Client Update: Make Your Mark Enterprises Ltd.

The team at Make Your Mark Enterprises Ltd. is excited to be a new client of the Spark Centre! We have had a warm welcome into our office space and have already begun a fantastic relationship with our business mentors and advisors. To help you get to know us better, we wanted to share some more information about who we are and some of the upcoming projects we are currently working on.

 

Make Your Mark Enterprises Ltd. was founded by Katie Zeppieri and is the parent company of three social enterprises: GIRL TALK Empowerment, The Pink Box, and MYM Event Management.

 

1) GIRL TALK Empowerment inspires, empowers and mobilizes girls to become world-changers, reaching thousands of girls across Canada and the U.S. We provide life-changing experiences, a multi-platform support network and leadership opportunities that give girls the tools they need to make their mark on the world. GIRL TALK Day is the signature event of GIRL TALK Empowerment and is the genesis of our entire movement that feeds all other initiatives throughout the year. It is a one-day pep rally that brings together over 1,000 girls ages 11-18 from across Southern Ontario for a day of musical performances, motivational speakers and inspiring media.

 

2) The Pink Box provides girls and women with beauty and lifestyle products that not only make them look good and feel good, but also DO good. Each product in The Pink Box meets at least one part of our P.I.N.K. acronym: Positive, Inspiring, Noteworthy, and Kind. $1 from each box sold is donated to charity.

 

3) MYM Event Management creates events and guest experiences that have a charitable component and that make a positive impact. Our services offered include: event-planning, public relations, and staffing.

 

Upcoming Projects:

 

  • #TDGivetoGrow Program: We are excited to share that we have been selected as one of 16 organizations from across Canada to participate in a 5-month partnership with TD Bank. Over the course of these next few months, we will be assigned a team of 7-8 Senior TD Managers from across North America who will be working with us to help develop a strategic growth plan for our social enterprise.
  • GIRL TALK Empowerment: We are currently recruiting schools from across Canada to join our free GIRL TALK School Chapter program that consists of 25+ Chapters from across Ontario as well as one Chapter in Uganda. Throughout the year we provide resources to help empower our School Chapters to host events, initiatives, and campaigns that improve the mental and physical health of all females in their sphere of influence. If you are interested in starting a Chapter at your elementary or high school, you can fill out our online form to get the process started.
  • The Pink Box: is relaunching this holiday season BIGGER. BETTER. PINKER. We are putting together the final touches on our Holiday edition which includes eight full-size beauty and lifestyle items that empower. Our Holiday Pink Box will ship on December 4, 2017 and pre-orders begin in November. You can sign-up for our newsletter to stay up to date on our launch and access our pre-order special offer.
  • MYM Event Management: We have been contracted as the Event Manager for the upcoming Ignite Gala taking place on Tuesday, December 5, 2017 at the UOIT Charles St. location. Join us for an exciting evening celebrating entrepreneurship and innovation in the Durham Region! John Ruffolo from OMERS will be the keynote speaker and we will also be announcing the Ignite 2017 pitch winners. You can learn more and purchase tickets on the Eventbrite page.

 

Client Profile: Textbx

TextBx – Connecting customers to your business by Taiwo Mcgregor

TextBx is a start-up tech company on a mission to create a more effective way for the world to share information and communicate. Our goal is to make communication and information sharing as quick and simple as possible.

At Texbx we understand that our generation does not like making phone calls, but instead prefer and rely heavily on instant messaging as a means for communication. If we don’t want to call our friends, then why would we want to call a business? Traditionally if wanting to communicate directly with a business, the most commonly accepted options are to email them and await a response, or alternatively give them a phone call, which means having to find the phone number, go through 4 – 5 prompts, speak with 2 – 3 people and be on hold for 10 minutes. For a generation that has a short attention span and wants information quickly, this is a very painful process. What if, instead, we could be given the option to text our business of choice and get an instant response? TextBx is creating an instant messaging platform that allows businesses to easily communicate and share information with their customers.

With our MVP we are targeting restaurant owners who want to give customers quick and easy access to promotional information like coupons or specials. TexBx provides a way of delivering this information as an automatic response to a text message from your customer, which is much quicker and easier than calling the restaurant or searching online. With automated text message responses businesses are able to increase customer engagement, leads and ultimately sales.

