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CanHack’s impact: Inspiring Canada’s next generation of cybersecurity experts

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CanHack’s impact: Inspiring Canada’s next generation of cybersecurity experts

6,156 students, 400+ highschools, $31,000 in cash prizes and counting.


Cybersecurity competition for high school students
In 2018, we teamed up with the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) to foster the next generation of cybersecurity experts by launching CanHack. A competition for high school students, we’ve created meaningful learning opportunities for students across Canada looking to sink their teeth into cybersecurity. 

Throughout the cybersecurity challenge, students get the chance to tackle real cybersecurity challenges, learn critical computer security skills, work with experts in the field, explore an in-demand field and win cash prizes. 

As we all know, cybersecurity matters more now than ever before. We leaned on technology to keep us going through the pandemic – both personally and for business – and have become increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks as a result.

Ensuring a cybersafe future is crucial, and it starts with investing in a future workforce that understands the fundamentals of cybersecurity and privacy.

Young Black students coding - cybersecurity competition for high school students

Together, the DMZ and RBC have ignited an interest in cybersecurity for high school students across Canada at a critical stage in their education. We’re committed to helping students dive deeper into the world of cybersecurity to empower the future of the cybersecurity workforce. 

To mark our fourth CanHack competition, we decided to take a walk down memory lane to highlight CanHack’s achievements to date.

CanHack’s impact over the years 

Since its launch 5 years ago, CanHack has already:Supported 6,156 high school students that have made up 1,567 teams from 400+ highschools and community organizations. Administered 24 workshops with inspiring cybersecurity leaders for students to get hands-on training and support. Supported 1,016 women-identifying participants, empowering them to lead the way in tech. Given out over $31,000 in prize money to Canadian students and schools
Thanks to RBC’s committed support, CanHack plans to reach even more students this year, helping them to dive deeper into the world of cybersecurity. Registrations for CanHack 2022 have officially launched and the competition will run from March 15th to March 29th.

For high school students looking to gain knowledge in cybersecurity and computer science and explore the career possibilities in the growing sectors, click here for more information and register today!

The best coworking spaces around the world

The number of coworking spaces around the world is on the rise. In 2017 approximately 1.2 million people worked out of shared spaces; and that number is expected to only grow in the coming year, according to the Global Work Survey.

It’s not hard to see why these types of new-age offices have spiked in popularity. As the economy shifts, more adults are taking on freelance work or launching their own startups. For those who don’t require the kind of mentorship that an accelerator provides, these are a great alternative. Not to mention, many now offer extravagant features — everything from in-house masseuses, to on-tap prosecco and 20-ft swinning pools.

If you’re a digital nomad looking for a cool office while travelling the globe, or an entrepreneur just in need of workspace, there are a ton of places to choose from. Here’s are list of the top offices around the world. 

Parisoma, Silicon Valley

parisoma
Parisoma is an outlier in Silicon Valley, because it successfully blurs the line between an accelerator 
and coworking space. Members get more than just a place to work; they get access to business classes related to marketing, web development, freelancing and more. Entrepreneurs can network with the 200-plus other entrepreneurs working out of its space or its extended network at any time. Prices range from $325 per month for its “open spaces” with no assigned desks to $7,000 for closed offices.

Standout features: Free community space, in-house admin support, free wifi, access to technical workshops and classes.

Primary, New York City

primary

If you’re a Canadian entrepreneur heading to the Big Apple save money (and alleviate any stress) by working out of 
Primary.

The co-working space is located in the heart of the city’s financial district. Tech entrepreneurs can apply to join for free through the DMZ at any time throughout the year. If accepted, startups get unfettered 24/7 access to its suite of offices, as well as snacks, complimentary yoga and other wellness classes. Bonus: Entrepreneurs can also take advantage of the office’s exclusive workshops and learning events.

Standout features: Free for select Canadian entrepreneurs, 24/7 access, located in the heart of financial district, lockers and hot desks.

