In this Game Changer article, Vanguard would like to highlight Scott Dewis, CEO and Co-founder... see more
Source: Vanguard Magazine
In this Game Changer article, Vanguard would like to highlight Scott Dewis, CEO and Co-founder of RaceRocks 3D Inc., a technology company that is leveraging its media and gaming expertise to provide innovative learning services and solutions to Royal Canadian Navy, the government and private sector.
1) How did you start out in this industry and how has it brought you where you are today?
I started out with a Visual Effect and Video game business that was invited into defence by a company looking to increase the fidelity of its simulations. Trainers couldn’t understand why their multimillion dollar simulator didn’t look as good as their kid’s Xbox. From there I attended CANSEC in 2011 and saw a major opportunity to bring Hollywood and gaming into the defence industry. Strong relationships built between then and now with advisors, government, clients, and partners have brought us where we are today.
2) What is your role in your organization today?
I’m one of the Founders and the CEO. My role is to chart the company’s course, advise clients on future training strategies and emerging technologies, be the client’s voice within the company, lead business development, oversee creative, and conduct final QA of products.
3) What was your most challenging moment?
As a small company, cash flow is king, and payroll can sometimes be a white knuckle event, add to that the climate in Canada – no support for innovation other than R&D, and the climate in the West – no financial support for business other than the lowest tax, rightly believing that viable companies will simply succeed. So during the slow times over the last three or four years, as our competition was financially subsidized by various regional agencies and Ottawa, we had to pivot and make hard decisions; ultimately those decisions lead to a lean and sustainable business that can offer huge cost savings, and the sustainable long term contracts we are executing today, but there were definitely a few sleepless nights while we were first navigating the industry!
4) What was your a-HA moment or epiphany that you think will resonate most with our reader, tell us the story?
We started out believing that the only way to work in Canadian defence was to subcontract to foreign primes and pursue IRB’s, but after realizing IRB’s were paid lip service, and talking with end users RaceRocks implemented a new business strategy and started responding to RFP’s and working directly for the crown. We carved out a great piece of business for an SME as a trusted supplier to the Royal Canadian Navy. This lead to partnerships instead of subcontract relationships with companies like Boeing and Federal Fleet Services that really believe in economic impact and supplier development in Canada regardless off offsets.
5) What is the one thing that has you the most fired up today?
Project Resolve and the RCN have given RaceRocks the opportunity to help “imaginer” what Future Naval Training will look like, on the first clean slate Canadian naval platform of the digital learning age.
6) What is the best advice you received?
When you jump off a building, make sure to celebrate every window on the way down… That and when you are in Ottawa, where a suit in a solid color, blue, grey or black – no patterns or stripes, patterns are radical, and that makes you look rouge, rouge means insurgent.
7) What is a habit that contributes to your success?
Building strong relationships throughout our supply chain – advisors, contractors, clients, and partners. Contributing to advance our industry and constantly learning.
8) What is your parting piece of advice?
Never give up, or give up right away, everything in between is a lot of hard work.
9) What people or organizations do you believe best embody the innovation mindset?
Boeing, (one of only 12% of companies on the Fortune 500 list in 1955, still on the list today.) Elon Musk, Apple.
1) How is your organization changing the game within your industry sector?
RaceRocks believes learning should be entertaining, and aligned with the way people think work and play. We understand the demographics of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and know how to engage learners with the same media and technology they use in their daily lives. We are forging partnerships with like-minded small Canadian companies such as Modest Tree and Marine LMS to give CAF trainers and subject matter experts (SME’s) access to best in class Technology Enabled Learning (TEL)
2) What are some of the biggest impediments to innovation in our industry sector?
The biggest impediment to innovation in Canada is how Canada defines the innovation it can invest in. Canada loves to support Scientific Research and Development, but R&D is only a small part of innovation. Innovation takes place across the entire value chain from corporate vision through to how you market your product. R&D by nature often fails, and although it can create IP or a new Widget, it takes innovation to a company to create a vision, hire Canadians, commercialize the successful R&D and market and sell a product. R&D can create a new form of strong malleable metal; innovation turns it into the first paperclip. Canada needs to invest in innovation at all levels including commercialization, not just R&D. Innovation creates jobs.
3) How has innovation become engrained in your organization’s culture and how is it being optimized?
