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Free Enrollment in MAP Open to Select OCAD University & George Brown College Students & Faculty Members

You want to be connected into the mobile marketplace.
We want to help you get there.

The Mobile Experience Innovation Centre (MEIC) is reserving a few select seats for OCAD University and George Brown College students and faculty members to participate in the Mobile Accelerator Program (MAP).

MAP is a six-part series of half-day workshops over a twelve week period commencing January 19, 2012 and ending March 29, 2012.

MAP is an opportunity to learn and network with experienced professionals about the ins & outs of developing and growing a mobile business. It will enable participants to build business relationships by working and learning with a variety of mobile experts in a small group setting.

You must apply to be considered for free enrolment in MAP. Please contact Kathleen Webb at kwebb@meic.ca or 416-977-6000 ext. 4363 to receive the application form.

The deadline for applications is January 15th at 5:00 p.m.

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Guardly Mobile Personal Safety App Now Available for the iPhone

TORONTO – April 7, 2011 – Guardly, a new mobile personal safety application and service, is now available for download from the App Store for iPhone and iPod Touch users in the United States and Canada. Guardly enables smartphone users in distress to alert, connect, and collaborate with their personal safety network and authorities with only a single tap on their device.

Recognizing that proactive actions taken during the first moments of an emergency can often help reduce potentially negative outcomes to an incident, OCAD University has partnered with Guardly to provide local response by campus security for OCAD U students using the Guardly service to broadcast emergencies arising on campus. “Our partnership with Guardly enables the University to extend the reach of its emergency phones on campus by putting a virtual emergency phone onto smartphones carried by students,” said Vicki Brown, Director, Campus Services & Security at OCAD University. “It also enables us to track changes to the location of an emergency in real-time and communicate with the victim and his/her responding safety network throughout the incident until resolved.”

Guardly was created to dramatically decrease the amount of time it takes for help to arrive at an emergency. The app, which was announced and previewed at the DEMO conference in February, is a prime example of how technology can be used to help save lives.

Guardly differs from other personal safety apps on the market in that it enablesa user’s personal safety network to collaborate with them and amongst each other through mobile web and web incident pages, SMS and voice conferencing for the duration of the emergency event. “Not every incident or situation requires 9-1-1 escalation and sometimes friends, family members or neighbours who are nearby can respond to a call for assistance even faster,” said Josh Sookman, Guardly Founder and CEO. “We’ve created a mobile app that provides a simple way to bring your personal safety network together instantly, and escalate an emergency to 9-1-1 at any point during an incident.”

Guardly is ideal for students, young professionals, travelers, sports enthusiasts, or anyone who frequently walks alone at night, is concerned about dating safety, is responsible for children, may find themselves in abusive relationships or is faced with medical conditions. Guardly is also ideal for families and friends who agree to look out for one another in the event of disasters such as earthquakes, fires and floods.

Guardly Premium and Guardly Alerts

Guardly Premium (priced at $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year) is a subscription service that includes the following key features and services:

  • One-tap activation:Guardly alerts two safety networks simultaneously: (1) a user’s personal safety network by voice, SMS and email, and (2) 9-1-1 or any other emergency phone number;
  • Contact collaboration:Users can collaborate with emergency contacts in real-time by conference call, instant messaging and map-view showing nearby locations of responders;
  • LocationAssure™:Guardly uses GPS, cell-tower triangulation and WiFi hotspots to find a user’s real-time location for the entire duration of an emergency incident, even if the user is on the phone with 9-1-1. By combining this data with places frequented by a user, Guardly helps ensure a user is easy to find by responders in case of emergency;
  • NetworkAssure™:Built-in intelligence to detect network failures and wait until a signal is present to transmit data and make calls to 9-1-1 to ensure users are connected to their safety network;
  • Auto-dial emergency services including 9-1-1:It takes at least 8 taps to dial 9-1-1 on an iPhone (Home, Swipe, Phone, Keypad, 9, 1, 1, Send). It only takes 3 taps to launch Guardly (Home, Swipe, Guardly);
  • Photo sharing:Users can share photos with their personal safety network instantly and securely.

