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Ping Pong Story Launches into Beta

After a few months spent observing feedback from a few lucky classrooms in Toronto, Ping Pong Story has just launched its site into beta, and is eager to get children writing and collaborating on its online creative writing platform.

Designed for young people aged 4 to 12, Ping Pong Story aims to create an enriching, kid-friendly storytelling collaboration experience for children who do not necessarily have much familiarity writing stories.

In the above video, Ping Pong Story’s founder Debora Rubin details a collaborative writing experience she had with 10 friends when she was a little girl, which then became the inspiration for her startup.

Today at the DMZ, Debora got to relive that experience with the Girls Learning Code tech camp as she walked a group of young girls through her website, who created a funny little story about dinosaurs. Based on their reactions, it certainly looks like Ping Pong Story will be a very attractive, cool website for kids looking to develop and pursue their skills in creative writing.

 

Sure wish I had something like this when I was a kid!

Ping Pong Story is currently in beta. Be sure to check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

TheFounderProject Launches in Toronto at the DMZ

founderproject2

By Alysha D’Souza

The Digital Media Zone was proud to host TheFounderProject’s Toronto launch party in our space on Thursday, June 20th. University students from all over Canada came out to support this new initiative and make connections with other entrepreneurial students, venture capitalists, advisors and investors.

Ilan Saks developed TheFounderProject during his time at a Venture Capitalist firm in Montreal. After only five months of operation, TheFounderProject now consists of 30 student VC’s from Montreal, Toronto and Halifax, and has helped create 85 student startups – contributing both micro and seed-stage investments.

TheFounderProject bills itself as “an organization run almost entirely by students for students with the purpose of growing the startup ecosystem from the ground up”.

As a university-based incubator, Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone is happy to collaborate with organizations that help support both our own student entrepreneurs and others throughout Toronto. TheFounderProject’s launch establishes a sense of community among student entrepreneurs in the city, and assists in bridging the gap between investors and advisors who play an important role in helping startups.

At the Toronto launch party last week, we were joined by industry experts such as Wind Mobile’s Brice Scheschuk, Trend Hunter’s Marcus Daniels, Eugene Bomba of PwC LLP and representatives from the Toronto’s Venture Capitalist firms.

For more information about TheFounderProject, please visit TheFounderProject.com/

On May 22nd, come tour the DMZ!

5-14 blog tour dmz

Here at the Digital Media Zone, we welcome the newest, hottest, and latest technology with open arms. We sure loove our internet, too. Most of our startups are involved in industries that exist completely in the virtual world.

Heck, the word digital is in our name!

Still though, we believe some things are best left to experience IRL. That’s internet-speak for “in real life,” meaning, um, not through a screen.

So that’s why we’re opening our doors and inviting you to come get a first-hand account of what makes our collaborative, thriving work culture so empowering for entrepreneurs, startups, and creative minds.

Hot off the heels of our third anniversary (!!!), we’ll be celebrating three years of DMZ expansion during the tour. Starting from one office at 10 Dundas St. E, we now occupy five floors and can’t wait to show you what we’ve done with it.

On Wednesday May 22, join us for a full tour of the new digs, come meet some of our entrepreneurs who will demo their latest projects, and see for yourself what goes on at one of Canada’s largest incubators.

If you’re an entrepreneur with ideas that you’d love to make a reality, please RSVP and bring your ideas, enthusiasm, and potential with you.

Please let us know you’re coming as we only have a limited number of available spaces. If you have any questions, contact Kirstyn, our tour guide extraordinaire.

DMZ Shows Face at the CUTC #infect13

DMZ reps Stacy Woloschuk and Alysha D'Souza chat with CUTC conference attendees.

DMZ reps Stacy Woloschuk and Alysha D’Souza chat with CUTC conference attendees.

Over the weekend, the Canadian Undergraduate Technology Conference had its annual Infect conference at the Ted Rogers School of Management (TRSM). Attracting leaders in the technology industry, bright-eyed students and entrepreneurs to a weekend of networking, collaborating and idea sharing, Infect focused on “satiating curiosity without drowning delegates in unnecessary formality.”

Taking place on May 4th and 5th in both Toronto and Vancouver, this year’s conference included talks by Mike Shaver, Director of Mobile Engineering at Facebook, space entrepreneur Dr. Bob Richards, Executive Director of the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology, as well as CEO of Wolfram Research, Dr. Stephen Wolfram. The conference also held breakout sessions with many industry pros from the tech startup scene, sharing their unique insights and perspectives with ambitious students interested in pursuing a career in the field.