WeWork, London

wework

WeWork — a tech company that operates shared coworking spaces across the globe — has a whopping 24 offices spread out across London and the greater area. Each one has its own design, but carries the same perks found at each of its international locations. Namely, that means big open spaces, private rooms for meetings and dependable wifi.

Prices vary by location, but range from £400 ($677 CAD) per month to £34 ($57) for an ‘on-demand’ day pass. Of course, working out of any office in England’s biggest city doesn’t come cheap. Thankfully membership comes with a few unique perks: The company’s free app lets users do everything from book conference rooms to network with its other creators across the globe. Users also have the opportunity to work out of the company’s other WeWork spaces located in 67 international cities.

Standout features: Pet-friendly, located in the core of London, 24/7 access, meditation rooms, bookable offices, high-speed internet.

Naked Hub, Beijing

Naked Hub
Beijing’s fast-paced tech scene is growing by leaps and bounds. This year the metropolis (along with Shanghai) made its debut on 
Startup Genome’s top startup cities and companies are taking notice. 

Naked Group may not well known within Asia, but the company’s winning business model in Asia is attracting entrepreneurs (and media attention) from across the country. The luxury resort company opened its first Beijing office, located in a refurbished factory, this spring.  Entrepreneurs who join can connect with other startups working out of its other Chinese offices through its exclusive network and get access to onsite services, like on-demand admin help and wellness services. Digital membership — access to the company’s online community — costs approximately¥300 ($57 CAD). Meanwhile, desk space ranges from ¥1800 ($346) to¥3000 ($577 CAD).

Standout features: On-site dedicated admin staff a.k.a ‘Naked Angels’, hot desks, shared community space and wellness rooms

East Room & Spaces, Toronto

eastroom
If you’re looking for something a little closer to home, then, you’re in luck. Toronto already has a variety of co-working spaces open in the city more planned for 2018. One of those places is Amsterdam-born Spaces, located at 180 John St., Toronto.

Another go-to office is the city’s East Room. Club members get access to its boardrooms, reception services, wifi and more for $500 per month. The highest level, premium membership, starts at $3,300 per month for enclosed offices.

Standout features: Access to its onsite programs, which includes community events with industry insiders.  

 

The future is female: How women are redefining A.I.

There’s no shortage of new stories about artificial intelligence (also known as A.I.) these days. The cutting-edge technology is driving billion-dollar investments, turning founders into millionaires overnight and increasing competition amongst the biggest businesses around the world.  

As the industry matures, A.I. will revolutionize how humans interact with the world. Interestingly, some of today’s new breakthroughs are fueled by women. It’s hopefully a telling sign of what’s to come when women are making important moves behind the scenes.  

The drivers of change

 
Despite significant gains made in the last decades, women still remain underrepresented in STEM, and the A.I. field is no different. Given the preponderance of men working in the industry, the achievements made by just a few women end up making their success all that more impressive.

“AI is a technology that gets so close to everything we care about. It’s going to carry the values that matter to our lives, be it the ethics, the bias, the justice, or the access…” @drfeifei

Megan Anderson, business development director at Integrate.ai, is one of a growing number of female leaders working in the industry. Her role, which focuses on driving and implementing new growth opportunities, has helped grow the company (more than $9 million raised in 2017 so far). That accomplishment, including being named to the Top 25 Women of Influence, has put her in the spotlight. It’s also highlighted the impact women like Anderson are having in A.I.

“I would love for more women to make the leap into careers in tech, even if they don’t have STEM backgrounds,” she says. My background is in management consulting, but I am an analytical person with intense curiosity so I took the leap into tech.”

While more women are needed, Anderson points to industry leaders —  like McGill University professor Joelle Pineau and Fast Forward Labs CEO Hilary Mason — who are showing a new path forward.

“AI companies need lots of skills and talents in addition to engineering, like sales, customer success, operations, etc. As long as you learn quickly, stay curious and leverage skills that you have built in other sectors, it is never too late to jump into tech.”

