mesh welcomes tech startups

Startups_200x200With just under two weeks until the ninth mesh conference, we’re pleased to welcome our featured startups taking part in this year’s event.

This group of innovative leaders will be showcased in the mesh “demo alley” where attendees will have the opportunity to meet with the entrepreneurs and vote for their favorite startup.  The top startup will then be featured on our main stage during the mesh “15 Minutes of Fame” sponsored by glacéau vitaminwater.

“It has been amazing to see how the startup community has grown over the past few years. This is the third year that mesh has put startups in the spotlight. It’s exciting and important to support the startup ecosystem.” Mark Evans mesh co-founder

Thanks to our mesh sponsors Ernst & Young, City of Toronto and Yellow Pages Group

SqueezeCMM @SqueezeCMM

A user friendly content marketing tracking tool that allows companies to spend less time running reports and more time creating engaging content for their audience.

Innohub @innohubinc

Innohub’s flagship product Uplette delivers personalized, context-aware and dynamic mobile landing pages directly to any mobile device, helping clients satisfy the needs of their consumers.

Virtual Next @VirtualNext

A leader in mobile-based store-card and payment solutions.  Virtual Next is the world’s first company to enable fast food chains to offer a branded mobile based digital card that ties payment into loyalty without the use of additional smartphone apps.

Novela Inc @Novela_Inc

A biomedical engineering and micro-fabrication research and engineering lab at the University of Waterloo that creates advanced electrodes capable of providing enhanced functionality and biocompatibility, for use in the development of reliable and efficient therapies for nervous system disorders.

Handybook @Handybook

An efficient and convenient online home maintenance service that allows customers to book professional handyman and house cleaning services.

Giveffect @Giveffect

North America’s first crowdfunding platform for charities and corporations. @parsely

Uses an advanced technology platform to help editorial teams show the most relevant and compelling content to their audiences with the goal of improving core metrics.

SuedeLane @1suedelane

A quarterly subscription service with a focus on emerging artists and designers.  Delivering thoughtfully curated products from around the world to consumers delight.

Shario @Shario

Share More. Get More.  Shario is a mobile app that rewards consumers with discounts in return for sharing their favourite shops. Merchants are then able to track consumer buying patterns and benefit from customer referrals.

Kastio @KastioApp

Kastio is a live webcast platform for marketing teams to create compelling content throughout their funnel, and engage users with detailed customer data in order to drive conversions and increase sales.

Shift Health Paradigms

A physician led technology company creating software solutions to help healthcare providers deliver the best possible care to their patients.

Backspin @backspinit

A cloud-based SaaS to help content producers measure engagement and efficiently share their product within an access controlled environment.


Uses big data analytics to help organizations improve their performance by helping them to understand the collaborative balance of people, processes and tools.

Hurrier @usehurrier

An on-demand delivery service within downtown Toronto. Use them to have your food, gifts, packages or anything else delivered promptly.

Usability Matters: Taking a user focused approach to digital innovation

Wearables may have finally found their breakthrough moment in 2014, and are going to be a major trend at mesh14. Here at Usability Matters, we sponsor mesh because they are always looking forward to the digital horizon, and that really resonates with us. But we’re a user-centred design agency, and in the frenzied atmosphere of rapid iteration and innovation, it’s important to remember that technology is supposed to work for people.
With that in mind, we looked at three different technology examples and asked the question: does this tech enhance the lives of its users?

Neil Harbisson

Neil Harbisson has total colour blindness – he can only see in greyscale. So in 2003, he had an electronic colour sensor connected to his skull that lets him “hear colour” through vibrations in his skull. He is a self-identified cyborg. As an artist, his electronic eye allows him to explore the entire colour spectrum as well as create both visual and audio pieces. Technology has changed the way he interacts with the world as well as how he perceives it at the most basic level.
Neil represents everything that wearable technology can be: effortlessly enhancing his life every day in a totally seamless way. He is but one example of what technology can do for people though. 3D printable casts as a lightweight alternative to standard casts make broken bones heal faster, and let patients be more comfortable while they heal. 3D printing is also being used in prosthetics, allowing for better prosthetics options at a fraction of the cost. Given that a prosthetic can cost upwards of $40,000, printed options make quality products more available to those who desperately need them. These are examples of technological advancement working for people, designed and created with people in mind. Tech and digital companies, start-ups, and marketers should aspire to mimic these examples: solving actual user problems, across every dimension, every day.

Enhanced monitoring

We have data, metrics, and quantitative-driven insight into every aspect of marketing. Increasingly, this ‘counting’ culture is spilling over into areas like fitness, weight management, and health monitoring. This has an awful lot of positives – diabetics can track their blood pressure, without risking white coat hypertension; fitness fiends can compare splits; and people everywhere can maintain a healthy weight. But at what point does personal data monitoring tip from informed to too informed? Alexandra Carmichael, who has worked for Qualified Self, quit tracking her personal data, saying “each day, my self-worth was tied to the data.” Plus, tracking and measuring personal KPIs can cause you to lose site of the larger picture: yes, you bike faster than your friends, but does that information actually make you (or them) healthier?

