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Akira Launches in Ontario

Last week, Ontario took a step towards digital health with the launch of Akira.

Akira is a mobile app for iOS and Android that was developed by Dustin Walper after his own brush with thyroid cancer left him frustrated and annoyed with the Canadian healthcare system.

After founding and building his previous startup MyPlanet for five years, he felt that this was something he had to do.

“As someone who was busy trying to build a business, anytime you have any kind of medical issue you just want to get it over with,” a task which Walper recalls wasn’t easy to do.

“That was the core frustration that I felt with the health care system.”

Akira costs $9.99 per month and launched officially on Wed., May 18. Walper’s goal with this service was to put a doctor in the pocket of every Canadian.

Several physicians have already signed up to take part in Akira’s mission, enabling them to digitally interact with patients who’ve downloaded the app whenever the patient requires.

While Akira has the potential to lessen the burden on the healthcare system by redirecting non-critical inquiries to a digital service, Walper stresses that in order for Akira to serve its purpose, it shouldn’t be used for medical issues that require a physical examination.

“There are some things that just weren’t appropriate for this kind of service,” he says.

He anticipates however, that this is what Canadian patients need – a fast, reliable way to have their immediate healthcare needs met.

In order to do that, Akira has partnered with another popular Canadian health startup, PopRX. Unlike Akira, PopRX specializes in digitizing the pharmaceutical industry by offering prescription delivery, renewal and inquiries all though an app.

“What’s really important for our type of model is that we want to make healthcare accessible and convenient to everyone,” said Walper. “A big part of that is prescriptions.

PopRx fonuder Dr. Ali Esmail stated that as soon as the platform began allowing for specialists (Akira only supports general practitioners at the moment and Esmail is an ear, nose and throat specialist), he would gladly consider joining the platform.

Esmail goes on to agree with Walper in saying that redirecting non-critical medical issues can potentially reduce the strain on Canada’s medical system.

A lot of those people show up in emergency rooms or wait for hours in walk-in clinics,” said Esmail.

Overall however, he believes that Akira and PopRx share one mission: to bring the benefits of telemedicine to Canadians.

“What PopRx and what Akira are trying to do is provide a much more convenient service.”  

Currently, Akira is not covered under OHIP, though several tech companies have begun offering Akira as part of their employee benefits packages.

Stupid Sh*t No One Needs and Terrible Ideas Hackathon launches in Toronto

Have you ever made something that you completely regret? How about something that no one would ever use?

That’s exactly what the the Stupid Shi* No One Really Needs and Terrible Ideas Hackathon wants to celebrate.

Originally launched in New York this past February, the Stupid Hackathon is coming to Toronto. This Saturday, at Ryerson University’s Digital Media Experience Lab everyone is welcome to, as the website reads “make some stupid sh*t.”

This year’s categories speak directly to the title of the event and include “marginally improved food delivery, reductionist Boltzmann machines, emojianal intelligence, quicktime for pegasi, millennial falcons, maybe put some sensors on it I guess I can have money now, virtual reality, pentacopters, a fucking fitness tracker and the internet of bees.

The themes change every time, just as the organizers do.

While the original event was founded in New York by Sam Levigne and Amelia Winger-Bearskin, several have taken the initiative to launch individual Hackathons in their own cities.

Lindy Wilkins, Hillary Predko, Tom Hobson, and Alex Leitch are the organizers of the Stupid Hackathon’s Toronto Chapter, and they all hail from different sectors of the city’s tech ecosystem.

“I think people are excited to vent some of their frustrations with existing paradigms of startup culture,” said Wilkins, one of this year’s organizers.”

Lindy Wilkins is also the founder of MakeFriendsTO and spends her days as a Data Technologist at Little Dada and a Director at Site 3 CoLaboratory, a collaborative workspace in the downtown core.

Hillary Predko is a Toronto-based designer and fellow at the Toronto-based Mars Discovery District. Tom Hobson is a founding member of Site 3 CoLaboratory and Alex Leitch is an art and technology researcher.

Each of them have had a different journey with technology in the city and are looking to bring their experiences together during Saturday’s event, to facilitate the creation of “stupid sh*t.”

Wilkins emphasizes that they’re hoping to attract a group as diverse as the event’s founders.

