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Meet 13 up-and-coming tech startups in the DMZ’s Bootcamp

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Meet 13 up-and-coming tech startups in the DMZ’s Bootcamp

Introducing a new cohort of Bootcamp companies who are hitting above their weight across a diverse range of industries

Our newest Bootcamp cohort is in full swing, and we are thrilled to present the 13 tech companies that we have hand-selected to take their businesses to the next level. For the next six weeks, the DMZ will help these founders validate their business idea, establish a minimum viable product and build a roadmap for implementation to launch their startup.

Our Bootcamp founders get the chance to participate in peer-to-peer sessions, founder roundtables and expert-led workshops, receive 80+ membership benefits valued at $470,000+, have one-on-one support from our DMZ Program Leads and much more. Post-graduation, they will be on track to launch their startup within three months and generate revenue within six, allowing them to kick-start their entrepreneurial journey!

We are delighted to share that our new cohort of startups have a global reach, with startups across Canada, the United States, Brazil, Estonia and Africa.

So, without further ado, please welcome our incoming cohort of cutting-edge companies:

Newest cohort of DMZ Bootcamp tech startups
BestAuction

Newest cohort of DMZ Bootcamp tech startups: bestauction

BestAuction is a digital platform designed for individuals and SMBs to manage the procurement process and initiate digital cross-collaboration.

Troop Impact

Woman Founders stream
Newest cohort of DMZ Bootcamp tech startups: troopTroop Impact is a social impact tech platform for SMBs that allows businesses to meet the social responsibility demands of employees and customers by voting monthly on where their company’s social impact dollars will be allocated.

TechFusion

Black Innovation Program stream
TechFusion is an accessible digital banking platform for credit unions, cooperatives and savings groups, targeted toward the unbanked and underserved in Africa.

SensaioTech

Newest cohort of DMZ Bootcamp tech startups: SensaiotechSensaioTech is an end-to-end fire risk assessment solution that is able to monitor and predict when and where a wildfire will occur using artificial intelligence.

Paysync

Black Innovations Programs stream
PaySync is a financial technology services company developing financial solutions for employee wellbeing and productivity.

Gander

Black Innovation Program stream
Gander is a B2B, subscription-based, AR and 3D modelling API plug-in service designed to allow customers to virtually interact with products on e-commerce sites.

ZewalletZewallet

Zewallet allows customers to scan a QR code to tip, split and pay a bill at the end of their meals, benefitting both customer experiences and merchants in cost and time efficiency and in increased revenue.

ZaNiheza

Woman Founders stream and Black Innovation Programs stream
Newest cohort of DMZ Bootcamp tech startups: Za NihezaZaNiheza is a dual booking software and travel marketplace that empowers verified operators to list and sell quality experiences online to travellers.

Sleekscore

Black Innovation Program stream
Sleekscore is a financial technology company that seeks to assist those who are either unfamiliar with credit or inadequately served by traditional financial products to build and improve their credit scores while getting into the habit of saving money.

Scooli

Black Innovation Program stream
Scooli is a one-stop-shop digital solution for educators that minimizes the time teachers and administrators spend on redundant administrative tasks.

Frenzy Brands

Frenzy Brands

Woman Founders stream
Frenzy Brands extends a child’s understanding of the stock market, business and investing with a focus on learning through play.

LeaderTree

Black Innovation Program stream
LeaderTree is a single integrated platform that enables effective leaders,

teams, collaboration and results through assessments, training, coaching and tools to understand strengths, needs, tendencies and preferences.

DataCalculus

Woman Founders stream
Data CalculusDataCalculus is an automated software that acts like a personal computer but for the purpose of advanced data analytics and machine learning for the mass market.

 

If you are an early-stage tech founder and are interested in joining the DMZ Bootcamp alongside amazing peers like these, check out more about the program and its selection criteria here. Our next cohort kicks off September 2022!

23 up-and-coming tech startups you’ll want to keep an eye on

Meet the DMZ’s newest Bootcamp cohort, 23 companies who are innovating across diverse industries


Our newest
Bootcamp cohort is in full swing. The DMZ is ecstatic to present 23 tech companies that have been hand-selected to join this cohort, from startups that produce smart bedsheets, to platforms that help businesses share data about their carbon footprint. For the next 6 weeks, the DMZ will help these founders validate their business idea, establish a minimum viable product, and build a roadmap for implementation to launch their startup.

Bootcamp founders participate in peer-to-peer sessions, founder roundtables, and expert-led workshops. They receive 80+ membership benefits valued at $470,000+, have one-on-one support from our Program Leads, and much more. Post-graduation, they will be on track to launch their startup within 3 months and generate revenue within 6, allowing them to kick-start their entrepreneurial journey!

The cohort has founders based in Canada, U.S., U.K., and Ukraine.

