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Working Virtually with Technology

Posted on November 10 2017 | Author: Alex Hurley

In the digital age, it's increasingly common for businesses to lean more heavily on technology. This transition has allowed for increased communication, productivity and overall employee happiness. Technology has made it possible for employees to work remotely, whether that be from satellite offices, home, or the ability to work virtually for collaborations. This movement is accomplished through text, video, and audio applications. The goal of this blog post is to outline some excellent applications that you may not of heard of, which could be significantly useful for your team when working virtually.

1. Slack: Slack is a free communication application and is used often in the start-up world. Slack allows team members to chat and share files with ease. It is a robust application where a user can privately chat with a team member or have group chats on a particular project. If the company is completely virtual, the user could create a channel for off topic discussion to facilitate water cooler conversation. What you might not know about Slack is that it also integrates a high-quality video chat, audio chat, and screen sharing. In the chat window on Slack, click the telephone icon in the top right and it will open an audio call with the team member. If a user would like to share your camera or screen, they can do so. These features can be used in team chats as well but a subscription fee is required.
 

2. Zoom: Zoom is a web conference application that excels in video conferencing and webinars. The base model for zoom is free, however if a user has specific needs, they have the ability to upgrade to certain packages for a fee. Zoom is dynamic yet simple to operate. Once a user logs in under their account, they can start a video conference. Once the conference has begun, a link is generated. Anyone they share that link with can join the chat. Zoom conferences incorporate both video and audio chat, which allows for flexibility. If an invitee doesn't have access to a computer or Wi-Fi, they can simply call into the meeting. Zoom also allows for the ability to share screens and record meetings, which is useful when giving presentations or webinars.
 

3. TeamViewer: TeamViewer is a remote connection application that uses cloud-based technology. The base model is free if it's for personal use only, however if a corporation would like to use TeamViewer, a license needs to be purchased. TeamViewer works under a basic premise- a user who wishes to remote connect to another computer sends a link, and the user on the computer to be connected to, opens the link and accepts the invite to remote connect. TeamViewer is extremely useful in situations where an application or computer needs to undergo troubleshooting to solve a particular issue or to replicate a particular bug. The business package offered by TeamViewer is an affordable way for technology start-ups to troubleshoot user bug reports, if they arise.
 

Even though I operate out of the Halifax satellite office, I have the ability to work closely with the excellent Bioenterprise team by making use of invaluable applications, like those outlined above. 

Sources: http://ow.ly/3h0k30guybN

Alex Hurley
Analyst, Aquacultre






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Bioenterprise B.C. hosts Vancouvers First Agri-Tech Pitch Night

Posted on October 25 2017 | Author: Jessica Taylor

Agri-tech and agri-food companies from across the Lower Mainland came together on October 18th for Vancouver’s first Agri-tech Pitch Night! The event was co-hosted by Bioenterprise B.C. and Volition Events to provide companies with the opportunity to receive feedback and coaching on their 3-minute pitch.

“This was a great opportunity to showcase British Columbia’s growing agri-tech and food sector,” said Jessica Taylor, A/Regional Manager of Bioenterprise B.C. “ The sector is growing rapidly and B.C. has such a unique ecosystem of support for these types of ventures. Companies need more opportunities like this for both feedback and exposure.”

It’s not often that entrepreneurs have the chance to practice their pitch in front of an expert panel and receive constructive criticism and recommendations.  Each panellist provided a unique perspective, and while feedback varied they provided some great tips that entrepreneurs should remember:

1. Bait the Hook: whether you have 5 minutes or 30 seconds, your pitch is meant to pique the interest of investors and other potential partners. Don’t worry about telling them all of the details, that’s what the follow-up conversation is for.

2. Ask!: Whether or not you are doing a raise be sure to let the audience know what you are looking for. Do you need a mentor? Connections to strategic partners?

3. Be Clear: Make sure that your innovation, competitive advantage, and ask are all very apparent to the audience. Practice and receive feedback as often as possible.

