Stepping up to an unjust order

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Monthly Archives: January 2017

Stepping up to an unjust order

And with a stroke of a pen, the option for many individuals to leave their homes for a better life has been blocked by an unjust executive order. Having gone through the appropriate measures to secure a visa to the United States, the opportunity that was given to my family and many other families in North America has come to a halt. Although the Trump administration maintains that the executive order is not a “Muslim Ban” there is no other way to describe it.

If you bare no empathy for refugees and immigrants, there is a core reason why you should still oppose Trump’s order. This core reason is simple. It’s about doing the right thing when a group of people are being denounced.

In order to succeed in North America, you must collaborate with talented individuals on great ideas, regardless of their religious beliefs or where they were born. And as Canadians, our commitment to fostering  an open and inclusive society has been our strength. We see and experience this every day with our diverse community at DMZ and in the Canadian tech sector. And as a result, we’ve become a more innovative country. And no matter where you stand on this argument, it’s a fact that diversity is at the core of economic growth.

#Diversty will always remain in Canada’s heritage

The open letter from the Canadian tech sector proves that you don’t need to be a refugee or an immigrant Muslim like myself to feel the impact of this radical policy. You just have to understand that the more a nation marginalizes a group of people, the more socially and economically stagnant it becomes.

Canada has a long standing tradition of being open to those who seek protection from war, violence and discrimination. In order to keep this tradition alive, we must step up and call on the federal government to issue an emergency visa to individuals affected by this executive order.

If you wish to add your support to this effort, please add your name here. However, I call on other leaders of incubators and innovation hubs to not only add their name, but to provide a tangible service to this cause.

The DMZ will be:

  • Offering free work space with access to our resources for those who have been affected by this order
  • Offering support from Goodmans LLP, our legal counsel-in-residence, to help you with business issues as they relate to the US (e.g., managing a US subsidiary, employee contracts and cross-border investment).

I will be personally reaching out to members of our esteemed advisory council, comprised of top business and tech minds in North America, to find concrete ways to support our efforts.

Every single one of us can make a difference, and together, we can make a change. I encourage other partners in the ecosystem to do the same.


Five startups that will help you reach your 2017 resolutions

Know where you stand financially


Do you know your credit score? If not, making large financial goals like saving for your first home or a shiny new car can be challenging if you don’t know how banks or financial lenders view you. The good news is you no longer have to pay $40 or more just to find out what could be an eye opening three digit number. Since June 2016, DMZ alum, Borrowell, has partnered with Equifax to bless Canadians with free credit scores. So take a deep breath, head over to Borrowell’s website and see how likely potential lenders will want to take the risk of giving you a loan. If your credit score is a less than a flattering number, don’t fret! Borrowell provides free tips on how you can reach your credit score goal.

Already know your score? Take things a step further by opening a Registered Retired Savings Plan (RRSP). In your 20s, covering your basic needs often takes priority over longer term goals such as saving for retirement. Investing in RRSPs will reduce your taxes – your future self will thank you. Borrowell and Wealthsimple have partnered to help people make their RRSP’s contributions if they don’t have the cash on hand to do it. So take the leap of faith because Borrowell and Wealthsimple will have your back.

Moving? Don’t forget a thing!


Moving is one of the few things in life you just can’t turn into a fun task. And to be honest… it’s dreadful and there’s really no way around that. But it can be a lot more tolerable and a lot less stressful when you use MoveSnap. If you’re planning to change addresses in 2017, this Toronto-based startup allows you to complete all your moving-related tasks on one easy-to-use platform. What does this include exactly?

  • Transfer utilities: MoveSnap identifies your current and future providers and quickly guides you through transferring or disconnecting utilities
  • Change your address: easily notify businesses, governments (driver’s license, health card, you name it!) and even your favourite magazine about your upcoming move
  • Stay in control: always know what needs to be done next with MoveSnap’s clean and intuitive layout so you never miss a thing.
Got 2017 summer body goals? Don’t we all…


Remember- this year you won’t abandon your health goals by April. Thanks to Optimity, you’ll increase your chances for long-term success in achieving your fitness goals. The platform provides productive 30-second to two-minute micro-breaks that help you rejuvenate and refocus your health efforts. The app helps you cover all bases by managing and centralizing your healthy initiatives from work to home.

Need the daily push and accountability of a trainer? Get on Trainer+. Their new program provides a fitness plan tailored to your needs and delivered by a personal trainer through your phone. Trainer+ allows anyone to receive the support from a fitness professional without breaking their post-holiday bank account. Something those pricey gym packages know how to do a little too well.

