear more from BusinessCast, hosted by Robert Gold, make sure to visit our official iTunes page.

The accessibility-focused technology making the impossible possible

Almost 14 per cent of Canadians aged 15 and older have a disability, according to a 2012 Statistic Canada report. That number, the most recent figure available, means that 3.8 million people live with a mental or physical impairment. Worldwide that number jumps to about 190 million, which works out to approximately 15 per cent of the global population.

As the world’s elderly population continues to grow more people will come to rely on assistive technology. Startups willing to invest in this sector now have the ability to capitalize on this booming demographic.

Breakthrough technology

 
Accessibility technology, a term used to describe equipment that improves how individuals with disabilities function, has grown in popularity.

The technology is helping the impaired in a variety of ways that many able-bodied take for granted. For instance, Amazon’s voice-controlled Alexa is more than just a personal assistant to many. Individuals that can hold a phone may not see it as a life-changing piece of technology, but for those who can’t dial 9-1-1 it could be the difference between life and death.

Toronto-based AccessNow, founded by Maayan Ziv, is just one of the many startups making the world a more accessible place. Listen to the latest BusinessCast episode, hosted by Robert Gold, to hear Maayan’s inspirational story. Afterwards take a look below at the futuristic products that may someday transform society. To hear more from BusinessCast, make sure to visit our official iTunes page.

Life-changing technology

 

  1. This finger-reader may still be in the prototype phase, but when it does eventually become a reality it’ll be a game changer for the visually impaired. Unlike most of today’s e-readers that work exclusively with computer screens this device can read printed text and has the capability to turn any text into audio.
  2. Scientists at Case Western Reserve University have developed an innovative way for the people with disabilities to regain basic motor functions using electrical implants attached to the brain’s motor cortex area. The experimental procedure temporarily restored function to a U.S. ’s arm earlier this year and is currently in clinical trials.
  3. Helping deaf people ‘hear’ could be as simple as attaching a small electrical device to their tongue, if three University of Colorado professors have their way.The device when worn on an individual’s tongue connects to an earpiece that can discern anyone’s words when spoken out loud and then is transmitted to their brain.

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