 

The pitch night brought together several companies within the ag-tech sector, including:  500 Foods, Burnaby Organic Greenhouse, Coast Protein, Compy, Hagensborg Chosolates (Truffle Pig), MyFoods Market, NuWave Research Inc., and Wise Bites.

Winners from Pitch Night were selected by an audience vote following the company pitches. The top three placing’s included:

 

Sustainable cricket protein powders and bars

 

 

Sustainable and ethically sourced chocolates

 

                    

On-site solutions in vacuum microwave dehydration for food






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Dietary Supplement Claim Substantiation What Evidence is Stipulated by Law?

Posted on October 20 2017 | Author: Admin

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that a notification from the manufacturer, packager or distributor of a dietary supplement for the claim statements made on product labels is submitted to the FDA no later than 30 days after the first marketing of the product [1]. With this said, dietary supplement claim substantiations in the U.S. are not scientifically reviewed and approved for acceptability prior to entering the market. This is different from some other markets where claim statements are subject to substantiation requirements and pre-market approval. Companies in the dietary supplement industry are responsible for keeping on file the substantiation for all claims made on their labels. However, they may struggle with what type of evidence is suitable for substantiation. This leads us to the Regulations – what does the law require for the substantiation of dietary supplement claims?

Under Section 403(r)(6) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) (21 U.S.C. 343(r)(6))[2], a manufacturer of a dietary supplement making a nutritional deficiency, structure/function, or general well-being claim is required to have substantiation that the claim is truthful and not misleading. In the Act itself, there is no mention of the type of evidence required for substantiation. However, the FDA provides some guidance as to their current thinking regarding suitable substantiation claims for dietary supplements in a guidance document titled “Guidance for Industry: Substantiation for Dietary Supplement Claims Made Under Section 403 (r)(6) of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act[3]. This guidance document demonstrates the FDA’s position for evidence requirements: “Although there is no pre-established formula as to how many or what type of studies are needed to substantiate a claim, we, like the FTC, will consider what the accepted norms are in the relevant research fields and consult experts from various disciplines.”

In this guidance document, the FDA specifies evidence which may substantiate a claim: (a) Human studies: Intervention studies (note: “randomized, double-blind, parallel group, placebo-controlled trials offer the greatest assessment of a relationship between a dietary supplement and outcome”), and/or (b) Human studies: Observational studies (includes Case reports, Case-series studies, Case-control studies, Cohort studies, Cross-sectional studies, Time-series studies, and Epidemiological studies.

Importantly, the FDA also discusses what types of additional information may be useful as background information to support a claim, but alone may not be adequate to substantiate a claim: Animal studies; In vitro studies; Testimonials and other anecdotal evidence; Meta-analysis; Review articles; Comments and Letters to the Editor or Product monographs.

The FDA’s guidance document provides the administration’s current thinking on evidence for dietary supplement claims but it is not legally binding because the Act does not list evidence requirements for substantiation. Therefore, appropriate/acceptable evidence for claims is not definitive and what is considered ‘scientifically sound and reliable’ evidence may be different depending on the nature of the claim and the message it conveys to consumers.   Therefore, companies marketing dietary supplements need to be confident in their claim substantiation in order to prevent any disputes with the FDA and FTC.

Overall, it is advisable to ensure your substantiation is reviewed for appropriateness by a scientific & regulatory expert who is capable of assessing the scientific evidence in the relevant research field for the type of the claim statement being made on your label. If you do not have someone in-house capable of doing so, then you may want to consult with a third-party for assistance to ensure you have appropriate dietary supplement claim substantiation.

dicentra can assist in reviewing evidence for dietary supplement claims to ensure that customers have the right type of evidence and substantiation documentation on-hand for dietary supplements for the U.S. market.

Sources:
[1] FDA Structure/Function Claim Notification for Dietary Supplements
[2] The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act). (21 U.S.C. 343(r) (6)).
[3] Guidance for Industry: Substantiation for Dietary Supplement Claims Made Under Section 403 (r)(6) of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, Dec 2008.

View original blog here.






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Should I Patent This Blog?