Keep an eye out for these startups who are making major waves in tech:

lightster image
Lightster
offers a mobile platform for customer interviews on-demand.  They enable Product Managers & Entrepreneurs (Creators) to talk to target customers (Lightsters) in 60 seconds, allowing anyone to earn $60 an hour by being their true self with no investment or skillsets required.

notion patch
Notion Patch is an ed-tech startup offering online XR exams. Identifying the need for online exam security and XR technology positions, Notion Patch offers customers to complete certified & approved exams online in Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, or with a Smartphone AR App.

 

crowdparty
Crowd Party Inc.
is the Netflix for workplace games, allowing teams to build joyful connections remotely or in a hybrid working environment.

 

ballstreet image
BallStreet
is building a fractionalized stock market for trading sports cards on the blockchain. They enable card owners to earn royalties and buyers to invest in fractional ownership in the sports world’s most sought-after collectibles.

 

carbongraph
Carbon Graph is a communications platform for businesses to share data about the carbon footprint of their products. It is the first of its kind to enable complex, global supply chains to achieve carbon transparency and associated ROI.

 

carjuggle
Car Juggle
is a platform where users can appraise, buy, sell, or lease a pre-owned vehicle, with the ability to determine fair market value, list or buy, and get instant offers from dealers, including international buyers.

 

swftr image
SWFTR
provides a platform to streamline the process of making critical deliveries with high reliability, transparency, and efficiency. Equipped with a technology-enabled platform and scalable network of delivery professionals, SWFTR offers clients a holistic critical logistics solution, allowing them to focus on their day-to-day operations.

 

dwella image
Dwella
is a prop-tech company aiming to democratize real estate investing. By leveraging the ethereum blockchain, Dwella is making fractional ownership possible and providing liquidity.

 

tailwind
Tailwind is an online guidance counselling platform that helps students make a successful transition into the first year of post-secondary school.

 

litespace image
Litespace
is a modern, hybrid, and remote workplace solution focused on optimizing efficiency and engagement in the workspace. Through AI, Litespaces enables efficient collaboration among employees based on their statuses, teams, roles, and their proximity to each other.

 

noxware
Noxware Ltd.
is a MedTech startup that produces smart bedsheets for remote health monitoring for seniors requiring telehealth services at home. Noxware’s bedsheets can detect different patterns of body movement, perform remote rehabilitation, and monitor cardiovascular abnormalities and sleep disorders.

 

gobazzinga image
GoBazzinga
is a blockchain-powered gamified social media platform that helps creators in developing faster monetization of sustainable revenue streams that allows them to continue doing what they love.

 

quanta vici image
Quanta Vici
is a smart wearable tech startup that was born to expand the spectrum of human senses and abilities through practical day-to-day smart wearable technologies. Their products include Smart Heated Wearables, a product line of gloves and socks that sense and maintain the exact temperature clients personally chose.

oo

Cartoonely is a marketplace that helps customers purchase custom art made by real artists. Cartoonely has sold custom portraits across 14 different countries within a year.

 

round
Round the Block
offers a mobile app that helps students find driving instructors easily. They also organize instructor schedules and handle daily marketing, enabling instructors to focus on teaching.

 

virtue image
Virtue
is a Chrome extension that empowers consumers to make a change by leveraging their buying decisions. Virtue activates when users shop online while seamlessly recommending 300+ Black-owned alternative businesses.

 

baa
Beauty N Brushes
is a social beauty booking web app connecting women and People of Colour to Black beauty professionals. It allows clients to explore the Black beauty looks they love and book the professionals responsible for those looks.

 

arrow
Simplicad
is building a SaaS-enabled marketplace that allows homeowners to order custom ironwork from all around the world.

 

snap write ai
SnapWrite AI
uses product images to generate product features and product descriptions for eCommerce companies. They provide tools for retailers, independent store owners, in-house marketing teams, and copywriters to structure a brand’s catalogue.

 

brainbot
Brainbot is a personalized concussion recovery app that gamifies recovery, focusing on tracking activities and symptoms and providing the clear guidance survivors seek. Their platform connects users virtually with licensed Occupational Therapists for enriched support. Shelley Vaisberg, Brainbot’s founder, is available for private consultation here.

 

granularity​​
Granularity helps businesses decide how much to order and how often with improved accuracy. Granularity infuses demand forecasting with AI and big data, using social media, macroeconomics, and more.

 

visionai
VisionAI Solutions
integrates data from wearables and medical devices and patient EMR (Electronic Medical Record) data to provide real-time data on homecare, retirement home, and long-term care clients.

carbongraph
Vicuna Corp
is an ed-tech startup that houses Scholaebot, a smart engine streamlining the creation, generation, editing, and management of mathematics content with minimal user input. Scholaebot consists of a base repository of mathematics template questions, and analyses and generates similar questions based on those templates.

