Tectorian of the Week: Nicole Smith

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Flytographer’s Nicole Smith is our Tectorian of the Week.

Nicole Smith founded her Tectoria-based startup to help match travellers with experienced local photographers all over the world. The goal? To help anyone and everyone capture amazing and memorable vacation photos.

Since founding Flytographer in 2013, Nicole has gone from success to success.

Flytographer has received rave reviews by newswire the Associated Press in a story that is appearing on news sites all over the web, including most recently the Chicago Herald.

Why the sudden interest in a Victoria startup from America’s Second City this Christmas season?

Flytographer is the perfect way to put summer vacation photos on holiday cards.

A successful graduate of VIATeC’s Accelerator program for start-ups, Nicole had access to seasoned, qualified mentors who provided help in navigating areas like accounting, legal documents and expert advice in varying matters that helped her launch her successful company more quickly.

But Nicole herself provides the vision, passion, and hard work that has led to the success of her company.

Nicole, already a veteran of Victoria’s booming tech scene, came up with the idea while reuniting with her best friend over a weekend in Paris in 2011. After trying to take numerous “selfies” and asking strangers to capture a moment while passing by, the two met with a local friend who agreed to document their day as they explored iconic Paris streets.

That weekend in Paris sparked the idea for Flytographer.

Flytographer officially launched in 2013. At last count, there were over 200 photographers in 120 cities around the world available for booking.

Nicole Smith and her Victoria company have been covered everywhere from the Globe and Mail to the Huffington Post, with a lot of much-need local recognition thrown in.

Update

Nicole tells us that so far December 2014 continues on with more successes and accolades for Flytographer:

Some other updates, on Friday, December 12, 2014 Flytographer was named to the top 10 short list for the Small Business BC Awards, for Best Concept.
Also, Flytographer has just signed a global partnership with Fairmont Hotels (woohoo!). Starting to roll out our packages on their hotel sites. Example: http://m.fairmont.com/hotel-vancouver/special-offers/hotel-offers/discovery/flytographer-package/
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Tectorian of the Week: Sean Bennett

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Our Tectorian of the Week is Sean Bennett.

Why?

Sean Bennett is the facilities manager for VIATeC’s new home at Fort Tectoria, and he deserves a shout-out for all of the hard work he puts in to make sure things run smoothly for everyone.

Need someone to troubleshoot elevator issues? Call Sean.

Is the WiFi wonky? Call Sean.

Need someone to go up on the roof to fix something in the pouring rain? Call Sean.

Basically, Sean Bennett has played a key roll ensuring Fort Tectoria has been such a success since we launched on September 11, 2014.

He’s the guy behind the scenes allowing the other staff to do their jobs, all with the focus of providing a launch for pad startups and tech companies who call Fort Tectoria home.

What’s more amazing is that this is 20-something Sean’s first time managing an entire building.

Sean just seems to have a knack for understanding how things work, or figuring it out.  He’s able to take what he’s learned in one area and apply it to something in a new area that he’s not encountered before.  Call him “handy”, if you will, with a common sense approach to the task at hand.

Sean came to Fort Tectoria after receiving his electrician’s certificate from Camosun College, and finding a role at Point Hope Shipyards.

It was at Point Hope where he learned about all sorts of construction and maintenance tasks working on some very large ships, including ships from BC Ferries and the Canadian Navy.

These days, you’ll see Sean at all of the VIATeC events, from making sure the Space Bus gets to where it is needed and is setup and ready to go, to making sure Fort Tectoria is kept ship shape for the wide range of events held in the space.

He’s one of the Tectorians working hard behind the scenes to make sure that it all looks easy for everyone else!

As one Fort Tectoria insider says, “Sean Bennett is our Schneider.”

Tectorian of the Week: Mark Lise

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Mark Lise is our Tectorian of the Week.

A UVic Computer Science grad and now the Director of Technology at ACD Systems, Mark has worked with a ton of different teams that have collectively created Tectoria from the ground up, including Flock.

Flock was, in its time a revolutionary browser, and the tech team behind the product caught the eye of some of the world’s leading technology entrepreneurs, who have been lured to Victoria to set up shop and benefit from the mad skills of Mark Lise and his fellow Tectorians.

ACD Systems itself has played a critical role in building Victoria’s tech economy. The photo imaging software company was one of the first Victoria tech firms to sell to a massive consumer audience.

An entire generation of today’s leading Victoria tech entrepreneurs got their start at ACD, learning the ropes of building a successful technology company.

Current coworkers say that besides bringing a lot of technical know-how to ACD, Mark is a pleasant person to work with.

“He also likes cats, which is cool. Actually, I think he is into fish,” says our insider source. “Seriously, Mark has been a great addition to our team.”