Posted on October 03 2017 | Author: Michael Coulson

So, you think your new widget is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Like many others, you might think a patent is the logical next step to commercializing your invention, and you may be right. However, determining whether it makes business sense to patent is a complex issue, as are most legal matters. Here are a few of the many considerations to keep in mind when determining if a patent is right for you.

A patent is not a legal right to commercialize an innovation.

A patent is a direct exchange with the government. They offer you the legal right to exclude other people from using, selling, or making what you have claimed within your patent for a fixed period of time, in exchange for a detailed description of your innovation. Essentially, you are offering your cutting-edge knowledge to the public, in trade for the ability to take legal action against anyone, for a limited time, who chooses to infringe on the knowledge you have claimed.

Alternatively, you may have a patent on a certain innovation, but you might not have the freedom to operate within the space without infringing on someone else’s patent. For example, if a widget has three parts, the top, bottom, and middle, and you’ve created a better way to make the middle piece of the widget, you still need to put it together with the top and bottom, which may end up infringing on someone else’s patent.

There is a time limit for the artificial monopoly.

For the majority of countries, a patent is only valid for twenty years, after which, the innovation becomes public domain. Even then, during the time of the patent, the information of your product will be public domain, and likely if its innovative enough, someone may be able to better mimic your product with this knowledge. This is one of the reasons why food and beverage manufacturers tend not to patent their formulations. If Dr. John Pemberton of Coke-Cola decided to patent their formulation back in 1886, the patent would be long expired, by 1906 their secret sauce would be in the public domain, and likely all the coke knock-offs would taste a lot better.

It’s important to decide whether this invention is better suited for a patent or as a trade secret. Trade secrets can last forever, as long as they are kept secret by those who hold the knowledge. For example, it is rumored that KFC’s eleven herbs and spices original recipe, is stored in a vault in the Louisville headquarters, and processes six of the herbs and spices are mixed in one location with a set of staff, and the other five are mixed in a separate location, all to preserve the secret.

Patents are expensive, so they should have a return on investment.

The cost over the lifetime of a patent varies quite a bit depending on the complexity of the innovation, how long and involved the prosecution process is, and the jurisdictions for filing. The cost for filing just in Canada can range anywhere from $4,000 to $6,000 for preparation and filing for a relatively simple invention, but this figure can double, or even triple depending the complexity, and this is just in Canada. If, for example, you wanted to file an international PCT application and then file in multiple jurisdictions during national phase entry, you can easily run a six-figure bill.

With this in mind, it is extremely important to understand how the patent will be put to work. There are many ways to utilize a patent, whether it is for direct licencing, used as a signal of innovation for investors or consumers, or as a defensive move to block others from entering a market. Whatever the reason for patenting, it is important to ensure that it will be able to provide you with tangible benefit.

Now, the question at hand: Should I patent this blog?
The answer doesn’t matter, but even if I think I know, I should probably ask a lawyer.


Sources:
Invents. 2017. Do you have a great invention idea. Retrieved from http://www.invents.com/how-much-does-a-patent-cost/ 
The Times. 2012. The A to Z of friend chicken. Retrieved from https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/the-a-to-z-of-fried-chicken-nrmm3qn0gg7 
Wilson, T. 2012. When to Patent something and how to do it. Globe and Mail. Retrieved from https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/small-business/sb-growth/when-to-patent-something-and-how-to-do-it/article626823/?arc404=true 
CNBC. 2008. Colonel’s Secret Recipe Gets Bodygaurds. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20130923032226/ 
 

Michael Coulson
Analyst, Bioenterprise BC






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Why your food start-up needs a Regulatory Strategy

Posted on September 01 2017 | Author: Dana Baranovsky

Starting a new business in the value add agri-food space comes with its challenges. From product development, funding identification, packaging, marketing, commercialization, and promotion the task at hand is not a simple one.  With so many steps and hurdles between product concept and commercialization, it’s easy to forget a critical step – a regulatory strategy.


What is Regulatory Strategy?

A regulatory strategy aligns with your business timeline. As you progress from milestone to milestone, from product concept to commercialization, you also progress through a regulatory timeline.