 

If you are an early-stage tech founder and are interested in joining the DMZ Bootcamp, check out more about the program details and selection criteria here.

 

4 ways you can take your website copy from good to great

DMZ guest blog by: Karina Barker, DMZ EiR


As one of the DMZ’s tactical EiRs, I get the incredible job of working with founders to help them amp up their copywriting. Not only do I offer strategic advice around brand positioning, voice, content, etc., I also get to roll up my sleeves and
do the writing alongside the founders.

Over my time in this capacity, I’ve noticed several common questions emerge as startups work to articulate their value proposition. While their vision might be clear in their minds, crafting website copy that has customers sitting up and taking action can be more of a challenge.

With more than 16 years under my belt as a copywriter and communications specialist, I’ve written for every kind of organization, from government, to startups, to Fortune 500 companies. I’ve seen firsthand how small mistakes can limit your copy’s impact—and how some simple tweaks can make all the difference. Seriously!

Here are 4 tips you can use to take your website from good to great:

 

1. Nail your homepage headline and sub-headline

According to the Nielsen-Norman Group, users leave websites on average after about 10-20 seconds. That means you’ve got less than 10 seconds to make your value proposition clear and convince visitors to stay. 

Your homepage headline and sub-headline are the first things visitors will see when they land on your page. That means these are your best shot to convince a visitor to stay (and hopefully convert). 

One of the most common mistakes I see companies make is focusing their website on them

A common format you’ll see is: We offer [this service] by doing [this thing]. Or, similarly: At [company], we help [this type of person] do [this thing].

But the goal of your website isn’t to share information about you. The goal of your website is to attract and convert customers. And that means you need to turn the spotlight on your customer —and talk about them.

Take a look at this homepage headline from Wealthsimple. 


Image: Wealthsimple

They don’t say “We help you do money right.” 

Instead the headline is direct and it implies “I’m going to do money right (with Wealthsimple’s help).” That subtle shift makes the reader see themselves in the headline.

The subheading then goes on to clearly articulate the actual “thing” that Wealthsimple offers (“powerful financial tools”) and the action-packed benefits that the customer can expect to derive (“grow and manage your money”).

While Wealthsimple makes it look easy, this kind of copy can take time and work (not to mention testing). If you don’t know where to start, a great first step is “voice of customer” research. Interview your customers, survey your product testers, read your online for views and search for the words your target audience uses to talk about benefits. This gives you a foundation to begin crafting and testing your headlines.

 

2. Don’t underestimate the power of social proof

Social proof is a powerful form of persuasion. When you include social proof in your webcopy, you tap into one of humanity’s deepest desires: to belong. 

We all put a lot of value on what we see people we trust doing and supporting. When we’re trying to decide between all the different options out there, we look to see what other people are doing. In fact, 91% of consumers read reviews before making a purchasing decision.  

If you’ve ever wondered why brands are willing to pay influencers big bucks for endorsements, this is it.

Here are some ideas for how to include social proof for businesses, even if you’re just getting started:

  • List any awards or prizes that your business has received
  • Share press/media/interviews covering your company
  • Run a social media campaign (and offer incentives) to encourage users to rate or review your product 
  • Request reviews or testimonials from existing customers
  • Create case studies based on real-life clients—or if you haven’t worked with any clients yet, craft use case studies that use a character that customers will identify with. (Note: always be clear if a study is based on a hypothetical rather than real world client.)
  • Share logos of high-profile clients that you’ve worked with
  • Share the number of users you’ve reached or clients you’ve served

Certain types of social proof will be worth more to certain audiences. Think about what can do to move the needle the most, and work towards collecting and presenting that type of social proof.

 

3. Keep your calls-to-action consistent

A call-to-action (CTA) is the moment when all of the work you’ve put into the rest of your copy gets put to the test. The CTA is where you encourage visitors to take your desired action. 

In order to craft a successful CTA you need to: 

  • Know what you want a visitor to do. Sign up for a free trial? Subscribe to your newsletter? Book a call with your sales team? 
  • Make it stand out. Pick the right spot, colour, visuals to draw visitor’s eyes to your CTA.
  • Be direct. CTAs are usually imperatives that begin with an action word. “Sign Up Now,” “Learn More,” “Start Your Free Trial.” Your CTA is not the place to get too wordy. 
  • Offer incentives. Make it easy for visitors to say yes by adding a line or two below your CTA: reassure visitors (e.g. cancel any time) or offer a desirable incentive (e.g. 10% of your first order)
  • Create urgency. Make visitors take action while they’re on your site. Use time words (e.g. sign up now, grab your instant download) to create a sense of urgency or signal time constraints (e.g. limited time offer)

But one of the most common mistakes I see is a lack of consistency in your CTA copy. If you want visitors to follow through, your CTA must be crystal clear–and repeated over and over. 