“We are hoping to get a wide array of folks attending our hackathon. We've done specific outreach to women and groups marginalized in the tech industry. We hope this helps vary the types of humor that are generated here as well,” said Wilkins.

The question remains however; what’s the point? Why would anyone want to attend an event that promotes the creation of useless products and bad ideas?

To stress that there are no bad ideas.

As the Daily Dot reported in 2015 when the Stupid Sh*t No One Really Needs and Terrible Ideas Hackathon landed in San Francisco, there’s a certain merit in creating something just to create it, hereby providing an outlet for tech employees to goof off with the skills they use every day.  

The Dot goes on to report that Joshua Schachter, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who sponsored last year’s event, found that while many of the ideas were stupid, none of them were dumb.

Maybe this weekend, the players in Toronto’s tech space will make something that could one day be repurposed into something really useful. Or maybe, they’ll rediscover what it means to create for the fun of it.

Who is Hiring? Facebook, Cineplex, Free the Children and Dx3

Art Director

Do you have a passion for graphic design and pop culture. Cineplex is looking for you! Cineplex Entertainment is looking for a dedicated Art Director to design and create editorial pages for the French and English versions of Cineplex Magazine. The successful candidate will have a certificate or diploma in Graphic Design and will possess a thorough knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite. Interested applicants can apply through this link.

We School Coordinator

For those of you who’ve always dreamed of helping the planet, now might be your chance. Free the Children, one of Canada’s most well known charities, is looking for an individual to coordinate their We School Program. The job involves managing educational programming and retention and providing assistance to the Manager of General Programming. The successful candidate will possess a Bachelor’s degree and will have experience in fundraising. Interested candidates can apply through this link.

Creative Strategist

Interested in working for one of the world’s most innovative social companies? You’re in luck! Facebook is looking for a Creative Strategist for its Toronto-based Creative Shop. The successful candidate will possess a Bachelor’s degree and eight years of experience in brand strategy. Responsibilities include developing ideas for both Facebook and Instagram and inspiring clients with a vision for their brand. Interested applicants can apply here.

Head of Content

What if you had an opportunity to shape one of Canada’s largest technology conferences? Now you do! Dx3 is looking for a head of content and it could be you. Interested candidates should possess a Bachelor’s degree and at least four years or marketing or publishing experience. Responsibilities of the role include defining Dx3’s entire live conference program! Interested applicants can apply here.

Who is Hiring? TIFF, Sid Lee, Coca Cola, Manulife Financial

Brand Manager

The world’s favourite beverage is looking for a Toronto-based brand manager to manage the Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coca-Cola Zero brands. The successful candidate must have five to seven years of related marketing experience and a bachelor’s degree in marketing or business. This person will be responsible for managing the teen and young adult recruitment brand strategies, along with a wide variety of other brand-enhancing responsibilities. Interested candidates can apply here

Intermediate Creative Team

One of Canada’s fastest growing marketing agencies is looking for an individual to join its intermediate creative team. Sid Lee has handled some of Canada’s most famous marketing campaigns, inclduing We the North. This individual will be responsible for developing advertising projects and providing artistic direction on a daily basis. The successful candidate will have a degree in a related field and at least three to four years of agency experience. Interested candidates can apply through this link

Video Producer

The world’s largest film festival is looking for someone to join their team! The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is on the hunt for a video producer will direct all video projects and will brainstorm ideas for highly shareable videos across all departments. This candidate should have a bachelor’s degree in film or video production and a background in hands-on video experience. Interested candidates can apply through this link

Innovation Fellow: NLP/ML Data Scientist

Manulife Financial is seeking an Innovation Fellow to join the LOFT (Lab of Forward Thinking). This position calls for startup founders, entrepreneurial software engineers, product designers, etc, who want to share their vision. The successful candidate will have a strong foundation in statistical machine learning and the ability to thrive in both startup and corporate environments. Interested applicants can apply here

The Ladies Learning Code are taking code mobile

The Ladies Learning Code are hitting the road. Last week, the LLC announced the launch of their cross-country tour, code:mobile, during which they’ll hit each one of the group’s 29 Canadian chapters as well 30 additional cities.

The goal of the program is to bring technological literacy to youth and communities across the country that wouldn’t otherwise have access to it.

“I think technology should be as representative as the people using it, said Melissa Sariffodeen, the co-executive director

After kicking off in Toronto on May 1, Ladies Learning Code headed to Ottawa to Quebec City, where the group is currently hosting a slew of coding boot camps for kids, families and under-serviced groups.

