Tectorian of the Week: TinyMob Games


Our Tectorian of the Week for April 11 is TinyMob Games. …You may have heard of them in Tech Cruch.

TinyMob unveiled their first game earlier today at the massive PAX East Boston gaming conference. It’s hard to believe TinyMob, led by Tectorians Chris Hoefgen, Alex Mendelev and Jamie Toghill, opened their studio last fall, just a few months ago.

Besides getting critical home-town recognition in a glowing Times Colonist article today, TinyMob and its new game is also the subject of a longer Tech Crunch profile published just this morning.

Tiny Realms, a Unity-based real-time strategy game for iPad and iPhone, looks like it’s going to be awesome, and it’s very cool that a Victoria-based company is creating eye candy that appeals to millions of gamers around the world.

The game lets you build worlds, assemble armies, wage wars, and build empires.

Tiny Realms is also generating a lot of exciting in a mobile games industry always seeking innovative ways to remain competitive and profitable.

“We have content and features planned out for the next 12 months post launch that not only add content, but will also expose more of the underlying mythology we’ve created for our world,” Mendelev says in the Tech Crunch interview. “The way we bring this to life is through player events actually having an impact on the fabric of the Tiny Realms universe. Player actions will leave indelible marks on the game we’ve created that other players will get to experience, too.”

The team unveiled the name, images and a trailer of game play at the PAX East Boston gaming conference. The finished product will be released later this spring.



Tectorian of the Week

Tectorian of the week - Feb 14th 2014Y-Combinator backs Sendwithus

Joining the likes of Reddit, Dropbox, and Songkick, sendwithus is now a member of “The most prestigious program for budding digital entrepreneurs”, Y-Combinator.

Twice a year, Y-Combinator invests a small amount of money ($14-20k + an $80k note) in a large number of startups (most recently 52). The startups move to Silicon Valley for 3 months, during which they work intensively with them to get the company into the best possible shape and refine their pitch to investors.

During their time in the Accelerate Tectoria program, Matt Harris and Brad Van Vugt found themselves repeatedly having to change a bunch of email templates and wanting to test different variants.  What they found was that there was no real technology in place to do so, “Larger companies will usually build their own systems for this”, they explain.

What resulted was a mission to bring optimization and A/B testing to marketers and anyone else sending out targeted promotional emails which led to the birth of sendwithus.

Sendwithus created a website where customers can select from pre-made email templates or upload their own, log in to their preferred email provider, and then set up A/B tests and drip campaigns. Customers also have access to analytics showing how variants and campaigns are performing.

Harris said Sendwithus is focused on “transactional emails” (i.e., the emails that are sent to specific users at specific times, usually to accomplish a specific task) as opposed to newsletters or other broad campaigns. Just managing all the different templates and automatically sending the right one out at the right time is important to the company’s customers, he added.

Founded 11 months ago, Sendwithus already processes more than 1 million emails a day, he added, and its customers include 8tracks, uSell, SuperRewards and App.net. Pricing starts at $19 a month and there’s also a free version for emailing up to 100 customers.

Tectorian of the Week

 Baby Iver
On December 28th, fellow Tectorian and entrepreneur, Dylan Benson lost his wife to a sudden hemorrhage of blood to her brain. At the time, she was 22 weeks pregnant.

Physicians are attempting to keep Robyn’s body alive for up to 7 more weeks (potentially until she is at or near 34 weeks pregnant).  The thought process behind this is that if they can keep her body alive, it will give their unborn son (his name will be Iver Cohen Benson) a good chance of surviving a c-section at that time. The doctors have said that he now has higher than an 80% of survival and that increases with every day that passes. There are roughly only 30 published medical records of this type of thing being attempted, but so far, amazingly, they have been successful.

Most of us know Dylan very well. He is one of the good guys that works hard and contributes his time and energy to the local tech community.  

It was his idea to bring Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian to Victoria for his keynote speech at last year’s Thinklanida festival. HE has also stepped up an organizer for the popular Tectoria ‘Startup Meetup’ networking group.  Since joining local e-commerce company RevenueWire in December 2011, Dylan has also gone on to co-found his own online gift-exchange company called somethinginthemail.com.

Dylan and his family are enduring the unthinkable and we encourage you all to read his story in his own words and please support Baby Iver by donating to the trust fund in his name. This story has now touched the hearts of thousands and recently been widely covered in the media but please consider sharing with your contacts and social circles.

Tectorian of the Week

flyzoneUnited Engineering has been around a long time – 93 years. They started out as a small repair shop, eventually grew to serve local industry and became heavily involved with forestry. As the economy changed so did their focus as they started working on structural steel projects. United has always distinguished themselves from the competition by being leaders in technology. In 1991 they added two state of the art machines that distinguished them from other steel and machine shops locally and abroad. They were just getting warmed up for a major capital purchase 10 years later in 2001 when they acquired a CNC burning table and started stocking their own steel. Today Victoria based United Engineering excels in steel fabrication and machining.

