Category Archives: Fibernetics

Startup Weekend: And the winner is…

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Erin Atchison pitches her winning company, Barn Raiser

…the community.

Okay, there was an actual winning team, but on the whole the objective of the entire Waterloo Startup Weekend exercise was to develop businesses around improving life in local communities – and it looks like “mission accomplished.”

Starting last Friday night, 70 young entrepreneurs gathered at the Communitech Hub in Waterloo to pitch their ideas and out of that group, 12 business ideas were adopted. Over the next 54 hours, after splitting up into groups including team leaders, developers and graphic designers, these 12 companies were hatched, business plans were drawn up, model websites and apps were developed and in the end came the pitch. An august group of judges from the Waterloo community, including Mayor Brenda Halloran, voted Barn Raiser the winner.

Originally the idea for Barn Raiser was Erin Atchinson’s based on her experience with volunteerism. It is a website designed to provide a meeting ground for local business, community builders and non-profit organizations to share resources, ideas and connections to support community building. Atchison’s team, consisting of herself, Tammy Bender and Charlotte Chan, impressed the judges with their minimum viable product, extensive market research and viability in the community.

“I find it almost ironic that the thing we were creating is similar to what Startup Weekend is,” Atchison told Communitech’s Kayleigh Platz. “I have lots of big ideas, ideas that could maybe go somewhere, but don’t have a place to put them. This weekend did the same thing for me. It gave me a reinvigorated sense of validation for ideas, especially with the mentors. It was an outlet to put our passions.”

Startup weekend

John Stix mentoring third place winners GLIDR

Fibernetics’ co-founder John Stix worked as a mentor all weekend long helping the 12 teams with all their business development questions, pitch problems, or just to function as a sounding board.

“The amazing journey that an Entrepreneur embarks on can be incredibly rewarding and inspiring,” John said. “The relationships, celebrations, failures, risks and memories, make all the sacrifices seem like a group badge of honour that you wear proudly on your sleeve. These entrepreneurs astounded me with their innovation and go get it attitude. I can’t wait for the next one!”

Saferide finished second with their app that helps the youth to track, score and improve their driving skills.

Third place GLIDR, developed a “random app of kindness” platform allowing users to anonymously gift strangers with such things as a cup of coffee or a free lunch.

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Team Barn Raiser

The intent of the community-focused Startup weekend was to inspire change in the Waterloo Region and to act as a catalyst to inspire the group of 70 extraordinary young people to engage in changing their community for the better. Members of the Barn Raiser team plan to continue with developing their new business, which demonstrates that it worked.

As part of their First Prize, Fibernetics is providing a NEWT Small Business Bundle that includes Unlimited Internet two business phone lines with Unlimited Canadian Long Distance free of charge for the next two years.

From John and  everyone at Fibernetics, congratulations to all who participated, and a special congratulations to Barn Raiser on their well-earned win.

 

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Corporate Culture and the Preferred Parking Spot

Preferred_Parking2At Fibernetics we are always trying to improve our corporate culture. Besides making the work environment more pleasant, it’s also good business. Happy employees make for better workers who, in turn, provide better service for our customers.

We have dozens of programs both large and small that are designed to make everyone’s working experience better and one example is centered around who gets to park where.

Every office has the perfect parking spot, and usually it is reserved for someone high up in company, the president, CEO, general manager, whoever. Yet, is that really the best use of that valuable real estate? Those folks already have plenty of perks. Do they really need to have the shortest walk to the front door?

Like many other companies, Fibernetics has come up with an alternative assignment for this spot, (in our case two spots), that works as both a competition and a reward. Every month we auction ours off in a day-long bidding war, with the proceeds going to charity.

It’s fun, it’s competitive and it raises money for charity. Win. Win. Win. Other businesses have also embraced the idea with these being some of the most popular:

1. Stork Parking

Expectant mothers should get convenient, front row spaces.

2. Green Parking

Car poolers, hybrid cars, electric cars and bikes should get primo parking spots to encourage reducing our overall carbon footprint.

3. Employee-of-the-Month Parking

Many businesses have Employee-of-the-Month programs. instead of a certificate, why not go a step further and all he or she to enjoy a premiere parking for a month.

Improving corporate culture is an ongoing exercise, and not every perk has to be something major. Even something as basic as a parking spot.

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Show me the money – An Interview with Roy Graydon

Canadian HR Reporter, the national journal of human resources management interviewed Roy Graydon, president and CFO, Fibernetics, NEWT & Worldline on his strategy on balancing employee compensation, benefits and engaging his workforce.