While on tour, the group is planning to his several underprivileged and indigenous communities. Sariffodeen explains that this was no accident.

“If they’re not part of this, then how are we ever going to solve the world’s biggest problems?”
She goes on to say that the path towards a thriving technology ecosystem in Canada is tackling the diversity issue that’s so often present in the tech space; whether that be gender, class or age-based.

As a testament to the demographics Ladies Learning Code is trying to reach, Sariffodeen emphasizes a focus on youth programs which give participants the skills to solve the problems of the future.

Coding, she says, is a language that can apply to all walks of life. In teaching kids how to code, and giving parents and teachers the tools to continue that education at home, youth will be equipped with the skills they need to tackle anything.

“It shows [parents] how their kids can be builders, not just consumers.”

The group has partnered with Microsoft’s YouthSpark program to help launch this initiative. In a statement sent to YongeStreet, recanted Microsoft’s commitment to empowering youth with opportunities for education, employment and entrepreneurship.

"Microsoft is proud to partner with Ladies Learning Code to provide young girls the opportunity to learn and develop skills in computer programming and technology," said Dennis Lopes, Microsoft Canada's Director of Legal and Corporate Affairs.

"These workshops will provide girls across Canada the opportunity to engage with a technology in a manner that we hope will ultimately inspire them to pursue careers in the field of computer science."

Ladies Learning Code launched in 2012 with the goal of teaching girls across Canada between the ages of eight and 13 to code. According to a report, women are habitually underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) careers, comprising only 39 percent of these roles.

In launching code:mobile, Ladies Learning Code is hoping to remove the barriers to access that women and other minority groups face regarding technology.

Ladies Learning Code will be heading out to Montreal on Wednesday. Those interested in attending a workshop or requesting a visit from the group can visit the website here.

Happy coding!

JLabs opens first office outside the U.S. in Toronto

Last week, Johnson and Johnson Innovation announced the launch of their first JLabs incubator located outside the United States.

The MaRS Discovery District added a new member to its network on May 11 as Johnson and Johnson Innovation announced their entrance with 22 startups already on board.

Johnson and Johnson Innovation is a division of the American healthcare company, Johnson and Johnson. JLabs is the life sciences incubator run by the company which has now launched in several active life sciences ecosystems across North America.

In addition to Toronto, the company has gone on to open JLabs locations in several American cities including San Diego, South San Francisco, the Texas Medical Centre, the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences and the Kendall Square Biotech Hub.

The head of Toronto’s division of JLabs, Rebecca Yu, commented that the companies working with JLabs benefit from an extremely unique, flexible model designed to facilitate the creation of transformational health technology.

“They have access to what a big company would have. The uniqueness of the model is that there are no strings attached,” she said.

While companies do have to pay for space, they aren’t required to provide infrastructure, chemistry labs or funds. With just 60 days-notice, any company working in the space is free to go.

“The companies are free to work with other competitors. The value of all of this is that the companies are now part of the J&J network,” she adds.

She explains that the companies currently working with JLabs vary across several healthcare sectors from digital health to consumer health.

"The welcome addition of JLABS to Ontario's extensive network of research partners, entrepreneurs and business leaders will help further augment our province's booming life sciences sector," said the Honourable Reza Moridi, Minister of Research and Innovation in a statement sent to YongeStreet.

"The collaboration between JLABS, MaRS Innovation and the University of Toronto will help support great advances in this growing sector and support highly skilled jobs in Ontario for years to come."

Regardless of the demand, not every company that applies receives admission to JLabs. Yu describes a few key qualifiers to be admitted to the life sciences incubator.

“Mostly what we’re looking at is the scientific information. Is the technology compelling? Is there an unmet need? Is this in alignment with what JLabs is interested in?” These are just some of the requirements.

However, every company that’s turned away is encouraged to return when they’re further along in their development, as per the fluid nature of startups, says Yu.

Nestled in the middle of the University of Toronto, several hospitals and one of the country’s most well-known innovation spaces, JLabs is in Toronto for the long haul.

Searching for Employment in a Changing Job Market

There’s no question about it. Finding a job these days is hard, and it’s just getting harder. This has partially fuelled the influx of career-assistance programs and websites, where people increasingly turn to ease the burden of their job search.