What do they fabricate?
United does a lot of work on marine related projects (barge abutments, steel stairs, floating leads for BC Ferries) but recently they made the news for their role in helping Vancouver-based Flyzone Bodyflight become so successful. While Bodyflight is based out of Vancouver – virtually all of their manufacturing happens right here in Victoria. Their product, Flyzone, gives extreme sports enthusiasts the opportunity to experience human flight. That’s right: human flight. They do this by using a patented mobile vertical wind tunnel that gives a person the sensation of sky diving without the flight–or the parachute. The wind tunnels are 10 feet in diameter and channel winds of up to 200 kph that virtually lift a person off of the ground. The “Vancouver Sun” calls it “skydiving without the terror.” As you can imagine putting together this type of machinery and making it safe, is a complicated engineering problem.

Local Benefits
United Engineering currently employs 30 people in full time positions. The FlyZone project by itself involves the manufacturing of a semi stationary multi-level units that are suitable for military applications, family fun and corporate team building. These units, which can be outfitted to be open air or closed chamber, cost about $1M each with 80% of the components being sourced from Canadian suppliers. All of those components have to be assembled and fortunately, the majority of assembly happens right here in Victoria. United Engineering and other local engineering firms have been signaled out for their role in making Flyzone a success.

To learn more about FlyZone BodyFlight, visit their website or Facebook page. To learn more about United Engineering check out their webpage.

Local Start-Up Whips Their Tech Into Shape

Eco-Fit was one of the first Start-Ups to enter our accelerator program.. They build a custom hardware and software solution that is sold all over the world and employ people right here in Victoria. Their modules combine with the cardio fitness equipment at your local gym to make your workouts fun, social and competitive with people across the globe.

Their first major hurdle was simple; how do they demonstrate that their fitness modules, which attach to things like treadmills and stationary bikes, can work on a large scale in a massive gym? The challenge – the interference caused by so many wireless transmitters & receivers all in one place operating at the same time. The solution – building a custom wireless protocol designed to eliminate the wireless interference issue.


What you are seeing in the above picture is their testing boards that prove, unequivocally, that their modules operate at 100% efficiency even when in extremely close proximity to one another. All together you are looking at 149 modules, all powered and all sending and receiving data effortlessly. Admittedly the VIATeC Accelerator community wasn’t entirely pleased with this solution. We wanted to see a ‘testing facility’ with 149 pieces of exercise equipment, sauna, steam room, roman bath, massage room, etc.

While we didn’t quite get what we wanted, Eco-Fit did set up a gym of sorts that is being enthusiastically used by ‘beta-testers’.


Want Some Tectorian Support?

I am Tectorian - Spartacus

Even Spartacus Needed a Little Help from his Friends

Searching for ways to have your story heard throughout the Tectoria community and beyond?

Having trouble making a dent on Twitter, Facebook, and other channels?

Your friends at VIATeC are here to help. We want to scream your story from the top of Mt. Finlayson, but we can’t do that until we hear the story ourselves.

So, how do you go about making this happen?

Help us Help You

Between this tectoria.wordpress blog, our This Week in Tectoria Newsletter, the VIATeC E-Bulletin, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Flickr, we have thousands upon thousands of people to tell your story to.  That doesn’t even include all of our offline channels.

So Send us your Stories Already

Keep in mind, however, that what may be a story to you, could sound like a sales pitch to someone else; and the quickest way to lose an audience is to continuously scream sales pitches at them.

So How do you Know if you Have a Story or Not?

We’re going to keep this very simple. Especially at first, just err on the side of sending us too much stuff.  We’ll wade through everything each week and determine what we feel will work the best.

Lets be clear about something though, by writing this post the way I have, I’m setting myself up for a great deal more work, haha.  Now that’s fine, and could actually be quite wonderful, as long as it serves a purpose.

While we’re here to ensure that all your great Tectoria stories are given the audience they deserve, behaving like the startup who cried wolf by repeatedly sending us SELL SELL SELL material, is a sure fire way to get your stories to the bottom of the pile.

A Few Key Points to Remember

  1. Starting this very second, send any stories / ideas to me, Steve Hof, at shof@viatec.ca
  2. For blog posts, the stories need to be especially compelling, or motivated by a clear intention to help the Tectoria cause.
  3. If you’re on Twitter, mention @VIATeC in a post and include the hashtag #I_AM_TECTORIAN
  4. If you’re on Facebook, post to the VIATeC wall so we know you’re there.
  5. Don’t want to do either of those things? Fine, be difficult. At the very least, however, send me an email listing the channels you’re on and the best ways we can support you.
  6. There’s no ‘h’ in Tectoria.  It’s the little things people.

Is there something I’ve missed? Do you have a mind blowing, or even slightly above average idea for helping us help you?

Post your ideas, questions, and concerns to the comments below.  Lets hash it out.

Okay Tectorians, the ball’s in your court.

I mean, even Rod Tidwell figured it out eventually.

Help me......... Help you.

Help me……… Help you.

by SteveSoon to be Very BusyHof