By making use of one of the most commonly used forms of communication, with the highest open rates (98%), TextBx enables you to get measurably improved response rates to all of your promotional media and advertising activities. When you include a TextBx in your marketing campaign you will optimize the ROI of your ad buy. We are the most effective marketing solution for customer engagement, so that you do not lose leads, but instead convert them into customers and generate revenue. To learn more or connect with us visit https://www.textbx.com

Client Profile: Zambah

Zamba

By Nigel D’souza

 

Zambah is the go-to influencer marketing platform that specifically caters to emerging musicians around the world. We seamlessly connect musicians to social media influencers to collaborate on original content that gets shared through various social media channels. This is beneficial on two fronts:

  1. Influencers gain valuable audio content to share with their audience which keeps them re-engaged and coming back for more.
  2. Musicians get the opportunity to have their music featured in front of thousands to millions of new eyes and ears.

 

Our goal is to give independent musicians the tools they need to compete with major label backed artists in a very competitive market. There are tons of musicians who are actively creating quality content but do not have the marketing budget or resources to be featured on radio, award shows or in major films/magazines – that’s where Zambah bridges the gap.

 

We recently launched a major series of campaigns with Mau5trap Records, a label founded by Toronto’s very own Deadmau5. These campaigns gave musicians the opportunity to submit their songs to Mau5trap Records for a chance to be featured on a series of curated playlists which would then be shared to millions of people through Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. The campaigns brought out thousands of artists and listeners to Zambah who then were able to submit songs, subscribe to campaigns and discover some of the best songs they’ve never heard. Our initiative was so successful that major electronic dance music (EDM) blogs like Dancing Astronaut, EDM Sauce & Edm.com covered our story within the first week of each campaign.

 

Over the next few months, we will be working on making the overall experience of Zambah as optimal as possible for both social media influencers and musicians around the world. We are also looking to release a long awaited mobile app which allows our users to experience Zambah on the go. In addition, we will be doing some more major collaboration with some big social media influencers and brands to create new and exciting opportunities for musicians to be discovered and break through in an ever growing industry.

 

In May, we had the opportunity to travel out to New Orleans for the Collision Conference with Sherry Colbourne (President & CEO of Spark Centre) – it was an incredible experience where we gained tons of valuable information, made some amazing connections and really had the chance to see what the potentials are within this digital music marketing industry. On that note, we wanted to thank Spark Centre for always supporting us and helping us through this journey. Without their suite of advisors and mentors, we would not have been able to formulate such a well rounded platform and really penetrate the music market as we have. As we continue to grow, we look forward to working here in Oshawa and developing our future endeavors alongside Spark as we expand our team, features and overall experience of the Zambah platform.

 

 

Client Profile: Tax Audit Solutions (TAS)

Tax Audit Solutions (TAS)

By Dan White, President of TAS

 

TAS is an active member in the local business community. They are members of the Whitby Chamber of Commerce and are a client of the Spark Centre.

The business evolved from a firm that focused on international business companies, (IBCs) high end tax strategies and regular tax accounting, to a firm that focuses on helping taxpayers who found themselves in trouble with the Tax Man. The understanding of IBCs and tax strategies was instrumental in the morphing into a different business model, where an understanding of complicated tax scenarios is extremely useful.

The transition to becoming a Tax Representative occurred over time because there is no formal training for Tax Representatives. This is a specialized field that one learns in the trenches. Representatives must learn and understand the inner workings of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and tax policy. Reps must know income and excise tax law and how to stand firm on facts and law during a tax audit.

All audits are investigative by nature and a Rep must understand they are dealing with a civil law investigator. There is a profound difference between a civil investigation and a criminal investigation and a representative must understand the distinction. Although auditors have broad powers, there are strict rules governing what they can and can not do. The Rep’s job is to ensure that audits do not cross the Rubicon. (A tax term for crossing the line.)

Hosting an audit is not about explaining what was done and answering a never ending stream of questions, rather it is about presenting the facts and tax law in a manner where numbers are not disputed, and the issues can be resolved.

Being Audit Ready requires accounting to be done in a manner similar to forensic accounting. CRA has made it standard policy to consider a net worth assessment in all audits. Therefore the rep must take note of money transfers and any gains in taxpayer wealth that is not accounted for, because that is what CRA will watch for.

The knowledge and skill TAS has gained has allowed them to extend their services in support of other accountants, lawyers and trustees.