The Toronto-based job search service, Ideal is just one among many, and its co-founders Somen Mondal and Shaun Ricci have recently rebranded to widen their reach and help as many eager applicants as possible.

Modal and Ricci are no strangers to entrepreneurship, but while running their first business they ran into the other side of the job search conundrum – they struggled to hire salespeople that were a good fit for their team.

“We wanted to solve a problem that both our founders are familiar with,” said Mondal, who’s served as the co-Founder and CEO of Field ID until it was acquired by Master Lock LLC in December 2012.

Ideal is a job matching program designed to meet the needs of salespeople, a field that Mondal describes as an evolving field. In a world where startups are the businesses of tomorrow, sales is the career path of the future.

He goes on to say that he believes the nature of the job search is changing in light of a largely educated, skilled population.

“I think we’re moving from the world of job board to job matching, but I don’t think we’re ever going to get rid of the human element in recruiting.”

The two-year old company relaunched at the beginning of the month with four major cities on board; Toronto, Boston, San Francisco, and Chicago. Furthermore, once named Ideal Candidate, the company’s name has been shortened to just “Ideal.”

“Eventually, we wanted to have a more aspirational domain. Ideal Candidate, to us, was really focused on just having a job. We are constantly helping people with their career aspirations,” said Mondal.

Mondal and Ricci aren’t the only entrepreneurs tackling the job search market. Angie Kramer is taking this issue on from a freelancer’s point of view.

As the VP of Digital Innovation at Cundari and the CEO and founder of the freelance search engine Job Bliss, Kramer is no stranger to the job search.

“It’s changed dramatically since I went into the workforce. When I went into the workforce, there wasn’t a lot of full-time jobs for skillsets that were brand new,” said Kramer.
Unlike Ideal, Job Bliss is primarily for contractors looking for freelance work, but the end goal is the same – finding reliable employment through a reliable platform.

“I created Job Bliss because I wanted to give contractors the ability to connect with employers and start working,” said Kramer. She goes on to say that through the private database, several groups at different stages in their careers can look for gig work that suits their current situation.

Regardless of the role you’re looking for, Mondal agrees that “looking for a job right now is a gunshot method.”

What Job Bliss and Ideal do have in common however, is the ability to narrow the job search for people who are ready for a new project, role, or even an entirely new career, but don’t know where to look.

Source: https://ideal.com/about/

Peace Collective: the story of a local Canadian brand

When Yanal Dhailieh finished his degree in biomedical science from Waterloo, he wasn't convinced he was in the right field.

After graduating in 2012 he went on to find and leave several positions, including his most recent role as a corporate sales representative with Salesforce, which he left in 2015. Through it all, though Dhailieh had developed an interest in business and design, he had tens of thousands of dollars in student debt to pay.

“It’s really hard to take the first step,” said Dhailieh during a speaker’s event hosted by BrainStation. He continued working full time, all the while developing the clothing brand Peace Collective on the side, until the brand was ready to become more than just a side project.

"Before Peace Collective, I had very little experience with business, fashion or design,” said Dhailieh. However, neither did his co-workers.

"I think that's where most people's entrepreneurial drive starts from,” said Dhailieh, “unhappiness with the status quo.”

Now working with a team of six who have backgrounds ranging from banking to neuroscience, the local clothing brand Peace Collective has gone on to become a Canadian phenomenon.

This phenomenon, however, started as an experiment at a basketball game two years ago.

After printing 2 t-shirts that read "Toronto vs. Everybody" at the local printing shop Bang On, he and a friend wore them to the Raptors' playoff game. They had no idea their design would end up on TSN that night.

Since then, the brand has received endorsements from the Blue Jays, has acquired over 32 thousand followers on Instagram (“I owe my life to Instagram”) and has even collaborated with Norm Kelly to promote their message.

Peace Collective is among the first of many Toronto innovators to be featured in the BrainStation networking event, the Creators of Toronto Breakfast Series.

However, despite their overwhelming success in the past few years, the team has a more altruistic goal in mind.

Dhailieh charitable aspirations werre originally inspired by the popular shoe brand TOMS, which donated one pair of shoes to charitable causes for every pair purchased.

“I was mesmerized by the one-for-one model,”said Dhailieh. Almost immediately after deciding to start a business, he knew he wanted it to be about more than just the clothes.