Megan Olesky is our Tectorian of the Week

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Megan Olesky is our Tectorian of the Week.

The UVic Computer Science graduate has developed a reputation around Victoria’s blossoming software startup scene as a contract developer with serious technical chops.

Olesky is also known for never shying away from challenging projects.

“Megan is very well-respected for technical expertise,” says Erin Athene, an Executive in Residence at Accelerate Tectoria and well-known champion of Ladies Learning Code in Victoria. “Megan is very willing to jump in there and actively partner with a growing startup.”

Mike Williams, VP of Marketing at RingPartner agrees.

“Megan is great to work with, and always goes beyond the project spec to build tools and systems that are effective, efficient and useful,” says Williams, who has worked with Megan at Tap for Tap and RingPartner. “Megan is really easy to work with, and she quickly understood many of the business needs for each project she worked on.”

While Olesky is sought after by local startups to bring technical know-how to a business concept, she is also a veteran of the startup trenches herself. Olesky has launched at least a couple of technology startups of her own.

Olesky was technical co-founder at Songspin.FM, a free, legal streaming radio curated from the best music sites on the web.

“Megan just gets in there and tackles challenging technical projects,” says Athene.

Olesky’s expertise with software startups should be in demand for quite some time.

So far the 123 applicants to VIATeC’s Accelerator program have created:

  • More than 170 applicants
  • More than $10 million raised in investment
  • More than $3 million increase in revenues by the participating companies
  • More than 150 jobs created or maintained

With startup success like this, we need more people like Megan Olesky in Tectoria!

Tectorian of the Week: Codename Entertainment

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Our Tectorian of the Week for November 7 is Victoria game developer Codename Entertainment.

Why?

At the beginning of November the Victoria video game maker raised a total of $6,762 for BC Children’s Hospital in just 24 hours.

The Codename team participated in a campaign organized by Extra Life, an organization that helps gamers raise money for hospitals.

Each year Extra Life organizes 24-hour video game marathon and competition that has so far raised $5.6M for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals, which includes BC Children’s Hospital.

Over 24 hours ton of video game developers around the world compete to see who can raise the most donations.

According to BC Children’s Hospital, Codename was one of their top 5 fundraising teams this past weekend. Victoria’s own Codename was also in the top 100 extra life teams, ranking 81 out of over 6,000 teams.

Since 2008, the annual Extra Life event in November has grown to become the largest charitable effort in the video game world with thousands of people playing to help local kids.

Teams can participate in living rooms, churches, schools, game stores and hospitals all over the world.

Funds raised go to the local hospitals, which use the dontated funds however they’re needed most–typically for life-saving equipment, research and charitable care.

It’s also a way for employees to give back to the community while doing what they do best: playing any and all kinds of games while giving back to the community.

Well-known Tectorian and Codename Entertainment CEO Eric Jordan writes:

We started prepping for the event at 9 am on Saturday and kicked off at 10 am. We ran through the our schedule of games/events over the next 25 hours and wrapped up on Sunday at 10 am (extra thanks to the time change adding one more hour to our event). The event brought together many different communities: our families and friends, supporters from the local video game industry and local community, and our community of dedicated players. We streamed everything live on our Twitch channel.

We had people participate through donations, encouragement on our various game chats, comments on our twitch stream and dropping by our office. The most surprising support came in the form of 4 six packs of Alexander Keith’s IPA which was delivered by a local beer delivery service, courtesy of one of our amazing players.

There was so much going on at the office, that I ended up spending 21 hours here during the event (out of a total of 25 possible hours). Now I must admit that I was not awake for the entire event. I did end up taking a nap for about an hour in the very early hours of the morning.

Our Community Manager, Chloe was also covering the grave yard shift, so she continued playing while I napped under one of the tables in our office (it was the darkest place I could find). In my defense, not only did I end up spending a lot more time here than I had originally planned, but I think it is fair to say that the hour I slept was the “bonus” hour that occurred as a result of the time change.

Some personal highlights:

Having both of my sons in attendance for much of the event – My youngest even managed to stay up most of the night! Not only was this a bonding experience for us, but it was great way to introduce them to helping charities (especially a children’s hospital).

Dancing to “Mickey” on the live stream – Our newest game has a funny bit of dialogue which references the 80s song “Mickey”. Our players wanted to watch us dance and so we said that we would if our team donations went over $6K. The players got together and quickly we exceeded $6K.

Significantly exceeding our company fundraising target – We originally targeted $3K. After we beat that target, we raised it to $5K. In the end, we came in at almost $7K.

Games, games and more games – Playing so many games was great, even if my abilities dropped dramatically as I got more and more tired. As a side note, I found it very cruel to play a game called The Long Dark and to see my character get to sleep in the game, but I needed to stay awake in real life. At least when I played our new game, Shards of Titan, I didn’t have to watch my character sleep. Evidently, characters in our game never get sleepy.