It is essential to understand what acts and regulations are relevant to your product. In Canada, Health Canada is responsible for establishing the safety and nutritional requirements for food regulations, while the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) enforces these regulations. Federal regulations such as the Food and Drug Act (FDA) and the Food and Drug Regulations (FDR) must be met by all food manufactures. However, each province may have additional regulations as well. Depending on your food product, there may be specific regulations that affect your product such as the Maple Products Regulations (MPR), Processed Products Regulations (PPR), or Fish Inspection Regulations (FIR) to name a few.

Start-ups in the agri-food space should consider the regulatory requirements from the initial planning stages. Unforeseen regulations can become huge hurdles; setting back projects and can become very costly. For example, if your product is labelled with a non-compliant health claim, it can be pulled from store shelves, and you will have to redesign and order new packaging.


Creating a Regulatory Strategy.

Creating a regulatory strategy can be difficult without any regulatory experience. Entrepreneurs doing their due diligence must search through acts and regulations and find applicable clauses. Fortunately, the CFIA is a great resource for information on food labelling and making health claims.

Regulatory due diligence is a labour intensive process and it is not as appealing as product development or marketing, however it is critical to successful food business.

Once the due diligence is complete, you should formulize a regulatory plan document. The easiest way to stay on track and organize your timelines is to conjointly develop the regulatory plan with your business milestone strategy. At each milestone (e.g. scaling up, commercialization) identify what regulations need to be met, such as food safety, packaging, health claims, etc.

Once your plan is complete, it is highly recommended to have it reviewed by a regulatory expert, who can help identify gaps in your regulatory plan and assist in implementing these recommendations into the regulatory strategy. By creating the regulatory plan yourself, you can save money by engaging a consultant to review your plan rather than create it.


The importance of regulatory strategy for a food business.

As you create your business plan, you should be considering your regulatory strategy. As you move through milestones, you should be checking off the requirements that you are compliant with. Below are some regulations that a food manufacturer may consider.


Product development.

When you are developing a product, be sure to think about what types of ingredients you are using. If you want to use a particular health claim, you must know how much of ingredient ‘x’ needs to be incorporated to use that claim. If you are using food additives, you must ensure that you are using the correct food additive for your product and in the authorized amounts. If you want your product to be labelled gluten-free, you must research different types of third party certifications, the quantity deemed acceptable, and formulate your product accordingly. These are just some examples of considerations that you may make while developing your product.

Product development is a critical time to consider your regulatory strategy. The ingredients you use and their quantities can determine what health claims and third party certifications you can achieve. These claims and certifications can open up new markets and help reach target markets. Your company may also want to consider what ingredients you want to avoid, to make “free-from” claims.


Scaling up.

 It is difficult for food start-ups to implement food safety. Working on a small scale can mean using a commercial kitchen with no food safety certifications, and product demand does not yet reach the minimum run requirements at a co-manufacturing facility. Hence, your product may not qualify at many retailers. Once your company is ready to scale up to a co-manufacturing facility, you need to ensure that the facility has appropriate food safety certifications as well as third party certifications. If you are choosing to build your own facility, you must implement Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), food safety certifications and employee food safety training, to name a few.


Retail.

If your company is considering selling to retailers, you should be aware of the regulatory requirements for food companies listed in their stores. Large retailers will often have their own Good Manufacturing Practices guidelines for their suppliers that can go beyond government regulations.  Failure to comply with retailer regulations can mean you lose your chance at securing a retailer or risk having your product removed from the store.

Export.

 If you are looking to export your product, you must consider the regulatory requirements of the country you are exporting to. Other countries have different standard container sizes, marketing rules, and nutrition labelling requirements.

Knowing federal, provincial, and even retail requirements allows you to effectively plan your go-to-market strategy. Companies who have not considered their regulatory strategy may experience many setbacks, including product reformulations, packaging redesign, and failure to secure retailers. These setbacks are time consuming and costly and can lead to the failure of the business. Thus, regulatory strategy is a key component for the success of your food business.