Our mission to make learning entertaining, and aligned with the way people think, work and play, was born in visioning sessions that included every employee, and purposely makes no mention of a single technology, because tools will change with every generation and technological advancement. RaceRocks looks at all sectors to find innovation that will enhance our learning products. For instance, Hollywood has perfected information transfer, video games have mastered engagement, and social media has revolutionized the sharing of ideas. New technologies are embraced if they can make learning better like Modest Tree’s software, not because of hype. We are tools agnostic, because who knows what technology will be available in 10 years, or 20.
4) What technologies, business models, and trends will drive the biggest changes in your industry over the next two years?
I believe that in the short term, emerging technologies such as Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality will drive the biggest changes in our industry, but long term, trinkets always give way to great content. Great content is driven by story and the innovative use of technology to make learning more engaging, and more like life. Technologies that “get out of the way” of learning are the key. From a business perspective, I think top heavy companies that try and tell their client what they should think will give way to more nimble supporters and enablers like RaceRocks, that give their client access to the tools and support they need to transfer their knowledge and culture. The CAF members are the subject matter experts, they know how to train, and they simply need access to the creativity and technology of the industry.
A new training tool developed by a Victoria software company will save aerospace co's & government.. see more
Source: Times Colonist
Author: Andrew Duffy
A new training tool developed by a Victoria software company will save aerospace companies and government departments money and time when training staff, according to the chief executive in charge of the program.
Scott Dewis, chief executive of Race Rocks 3D, said a virtual reality set-up being developed by the firm will allow students to immerse themselves in worlds that do not yet exist.
That means they can hit the ground running when the equipment does come to life.
The program is being developed to help train crews for a new Royal Canadian Navy ship being built by Chantier Davie Shipyards in Quebec.
Race Rocks won a contract to provide the training systems for the Asterix, a container ship that is being converted into an auxiliary oiler/replenishment ship for the navy.
The software will allow the crew to get familiar with the ship’s layout, its systems and how it functions months before it leaves the shipyard.
The company has developed a brief “touring” virtual reality experience that takes anyone from a virtual office, seemingly on board the ship, onto a helicopter for a realistic aerial tour of the ship as it demonstrates its capabilities at sea.
“The goal is for a sailor who comes on board Asterix to already know the ship,” said Dewis.
Race Rocks is investing heavily in virtual-reality and augmented-reality systems for use in aerospace and defence training.
“Really, it’s all about blended learning,” he said, noting they will offer training systems that will use virtual and augmented reality, e-learning and gaming simulation.
“We want to make learning entertaining, so we pick the technology that lends itself best to that type of learning.”
“We are really excited about where this technology can go. It can reduce the cost and speed up the time it takes to train people,” Dewis said.
The growth area is likely to be aerospace, and Dewis said there is a natural fit with companies like Boeing, which is based in Seattle and has satellite operations in Richmond.
“They see Victoria as an untapped market,” he said, noting it’s up to this area to sell itself to the aerospace giant by showcasing its relatively inexpensive cost of living and superior technical talent.
“There is something there for Victoria — and it’s up to us to figure out how to present ourselves,” Dewis said.
While our tech boom is no longer a phenomenon, the sector keeps growing... see more
Source: Remi Network
Author: Rebecca Melnyk
As government moves to new Class A assets, tech companies snap up vacated, older stock
In an old two-storey brick building, once old home to the Victoria Stock Exchange, a start-up has moved into its new office digs. Previously situated in Langford, B.C., educational technology company RaceRocks 3D relocated to the Exchange Building in downtown Victoria to be closer to clients, save money on space and live in the rhythm of a prosperous tech haven.
“We’re right downtown with a lot of other creative people; there’s a lot of talent,” says Scott Dewis, chief executive officer of RaceRocks 3D. “We see the founders and staff of other companies at lunch walking around the street. It’s a vibrant place for an entrepreneur.”
After scouting 16 other local office spaces with Colliers International, the company found its home, knocked down the walls and created an open-floor plan with a kitchen. Now they have long-term plans to stay put in the area.
Startups like RaceRocks 3D Inc. are a common feature in Western Canada’s second oldest city. While the tech boom there is no longer a phenomenon, the sector keeps growing and is now part of a $4 billion a year industry. Dave Ganong, managing director at Colliers International (Vancouver Island), remembers back to 2000 when American company JDS Uniphase acquired Victoria-based optical-component supplier SDL Inc. for $41 billion in what was one of the biggest tech mergers in corporate history.