On Saturday afternoon, Infect’s Tech Expo portion packed two floors of the TRSM with companies of all sizes giving demos and information about their potential opportunities.

DMZ representatives Alysha D’Souza and Stacy Woloschuk set up shop, and gave attendees information about what the DMZ is about, how their potential idea might come alive at the DMZ, and what Ryerson University is doing to help young, ambitious minds interested in getting their big concepts off the ground.

Mauricio Meza of Komodo OpenLab talking with Infect members.

Mauricio Meza of Komodo OpenLab talking with Infect members.

DMZ team members Mauricio Meza of Komodo OpenLab and Cammi Pham of Thumble also had tables set up, demoing their products to Infect participants.

thumbledemocutc

Thumble rep Cammi Pham and volunteer Alicia Nguyen give an app demonstration at Infect.

As the Tech Expo portion of the Infect weekend came to a close, we got to talking with a few of the companies at the CUTC, and took place in a Twitter contest with Big Viking Games.

Unfortunately, we didn’t win. :(

But we did get a chance to make some wonderful connections with young entrepreneurs at the CUTC’s Infect event and are happy to report that the whole weekend went off without a hitch! Thanks to everybody who stopped by our booth to learn about startup opportunities at the DMZ, and we’ll see you next year.

Not Just Another Photo-Sharing App — Thumble launches today!

4-30 thumble launch

By Ricky Fung

Does the world need another photo-sharing app?  

The honest answer is No. The world does not NEED another photo-sharing app. I think what we really need is a cure for cancer  but unfortunately that’s not something I’m going to be able to contribute to the world.

So, why did we build Thumble?

Clay and I built Thumble because we got bored with the photos that are on the other apps.  We felt like it was the same stuff over and over again.  I guess when you make it so easy to take a photo, we are all inevitably going to fall into some pattern.

A better photo-sharing experience

So, we decided to build a photo-sharing app that’s going to call people out to take the photos we think would be more interesting.

We’ve created badges that asks you to post pics to albums like ‘Super Dance Moves,’ ‘Kicks,’ ‘Lonely Man Dinners,’ etc.  Users will also have the ability to create their own albums and move the world to take the photos that they want to see.

Rewards from the brands you love

The second motivation, albeit a rather ambitious one, was to build a system where users and advertisers don’t have to be at odds. There’s a million reasons why people don’t want to see ads, and having been a small business owner for the better half of the last decade, that really pains me.

I believe small businesses are the lifeforce of our economy and I certainly don’t want users to hate my business because I am forced to advertise in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable.

I think people generally put up with these types of ads because their friends use the app, and there are enough hooks in the system for you to stomach them.  But if you were given a fresh slate and you could transport all your friends and content to another system, would you?

Respecting users’ privacy

Here at Thumble, we don’t believe in ‘push’ ads that invade your privacy and tell others what you like without your permission.  We believe that the best way for brands to spread the word about their business is to just ask nicely.  If you like them, you will tell others about them, it’s as simple as that.  And, if you are nice enough to help them out, they should offer you a reward for it.

And, that’s it.  We created Thumble – A photo app that offers exclusive rewards for your photos.

Uber campaign

One campaign we are running for our launch is from our friends at Uber: Post a photo of you and your friends after a few drinks to /dontdrinkanddrive and receive a $20 credit on your first black car ride.

If you share our ideals, please do give Thumble a try.  It’s hard to communicate our feelings of gratitude through the app, but know that we appreciate each and every one of you who is willing to take a chance on us.

Win tickets to a Maple Leafs playoff game!

Oh, and as an incentive to try the app, we thought what better rewards than to give away Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs playoff tickets for the first round. The contest details are inside the “Rewards” section of the app.

We hope to see you all inside Thumble!  You can download the app at this link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/thumble/id581959752?ls=1&mt=8

The Intelligent Community Forum visits the DMZ

The Intelligent Community Forum visited the DMZ on April 17.

The Intelligent Community Forum visited the DMZ on April 17.