He wanted his customers to associate Peace Collective with Canada and with charity.

“By me chasing my passion and doing what I love, I wanted to help future generations do the same,” said Dhailieh. “For every shirt you buy from us, it provides two healthy meals and a snack to a child in need.”

The team does this through the organization’s Breakfast for Learning. Furthermore however, Peace Collective offers their customers multiple opportunities to make a difference.

These include volunteering with the team, who goes out monthly to volunteer in the city, community involvement, where Peace Ambassadors can participate in a different activity or goal, and lastly, through donations.

Once everyone is full of bagels and thoroughly caffeinated, Dhailieh leaves BrainStation’s eager listeners with one final piece of advice.

“As you grow and deal with bigger companies, it’s harder to stay true to what you want to do.” He says the key to handling this dilemma is “knowing what you represent and making sure every decision complies with that.”

Source: http://brainstation.io/event/creators-peacecollective-201644161949

Who is Hiring? Indigo, Deloitte Canada, Dialog and Rising Academy Network


One of Toronto’s most prestigious architecture and design firms is hiring an Intermediate Architect to oversee its healthcare divisions. The successful candidate will have five to ten years of experience in architecture in the healthcare community. Preference will be given to registered architects as well as a Master’s Degree in Architecture. Some day-to-day responsibilities of the role include developing and managing client relationships, resolving complex design issues and overall pushing the boundaries of conventional design. Interested applicants can apply through this link.

Deloitte Canada

If you’re an interior designer looking to expand your horizons, you’re in luck. Deloitte Canada is looking to hire a Design Specialist on contract with a breadth of experience in corporate interior design. The successful candidate will also have strong experience with Microsoft Office and Autocad. Some responsibilities of the role include reading and understanding construction drawings and supporting an entire product team as needed. Interested candidates can apply through this link.

Rising Academy Network

Are you an individual looking to educate the world from the comfort of your own home? The Rising Academy Network is looking for part-time curriculum writers and designers to create educational materials for children in Sierra Leone. Some responsibilities of the role include writing lesson plans in Math and Numeracy, Literacy and English as well as other subjects. Teaching experience and other certifications are required. Interested applicants can apply through this link.


Calling all bookworms! Indigo is on the hunt for a Regional Visual Manager. The successful candidate will be responsible for overseeing the presentation of Indigo products across the region to ensure the Indigo brand is executed effectively. This individual will have at least seven years of experience as well as a degree in retail merchandising. Furthermore, this person will act as a link between Home Office, Peers and Management teams. Interested candidates can apply here.

Who is hiring? MaRS Discovery District, BrainStation, 500 Startups Canada

500 Startups Canada

The world’s largest seed-fund accelerator is looking for an Operations Manager based in Toronto, Ontario! The successful candidate should have strong communications skills, well-developed program management skills and experience in coordination. Furthermore, a relevant college degree is an asset. The Operations Manager would be responsible for coordinating the mentors’ daily schedules, managing weekly events and supporting sponsors. Interested candidates can apply through this link.


Toronto’s go-to place to improve your web and creative skills is hiring a General Manager to oversee their 10-week Web Development Immersive Bootcamp. The successful candidate will have an entrepreneurial spirit and a drive for creating product and service experiences. While managing a bootcamp for aspiring developers, some responsibilities would include, managing and coaching a team of 4-6 educators and 18-24 creators while organizing extracurricular activities and overseeing the development of the curriculum. Interested candidates can apply through this link.

Kinetic Café

The Kinetic Café is a design, innovation and technology firm with offices in New York, Montreal and Toronto working with retailers such as ALDO and Indigo to reimagine mobile experiences. The Kinetic Café is on the hunt for a VP of Retail Innovation in their Toronto office who will identify opportunities for growth, work with product managers and grow an account services team to oversee the firm’s portfolio. The successful candidate will have 10 years of experience in client services and extensive experience in a retail vertical. Interested candidates can apply through this link

MaRS Discovery District

One of the world’s largest innovation Hubs is looking for an Associate to join their Health Venture services team. The responsibilities of the role would include supporting the team through financial tracking and administrative work, supporting the team’s advisors through scheduling and participating in client meetings and participating in marketing and data analytics efforts for the Health Venture services team. The successful candidate will possess a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a healthcare related field and experience working with multiple stakeholders, clients and colleagues in a fast paced environment. Interested applicants can apply through this link

SoapBox named Best Place to Work

Brennan McEachran believes that the vision for a company starts from the ground, up.

