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. 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, 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 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, 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.
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.
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!”
Seen for the first time at Spark Centre’s Big Bang event on May 8, 2012, three clients share their experience of Spark Centre and business development.