In order to run their business efficiently and to keep client’s costs to a minimum, TAS developed their own Practice Management software. The code name is “Ogeemo.” The software has been cloud based for over a decade and features its own virtual operating system. Ogeemo offers an integrated business package including accounting, email, document management, task management, project management and knowledge base.

The Ogeemo software has its own intelligent data base that is capable of running highly complex business processes. It will also be able to automatically create on line forms, which will be a huge cost saving to any company that requires large amounts of on line data entry.

TAS is working with the Spark Centre to take phase 3 of Ogeemo to the market at large. Currently it is in ‘In House” beta version and will be rolled out to users sometime this year.

TAS is a good example of how today’s business can ride the technology curve to increase their business efficiency.

 

Nessis

Nessis is a high growth, innovative software solutions and service company located in the heart of Durham Region. The company offers customers e-automation and e-procurement suite solutions, on a SaaS based platform. The company augments its solutions with mobile and state of the art visual technologies. The company surrounds its leading edge software with practical and affordable business consulting services, and has extended solutions including knowledge management, e-dashboards, web analytics, hosting and technical services. A visionary for addressing enterprise problems, such as worker productivity, waste and defects, carbon and environment impacts, quality and worker automation, Kathleen Niles, President and CEO of Nessis Inc. is evolving her company to the next level. Kathleen is proud of her company’s proven successes “we have listened to our customers, and deliver practical and affordable solutions with accelerated business benefits.” Nessis’ greatest success to date is VWI™, a mobile, web-based, visual work instruction suite taking the automotive and manufacturing industry to new levels of productivity and worker engagement. Through the enablement of real time deployment of work instructions simultaneously to the plant floor, the field and the executive offices, Nessis improves quality, standardizes processes, reduces both environmental footprint (paperless) and training time costs in a fast paced, increasingly competitive global environment. With the assistance of the Spark Centre, (resources, COE networks and its mentoring services) Nessis was successful in securing contracts worth $500,000 with two major and global automotive manufactures to install VWI TM system in 4 divisional plants across North America. Further, these initial contracts have high probably of leading to global deployments in Europe, Asia and Latin America worth multi-million dollar contracts.

Kela Medical Inc.

Kela Medical Inc. has developed a wallet sized, smart card that stores an individual’s entire medical record, including all medical imaging. The Kela solution achieves the holy grail of a universal health care record, while effectively addressing issues of privacy and security. When Kela first engaged with Spark Centre, it was quickly determined that there were solid business fundamentals and a large addressable market. Kela’s plan however, was unclear as to what the Kela solution was, or how it worked. The business model was equally unclear and the go-to-market strategy and its rationale, essentially non-existent. As a result, garnering the interest of strategic partners and investors had been largely unsuccessful. Working with Spark Centre, Kela now has a well-defined business model, focused go-to-market strategy and product development roadmap. Spark Centre has helped organize the corporate structure, ensure the integrity of shareholder agreements and constitute an effective Board of Directors, which Spark Centre has observer status at the company’s request. Spark Centre introduced Kela to an Angel investor, who upon completion of due diligence has submitted a terms sheet for $350k, which is under consideration. There are currently three other private investors in various stages of DD. An existing shareholder has committed an additional $250k. Kela is in line for $250k from an OCE program and has received $30k from STEM. Three strategic partnerships have been established to support the go-to-market strategy.

Doktri

Doktri, Port Hope, Ontario

Both San Sivamoorthy and Kuru Jeyanthan are keen on using emerging technology to make individual lives and organizations run smoother. Doktri’s home base is IdeaHub in Port Hope.

What they Do Doktri is a directory-based web application that helps users find their ideal, peer-reviewed healthcare providers (dentists, massage therapists, optometrists, etc.) and immediately book appointments online.

The Opportunity Patients have a difficult time finding healthcare appointments that fit their schedule, location, and individual needs (gender, language), while clinics are challenged with filling appointment times and acquiring new patients in order to operate efficiently and increase their profits.

Innovation Using IT systems to streamline the way Canadian health care providers engage with and manage their clients at intake.