Sources:
http://ow.ly/9oOv30fbxRB

Dana Baranovsky
Food & Food Systems Analyst






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From Excel to the Cloud: Updating your HR Strategy

Posted on August 24 2017 | Author: Tiffany King

Over a decade ago, the Bioenterprise office started with one simple spreadsheet to track all HR processes. As our company continued to grow, the challenge of managing our employee information did as well. The spreadsheet method could not keep up or accurately track the increased HR needs of our expanding company.

Our solution came at the perfect time when I was introduced to Humi: a complete, cloud-based HR software designed for small to mid-sized Canadian companies. It integrates everything from recruiting and time-tracking to payroll and benefits. Humi has since made my work life more simple, clean and meaningful. 

Here are some of the ways Humi has helped me increase the value of my role in the company as an HR professional.

Efficiency: Recurring tasks that once took up many hours of my day, such as tracking vacation and locating signed employee documents, now takes me minutes to complete. With the automation of administrative tasks and a portal that holds all the information I need in one place, I can accomplish more in less time. 

Data-based decision making: I can generate all the reports I need to analyze employee trends in productivity, absenteeism, turnover and much more. Using real-time data intelligence has supported me in making smarter HR decisions that fit our overall business needs. 

Continuous improvement: Professional development is important to our employees. With the performance tools provided, it has never been easier to develop a culture of continuous improvement. Our staff now creates their own goals on Humi and tracks their progress as they work towards achieving them. With the use of 360 reviews and one-on-one interviews, I also have greater insight into the type of support and resources I need to provide to continue to foster their growth. 

Of the many benefits, we’ve acquired since utilizing Humi, we have also developed an additional strategic business partner. Humi operates as more than just a software service by assisting to grow our company and ensuring we have the tools needed to better manage our greatest asset.

If your company is growing and is ready to graduate from the paper method, be sure to do your research and find a method like Humi that works best for you and your company.

Tiffany King
HR Coordinator & General Administration






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Implementing a New App in Your Business

Posted on August 09 2017 | Author: Jessica Taylor

Now that you’ve decided what app is best for your business it’s time to implement!  [If you haven’t yet, check out my earlier blog, “Finding the Right App for Your Business”]

1. Start Small

Identify a few volunteers to be the early adopters of the technology. If your company is large enough, have employees in different departments pilot the app. Testing the waters with a pilot program will allow you to work out any kinks and identify issues without causing chaos for your team.

2. Have Ambassadors

Once you, and your pilot team, are confident that you understand how to use the app effectively within your business you are ready to bring everyone else on board. The pilot team can now act as ambassadors for the program, pairing an experienced user with a new user can allow for dialogue and training opportunities. As a bonus, this provides more junior employees training experience. Finally, the ambassadors can troubleshoot issues as they arise alleviating you of this responsibility.

3. Gather Feedback

Plan regular touch points with the ambassadors so you can identify common problems employees are having with the adoption. Gathering feedback will help you to understand timelines for when the team will be fully transitioned to the app. The anonymity of employee feedback caused by having your ambassador team compile feedback can be very helpful. If your team believes you hand selected and believe in this app they may be more reluctant to provide critical and candid feedback.

4. Be patient

Remember that you are changing the way people work which is not an easy task. Be patient with your team and actively listen to their feedback. Ultimately you want to make your team more efficient, and happy employees are much more apt to be productive and effective. The upfront investment in implementing a new app the right way will pay off in spades.

Now – go, implement and be more efficient than ever! 

Jessica Taylor 
Acting Regional Manager & Senior Analyst, Bioenterprise BC






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Google Keep: It Keeps You Organized

Posted on July 27 2017 | Author: Rattan Gill

With most of us leading a life ‘on the go,’ ideas may spark and brainwaves may occur at any time – and we need an effective tool to capture this ‘on the go’ productivity.

Personally, I love the good old post-it notes for their simplicity, and colour variety. However, post-it notes have a limited use unless I am at my desk. This is where Keep fits in. I started using it three years ago and haven’t looked back since.

Keep is a note-taking app that syncs to Google Drive switches from one device to another effortlessly. In addition to text, you can also add photos, sketches, and voice memos to your Notes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a few of my favourite features in Keep that help integrate ideas and keep everything in one place, no matter when or where the inspiration strikes.