You can’t possibly miss Hubspot’s CTA. Not only is it in bright orange, it’s repeated word-for-word in their header and navigation bar. Even though their CTA is a little on the longer side, you know exactly what you’re supposed to do next (“Start free or get a demo”):


Image: Hubspot

In essence, when crafting your CTA, ask: What should the user do, and why? Your CTA should work in tandem with the rest of your webcopy to drive that message home. Inconsistent messaging (or multiple, competing CTAs in close proximity) can confuse your target audience or, worse, make them lose trust in your business. 


4. Boost interest with a unique brand voice

Once you’ve nailed the technical copywriting pieces, you can take your website (and your brand) to the next level by honing your brand voice. 

While it can seem daunting, developing your brand voice doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Reflect your audience. Go back to customer profiles and reflect on the voice used by your ideal clients. Is your target audience young and sassy or mature and sophisticated? 
  • Name three characteristics of your ideal brand voice. Authoritative? Trustworthy? Quirky? Cool? Passionate? Informative? Pick three attributes that capture the essence of your business. 
  • Define the dos and don’ts of your brand voice. Once you have your three characteristics, you can get more detailed on how this translates to your copy. For example, if you pick “trustworthy” as one of your attributes, your dos and don’ts may include: 
    • Do: use honesty, direct language, be transparent, share mistakes, follow-through
    • Don’t: push the hard sell, use jargon, over promise, trash talk competitors

As you grow, you can build out your brand voice into a document to share with anyone who is handling communications for your business. And remember, as you grow and change, your brand voice may develop too. 

If you need help with your copywriting, I’d love to chat! Learn more about how DMZ’s EiRs can support your business here

Meet 25 up-and-coming tech startups in the DMZ’s Bootcamp

Introducing a new cohort of Bootcamp companies who are making waves across diverse industries 

Our newest Bootcamp cohort is in full swing, and we are ecstatic to present the 25 tech companies that we have hand-selected to help grow. For the next 6 weeks, the DMZ will help these founders validate their business idea, establish a minimum viable product and build a roadmap for implementation to launch their startup.

Our Bootcamp founders get the chance to participate in peer-to-peer sessions, founder roundtables and expert-led workshops, receive 80+ membership benefits valued at $470,000+, have one-on-one support from our Program Leads, and much more. Post-graduation, they will be on track to launch their startup within 3 months and generate revenue within 6, allowing them to kick-start their entrepreneurial journey!

We are thrilled to share that our new cohort has a global reach, with startups based across 8 different countries: Canada, Italy, Nigeria, U.S., Iran, Pakistan, Korea, and England. 

What are we waiting for? Meet the 25 startups in our summer Bootcamp cohort:


afrilearn image
Afrilearn is an education technology corporation leveraging seasoned teachers, animators and developers to deliver affordable, world-class education for Africans anywhere.
Glo3DInc

Glo3D offers a simplified mobile and web app for any eCommerce platforms to create, share and embed interactive, multimedia 2D and 3D product photos to their online stores.

 

PaydApp is Canada’s first financial app dedicated to post-secondary education. Payd leverages natural spending habits of current, former, and future students to help them pay off their student debt with ease, limiting financial stress and hardship. 


Websona connects students with campus involvement opportunities and fellow students. It allows users to connect with each other instantly by scanning their digital profile QR Code and filters extra-curricular events for users through tags.

 

Diatron Health is a health tech startup that is revolutionizing how chronic conditions can be prevented, managed and diagnosed by leveraging on the power of behavioural science, mobile computing, artificial intelligence and data science.


Stabl
is the first digital health platform with integration capabilities that enables physiotherapists providing virtual care to track and quantify a patient’s biomechanics using laptop cameras. Physios can diagnose a patient, create treatment plans, and monitor their improvements through reassessments, providing a more effective and transparent approach to virtual physiotherapy.

 

Ationlab is a lifestyle-design company that pursues social missions supporting sustainable, independent life in contemporary society. Their recently launched self-care app, Prickly, provides support to single-person households. They are also working on a portable UVC sterilizer and a mobile dumbbell using EMS technology.


TimeoutIQ Tech is an AI-powered solution that helps parents manage their kids’ recreational screen time and keeps their minds sharp with a personalized interactive K-8 education curriculum focused on Science, Math, Geography, Computer Science and English.

 


Visto is automating the immigration process to help people navigate the immigration journey at a fraction of the price. The immigration process can be extremely expensive, confusing and stressful, and Visto’s software solution was designed to empower  immigrants to go through the process on their own.