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How important are compensation and benefits when it comes to employee satisfaction?

Having an employee ask for too high a raise can be a difficult scenario, but when Roy Graydon, president and CFO of Fibernetics, was faced with this dilemma, he took a creative approach. It turned out the employee had an old car and couldn’t afford to buy a new one, so she was looking for extra income. As an alternative, the telecom company asked to her to research financing options over five years, and then paid for her car allowance.

“She had a specific problem… we addressed that problem rather than allow it to be a discussion about base salary,” says Graydon.  If Fibernetics had raised her salary, it’s possible the employee still would have left the company anyway. This kind of approach helps with retention, he says.

When it comes to employee engagement, compensation is an important part of the recipe — but it’s only a single ingredient, says Graydon. “You can’t fix all problems through compensation and you can’t create engaged employees simply through compensation.  But it’s a very important part of the overall package, for sure.”  And there’s a huge correlation between happy or satisfied employees and happy customers, he says, which affects a company’s performance.

Roy Graydon

“A company’s most significant competitive advantage is an engaged workforce.”

“Our employees are all, at one level or another, impacting or interacting with our customers and if they are happy and engaged, that shines through in the interaction and our customers get a different experience as a result, which creates more happy customers.” But that doesn’t mean employee engagement is a huge factor when it comes to determining compensation levels, says Graydon.

“We determine compensation levels based on what our understanding of the description of the job is and what kind of total compensation that position can support in terms of the cost to the organization. We’re looking at paying a very fair base level of compensation and we’re looking at adding to that perks and benefits that round out the overall package,” he says.

“But I don’t think we approach it from the perspective of ‘We need to offer more money so employees will be happier.’ What we want is to create a culture or environment where people are happy and, as part of that, they feel they are fairly compensated.”  Benefits, on the other hand, are more important than compensation when it comes to employee engagement, says Graydon. Fibernetics wants employees to be impressed by its offerings, with interesting aspects that may not be offered elsewhere. For example, the company funds the costs of massages,  with no limit.

“There are a lot of little things you can do from a benefits point of view that stand out and are highly valuable to employees, and help us with attracting the right kind of people and keeping those people,” he says.  “In many respects, spending a little bit of money enhancing a benefits plan goes farther than spending a little bit of money to give everybody a raise — ideally you want to do both, you hate to be in an either/or situation — but I think a benefits plan can be a huge competitive advantage to attracting employees.”

People feel that a good, strong benefit plan is part of a fair total compensation structure, says Graydon, who is based in Cambridge, Ont.  “Giving people money and saying, ‘Go self-insure’ or ‘Pay for your drugs directly because we’re paying you more money’ doesn’t work for people. Part of the whole perception of fairness is the understanding that we understand the importance of those kinds of benefits, and also we’re there to protect employees when the costs of those benefits exceed people’s expectations.”

While the 150-employee company offers primarily health and dental benefits, it hopes to offer some kind of employee savings plan in the future, such as a group registered retirement savings plan.

“None of us put away as much as we’d like and the idea that the organization is helping (employees) with that and providing an incentive to do that is an important part of that total compensation package,”  says Graydon.

Human resources and finance review Fibernetics’ benefits plan each year and discuss what changes need to be made along with reasonable allocations of the budget.  That can mean no longer offering benefits that don’t make sense, such as on-site massages because participation is low, he says.  And, of course, HR is involved in establishing compensation levels for new positions and reviewing compensation levels for each individual.

But when it comes to staying on top of trends and forecasting, the HR industry probably could do better, says Graydon.  “There are parts of HR that can be absolutely strategic to an organization’s ability to attract and retain the right people and I think there’s an opportunity for HR in general to propose things that could be a little bit creative.”

Oftentimes, people are only concerned about budget dollars, so they won’t consider alternatives, he says.  “A company’s most significant competitive advantage is an engaged workforce and anything that can help with that ought to be considered,” says Graydon. “There’s an opportunity for HR in general to push for a more detailed look at that side of the business — how does our compensation and benefits plan drive satisfaction and engagement?

“I don’t want to talk about salary, I don’t want to talk about benefits, I want to talk about the total compensation of a position, ‘What are all of the things that are going to go into that plan?’… And that goes for everything from health and benefits to life and disability insurance to car allowances and cellphone allowances — I want to know it all because I think that’s an important part of the package as well.”

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The Christmas Party, or Who is that girl in the Blue Dress?