Working With Spark Doktri came to the attention of the Spark Centre through the N100 entrepreneurship competition, and has been working with Bryan Kanarens, Entrepreneur in Residence, at the Spark Centre, since February 2013. “We always had a clear idea of what our product and services were, but we weren’t sure how to turn Doktri into an actual business. Bryan has been tremendously helpful in asking us the right questions so we can find the solutions for our concerns.” Bryan’s role as a mentor and inquisitor has spurred Doktri on to deepen their awareness of their user’s needs, and the health care space in general. The end result is a stronger business plan and two entrepreneurs who can step out with bolstered confidence!

Next Big Step Currently all of Doktri’s focus is on their upcoming launch, but the next big thing for them after getting online booking running smoothly, is to list emergency room and walk-in clinic wait times. “We are all very excited and there’s a lot more to come to help make access to healthcare easier for Canadians,” says San.

Advice to Local Entrepreneurs Knowing how easy it is to stay in the comfort zone with an idea, San adds this perspective, “The end-game of a startup is to become a viable business, so don’t stay in your parents’ basement making something no one wants. Get out there, validate the problem, your solution, and market before writing a single line of code!”

Bykart Software Ltd, Inc.

Bykart Software Ltd, Inc has developed an outpatient scheduling system that surpassed initial expectations. In collaboration with the Odette Cancer Clinic at Sunnybrook Hospital, Bykart has developed a solution that provides improved efficiencies within the entire workflow process. This software was developed to enable the clinic to process 20 percent more patients without the need for additional staff or resources. Now up and running, the software has actually increased patient bookings by 47 percent, 27 percent above the original target! Bykart is the first tenant of the collaborative Durham College / UOIT / Spark Centre incubator. This arrangement has been instrumental in assisting Bykart in the development of the enterprise solution development project in collaboration with Durham College. Through this initiative, Durham College has provided Bykart with a team of 14 student developers that have far exceeded the expectations of Bykart’s project manager, Thane Fitzgerald.

‘Spark Centre really helped us develop our business strategy and allowed us to tap into resources that helped us move forward with our project’ says Thane.

When ready, Spark Centre will also be assisting the company mapping the product development and go-to-market strategy as well as to access appropriate funding sources.

5 Minds Mobility

Start-up Profile

5 Minds Mobility, Oshawa, Ontario

Jenn Atkinson is an occupational therapist and clinical director of 5 Minds Mobility.

What They Do

5 Minds Mobility is an Oshawa-based medical equipment company. They develop and produce mattresses and wheelchair cushions that help prevent skin breakdown in patients who are immobile.

The Opportunity

When someone is immobile for long periods of time in a wheelchair or bed, the pressure and friction of their skin against the material (known as sheer) can result in painful wounds and bed sores. As an occupational therapist, 5 Minds clinical director Jenn Atkinson was often asked to recommend cushions to her patients. “There were products on the market that help to reduce pressure, but there were no products available to counteract the friction and scraping aspects of sheer,” says Jenn. There was a clear gap in the market. With a growing aging population, there is a clear need to be filled. This was 5 Minds’ big opportunity.

Innovation

5 Minds Mobility developed a patent-pending Shear Reduction Technology (SRT) that reduces the friction aspect of sheer in a cushion or mattress.

Making It Happen

With this great idea in mind, 5 Minds Mobility reached out to the Business Advisory Centre of Durham (BACD) http://www.bacd.ca. “I went in there just to get information, but it led to a domino effect,” says Jenn. “The BACD facilitated links with Durham College and with Spark Centre.” Thanks to funding from the Colleges Ontario Network for Industry Innovation (CONII), Jenn worked with faculty and students at Durham College to test SRT in wheelchair seating. In late 2011, they conducted a six-week clinical trial at Wynfield Long Term Care Residence in Oshawa. “Being able to conduct an unbiased, third-party trial was key to the credibility of the product,” says Jenn.

Working With Spark

“The people at Spark have been great advocates for us. They gave us so much help with business advice, consultation with a potential distributor, our pitches, our presentation style, and future planning. I come from a clinical background, so this was all new for me. It was great to have guidance and have someone tell me what questions to ask.” “The relationship with Durham College and Spark Centre has given us a lot of credibility. We’re not just ‘another company.’ We’re part of Spark, now.”

Advice to Local Entrepreneurs

“It takes a leap of faith to follow your idea through to business, but when you use the resources out there it can really help. It’s easy to think you won’t get the grant you want or the help you need, but it does happen. Don’t try to re-invent the wheel. Access the resources that are out there, and then just go for it!”