 

SCYiBL is a 6 step neuro-scientific process that helps individuals work through trauma. The app guides users to rewire their own brain using an innovative, scientifically-proven process that harnesses brain plasticity to help individuals overcome negative life events and thrive.

 


Lobbea is a private social network for apartment buildings that helps its residents communicate through a shared feed wall, as well as buy, sell, lend, and borrow items, create events, and send messages to their neighbours.

 


Djamgatech Corp builds multilingual and platform independent high tech education and certification mobile applications. Their objective is to have a global reach and help professionals and students prepare for their technical certification directly from their mobile phone.

 

iReal is the first Real-Estate-Data-Platform-as-a-Service with made-to-measure AI and NLP, capturing each organization’s ‘secret sauce’ to help them become the real estate company their clients expect.

Podium Team is a vertically integrated social media platform that connects, engages, and supports the athlete-fan community by empowering users to own and control their content and monetization.

 

PHYSICo is an application for companies to proactively identify and reduce burnout in their employees. Users send physical and custom challenges to each other and earn points for completing challenges. 

IMC Business Architecture has developed a mobile app-based banking solution that helps users build a budget using behavioural economic tools, as well as receive access to small credit for credit repair and savings tools for planning.

 

Curismart is a marketplace platform that allows healthcare professionals to only shop from verified sellers globally. This marketplace offers everything used in a healthcare facility from bin liners, materials, supplies, devices or capital equipment.

 

Pandos is an online platform that enables remote collaboration and teamwork in post-secondary programs. Students can use the platform to form and manage teams, while instructors can create teams based on criteria and assign tasks.

 

Voiceform is an online tool that gives you the ability to create surveys that can be answered with voice. It provides a convenient way to scale your research without losing the important contextual insights you would get from interviews.

 

Hutsy Financial is a Canadian digital bank committed to offering a fee-free prepaid VISA debit card with up to 30% cash back at select retailers, accompanied by an application that enables clients to track their spending and have access to early payroll.

 

Revitalizing Fitness is developing Toronto’s preeminent network of fitness and health spaces, both virtual and brick and mortar, by partnering with community gyms to develop and elevate the customer and trainer experience.

 

Bloc of Estate uses an intuitive gesture-based interface where users can share their home preferences. With that data, machine learning will automatically rank listings inferred from inputs so users waste less time going through listings.

 

Adam Wa Mishmish  is an educational cartoon created for children to learn and love the Arabic language. Catered to children aged 0 to 5, all episodes are music based for Arabic learning. Each episode focuses on a different subject, ranging from alphabets, numbers, musical instruments, animals, and more.

Blox is focused on developing supply chain technology to help clients save costs and increase visibility to their supply chain.

 


Tilaus
 helps small Canadian accounting firms to confidently implement changing professional requirements in a cost-effective, efficient and secure manner.  The cloud-based platform allows partners and sole practitioners in accounting firms to access and store client information in real-time, reducing the need for servers and outdated information.

 

If you are an early-stage tech founder and are interested in joining the DMZ Bootcamp, then check out more about the program details and selection criteria here

Applications are now being accepted for the October 2021 cohort. Apply here today!

4 Toronto startups to watch out for in 2018

Last year saw explosive growth in the Toronto startup scene. Some of the city’s most popular homegrown companies raised million-dollar investments, extended their services across the country and expanded into the U.S.

While it’s never easy to pick which startups to highlight for our must-watch list, the following truly stood out in 2017 and arevexpected to do big things in the coming year.

TopHat


TopHat is one of the few Canadian startups dominating the education technology (edtech) space. It offers college and university instructors an easy-to-use platform that combines online tests, interactive tools and digital textbooks. In fact, the company’s products have even caught the eye of high-profile schools at home and abroad (Dalhousie University, California State University and Indiana University, just to name a few).

Standout: Last year, the company won ‘Startup of the Year’ at the Canadian Startup Awards for its new learning tools and raised a whopping $30 million. Insiders expect it to do big things in 2018 after taking on international education giants, like Pearson and McGraw.

Ritual


Ritual’s app isn’t used by everyone in Toronto. However, you’d be hard-pressed to find a store in the downtown core that doesn’t feature the company’s logo.

The foodie app lets individuals pre-order food ahead of time for easy pickup and since launching has signed more than 100 businesses across the GTA. Its 2017 wins include a massive Series B round; likely a precursor to more high-profile developments in the coming months.

Standout: Aside from a never-ending list of positive press (everything from features in the Washington Street Journal and Canada’s BetaKit), it also snapped up $43.5 million. The company’s executive team also revealed its 2018 plans to expand into several U.S. major cities.

Rumie


The words ‘nonprofit’ and ‘startup’ may sound like an oxymoron, but companies like Rumie are proving it’s possible. They’re transforming the for-good sector and bent on changing the world by using new technologies.