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The Internet of Things: The Future is Going to be Very Different/Cool/Scary

m2mHow’s your heart today? How about your car’s fuel efficiency? Are the eggs you’re planning to have for breakfast on the verge of turning nasty?

Soon, very soon, all that information will be instantly available… for better or for worse.

Fibernetics is in the data delivery business. Through NEWT and Worldline, we’re providing Canadians across the country access to Internet with Unlimited high speed packages at sensible pricing.

That’s us today.

What we are also doing today is planning for the future. We have to be working on what will we be doing five, ten, twenty years from now.

And almost certainly what we will be doing is called the Internet of Things.

Coined in 2009, the Internet of Things (IoT) is a concept where essentially everything, your car, your toaster, you, me, your dog, are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to automatically transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

thing, in IoT can be a person with a heart monitor implant, a farm animal with a biochip transponder, a car that has built-in sensors to alert the driver when tire pressure is low — or any other natural or man-made object that can be assigned an IP address and provided with the ability to transfer data over a network. So far, the IoT has been most closely associated with machine-to-machine (M2M) communication in manufacturing and power, oil and gas utilities. Products built with M2M communication capabilities are often referred to as being smart.

As time moves on, plenty more “things” are going to get a whole lot smarter and the implications of this kind of universal connectivity are both super cool – and also super scary.

First the Cool

Your smart phone will soon be a conduit of information about everything about you. From your own body, your kids and pets, to your car and your house, there will be practically nothing you can’t find out through a mobile app.

quirky-EggMinder1Just this week, GE announced their partnership with an IoT start-up who is beginning with monitoring, of all things, the eggs in your fridge. This device sits in your fridge and records the age and number of your eggs and sends a reminder when it’s time to shop.

Quirky, but extrapolate that onto everything you purchase, use or basically come into contact with.

Projections state IoT will involve approximately 212 billion things by the end of 2020, including intelligent systems designed to keep track of their own status and report it, as well as the continuing digitization of pretty much everything that is a thing.

Here’s the Scary Bit

As more and more personal and household devices are connecting to the internet, from your television to your car navigation systems to your light switches, more and more can possibly be accessed without your permission or your knowledge.

You thought the NSA scandal, where they tracked who you called on your cell phone, was intrusive? Imagine that kind of scrutiny multiplied to the nth degree with an IoT. Former CIA Director David Petraeus said the intelligence community cannot wait to spy on you through them.

Earlier this year Petraeus mused about it’s emergence  and he described it thusly:

“‘Transformational’ is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies, particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft.”

All those new online devices are a treasure trove of data if you’re a “person of interest” to the spy community. Once upon a time, spies had to place a bug in your chandelier to hear your conversation. With the rise of the smart home,” you’d be sending tagged, geolocated data that a spy agency can intercept in real time when you use the lighting app on your phone to adjust your living room’s ambiance.

“Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters — all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing,” Petraeus said, “the latter now going to cloud computing, in many areas greater and greater supercomputing, and, ultimately, heading to quantum computing.”

Petraeus allowed that these household spy devices “change our notions of secrecy” and prompt a rethink of “our notions of identity and secrecy.”

No kidding.

All of this will be sorted out over time. For us, being in the data business is a great thing because more and  more we are all going to become increasingly dependent on reliable, robust and secure data connections. It’s an obvious business strategy to continue to improve on our national infrastructure.

As for the rest, the future is going to be an interesting time, for better for sure when it comes to our personal health and convenience. Yet worse when it comes to… well, we’ll just have to see, won’t we?

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Peter Loeppky – Fibernetics Programmer and Photographer

A recent study on “Lake Fibernetics”, the pond beside our head office, by Peter Loeppky.

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Cambridge is a Great Place to Live & the United Way is Making it Better

unitedway-logoCambridge is a fantastic place to live. Divided neatly in two by the mighty Grand River, it has beautiful neighborhoods and lots of great places to work, (like Fibernetics for example). Tons of recreation both inside and out, there are also great restaurants, fabulous shopping and due to its central location, easy access to all the great things the rest of Southern Ontario has to offer.

It’s why it’s one of the fastest growing communities in all of Canada.

Yet Cambridge, despite all those positives, also has a shocking number of its population living in poverty.

One in eight children fall into that category.

That’s why organizations like The United Way of Cambridge and North Dumfries are so important to the community. They set a very aggressive $2.3-million fundraising goal for 2013 and local residents and businesses are getting behind their all-important mission. There are 24 separate local agencies who rely on money raised during the annual campaign, collectively helping one-in-three members of the Cambridge community.

