Tag Archives: start-ups

Canadian Crowdsourcing Superheroes

crowd at a Toronto FC gameMany people have heard of popular crowdsourcing businesses like Threadless and CrowdSpring. However, you may not have heard of some of Canada’s budding companies in this arena. I thought it was worth noting some of the Canadian superheroes who are leading the charge in developing crowdsourcing technologies to support market research efforts.

The benefits of why a brand may want to crowdsource for future marketing and product innovations are simple. Companies are able to harness the wisdom of the social web and engage with groups of people to define and refine what they need to do next as a brand. Here’s an outline of two emerging Canadian crowdsource-focused research companies.

1. ChaordixChaordix is an enterprise-based crowdsourcing software platform and service. According to their website, the Chaordix platform was developed out of their own crowdsourcing research efforts – with input from a 50,000 member crowd. Their enterprise platform helps companies to uncover product innovations and consumer insights. Chaordix’s definition of crowdsourcing is “a way of engaging groups of people to submit, discuss, refine and rank ideas and submissions for a specific question posed by an organization.”  Here is a link to a video produced by Chaordix which explains why crowdsourcing matters.

2. TrendHunter – TrendHunter.com boasts that they are the world’s most popular trend website. They gather hot trend information from the “collective insight of 42,000 crowdsourced trend experts.” With millions of views of data, TrendHunter is able to identify which trends are about to take off. Their founder, Jeremy Gutsche, recently published an award-winning book entitled Exploiting Chaos. This book helps to explain how companies can spark innovation during times of change.

Here’s a video from TrendHunterTV which explains how their platform works to help companies to identify the hot trends in their industry:

Both of these companies were listed as part of Canada’s top 20 hottest technology companies last year by the Canadian Innovation Exchange. It will be interesting to see where they both end up in a year from now.

A List of 8 Great Canadian Mobile Apps

Image of iphone apps
Canadians are doing amazing work in the mobile space.  Just recently, Microsoft hired Toronto-based developer Polar Mobile to develop 500 mobile apps for their Windows 7 phone. After reading about that huge win for Canada, I thought it was worth digging around a little to see who else is doing interesting things in this space. Below is a list of some great Canadian apps and Canadian start-ups in the mobile space that I have discovered in the past few months.

(1) Simply Good AppsThis Canadian company considers themselves “more than an apps developer” as they use their proprietary point-of-interest and image processing platforms to redefine the way people navigate and participate with your brand.  They recently signed a contract with Scotiabank to provide free mobile applications for their sponsored Toronto festivals.  The app boasts the ability to share images using their proprietary Capturefy© technology, integrated GPS/Mapping, event-specific information and social connection, and location-specific mapping to events and public transit.

(2)  Burstn – This made in Canada app is a simple tool to help you snap and share photos instantly on the web and via mobile devices. Burstn is also a social network of photos, people and places.

(3) Pushlife Mobile Media Player – This Toronto-based company has taken the experience of playing all of your music on your desktop media player (if you’re not an Apple user) and made it accessible on your Blackberry.  According to their website, the Blackberry app features and “easy-to-use, interactive Media Carousel which gives you one finger control of playing a song, going to the next or previous song, seeking forwards and backwards in a song, accessing the Mobile Jewel Case, rating a song, posting acomment about the song on TwitterTM, editing playlists, editing track information and more.”

(4) iMock-ups – Endloop Studios is a Toronto-based start-up that has created iMock-ups as a downloadable app on iTunes for your iPad.  This tool helps designers on the move to mock-up Websites and layouts by choosing from a menu of options that include device wireframes.  The options include video and text icons that can be swept onto a digital whiteboard.  Within the whiteboard, a designer can shrink, enlarge and move things about on the screen as clients sit next to them.

(5) Toronto Maple Leafs – This wouldn’t be a blog about Canadian apps without mentioning how they are helping hockey sports fans to stay connected to their favourite game. I thought it was worth mentioning Polar Mobile’s app for the Toronto Maple Leafs because I grew up in Toronto. This tool helps Leafs fans to stay connected to their favourite team on their smartphone.  App users can get live game scores, past results, current roster stats, league standings, game schedules, and all the latest team news and updates.

(6) Nat Decants – This app is great for foodies and wine lovers as it is a comprehensive and delicious guide for the iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, Android, Nexus, Nokia, Palm Pre and other smartphones.  This app is an evolution from Natalie MacLean’s original bestselling “Drinks Matcher” app. Basically, Natalie has developed ten wine apps rolled into one. The app will help you when you’re trying to figure out what wine to pair with what meal when you’re out shopping at the grocery and liquor store.  The app also boasts wine reviews, winery listings, recipes, articles and more.

(7) TripItCreated by Five Mobile Inc., this Blackberry app allows users to access their upcoming travel itineraries from their phone. The app boasts the ability to access calendar integration, flight monitoring and travel confirmations – making it a best in class travel application.  Five mobile makes a whole slew of mobile apps worth noting – check them out here: http://www.fivemobile.com/portfolio

(8) The Score for iPad – Score media recently acquired 20% of NuLayer Inc., a developer of web, mobile and iPad applications.  The Score recently launched an iPad version of their sports results app which was created by NuLayer Inc.  This app allows sports fans to get the latest sports scores, stats, news and more about their favourite team or league.

If you know of any other interesting Canadian apps that should be added to the list, definitely let me know.

Related Articles:
Toronto: mobile app centre of the universe, Toronto Life, July 23, 2010
Apps born in Toronto, The Globe and Mail, May 28, 2010

The Race is on to be the Next Groupon Contender in Canada

You must have been hiding under a virtual rock this summer if you missed being bombarded online by Groupon ads that displayed photos of delicious food – enticing you to click and sign-up for their daily social deals.  Once I became obsessed with Groupon, I started to notice a myriad of other daily social deal sites explode onto the Internet scene.

A lot of the original daily social deal sites were based in the US and just targeted Canadian cities.  However, I’ve seen a number of Canadian sites launch in the past few months. Most recently, TorStar Digital launched WagJag.com.  I heard from a source at the company that they recently sold almost 14,000 burgers in a “Buy $5 for $10 worth of Burgers” deal on behalf of South Street Burger Co.  Man, had I known about that deal, I would have definitely bought-in!

So, how does one find out about all of these daily social deals in the frantic, busy lifestyle that we lead?  The solution – daily deal aggregator sites.  I’ve discovered two daily deal aggregator sites based in the US and one of them has just launched in Toronto – DealGator.com.  Yipit.com is another daily deal aggregator of note but they have yet to launch in Canada.  These sites aggregate daily social deals from other sites based on your specified interest in deals like restaurants, spa/beauty, travel and more. I guess that the race is on to see who aggregates all of the daily social deals in Canada first? I’m excited to see what other sites will evolve out of this mass daily social deal site frenzy.

I’ve read a lot of articles lately that talk about whether or not the business model for sites like Groupon is sustainable – especially when it comes to negotiating deals with larger retailers.  I’m sure there will be an eventual shake-up in this newly developed industry.  However, I will enjoy the fruits (or cupcakes if they’re the deal of the day) of their labour in the meantime 🙂