The Toronto startup develops and delivers low-cost digital learning tools to underserved communities around the world. Its reach extends to Jordan, Turkey and Syria where it teaches refugee youth basic education. In northern Canada, the company is connecting communities that suffer from unreliable bandwidth with offline learning materials.

Standout: Any startup that wins Google’s ‘nonprofit of the year’ award is likely destined to do great things. This year, Rumie plans to expand its presence in Canada and beef up its Toronto offices to take on even more challenges.

StackAdapt


The software company, based in the city’s trendy King St. East area, is no novice in the tech field. The advertising firm counts industry leaders like Google, Banque Libano and Kodak as clients. Most recently it garnered headlines with its #HackDiversity campaign.

The initiative highlights the company’s free app, Unbiasify, which removes names and profile photos of candidates applying through online recruitment platforms.

Standout: Diversity is a well-known problem in the tech community. This startup could help make a real difference with its latest project.

Is artificial intelligence dangerous?

Elon Musk. Stephen Hawking. Bill Gates.

Some of the richest (and best known) names in science and technology are worried about the future survival of mankind. These innovators are sounding the alarm, not about North Korea, nuclear war or even global warming, but something much more sinister: artificial intelligence.

Hollywood has spent decades showcasing how dangerous artificially intelligent computers (think: Terminator, Ex Machina and more) can be. However some experts believe the bigger (and arguably more immediate) threat A.I. poses isn’t from killer robots, but something far less sexy: computer-generated bias. When computers make decisions based on data skewed by humans it can topple economies and disrupt communities.

Helpful or harmful?

 
One of the most pivotal moments in A.I. history took place in 1996 when IBM’s supercomputer, Deep Blue, beat chess champion, Garry Kasparov. For some, it signalled how far technology had come and how powerful the technology could soon become.

Since then, newspapers have produced countless stories about what an artificially intelligent future could look like. However, the reality is that A.I.is already here. In fact, machines lurk behind the millions of decisions that impact our every move, like what stories pop up in online newsfeeds and how much money banks lend its customers.

In a way, this makes the A.I. infinitely more dangerous. These algorithms shape public perception in ways that were once considered unimaginable.

“The idea of robots becoming smarter than humans and us losing our place in the totem pole is misplaced,” @HumeKathryn.

What people should worry about instead is how machines are making big decisions based on little information. “What I found the greatest hurdle has to do with machine learning systems. They make inferences based on data that carries with it traces of bias in society. The algorithms are picking up on that bias and perpetuating it,” explained Kathryn Hume, vice president of product and strategy for integrate.ai.

What comes next?

 

In theory, machines should offer up bias-free and objective decisions, but that’s often not the case. Computers learn by reviewing examples fed to it and then use that information as a basis for future decisions. In layman terms, it means if you train a computer using biased information, it will end up replicating it.

dmzthereview-ai

One doesn’t have to look too far to find examples of this phenomenon. In 2016, Pro Publica found learning software COMPAS was more likely to rate black convicts higher for future recidivism than their white counterparts. Last year Google’s algorithm was likelier to show high-paying jobs to men than women, and online searches for CEOs regularly showed more white men than another other race or gender.

Breaking down bias in A.I.

 
Breaking down bias is possible. However, it takes work and a lot of it. Relying on more inclusive data can go a long way to fixing the problem.

“It’s important that we be transparent about the training data that we are using, and are looking for hidden biases in it, otherwise we are building biased systems,” said John Giannandrea, Google’s chief A.I. expert, earlier this year.

Education is also a crucial part of the equation. Organizations like the Algorithmic Justice League are helping on that front. Among many things, they’re educating the public about A.I. limitations and working to improve algorithmic bias.

“We in the data community need to get better at educating the public,” adds Hume. “The superficial level sounds really scary and they will stymie the use of it. The tech community can help people who aren’t technical community know what the stuff is and feel empowered to use it.”

Meet the future Einsteins: The kids taking over A.I.

It’s Saturday morning and Toronto-born Tommy Moffat is hunched over his computer. The award-winning programmer is fixated on getting the algorithm behind his A.I.-fuelled robot up and running.

Despite an impressive Rolodex that includes contact details for influencers at some of today’s hottest tech companies, Moffat isn’t an entrepreneur at some high-flying startup or engineer at a high-profile tech company. In fact, he’s just a teenager living in Burlington, Ontario. Although, you would be hardpressed to believe it by just looking at his resume.

At 16 years old, he’s accomplished what it takes some professionals a lifetime to achieve. Earlier this month he spoke at the 2017 Toronto Machine Learning conference, alongside industry heavyweights, like Ozge Yeloglu, chief data scientist at Microsoft Canada, and Google Brain’s Aidan Gomez.