Note-taking on the go: The colourful interface, which looks just like post-it notes, is very handy as an organizational tool. To keep the notes organized, you can file under one of the default labels (Inspiration, Travel, Work, Personal) or create a new one.

Start creating a List, Drawing, Audio, or an Image note by selecting the appropriate icon at the bottom of the screen.

Syncing across DevicesKeep uses your Google account for login, while syncing across all devices. Whether you’re on a desktop or a portable device, your access to Google Keep contents remains unhindered.

Reminders: Google Reminders are available across Inbox, Keep, and Calendar. Keep reminders automatically appear in the other two products while the opposite is not true. Therefore, Keep is a preferable tool for reminders within the Google ecosystem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Set individual reminders for a Note in Keep by clicking the ‘circling finger’ icon. Capture links, photos, voice notes and other information associated with each activity available along with the reminder.

While the Time option works like any other reminder app, the Location reminder notifies the next time you’re in the vicinity of the selected Location – pretty handy for those shopping trips!

This feature is well integrated with Google Now, which makes the system run even smoother.

Transcribe Text from Images: Have you ever taken a picture of a brochure or a handwritten note or a business card just so that you have the information with you without packing the extra bulk of paper?

Well, Keep will take it to the next level. You could either take a picture within the app or import one from another folder and use the menu option ‘Grab Image text’ to transcribe the written part of the image as a note. If you want to save some precious storage space, you can delete the image and have the Note saved for later reference.

Here’s an example with a business card and another one with a handwritten post-it note:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Convert Notes to Google Docs: While Keep is a great catchall platform, it may not be suitable for downstream word processing or writing long articles. Luckily, Keep is now a part of Google’s G suite and the text from Keep Notes can be carried over to Google Docs where more intricate tasks can be accomplished.

Just open the Note and select the menu option Send > Copy to Google Docs to transfer the contents of the Note. This feature also allows for generating printable versions of the ideas captured within Keep.

Sending and Collaborating as Separate Options: The Send option allows sharing Notes with people via other apps such that the content is readable but the recipient cannot edit or contribute to the note. Select Send>Send via other apps to access this feature.

On the other hand, Collaborator option allows the recipient to edit and contribute to the Note in real-time. For example, if you share the grocery list with a friend and the two of you are shopping at two different locations, each person will be able to see as the items get checked off on both sides.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a very useful feature for various kinds of collaborative tasks. To access this feature, select Collaborator option in the menu and then choose the recipient from your contact list. You may make changes to the collaboration options as necessary.

Keep offers a multitude of additional tasks – you can pin, search, archive Notes and much more. This is definitely not an exhaustive list of features that Keep has to offer.

Go ahead, try it out for yourself – it’s a keeper!


Sources:
https://www.google.com/keep/
http://www.computerworld.com/article/3144450/enterprise-applications/why-you-should-start-using-google-keep-right-away.html
https://blog.google/products/g-suite/capture-ideas-google-keep-bring-them-life-google-http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2483841,00.asp
http://lifehacker.com/not-just-another-notes-app-why-you-should-use-google-k-509256637
http://www.greenbot.com/article/3058745/android/5-awesome-google-keep-features-you-arent-using-but-should-be.html

Rattan Gill
Analyst, Agriculture & Regulatory Affairs






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So Youre Not a Graphic Designer

Posted on July 14 2017 | Author: Jennifer Kalanda

So you’re not a graphic designer? Don’t worry, neither am I!  Honestly, you don’t have to be in order to create and incorporate basic graphic elements into your marketing activities.  Working for a very busy non-profit, I have to wear many hats in my role – one of which is graphic design.  Since these activities can sometimes be infrequent, it’s hard to justify the cost of graphic design software.  And as I am sure you can relate, it seems impossible that I could have any extra time to learn how to use the software.  Instead, I have become very resourceful!