According to McEachran, the founder and CEO of the innovation management company, SoapBox, organizations need a way to productively organize employee ideas to have a better chance at solving problems that are seldom known to upper management.

“We see pretty overwhelmingly, across the board, that the ideas we get are overwhelmingly positive,” said McEachran.

McEachran started the company when he was just 19 years old and a student at Ryerson University. Once he recognized that students knew the conflicts faced by other students better than any university official could, he went to work developing a way to harness these ideas.

After meeting with the school’s then-President Sheldon Levy, he became the first undergraduate student to develop his business idea in the Digital Media Zone, which is now the country’s most successful university incubator.

“I felt like it was a duty for me to prove that I could graduate with a degree in one hand and a company in the other,” says McEachran, who graduated in 2012.

By the time of his graduation, SoapBox had already hired eight employees.

The Canadian-grown innovation-management company Soapbox was recently named the best workplace in Canada by Great Place to Work for its "high-trust, high-performance workplace culture."

The statement shared with YongeStreet goes on to describe SoapBox as a company that’s anchored in facilitating the constant communication between frontline employees and leadership.

"I am very proud of the company we've built. Since our first days in the Ryerson DMZ, we believed that culture and happy employees were the key to keeping our customers happy and growing our business,” said McEachran in a statement sent to YongeStreet.

Since 2012, the company has grown to include 29 full time employees and now occupies an office in downtown Toronto. The company has gone on to work with brands like Cocoa Cola Canada, BMO and Kijiji. However, that doesn’t mean McEachran is through making SoapBox even better.

“Now what we’re doing is iterating and adding features. We’re exploring what it would look like from the manager’s side.”

He goes on to explain that SoapBox has proven its mandate, the next step is to allow managers to more efficiently spot problems in the workplace. When employees recognize a workplace issue, said McEachran, isn’t the right time to fix it. Managers will soon be able to use the system to spot trends and upcoming conflicts as well.

Furthermore, McEachran wants to improve the quality of the ideas submitted.

“We’re really working on building strong best-practices into the product. We’re building in a couple of features that allow employees to submit ideas that are significantly more relevant.”

To consolidate all of this, the company is working on developing an app for employees and managers to easily communicate on the platform.

His goal, he says, is to harness the energy of a younger workforce and directing it towards pushing entire companies forward, by allowing all companies to compete in the modern-day marketplace.  

“We’re trying to build a product that allows all companies to act like the most successful company of the 21st century.”  

Source: http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/-2117501.htm

City planning for the next disruptive technology: self-driving cars

Stephen Buckley, the General Manager of Transportation Services at the City of Toronto, is no stranger to traffic. Knowing what kind of state the city’s streets are in, he sighs.

“We are the owners, operators and maintainers of the right of way,” he begins.

Coming from the City of Philadelphia, Buckley has transformed the streets of multiple regions over the course of his career in City planning. Since coming to Toronto, he’s seen his role evolve from making the streets safe for cyclists to making the streets operational for driverless vehicles.

On April 19th and 20th, the Conference Board of Canada hosted the “Autonomous Vehicles: Planning the Next Disruptive Technology” conference, where Buckley acted as one of the main speakers.

Along with Barrie Kirk, the executive Director of CAVCOE (the Canadian Automated Vehicle Centre of Excellence), Buckley went on to introduce several scenarios for the implementation of self-driving cars.

However, some distinct differences in the public sector vs. the private sector’s ideas for implementation were presented as the conference unfolded.

According to Antoine Belaieff, the director of regional planning at Metrolinx, it’s imperative that the public sector act on self-driving cars now to ensure that they don’t lost control of something so potentially disruptive.

“[Autonomous vehicles] are neither good nor bad. There’s a lot we can do now, so let’s not wait.
Let’s work together and make sure we’re all at the table.”

Dr. Julia Markovich, Senior Research Associate at the Conference Board of Canada added that while the private sector is leading the development of self-driving cars, there is need for collaboration among industry, the public sector, and members of the public. 

In addition, Kirk stated that in order for driverless vehicles to reach their full potential, they need to be left to develop on their own, without public influence.