United Way Volunteers with Worldline President Roy Graydon

United Way Volunteers with Fibernetics President Roy Graydon

Fibernetics is working with the United Way and its partner agencies, like the Food Bank, with a number of fundraising campaigns. This morning we had a company breakfast featuring two United Way workers who were explaining the importance of their organization to Cambridge as a whole.

Alex Lourenco is on a three-month “loan” to the United Way from her regular job working on the floor at Walker Exhaust (which is a very cool thing for them to do by the way). She explained how all money raised is directed to the United Way’s three priorities:

All That Kids Can Be
Poverty To Possibility &
Healthy People, Strong Communities

Alex was followed by Divya Handa, who emigrated from Kenya thirteen years ago, and after very tough childhood, is a recent Honours BA graduate and is currently working on a Masters degree – all with the help of various United Way programs and agancies.

Each of our communities has disadvantaged or underprivileged people living in them. They are all our neighbors and each one of them can benefit from the United Way. Please log onto Unitedway.ca and see how you can help in your community.

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Are you into numbers? Have we got a job for you!

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See that building? That’s our head office. See that rainbow? That means there’s a pot of gold in there for you, if you are a financial analyst that is. (Okay, not a real pot of gold. But you get the idea.)

What we are looking for is someone who is great with numbers, who can analyse the heck out of them and present them so they make sense.

Sound like you?

Here’s what the job is:

Reporting to the VP Finance, the successful candidate will be responsible for the preparation of financial analyses and providing support to the financial reporting process.

  • Account reconciliations
  • Variance analysis
  • General ledger transactions
  • Review monthly and year-end results for accuracy, completeness and consistency
  • Assist with various aspects of financial reporting
  • Preparation and/or review of business case analyses as required
  • Assist with the month-end close process
  • Assist with budgeting, forecasting and financial reporting

Here’s the experience and skills we’re looking for:

  • 5+ years of related experience
  • Excellent organizational, analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Attention to detail is a must
  • Microsoft Dynamics GP and Management Reporter experience is a definite asset
  • Experience in a fast paced office environment, as well as a high level of accuracy is essential
  • A team player with solid interpersonal and analytical skills
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills
  • Advanced MS Excel skills

We are one of Canada’s fastest growing telecommunications companies and one of Waterloo Region’s emerging start-up success stories! Our rapid success has been leveraged by a marriage of established legacy systems with emerging internet protocol based technologies. This success has translated into growth and many new career opportunities and therefore we are looking for talented people to join our team!

We offer a high energy, professional yet casual work environment with the opportunity to make a difference every day. It’s an environment where everyone’s contribution is valued and rewarded. We take pride in our ability to have fun and celebrate our successes together. In return, we are looking for people who are creative and passionate about their work. Successful employees have an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for technology. If we are describing you, then consider becoming a part of the Fibernetics team!

Apply HERE

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – Dawn Gamble Runs for the Cure

Fibernetic’s indestructible Dawn Gamble, of Marilyn Denis fame, took part in the CIBC Run for the Cure this weekend, raising money for Breast Cancer research.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. While most people are aware of breast cancer, many forget to take the steps to have a plan to detect the disease in its early stages and encourage others to do the same.

Breast cancer statistics (From the Canadian Cancer Society)

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian women (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers). It is the 2nd leading cause of death from cancer in Canadian women. Breast cancer can also occur in men, but it is not common.

To provide the most current cancer statistics, researchers use statistical methods to estimate the number of new cancer cases and deaths until actual data become available.

It is estimated that in 2013:

  • 23,800 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. This represents 26% of all new cancer cases in women in 2013.
  • 5,000 women will die from breast cancer. This represents  14% of all cancer deaths in women in 2013.
  • On average, 65 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer every day.
  • On average, 14 Canadian women will die from breast cancer every day.
  • 200 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 60 will die from it.

For more information, and to see what you can do, like Dawn, to increase Breast Cancer Awareness, please visit the:

Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation

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NEWT Case Study: Intrigue Media – Maximizing Efficiencies

download (1)How does an up and coming media and promotions company compete with the national players?

By being better than them.

Co-Founder of Intrigue MediaRob Murray concentrates on training and development of his inside sales reps and one of the keys to their success, and therefore the company’s success is the NEWT Managed PBX feature set. His takeaway?

“The Investment is a drop in the bucket compared to the value that we’ve received.”

To learn more about the NEWT Managed PBX and its extensive features, go here.

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