Education is key

 
Dr. Inmar Givoni, Autonomy Engineering Manager at Uber ATG (the company’s self-driving division), is also blazing a new trail. Her company is on the frontline of driverless car technology. Last year, the company famously launched a fleet of self-driving cars in San Francisco.

These days the technologist is used to being the only woman in the room. While she’s not surprised that women are now being recognized, more needs to be done. The key, she says, is to focus on introducing tech to the next generation as soon as possible.

“There’s no point in trying to get more women into A.I. specifically. I think the effort should be towards getting women into STEM,” she explains. “From my perspective, it basically starts as soon as the baby’s born. When a girl is given a shirt that reads ‘I’m a princess’ and the boy gets one that reads ‘I’m a hero’ it already sets a mindset of expectations for [the child] from society.”

Other leaders in the industry agree. Stanford professor and A.I. researcher Fei-Fei Li’s organization, AI4All, is partnering with universities to inject much-needed diversity into the field. “We need to get them young,” she shared with Wired magazine earlier this year.

Making a difference

 
Even though men right now outnumber women, there is hope at the end of the tunnel.

Influencers and stakeholders are now making a dedicated effort to improve those numbers. The Women in Machine Learning Conference, launched in 2006, is doing its part. Through it, entrepreneurs can network, find connections to mentors and learn more about the field.

A little closer to home, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) is helping in as well. The organization, probably best known these days for its role leading the $125 million Pan-Canadian A.I. strategy, is championing women at all levels.

Dr. Alan Bernstein, president and CEO of CIFAR, is keen to see change since diversity is crucial for innovation.

“Diversity is our strength. At CIFAR, we’ve known that since we started. We have a strong view that for the advancement of knowledge you need diversity,” Dr. Alan Bernstein, president of @CIFAR_News

As part of their efforts to increase opportunities for women, CIFAR is putting in place ways to increase diversity. “You don’t make as much progress having 10 of the same person in the same room. When you have people with different perspectives sitting around the table, you end up with different questions being asked, and better results.” While change takes time, Bernstein is optimistic. “We’re going to see a big difference in the coming future,” he explains.

 

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.

Secrets of a tech reporter: How to get your company media exposure

It’s no secret that entrepreneurs who can get their company mentioned in popular publications often benefit from the exposure. For journalists tasked with writing about the latest in tech, finding companies to feature can be hard. Especially for busy journalists like Jessica Galang.

Everyday entrepreneurs bombard the BetaKit news editor with emails about their new “revolutionary” products, company or partnerships. It’s all in a bid to get her to write about their company for her publication. That means she’s forced to sift through dozens of email pitches almost hourly. It can exhausting  since she’s  charged with staying up-to-date with Canada’s tech ecosystem and also writing about it.  

“I’m basically responsible for most of the [BetaKit] editorial planning, I look at what’s happening every day in the tech ecosystem and I sort of evaluate what’s priority and what’s not priority,” she explains. “Pretty much my job is to keep on top of the Canadian ecosystem and to decide what news we’re going to cover and how.”

In this one-on-one Galang shares what she looks for in a startup and how entrepreneurs can get journalists, like herself, to pay attention to them.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Q: How do you evaluate what company or product is “newsworthy”?

 
Jessica Galang (JG): I mostly look at the sort of traction they’ve had so far. For example, I look at the number of customers they have, their target market or if they’ve reached a unique milestone. Sometimes even if they’ve partnered with a big enterprise that helps make them (or their product) stand out.

Q: What’s the best way to pitch a story?

 
JG: I think, email is usually the safest way, because journalists are expecting pitches in their inbox. For me, personally, DMs [direct messages through Twitter] are totally fine as well. I find my DMs are also less crowded, so I don’t mind and it’s easier to read through messages.

Q: What should entrepreneurs do before pitching a journalist?

 
JG: I think sometimes entrepreneurs make the mistake of just sending an email with a link to their website and saying ‘hey, we just launched this [and] hope that you cover us. Please follow up if you want more information.’