Photo Overload?

Our rate of photo documentation has skyrocketed over the last few years. It started with camera phones and has swelled due to the engagement of enriched content and photo-based social media sites like Snapchat, Pinterest, and Instagram. The selfie explosion has accelerated this trend with wearables that are increasingly photo-focused, like the Narrative Clip.
This trend could go one of two ways. On the one hand, seeing the world through someone else’s eyes could make us more empathetic. The Google Glass perspective has been used for this very purpose – to build a powerful story. Maybe mass photography is the answer to the impersonal chill of email? On the other hand, will selfie-ism contribute to the growth in narcissism we’re seeing in our culture? Are we so busy trying to document ourselves and our experiences that we’re not appreciating the world (and those) around us?

mesh14 is a time to discuss achievements like Neil, challenges like over-monitoring, and ideas like the selfie explosion. Hopefully it will inspire us all to push the digital frontier, without losing sight of why we’re doing it. We look forward to seeing you there!

By Usability Matters

mesh announces new keynotes and presenters

With just under a month before the ninth mesh conference kicks off in Toronto, May 27 and 28, the organizers announced the latest round of outstanding keynotes and presenters at this year’s event:


Neil Harbison redefines wearable tech, literally. Neil is a Catalan contemporary artist, composer and cyborg activist best known for his ability to hear and perceive colours outside of human vision. He was born with achromatopsia, a condition that only allows him to see in grey scale. In 2013, Neil had an antenna surgically implanted that now allows him not only to perceive colour as sound but to connect live to the colours that others can see. He’ll be talking about new communication possibilities that go beyond our traditional senses.

BusinessKeynote_BWertz      BusinessKeynote_JMacDonald

Boris Wertz is one of the top tech early-stage investors in North America and the founding partner of version one ventures. His impressive portfolio includes over 50 successful consumer Internet and enterprise companies, including Clio, Flurry, Frank & Oak, Indiegogo, Top Hat and Wattpad. Boris is also a board partner with Andreessen Horowitz and one of the founders of start-up accelerator GrowLab.  He and Jevon MacDonald, co-founder and general manager of GoInstant, will discuss the state of startup funding in Canada and where they believe it should be heading.

“We’re thrilled to have two prominent Canadian entrepreneurs, talents and investors on the stage in Boris Wertz and Jevon MacDonald,” says mesh co-founder Stuart MacDonald.

ClosingKeynote_DMcColl  ClosingKeynote_DBradfield-

Darren McColl in conversation with David Bradfield (closing keynote) – Darren (Daz) is co-author of Storyscaping; Stop Creating Ads, Start Creating Worlds (April, 2014) and chief brand strategy officer of SapientNitro, a new breed of agency redefining storytelling for an always-on world. He and David will discuss how to create an intelligent story system rooted in a creative organizing idea, that’s fueled by innovative technology and creates more meaningful brand-consumer connections. This session will help you activate much of what you’ve learned over the course of the conference.

Other presenters include: Erin Bury, 88Creative, Berry Wellman, NetLab, Melissa Shapiro, WattPad, Jean-Luc David, Alertly and more.

See the full line-up of speakers and the schedule.

Stay tuned for more news!

#meshcon interview with @stuartma

mesh conference 2014: Look who’s speaking, our new venue and startup scholarship

 It’s been almost 10 years since mesh organizers and creators Mathew Ingram, Stuart MacDonald, Mark Evans, Rob Hyndman, Mike McDerment and Sheri Moore came up with the idea for mesh.

And since then a lively group of thinkers, innovators and tech nerds converge on Toronto for two days in May to discuss and debate how social media and technology are changing the way we work, play and live.

This year’s conference takes place May 27 and 28 and, if you register now, the cost is only $499.

SpeakerKeynote_MarkLittleFirst round of speakers announced

If you’ve been to mesh before, you’ll know that each morning begins with a keynote or one-on-one interview with people on the leading edge of social business. This year, we’re featuring:

  • Mark Little, founder of Storyful, the world’s first social media news agency, talking about the future of news.
  • Maggie Fox, Senior Vice President of Digital Marketing at SAP, on how to deliver a unified digital experience to customers.

Other speakers include Tom Emrich, wearable tech evangelist and founder of We Are Wearables, Amber MacArthur, co-host APP CENTRAL, blogger at Yahoo! Tech, and creator of the “Trending Tech” column for The Globe and Mail; and Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield, who’s now working on new a social gaming platform.

Additional presenters and panels will be announced in the coming weeks.

New campus like venue

In keeping with the collegial spirit of mesh, we’re moving to a campus-like experience on Queen Street West with keynotes, sessions and networking at 99 Sudbury and the Drake Hotel.

mesh startup scholarship back by popular demand

The startup community has always been an important part of mesh. To help the newest round of startups attend the conference, we’re continuing our scholarship program. Boostrapped entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply by April 18 to qualify for a scholarship that enables them to join us, expand their connections, share ideas and be inspired.

Stay tuned for more news.