“The market is going to determine that,” he said. “Let’s keep the regulations out of this.” He goes on to say that with the full penetration of autonomous vehicles, cities can achieve an 80 per cent reduction in accidents.

However, in Canada, Ontario seems to be leading the initiative behind getting the public ready for self-driving cars. A pilot program was launched in January of this year by the Ministry of Transportation, allowing companies to apply to test autonomous vehicles on Ontario roads.

Furthermore, the City of Toronto has gone on to prepare a divisional working group to mitigate the implementation and the impact of self-driving cars and the possible changes in ownership that may come with it.

Despite the different opinions presented at the conference, every speaker agreed that a lack of preparedness and understanding of this technology is almost ensuring that the impacts are negative rather than positive.

Kirk concludes by saying, “I look back at the 20th century, at how vehicles changed the lives of individuals. In this century, autonomous vehicles will have an impact of equal magnitude on everything we do.”

Source: http://www.conferenceboard.ca/conf/16-0133/default.aspx

Toronto tech community gets its own storytelling night

To an average person, one programming language looks exactly the same as the next. However, David Wolever and Phillip Mendonça-Vieira know better.

Working as the founder and software engineer for Appcanary, Mendonça-Vieira spends his days using one programming language, Ruby to track vulnerabilities in open source code. As the chief technology officer with Akindi, Wolever designs automated assessment systems for teachers using another programming language, Python. Wolever is also the director of PyCon Canada.

As friends, they’d often get together, but they realized they’d never see each other at Ruby-only or Python-only events, and that seemed a little exclusive. One night over a beer, they decided that Toronto’s tech community needed to come together outside their respective ecosystems.

“In late 2013, my friend and I met for beer and thought we should throw an event that brings people together, where you can show up and not fit into one of these boxes,” said Mendonça-Vieira.

On that first night, Mendonça-Vieira says they told all their friends to show up at 8 p.m. sharp, but that no one knew why or who was going to be there.

Hence, the Toronto Tech Worker’s Storytelling Night was born. They’ve grown exponentially since then and now host a storytelling night every three months.

“We think tech people have a responsibility to think about how the systems they design impact others,” says Mendonça-Vieira.

The first storytelling night took place in 2014 at the end of February and since the beginning, Mendonça-Vieira and Wolever have laid out a few ground rules. The first? You’re not allowed to rep your startup.

However, attendees are also asked to keep in mind that the event is intended to be inclusive. There’s a strict ban on racist, transphobic, homophobic, racist, transphobic, ableist, sexist, or “otherwise exclusionary behavior.”

You’ll find it stated right on their website. “Don’t be a jerk.”
Mendonça-Vieira goes on to say that storytelling isn’t exactly part of Toronto’s tech culture, and that this needs to change.

“If you’re from a more typical tech background, this is probably the first storytelling night you’ve been invited to.”

The pair’s last event was hosted this past Thursday at Dundas Video. Mendonça-Vieira says they received over 80 RSVPs this tims, which is more than they’ve been averaging.
So far, Wolever and Mendonça-Vieira have managed to host seven events, each one with a different theme. Stories are pre-screened to ensure that they’re neither inappropriate or ads, but otherwise, participants have free reign to share whatever tale they wish.

Each speaker gets approximately ten minutes, though there’s no set time limit, and speakers have come from all over the tech space to attend. Mendonça-Vieira adds that his guests aren’t the only ones who’ve gained something from these events.

He says that sometimes he’ll find himself thinking, “I know that person, but I did not know they had that experience.”

At the end of the day, he and Wolever want to open up Toronto tech workers to each other to have a few drinks, a few laughs, share the experiences that make working in Toronto’s technology space so unique.

Source: http://xvzf.io/

Toronto startup Flixel partners with Facebook

When a Canadian startup joins forces with Facebook, you know they’re onto something. Toronto-based company Flixel has recently been selected as one of six beta testers to launch Facebook’s new platform, the Profile Expression Kit.

Profile Expression Kit was one of a number of new features revealed by the tech giant during their F8 Developer’s Conference Last week. The Profile Expression Kit is one of several new additions to the Facebook app that allows users to upload a video profile picture without leaving the app, rather than just a static image.

Flixel is a Toronto-based company, founded by Philippe LeBlanc in 2011 after he found himself mesmerized by the world’s first cinemagraph; a static image with one moving component. Since then, LeBlanc has built a company that’s worked with brands such as Apple and Nike to enhance their marketing strategy.