But I don’t have time to follow up with every single person to get more information about their company.

When pitching journalists entrepreneurs should be prepared. They should look at press releases as examples of what a pitch could possible look like. They should be prepared to explain why their product is valuable, what market they’re targeting. And, perhaps why their product is different from any other one that’s launched in that sector as well. They need to be able to answer why I would cover them versus a competitor. Why I would spend time writing an article about them now instead of six months from now.

Q: What are some helpful additions entrepreneurs can include in their pitches that will set them apart?

 
JG: Media kits are always helpful and having pictures if a startup is announcing something specific — like funding or a partnership — is great.

If it’s just a simple pitch then I suggest writing three paragraphs explaining what their news is about. If I like their story I can follow up later. The biggest thing is that they need to be explicit about what news or product they think I should be interested in.

Q: Should startups hire a PR agency to help generate some media buzz or just do it themselves?

 
JG: That’s a little tough to answer, especially if you’re an early stage startup hoping to get coverage. It can be tough for some to afford PR services. If they can’t there’s so many free resources out there that can help them do it on their own. You don’t need to hire PR, but it can help.

If you’re in an early stage startup I think just learning best practices can go a long way. I’ve worked with a lot of companies that don’t have in-house PR or a PR agency, but they know the BetaKit brand. They know what we cover and send us really targeted pitches that work.

Q: Is it bad etiquette to reach out to more than one reporter at the same time?

 
JG: I accept that sometimes [entrepreneurs] are going to reach out to other reporters. If it’s a huge announcement then I understand why they would reach out to other publications for embargos or big news. I think it’s key that you make sure you’re really transparent with everyone.

It’s my expectation that other publications are probably going to cover this news if it’s big. But when you’re shady and you pitch something to a journalist and you give them one time and then you give another journalist another time, that’s when it’s really bad.

I think it’s also bad etiquette when someone is pitching me, but they forget to change the name of the publication in the email. So, it would say ‘Hi Jessica, I think this would be a great pitch for the Financial Post’ and I’m left thinking, like, oh, thanks, that’s really nice do you even want us to cover your company.

Looking for more about how to get your startup media ready? Check out our previous post about public relation and communication with Erin Richards.

How technology companies have forever changed the fashion industry

Their names are Apple, Google and Amazon.

These household names bring in millions of revenue dollars every year and sell a wide-range of products: Everything from high-end plasma TVs to smartwatches. Each company offers up a variety of goods, but they all have one thing in common: They’re hellbent on using technology to disrupt the fashion industry.

In the future, companies that manage to merge the best of fashion and tech stand to reap the biggest rewards in an industry worth trillions.

A recent McKinsey report found the fashion sector was expected to reach a high of $2.4 trillion in 2016. If it was a country, that would place it in the top 10 economies in the world based on its GDP alone. It also found fashion companies that incorporated emerging technology into their work were more likely to beat out their competition and see the biggest gains in the future. “The winners of 2017 will probably be those companies that invest in the right technology to help them understand and serve their consumers and tap into their currently unmet needs.”

The future is now

 
Popular fashion may have been slow to fully embrace the tech trend, but that’s not the case anymore. Even Hollywood’s glitterati — today’s quote-unquote fashion gatekeepers — are committed to a fashionable tech-infused future with its annual Met Gala.

High-end designers are also taking advantage of wearable technology to boost their brand. Last year designer Rebecca Minkoff took a gamble when she created a line of wifi-connected handbags and introduced smart mirrors into her standalone stores. The idea paid off. Her store saw a 200 per cent increase in sales and her purses sold out.

When asked about the decision to make her namesake label more tech-savvy Minkoff scoffed. A growing appetite for fashionable technology made the idea a no-brainer, she said. The key to success for her team was creating designs that fix problems and are fashionable.

“It starts with authenticity. We discovered the pain point of our consumer and tried to use those to pain points for designing our wearables,” she told Fortune magazine last year. “I think tech for tech’s sake is like ‘oooh, that’s flashy and looks cool’ but I don’t know how it helps me or solves a problem. I think our approach is always about solving a problem.”