He also recently placed in the top one percent for his age group at an international conference and is slated to join a new startup, called Gradient Ascent, where he’ll be the youngest member of staff.

But all that doesn’t really matter to him. “What I really want to do is change the world,” he says. His motivation isn’t fame or fortune but altruism, he confesses. “I want to use what I’ve learned to help other people. Using augmented reality and computer vision could help a lot of people with disabilities in the real world.”

Teen prodigies making a difference using A.I.

Artificial intelligence has transformed how people around the world access data. It’s  created a new way for everyday engineers to change lives by helping machines do what humans can’t: analyze data at lightning-fast speeds.

While it might be easy to view Moffat as an outlier, he’s quick to point out that he’s not. Other Generation Z-ers — those born mid-to-late nineties — feel the same way he does. “You can see the difference you can make in the world with [artificial intelligence]. It’s not only me.”

Moffat’s right. He’s not the only teenager focused on making the world a better place.

Meet Generation Z


Kavya Kopparapu, also 16, has created an application that A.I. app that can cheaply and quickly diagnose diabetic retinopathy. The eye disease, associated with diabetes, and can lead to blindness if not treated early.

“One of the most important applications of artificial intelligence is in medicine, in saving lives,” she explains in a recent TED Talk. “I envision … a future where a diagnosis is available to anyone, regardless of where they live, money or even electricity. I envision a future where we can save lives”.

Meanwhile, Canadian prodigy Tanmay Bakshi, 13, is working with IBM on a project designed to help a quadriplegic woman walk again. “We’re trying to give her artificial communication ability … through the power of artificial intelligence and systems like IBM Watson that allow you to essentially implement artificial intelligence.”

While he’s somewhat of a celebrity in the tech world — his YouTube channel has more than 20,000 subscribers  — he remains humble. “[I’m interested] in generally sharing my knowledge about these sorts of technologies with the rest of the community and of course through things like open-source technology and so much more.”

The kids are alright



Vik Pant isn’t surprised by today’s tech-leaning youth. Especially teens choosing to specialize in A.I.; a burgeoning new area in tech that’s expected to grow in the future.

“A.I. is the future. It’s not a trend. It’s on the ramp up, not down,” @vikpant, who works for Oracle’s competitive intelligence team. “Youth see that and want to harness that potential.”

The only challenge he can see is a discrepancy between those, like Moffat, who posses new-age tech skills and those that don’t. Primarily, youth from lower-income brackets who might have access to tools they require.

“Definitely in terms of artificial intelligence it’s a discipline and domain that doesn’t discriminate, he explains. “It’s socioeconomic factors that constrain or allow youth to be more involved. I’m encouraged, though. I’ve noticed that many private sector and corporations are helping underprivileged helping youth.”

Moffat agrees. Thankfully, the learning opportunities that exist today have grown beyond what was available as little as 10 years ago. Now people, at any age, can start learning online. It’s this type of thinking that drives Moffat’s to one day become an industry expert in A.I.

“Before I broke out of my old way of thinking, I never thought about becoming an ‘expert’ in anything. It takes years to go through school to get a degree. With the help of modern education programs like The Knowledge Society, it’s possible to go way deeper into a topic at a significantly earlier age than ever before.”

3 must reads about tech’s gender discrimination problem

In recent weeks dozens of women have shared their stories about the abuse they encountered while working in Hollywood. Many of these victims — actresses, producers, and editors — disclosed how disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein exploited women for decades.

Since then the scandal has launched a national discussion about sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace. For those working in tech, the issue is nothing new. The industry’s problems are well documented.

Of course, harassment in tech — like in other spaces — is complex and daunting, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t solvable. Here are three must-read articles on the subject by those in the industry and what can be done to change things for the better.

Cultivate stories, create a paper trail

 
After Weinstein’s harassment became public other women around the world began speaking up about their own encounters with the film executive. The moment served as an important reminder about how powerful it can be for victims to speak out in large numbers.

“When one woman breaks the silence, others are empowered to tell their stories,” @SoniaoSsorio, president of @NOW_NYC.

When it comes to tech, a groundbreaking exposé by about investors accused of harassing women had a similar effect. It led to more stories (notably, one by the NYT) on the subject and more women publicly coming forward.

Later as a result industry heavyweights, like 500 startups founder Dave McClure and Lowercase Capital’s Chris Sacca, apologized and resigned from their positions. The Informant’s report (and the others that followed it) showcased what can happen when abusers are held responsible. More importantly, it put a brave face on a pervasive issue that transcends companies and cities.

Ensure accountability is the norm

 
Holding offenders accountable is important. However, creating a space where individuals aren’t given the freedom to abuse people is even more crucial.

Popular podcast Too Embarrassed to Ask tackled this issue in its summer episode. Paradigm CEO Joelle Emerson and Evertoon CEO Niniane Wang discussed how stakeholders create safe work environments by encouraging diverse voices at all levels.