Guardly Alerts is a free service that includes the following features:

  • Emergency alerts:Send location-based emergency alerts via voice call, SMS and email to pre-configured safety groups;
  • Contact groups:Add up to 15 contacts per emergency group (unlimited groups).

Users can also run emergency simulations of Guardly Premium to learn the benefits of upgrading to the premium version.

Seed Funding

In conjunction with the launch announcement, Guardly has also closed a seed round of financing that includes investments from Extreme Venture Partners, Bryker Capital and several angel investors. The company will be using the funding to add to its technology development and business development teams to build out its partner ecosystem.

Availability on other Smartphone Platforms

Guardly’s mobile application for iPhone is available immediately from the Apple App Store athttp://itunes.com/apps/guardly. BlackBerry and Android versions are in development and will be announced shortly.

About Guardly

Guardly is a platform for emergency communication that changes the way mobile personal safety is delivered. Smartphone users that find themselves in an emergency situation can alert, connect and collaborate with local authorities as well as their own personal safety networks in a single tap. Guardly is committed to dramatically decreasing the amount of time it takes responders to arrive at an emergency. The company is a member of the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) and is based in Toronto, Canada. For more information visit: http://guardly.com.

Media Contact:

Jodi Echakowitz

Echo Communications
jodi@echocommunications.com
905-709-9600

My Green City Partners with MEIC Incubator

Yonge Street Media has featured a piece on Robert Kori Golding, developer of My Green City and along with his company Albedo Informatics, part of OCAD U’s Mobile Experience Innovation Centre (MEIC). My Green City won an inaugural Green Innovation Award of $25,000 in 2010, a program co-sponsored by the City of Toronto and the Toronto Community Foundation.

Yonge Street Media reporter Edward Keenan checked in with Kori Goldring on the status of his idea, My Green City, to create a social game that encourages people to make real-world change to benefit the environment. Kori Goldring’s project received an additional investment earlier this year as part of a research commercialization grant from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) through the Applied Research and Commercialization Initiative. My Green City is now partnered with OCAD University’s MEIC to begin the serious development of the game for multiple platforms and devices.

MEIC Digital Startup Guardly Heads to DEMO Conference in California

Appetite for disruption

On the eve of the biggest event in the industry, Toronto’s bootstrapping, game-changing digital-startup rockstars prepare to demo

Article BY Edward Keenan February 24, 2011 00:02

Photo BY Darren Klimek

Originally printed in Eye Weekly Feb 24 2011 issue

So this one time, Josh Sookman is in Kansas City for a tech conference. He gets off the plane wearing jeans, a grey blazer and his blue “I’m huge on Twitter” t-shirt. And, as a guy does when he finds himself in an airport terminal, he hits up Starbucks for a coffee.

So he’s standing there, waiting for his drink, when a stranger comes up to him and says, “Are you here for the startup weekend?” This guy is from Colorado—the two have never seen each other before. Sookman looks at him and says, “Are you kidding me? Out of a whole airport full of people, you pick out one of 100 guys who are in town for this event? How did you know?” And the guy says, like it’s the most obvious thing in the world, “The t-shirt and the blazer, man.” Sookman laughs.

“I guess there is a style,” he tells me now, in a conference room at the Ontario College of Art & Design’s Richmond Street Mobile Experience Innovation Centre. “There is a look. And I had nailed it for that event.” As he relates this story to me, Sookman is actually wearing a brown collared shirt open at the neck with jeans—no blazer—but he still somehow nails it, the look of the digital-culture dude.