What’s next

 
Still, blending the two worlds isn’t always easy. Smaller labels and fashion stores might not have the money to invest in new, groundbreaking technology. That’s where partnerships can help. They provide a comfortable middle ground for designers.

For example, American designer Misha Nonoo skipped fashion week altogether when she debuted her line with Snapchat. Other ways include using technology to give consumers more shopping choices. Big labels like Burberry are using that idea to switch up their supply chain efficiency to employ a ‘see now, buy now’ strategy. The model lets shoppers watch runway shows and then order those same outfits in real time. No more waiting. No more delays.

Fortune telling and trendsetting has never been a precise art. It’s impossible to ever truly discern how the world will change, but most experts agree that technology will play a major part in the near future. Tomorrow’s fashion leaders will likely be those that embrace today’s new technology.

How to lure and hire top talent before your competitors do

Canada’s tech scene is on the rise.

Toronto, its largest city, is home to a booming artificial intelligence ecosystem. It also boasts an enviable research center that includes the country’s first technology supercluster and an entrepreneurial drive that’s second only to the U.S.

It also doesn’t hurt that Canada’s Global Strategy program helps fast track immigration for talented workers. The new law makes it one of the most liberal programs in the world. In as little as two weeks workers can get visas and working permits — making the talent search that much easier.

But, despite all this good news Canadian startups still have a difficult time finding tech leaders to help them grow. While the country has the right people on hand onboarding them isn’t always easy. That’s why recruitment strategies are playing a much bigger role than they ever have before.

Engaging with talent before they apply

For Dave Savory — co-founder of a startup called Riipen that connects young jobseekers with companies — finding the best talent quicker and more efficiently means shaking up how HR engages with talent. The old-school recruitment method that requires applicants to fill out page-by-page forms online just won’t do anymore. Engaging with emerging talent sooner through games, brain teasers or social media yields better results.

“Having a new entry point based on merit and skills instead of how many buzzwords you can fit in your cover letter is what you should look for. People are now trained on how to get passed automatic resume filters that companies set up,” he explains. “It ends up making more work for people at a company because they spend time interviewing people who may not be a great fit or miss out on really great people.”

Savory knows better than most about what companies look for in employees. Riipen, founded in 2013, works with 140 post-secondary schools and 7000 companies in North America to help students find work. His clients vary and include tech giants, like Microsoft, and food businesses, such as restaurant chain Joey Restaurants.

“It’s all about how good companies authentically engage with emerging talent,” he adds. “Companies know [young people] are an important demographic as older workers retire, so they need to find new ways to get their attention before their competitors do.”

Check out the weirdest interview questions Fortune 500 companies asked prospective employees last year, courtesy of GlassDoor.

Businesses suffer without HR innovation

Robert Sher — who works in San Francisco, a city with an unemployment rate of 3.5 per cent — put it best. “Flawed hiring processes” play a role in hiring and retaining the best people, which impacts a business’s bottom line.

“Companies that can’t find creative ways to find the employees they need can’t grow,” he explained. “Business leaders who can win the talent war (and it is a war) will be able to say yes to new business opportunities while their talent-strapped competition will have to walk away.”

Bryan Rusche, Soapbox’s marketing director, believes the hiring landscape has changed in recent years. While his company doesn’t directly work on recruitment processes, their platform allows employees to share ideas and feedback that can impact how companies attract new talent.

“The best strategy for attracting talent is having a reputation for being an amazing place to work,” he says. “The slickest recruitment strategy in the world isn’t going to work for you if your employees don’t back up your claims that you have something special,” he explains.

As times change, businesses will be forced to change their hiring policies as well.  They’ll increasingly need to rely on better ways (and platforms) to connect with talent if they want to succeed. “This will be the new normal in the next three to five years” says Savory. “Engaging talent through skill-based assessment or challenges will be the new starting point of the recruiting process.”

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