“It’s not about those individual harassers, it’s about creating a culture where there’s accountability for that type of thing. When a culture is created by any homogeneous group, there’s going to be less,” @joelle_emerson of @prdgm.

She’s not wrong. A 2017 study from Pew Research found that while women viewed gender discrimination as a  problem, men were less likely to agree. If the industry is to create sustainable change it will need input from all individuals, not just those at the top.

Concentrate on finding supporters

 
In 2015, Ellen Pao sued her employer, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, for gender discrimination. The trial grabbed headlines and pushed the industry’s bro culture into the spotlight.

In an interview with Time magazine she described what women dealing with harassment in the workplace can do. When encountering sexism or racism sometimes leaving is the best thing an individual can do for their career, she advised. Look for allies that will support you and your career goals.

“Get out. These are people who are just not going to accept you. You’re not going to get promoted. You don’t have to prove yourself because there’s no way to do that. If you don’t have other opportunities, try to find someone else to work with within the company.”

The ability to quit and start a new job is a financial risk, not every person can take. If it’s not possible to leave, here are organizational allies that can help you in working towards better goals. Some of these organizations include Project Include, Code 2040, Paradigm and Ally Skills Workshop.

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.

CBC Dragon Michele Romanow, Upside’s Jennifer Couldrey on bouncing back

Life as an entrepreneur is tough. Constant bootstrapping, non-stop criticism and never-ending capital raising can be overwhelming.

For those that make it — the Bezos, Musks and Zuckerbergs of the world — fame and fortune await. For those that don’t, failure can be a financially (and emotionally) crippling nightmare.

That puts a lot of pressure on founders to always be selling, dealing and, more importantly, winning. But sometimes failing can teach an entrepreneur their most useful lessons. In a world where more than half of all startups shut down knowing how to bounce back has quickly become a badge of honour instead of embarrassment.

If you’re going through a hard time or just not sure if you’ll make it through 2018 here’s some advice from the pros about how to beat back the bad times.

The f-word

Michele Romanow knows better than most the demands founders face. The e-commerce entrepreneur has launched four successful companies before the age of 30. She also regularly wheels and deals investment money as an investor on CBC’s hit show, Dragon’s Den.

When things go south it’s easy to turn negative, but surrounding yourself with entrepreneurs who see the bigger picture and can offer up advice is crucial to long-term success. Invest in people and resources that can help you deal with the inevitable ups and downs ahead of time. “It’s important to have great co-founders and surround yourself with other entrepreneurs who have been successful,” she explains.

“I think when you have people who have done that it makes it so much easier to remind you that ‘oh, there was this time that didn’t go right, but it got better. You always have to be swinging for the fence.”

Keeping your ego in check is also important. Most stories about high-flying entrepreneurs that go from rags to riches gloss over the dark times. Understanding that success doesn’t happen overnight will light a fire under your belt. “You go to 100 meetings and you get three term sheets. That means you’re gonna hear 97 nos and every time you hear a no you have to keep going.”

The art of bouncing back

Jennifer Couldrey works with startups every day.

As the executive director of the Upside Foundation — an organization that inspires high growth companies to give back by donating equity to charity — she gets a first-hand look at some of Canada’s best up-and-coming startups. Sometimes they succeed and end up giving back, but other times they fail.

When it comes to failure she believes investing in personal relationships can act as a great way for entrepreneurs to take their business to new heights. While putting in hard work is important, personal connections can help a business get back on track when it loses its way.

She knows first-hand how real-world connections can help an initiative succeed. A social media campaign she created for “Giving Tuesday” in the organization’s early years failed to take off because few people knew how to engage with the foundation.

“It absolutely did not work the way I wanted it to, but what it taught me is that you can’t depend on the internet to make things happen,” she says. “Especially in the early days, everything is about relationships. It’s about having those connections. Most people who contributed to the campaign did so because I asked them to,” she explains.

Finding people who can help

Couldrey’s experiences are a good lesson for entrepreneurs who can’t seem to find traction for their company’s products or service. “You can move online, use social media and automate things once you have a core set of established relationships, and then use tools like Twitter to maintain and enhance relationships. Until you have those initial in-person relationships you can’t think people are going rally behind you.”

Meanwhile, personal relationships also help ward of self-doubt. In a world where mental health is rarely discussed one-on-one relationships help entrepreneurs ensure that professional failures don’t encroach on their personal life. An entrepreneur’s self-worth should not be dictated by their company’s failings.

“A lot of people wrap up their identity in the success off their business. You have to delineate so that if your company fails you don’t feel like a failure as a person. You have other areas of your life where you feel valuable, like in your personal relationships, so you can keep going when things go wrong.”

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