Battle your urges with Urbery


Okay, so you’re walking through the aisles of your local grocery store and you’re doing great so far. You’ve got some fresh produce, whole-wheat grains, grass-fed meats and even a couple of those new protein bars everyone at your office is raving about. Then, you find yourself in what feels like the never ending salty snack or bakery aisle and you’re fighting urges that are making your palms sweat. We’ve all been there before, but you no longer have to. Save yourself the battle of possibly losing to the sight of a big bag of Doritos or a six pack of red velvet cupcakes and just get on Urbery. This grocery delivery platform uses a fleet of crowd sourced personal shoppers so you can go online, click the food items you need (not crave) and never have to see those sweet or salty aisles again.

If you use these five startups, you’ll never understand why you thought it would be so hard to stick to your new year resolutions. But if you don’t, you’ve been warned.

How do I avoid hiring the wrong people

Develop a “hiring philosophy”

Hiring for your startup is a positive sign that your venture is taking off. So congrats on doing something right. But before you hire anyone, identify what your company’s values are. What’s your startup’s mandate and what personal attributes you and your co-founder(s) do your employees have that contribute to it? Answering these questions might seem like a drag, but when you state your startup’s core values -kindness, attention to detail… teamwork anyone?- they can guide employee behaviour and in turn, help you set expectations on what traits your next hire should possess.

Hire for “fit”

It’s a concept that’s hard to define, but anyone can tell when a company’s office culture and their employees aren’t a good fit. For example, imagine having an open office environment that focuses on group work, but every employee is an introvert. At its core, cultural fit means making sure that employees’ behaviours are in sync with an employer’s values. It’s important to make sure the individual you’re looking to hire continues to balance the cultural scale.

Create a “structured interview process”

Interviews should always be (past) performance and competency-based. However, umbrella questions are only good to get the ball rolling, so make sure you get specific. For example, if you’re looking for a new sales rep, make sure you ask questions specific to their field like “how do you keep up-to-date on your target market?” or “explain something to me.” Having a set of specific questions for every sales candidate you interview will help you have a fair and structured interview, and will make it easier to decipher which one would be best suited for the job.

“Hone your decision making”

Be clear with your co-founders on what you’re looking for. If you’re about to interview a candidate together, make sure you’re all on the same page. Meet before the interview to make a list of a few words or points you both think the ideal candidate would touch on. You should also look at the first few tasks your new employee will be taking on in their role and ask yourself what skills they’d need to accomplish them. Your process of finding the right person for the job is only as strong as your ability to articulate what your startup is looking for.

Attitude vs. technical skills

When it comes to choosing between someone with a good work ethic versus the right skill set, it’s best to go with the first. Many technical skills can be taught, but behaviours such as an individual’s character traits would take much more time. If you want to make sure a candidate ‘fits’ your startup’s culture, give them a hypothetical social challenge to see how they go about solving it. Overall, when it comes to finding the right candidate, attitude is usually a better gauge than the right skill set. Don’t believe us? Ask someone who’s had an experience with choosing the opposite.

How a Toronto startup can help your business profit from VR

Due to VR being known primarily for gaming, many see it as an unappealing and unrelatable platform. One DMZ-based startup, Pinch VR, is showing consumers and brands that immersive virtual experiences are capable of going far beyond gaming and can even be available at a low price. Pinch VR provides printable and disposable VR headsets and controllers that allow you to “pinch” yourself into a different reality using your smartphone. Unlike other VR options on the market, Pinch VR’s handheld controllers go further than the sometimes shallow visual-only experience.

Pinch VR co-founders Vlad Dascalu and Milan Baic went through several shifts and trials in order to develop the product they have now. After talking to a number of companies, investors, and consumers, they soon found out that interactivity is where the VR market is.

“In order for someone to deliver an immersive experience you need consumers to have hardware in their hands”

Pinch VR is able to provide a “cheap solution,” unlike its competitors because their hardware doesn’t include any technology. Instead, all forms of software come from the user’s smartphone. Although Pinch VR is gaining more traction for being able to distribute content on a global scale with its easy-to-use, low price and smartphone accessible VR product, Dascalu understands that there is an expiration date for their headset and controllers.

“There will be an expiry on Pinch in like seven years when everyone will have VR headsets… So, then we move over to the second phase of software play.”

Now, Pinch VR is providing brands an opportunity to explore, design and implement immersive virtual solutions for internal and external marketing. Brands can provide their customers the ability to create whatever reality they wish by jumping into a virtual sandbox using their smartphone and Pinch VR controllers. Imagine using VR to test drive a few vehicles before taking one out of the lot or using VR to view a few homes with your real estate agent. According to Dascalu, the startup’s goal is to become one of the leaders in VR consulting and development for brands and marketers.