Breakfast in the morning! Alexis and Matt showed up in the morning full of energy with all of the fixings to make us Bacon Pancakes. Very tasty and wonderful. For those of you who do not know why bacon pancakes are important to us, check out our About page.

Connecting so many different communities together for a great cause – It was a tremendously rewarding experience that I honestly have some trouble putting into words.

Tectorians of the Week: Pretio and Tap for Tap

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We feature two Tectorians this week: Pretio and Tap for Tap.

Pretio, a Victoria-based advertising technology firm recently closed a deal to purchase another local software startup, Tap for Tap.

Tap for Tap is a mobile ad network for iOS and Android apps which includes a free tap exchange as well as paid promotion and app monetization network.

Founded in Victoria by Todd Dunlop and Eric Dyck in April 2012, Tap for Tap offers an ad network that allows app developers to cross-promote their app by exchanging ad placements within apps in the network. More than 15,000 app developers around the world use Tap for Tap’s network.

Tap for Tap is far from Todd Dunlop’s first successful startup. The Royal Roads grad and serial entrepreneur founded Neverblue Media, a Victoria-headquartered company that is internationally famous for offering a high-quality ad network, and is one of the local tech scene’s biggest employers.

Pretio was founded by 26 year-old entrepreneur Tyrone Sinclair in 2012 with an initial focus on helping games, apps and websites engage users by giving rewards from brands for certain activities (for instance, a $10 coupon from Target for visiting frequently or 50% off from Tommy Bahama for hitting a new game level).

In 2013, after having raised an angel round from local investors and bringing well-known Tectorian Jim Hayhurst on board, the company raised additional funding from Sir Terry Matthews’ Wesley Clover International and Vancouver-based VC Yaletown Venture Partners.

Since then, the company has allowed other advertising networks to use Pretio’s technology and offers to fill the millions of daily ‘moments’ where users expect to be rewarded – not bombarded with banner ads

The acquisition of Tap for Tap by Pretio is especially exciting for the VIATeC community.

Pretio, the first graduate of VIATeC’s Accelerator Program, acquired the 2012 VIATeC Award Recipient for Online Strategy of the Year, Tap for Tap.

Pretio is also located at Owen Matthew’s mini-tech park at 1124 Vancouver Street, famous for using a VW bus and a Boler camping trailer as meeting rooms.

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Image Courtesy of Photographer Sama Jim Canzian

Tectoria’s TinyMob Games is Now Engaged in Global Warfare

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It’s official: Tectoria’s TinyMob Games is now engaged in global warfare.

Fans of the made-in-Victoria real-time strategy game can download and play Tiny Realm Battlegrounds from the Apple App Store.

In fact, since being launched earlier in October, Tiny Realms Battlegrounds has battled its way to becoming an App Store “Best New App” in 100 countries.

It’s hard to believe TinyMob, led by Tectorians Chris Hoefgen, Alex Mendelev and Jamie Toghill, opened their Langley Street studio last fall, just a year ago after quickly raising a whopping $2 million in seed funding.

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The team has been incredibly busy building a fun and popular game that lets anyone create worlds, assemble armies, wage wars, and build empires.

With the latest release, players all over the world can now not only explore TinyMob’s complex world, they can team up with and compete against each other in massive battles and campaigns.

And it’s no wonder why the game is so popular. Tiny Realms features fantastic graphics and terrific gameplay, and a cheeky sense of humour.

What new features did Tiny Mob launch earlier this month to make the game so massively popular?

Clive from Tiny Mob says:

Our fans have been battling it out as individuals against other players in our player-versus-player multiplayer mode, or exploring solo adventures in Quest mode.

Battlegrounds adds a massive, completely unique dimension to Tiny Realms that is unavailable in any other mobile game. Players can now fight as their favourite faction in real-time and collaborate with other players towards a goal of total global domination.

Humans, Dwarves and Tegu clash in an epic ongoing struggle as players from all around the world engage in total war within the Realm of Light.

The successful launch of the game on the App Store is a big deal.

It takes tons of talent and hard work to launch a highly sophisticated game that’s actually fun to play.

It’s all part of the rapid rise of Victoria’s video game industry.

Besides getting critical home-town recognition in a the Times Colonist, TinyMob and its new game were also the subject of a longer Tech Crunch profile published earlier this past spring.

Tiny Mob Games has also built up a devoted online following thanks in part to an engaging Facebook presence, as well as witty and entertaining videos on the Victoria game developer’s YouTube channel:

It’s hard to believe something so cool could be created in Victoria in such a short period of time.

So let’s help TinyMob Games celebrate this significant milestone… and download the game so we can represent Tectoria in the realm of global warfare!