Since their launch, the company has gone on to become a recognized innovator in the marketing space. More so, the team at Flixel believes that cinemagraphs are on their way to becoming a recognized medium. Facebook’s support, says LeBlanc, is just another step in the right direction.
“Profile images are the second most viewed part of Facebook, next to the news feed. They really do see video as the best way to communicate,” said LeBlanc.

He goes on to say that cinemagraphs are the perfect cross between an image and a video, making them perfect for Facebook’s Profile Expression Kit.

However, this is not Flixel’s first brush with the social media maven. In November of 2015, Facebook announced that, for the first time, it would announce video profile pictures. Realizing that this feature could work with cinemagraphs, the team at Flixel didn’t hesitate.

“We did a blog post showing how you could use our tools and upload it to Facebook, and we thought, it would be great if the product team at Menlo Park knew about this,” said LeBlanc.
After months of creating ads that specifically targeted Facebook, Flixel got their attention.

“They reached out to us and said they were working with a select group of beta partners,” continued LeBlanc.

Though Facebook launched the Profile Expression Kit last week with six beta testers, they are accepting applications for new platforms to integrate with the program. LeBlanc says he’s glad to have gotten in first though.

Though Flixel has had to make a few alterations inside their app to make this possible, the biggest change they’ve made is allowing users to create a cinemagraph using their platform, without leaving the Profile Expression Kit.

In LeBlanc’s opinion, it’s just a matter of time before the world realizes how valuable cinemagraph’s can be.

“We see cinemagraphs as the ideal end use for Facebook and Instagram.”
To make the announcement even more satisfying, LeBlanc says that the early adopters of cinemagraphs as a new medium are over the moon.

“They’re super excited because as an early adopter, they believed in the medium. A lot of these creators are now getting hired by brands to do cinemagraphs for them.”

Flixel started its life trying to be a social network, and eventually turned to professionals looking to develop the medium to help the startup grow. It only seems fitting that the next step in Flixel’s journey is to pick up where they left off.

LeBlanc says he’s looking forward to what the future holds for cinemagraphs, and now it’s clear that Flixel will lead the way.

“It fits the use case and it fits our story.”

Source: Philippe LeBlanc

Who is Hiring? Just Eat, OCAD, Architech, Toronto Public Library

Just Eat

Toronto’s fastest growing food-delivery service is hiring a Business Intelligence Lead in Toronto. The successful candidate will have extensive analytics experience and will understand how data improves decision making. This role reports to the International Head of Business. Some responsibilities of the role involve providing key insights that influence the company’s different functions - operations, sales, marketing, finance and product development. Qualified candidates can apply through this link.

Toronto Public Library

Are you an entrepreneur looking to hone your skills by coaching Toronto’s small business owners? The Toronto public library is looking for a successful business owner to fill a nine-week residency to review submitted business ideas and critique them one-on-one with applicants. The Entrepreneur in Residence requires a commitment to mentoring Toronto’s small business community and a minimum of five years of successful business experience. Interested applicants can apply through this link.

City of Toronto

If you have a passion for building better cities, the City of Toronto wants to hear from you. The City is on the hunt for a Director of the Civic Building Portfolio. The successful candidate should have a post secondary education in management, and Project Management Institute Certificate and knowledge of the municipal framework would be an asset. Some responsibilities of the role include developing, designing and implementing programs and serving as the Facilities Management’s senior team member. The successful individual will be responsible for managing multiple teams with creativity and strong direction. Interested applicants can apply here

OCAD University

If you’re a creative soul with an eye for wall art, OCAD University might just be where you belong. No, silly. Not as a student. The university is looking for an Executive and Artistic Director of its Galleries System. The successful candidate should hold an advanced degree in an exhibitions related field. They will also have ten years of experience in management at a museum, public gallery or other art institution. Some responsibilities of the role include ensuring artistic direction, leadership and longterm sustainability of the galleries system. Interested applicants can apply here.


Entrepreneurial design and innovation firm Architech are looking to fill the role of Creative Director. This role calls for an individual with a formal education in design, experience and thought leadership and mentoring others and a recognized brand in the design community. Some responsibilities of the role include executing a design governance program and presiding over all design processes. Interested applicants can apply here

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