Sookman is the 27-year-old founder and CEO of a startup called Guardly, now in the process of creating something he described to me as “OnStar for smartphones.” His product will essentially give users a panic button on their phone: tapping it instantly alerts a network of friends of an emergency through email, social media and text message. It will send out the user’s location and photos of whatever threat he or she is facing, and allow that person to make a one-touch call to 911.

It’s been in development for about six months, and this week, Guardly will officially launch at the elite DEMO conference in Palm Desert, California—one of the software industry’s most celebrated international stages. Only a few dozen companies are hand-picked, via an intensive, top-secret process, to launch products at DEMO every year. In the past, the conference gave the world its first look at Adobe Acrobat, Netscape Navigator, Java, TiVo, E-Trade, Palm Computing, Picasa and mobile Skype. You could think of it as a kind of Digital Startup Olympics. And this year Josh Sookman and Guardly have been granted the extreme privilege of representing Team Toronto.

If you read the business press at all, you’ll know that something of an app-development gold rush has been taking place in Toronto over the past few years. The emergence of smartphones, and the exponentially exploding market for apps to run on them, has not only changed the way people live (we all now travel with GPS locators, cameras, email accounts and the accumulated knowledge of the world in our pockets), it’s changed the entire business climate.

Today, in a matter of months and with next to no capital, a software developer can create an application, sell it in the iTunes App Store or Android Market or BlackBerry App World and get rich (or at least comfortable) overnight. The small price of entry, and the potentially huge payoff, is attracting wannabe entrepreneurs by the truckload. Of course, the odds of success are stacked high against them: tens of thousands of new apps are flooding into the market every quarter, and only a handful will attract the kind of sustained attention necessary to generate real profit at a buck or two per download. Still, Toronto has jumped into this digital Klondike with both feet.

From the trivial to the useful to the potentially life-saving, there are, conservatively, 300 to 400 funded tech startups active in Toronto right now, most of which are headquartered in Liberty Village or the Financial District. And startup culture is quickly becoming institutional: U of T has set up a giant business innovation incubator, MaRS, that gives a lot of attention and advice to tech companies. Ryerson has its Digital Media Zone and OCADU has set up its Mobile Experience Innovation Centre incubator. The federal government, through its economic development ministry, FedDev Ontario, and the provincial government, through its Ministry of Research and Innovation, have been showering billions of dollars over the industry to help drive innovation and keep talent here in the city. At a big funding event at MaRS earlier this month, Ontario Minister of Research and Innovation Glen Murray described one new initiative—an open-data project—as being among “the most important things I’ve ever been involved in in my life.” Murray claimed his government was building “the first truly wiki-mobile-digital economy,” right here in Ontario.

For many, of course, this Wild West atmosphere and overblown rhetoric will recall the initial dot-com bubble. And while there are many similarities between the digital cultures of 1999 and 2011, there are key differences too. In the 1990s, huge amounts of money were being thrown at companies that were little more than a registered URL and an idea—paging Pets.com—and eventually a lot of that money came through public investment on the NASDAQ stock exchange. Today, the ease of building an app and the existence of a ready-made retail market in which to sell it (Apple’s App Store and others like it) changes the whole landscape.

Almost all the investment now comes from angel funders and venture capitalists, and initial investments are often tiny—$5,000 or $10,000. This level of financing is enough to let entrepreneurs actually build a product and prove its financial viability. Big-time investments are reserved for companies that prove they can be successful. From the investor’s point of view, you can put a tiny amount of money into a few dozen companies and you only need one or two to hit it big for your bet to pay off.

App developers themselves, meanwhile, inhabit that romantic area of the creative economy in which actors, novelists and musicians traditionally live: all their sweat and intellectual energy amounts to something like a lottery ticket—a small chance at very large rewards. And like those artists—and unlike the dot-com CEOs—it will be the public’s reaction to their efforts that make or break their success. No amount of high-concept snowjobbery will attract millions, but if people actually respond to what you do, glory and wealth await.

MEIC at MaRS RIC Launch

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