Feeling particularly smart? If you’re reading this from Toronto, you should! Our city was recently named one the world’s brainiest communities by a New York-based think tank called the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF). Shuffling through a list of 400 city applications last October, the ICF awarded Toronto, along with our Ontario neighbour Stratford, as one of seven top intelligent cities worldwide.

Members of the ICF’s executive team came for a tour of Toronto’s most unique beacons for driving innovation, research, and opportunity. Among their stops was the Digital Media Zone, where ICF co-founder Robert Bell and other members of the Forum paid a visit on April 17.

Greeted by DMZ Director Valerie Fox, the ICF was met with a full overview of our space. They received presentations by some of our entrepreneurs, including Mauricio Meza of Komodo Open Lab, Mark Patterson of WhoPlusYou, Robert Platek of SensorSuite, Thiago Ciares and Michal Prywata of Bionik LabsHitSend co-founder Brennan McEachran, Jonathan Ingham of Phosphorus Media, and DMZ alumni 500px founders Oleg Gustol and Evgeny Tchebotarev. The ICF then shared lunch with Ryerson University President Sheldon Levy, and finished the visit with a talk from Dr. Hossein Rahnama, the DMZ’s Research and Innovation Director.

We thank the Intelligent Community Forum for paying us a visit, and look forward to seeing where Toronto will place at the ICF Summit. The annual Summit, which takes place on June 5-7 in New York City, is where the ICF will present the award for 2013′s Intelligent Community of the Year. Our fingers are crossed!

From our International Fellows in India, a Message to President Sheldon Levy and the DMZ Family

Alok Nikhil Jha, Avnish Gaur and Ankur Khera

Alok Nikhil Jha, Avnish Gaur and Ankur Khera, all from IIT Delhi, joined us at the DMZ last summer as part of our international fellowship program. We were thrilled to receive an update video from them recently to see where they are now and how their companies are doing. See how far they’ve come since their time at the DMZ:

Love Data? Viafoura Hosts Big Data Events April 22-27

By Ali Ghafour of Viafoura

Viafoura has a lot of interest in big data. As a result of being installed on large, enterprise websites we process large amounts of data. This includes social data from logins, opinion data from comments and browsing data from regular surfing (just to name a few). Making this all make sense for our clients is a large part of what we do. This is why we decided to host Big Data Week for Toronto.

Big Data Week is an international event hosted in over 20 major cities (Amsterdam, Shanghai, London, Madrid, etc). Viafoura has been chosen to represent Toronto (and is the only Canadian city on the roster). Each city hosts various events, discussions, hack-a-thons etc. to proliferate knowledge pertaining to large data sets (a.k.a big data)

Viafoura is hosting a series of free discussions (and a hackathon) with some amazing speakers on big data between April 22 and 27. It will be located at our office in Toronto and we would love for you to join and pass the word along.

Below are the talks, and when they are happening. We also have an event page here http://viafoura.com/bdw/ (this has all the talks listed below as well)

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How Publishers Can Utilize Big Data
Monday April 22 8am – 10am
Ali Ghafour (CTO – Viafoura) & Victor Anjos (Senior Developer (Big Data) – Viafoura)

The Business Value of Social Data
Monday April 22 8am – 10am
Christopher Berry (Chief Science Officer – Authintic)

Big Data Learnings from a vendor’s perspective 
Tuesday April 23 12pm – 2pm
Dr. Srini Srinivasan (CEO – Aerospike)

What is Hadoop, How it’s being used, and What the Future Holds
Wednesday April 24 6pm – 9pm
Adam Muise (Solutions Engineer – Hortonworks)

Building Vector Machine Classifier for detecting malicious IPs
Wednesday April 24 6pm – 9pm
Joel Perras (Senior Consultant Big Data – Fictive Kin)

Hackathon!!
Saturday April 27 9am – 9pm
The viafoura big data week hack-a-thon will feature prizes, free food and drinks, cool data sets, and Toronto’s best talent!

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Feel free to share an individual event or the event site http://viafoura.com/bdw/

Ali Ghafour
Co-Founder & CTO

Working at the Digital Media Zone: Student Staff Reflection

By Alysha D’Souza

I still remember when the Digital Media Zone opened its doors in April 2010. From the moment I heard of its opening, I was automatically given the impression it was a very elite and private place. I wasn’t sure if I would ever get the chance to go inside, until I started volunteering with StartMeUp Ryerson. Being a Marketing and Entrepreneurship student at Ryerson, the work that StartMeUp does to help kick-start and educate hundreds of entrepreneurs per year naturally drew me in to join their team. We had our first general meeting in the Digital Media Zone and immediately, I was in awe. The modern layout and design of the work space, the bright flashing lights of Dundas Square surrounding the entire office, the computers, large screens and interactive projections were all a little intimidating at first. It was unlike any traditional office I’ve ever been to… and thus, from that moment on, I was intrigued.