“The foundation of the tech industry has been there for 20 to 25 years or more,” he says. “But what’s happening is it’s becoming this incubator hub that is not just trendy, but sustainable.”
Victoria has a long history as a lively business centre, with miners and adventurers flocking there during the gold rush of 1858. Once a calm village, Victoria evolved to become a city where lots were said to go from $25 a piece to $3,000 each, immediately following the influx of gold-seekers. Eventually, government and tourism generated the greatest economic impact for the region.
Until the tech sector started creating a buzz. Now, more and more buildings fill with start-ups and early stage entrepreneurs every year. About 900 tech companies populate the city, employing a workforce of about 20,000 and growing. Local conferences accelerate the global reputation of Victoria and attract investors. Demand for new office space among the industry has now outpaced government in the downtown core, specifically in brick-and-beam buildings which tend to be Class B and C assets.
“There’s a building boom in the office sector in the downtown core where we’re doubling the size of our Class A inventory in the next 18 to 24 months,” notes Ganong. “That’s half a million square feet of space coming on—a massive increase. 75 per cent of that space has been preleased to the government or private sector, but what happens from this is we’re seeing a lot of vacancies coming up in Class B and C space where the majority of demand comes from the tech sector.”
Ganong has seen an exponential increase in leasing to the tech sector over the past three years, moving from 100,000 square feet to an estimated 300,000 to 350,000 square feet in 2016. This doesn’t take into account other competitors.
Developers and investors are also buying more on spec (some with tech companies in tow), looking to create flex office space where desks and common facilities can be rented.
Dan Gunn, chief executive officer at The Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council (VIATEC), a not-for-profit incubator accelerator, says his program’s success has resulted in a move to the downtown core, into a 100-year-old, 16,000 square foot building on Fort Street.
“We have 18 private offices of varying size and another 24 open desks that companies can rent at an affordable price,” he says. “We opened the building in September 2014 not knowing what to expect. The building was full in a matter of months.”
To accommodate demand and sector-specific needs, large buildings are being gutted for purpose-built use. For instance, the 20,000 square-foot Summit Building on Fort Street once stood completely vacant, but was fully revamped and open to tenants in September 2015. Several companies wishing to share a building can do so and expand as required.
Besides the flexibility and character of these older buildings, companies are also putting roots down due for lifestyle offerings.
“More and more companies trickling in from the rest of Canada are quite often going there through an acquisition or because one person leading a development team wishes to move their family to Victoria,” says Marc Foucher who brokered the RaceRocks 3D deal.
The proximity to qualified students graduating from local colleges and universities is also key. Change.org, the world’s largest online petition platform, is in the midst of renovations in its new office on the second floor of 1221 Broad Street and plans to recruit local talent. After the company wanted to expand its engineering team, it realized more room was needed. The landlord offered them a temporary space while they await finishing touches.
“Once we move downstairs, we’ll have plenty of room for growth and more meeting rooms,” says Chris Campbell, principal engineer at the Victoria location.
Campbell says the company, headquartered in San Francisco, figured that expanding its engineering office in Victoria was more affordable in terms of cost of living and office space. But it is also relatively easy to find suitable employees in the area.
The city no longer relies on tourism’s “shoulder season,” as Gunn calls it, between May to September, but a year-round tech economy that supports a large number of retail assets like the 11 craft breweries, independent coffee shops and North America’s second-highest number of restaurants per capita, behind San Francisco.
“Retail leasing agents who used to find it a challenge in the downtown core are starting to see some activity that is almost on par with the increases we’ve seen in the tech sector office leasing market,” says Ganong, adding that another factor here is tourism—an industry that could experience its best season ever this year.
In less than a year, Ganong says his company has seen storefront vacancy drop a full percentage point from where it peaked north of 10 per cent. The city has also been supportive in granting bonus density to start populating higher density residential development in the downtown core, which helps populate more retail activity.
“There is some sort of convergence here that is happening,” he says. “I’ve lived in Victoria for 33 years and some of my colleagues have lived here all their lives. They are even starting to feel something here they’ve never felt before.”