I started volunteering with StartMeUp Ryerson increasingly often – helping with the Idea Consultations, annual Global Entrepreneurship Week and $25,000 Business Plan Competition, which are all provided to aspiring entrepreneurs at Ryerson. The more I begun participating, the more often I was able to come to the Zone and learn about the companies and culture here. This unique and innovative environment slowly started to lose its intimidating persona. I found it was quite the opposite actually. The DMZ has a very welcoming attitude – with tours and guests visiting frequently each week, and participation  in several of Ryerson’s events and conferences. The DMZ is constantly reaching out to students with encouragement to apply if they have a business idea, and offering endless resources to help get their businesses going. Many of these resources are free and open to all Ryerson students. After coming to realize this, I decided to apply for a student staff position within the Zone… and the rest is history.

I’ve grown and learned so much since being a part of the DMZ family. Specifically, how to improve and innovate processes at work with the bravery to implement change. I’ve learned how to be significantly more tech savvy, and have picked up many different skills. My knowledge about startup culture and dedication has increased significantly as I get to witness the hardwork and creation that happens in the Zone every single day. And, not to mention, I’ve been able to meet amazing people like Brett Wilson and Justin Trudeau!

It’s true, there are so many exciting projects emerging constantly, but the core essence of the Zone remains the same: By utilizing all of the skills and resources that Ryerson has to offer in a collaborative way, the Digital Media Zone is able to showcase and help harvest the amazing talent growing within the community.

My advice to fellow Ryerson students who are interested in being involved with the Digital Media Zone: simply voice your interest. Contact a representative through the website and ask how you can get involved – either through volunteering at events like I did, or applying for job postings as they come up. Follow and interact with them on Twitter and Facebook and you will more than likely get a response. Attend some networking events and shake some hands. Although they are serious when it comes to getting their work done, they are always welcoming to new faces and would love to hear from students at Ryerson!

UnRealty Inc. Launches The Most Affordable Way to Buy and Sell Property in Ontario

Anthony Deonarain, UnRealty founder and CEO

By Angela Serednicki

Digital Media Zone company UnRealty Inc. has launched Ontario’s most affordable way to buy and sell real estate.

The new full-service brokerage provides cash-back incentives for buyers and sellers, which saves clients up to 90 per cent off agent commissions.

“The industry has long been ripe for revolution,” says Anthony Deonarain, UnRealty founder and CEO. He explains that agent commission fees are at the highest rate in history and haven’t changed for 30 years, but real estate prices have tripled and quadrupled throughout that time. “UnRealty puts the client back in the driver’s seat, providing comprehensive real estate services for a fair price.”

UnRealty provides buyers with an industry-leading cash-back guarantee of 50 per cent. For example, if a buyer purchases a new home for $450,000, with a 2.5 percent commission, the client will keep half of that, which means that buyers get back $ 5,625.

Sellers can get complete and comprehensive services to sell their home for a fixed fee of $2,500 if they use an UnRealty agent, irrespective of their home’s value. As a result, UnRealty reduces the amount of commissions earned by its listing agents by 50 to 90 per cent, depending on the value of the property.

UnRealty.ca also boasts the most comprehensive and up-to-date pre-construction condominium database in Ontario. The site makes it easy to compare floor plans, prices, and current inventory on pre-construction condos, which was previously difficult to compare and analyze. Clients are free to browse and compare new condos without any pressure to purchase.

Sheldon Levy is the President and Vice Chancellor of Ryerson University. “Digital media is having an impact on all industries, not only in terms of the technology but in rethinking underlying assumptions. Companies in the Digital Media Zone are inviting consumers to take the lead. One example is real estate, where UnRealty is redefining traditional costs and service,” says Levy.

“We have built a real estate brokerage for today’s consumers,” adds Deonarain. “We deliver real estate information in a simple and accessible way and we provide all of the support and services of a traditional brokerage, at a fraction of the cost.”