My favourite tool has saved me time and money, and there is a good chance you have even used it before – PowerPoint!  Yes, Microsoft’s PowerPoint has enabled me to create numerous advertisements, brochures, Christmas cards, business cards and even a roll-up banner.  That’s just for Bioenterprise and our clients!  In my spare time, I have used PowerPoint to create the graphic elements of countless gifts, signs and favours for my wedding, and floor plan mock-ups for my home renovations. 

 


Here are some features that help me get the most out of PowerPoint.

Images

You can format and edit images in several ways, from removing the background of an image, cropping out what you don’t need, to brightening or sharpening the image, and other great effects.

The feature I circled is one of my favourites because the shadow it adds makes images look like they’re floating. 

Quality

Your work can maintain a high-resolution when you save it as a PDF (assuming the images within your work are high-resolution and match the scale).  You can save the entire slide as a PDF or you can select the specific elements and save those only.  You can save your work in other image formats, but the format should be chosen based on where your work will be used (ex. prints vs. online). 

Colours

If you have some basic marketing materials, hopefully, your marketing firm provided you with a branding guide.  You can closely render your brand colours for both text and objects.  When you select the “More Colours” option and the ‘slider’ image, you can add your brand’s colours in CMYK, RGB or HSB.  Once you have made the colour formula, you can then save the sample in the empty boxes and your brand colours will be easily accessed for new projects.

Layers

When I am creating just about anything, there is usually a lot going on.  One of the “Arrange” features allows you to reorder the objects you are working with as it converts into a visual stack of objects.  By bringing the item forward, it allows you to tweak specific items without moving something you have already placed perfectly!

Slide Size

Now you may already be familiar with some of these Office features, especially if you’re a Microsoft Publisher fan, but one thing I like about PowerPoint is the ability to set a custom size for your work.  I often have to remake the same advertisement, but to different specs over and over again.  Publisher will only let you chose between formal paper sizes.  In PowerPoint, you can modify the size from as small as 1”x1” up to 55” x 55”.  With that kind of range, you really have the opportunity to make a lot of different kinds of projects.

If you have never thought to make anything on your own, consider starting with something small.  Recently, I had the pleasure of working with one of our clients to help improve their digital newsletter.  With a lot of important information to convey every quarter, it was essential to ensure the visual elements supported their content.  I created these headers simply by:

  • adding the high-resolution image to a blank slide
  • cropping the top and bottom to create a header bar
  • adding and formatting text over top.  (If the text is difficult to read, try adding or increasing the size of the shadow)
  • Selecting all the elements of my new header, right click and saving it as an image.  As mentioned before, I find PDF helps maintain the highest resolution, but since these images were for an email platform, I saved them in my second preferred format, png.

So far, I have found no limit to what I can create in PowerPoint.  Don’t get me wrong, I still have to outsource the big projects – but the amount of money I have saved, just being able to do my own design projects every year, is easily in the tens of thousands!

Happy designing!


Sources:
https://pixabay.com
https://www.shutterstock.com
https://products.office.com/en-ca/powerpoint

Jennifer Kalanda
Marketing Manager






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Time Efficiency Hack: Feedly

Posted on June 29 2017 | Author: Johanna Simco

A key component of successfully growing a business is conducting market research. However, keeping up-to-date with industry news, developing social media strategies, investigating competitor activities, and any other kind of research often involves countless Google searches. If only there was a tool to keep all of your favourite sources in one location… Readers, meet Feedly.com!

Feedly is a free RSS tool, meaning that it provides users with headlines from the websites they choose to follow. It allows you to gather, sort, share, and save content, keeping it all in one space. You can follow various sources, such as blogs, news sites, and even podcasts and YouTube accounts. The platform keeps track of the content you have read and saved, maximizing your knowledge gathering efforts. Feedly provides a clean and easy-to-read feed, and offers different layouts to fit your preference (e.g., magazine style, titles only, etc.). Feedly is one of my favourite productivity tools since it saves valuable time when searching for specific content online. Instead of bookmarking numerous websites and opening an overwhelming amount of tabs and windows, I can keep track of the web pages I have visited on one platform. I no longer spend time realizing that I’ve read a certain article already or open a website that doesn’t relate to my interest. Feedly has several useful applications. Here are a few that have made my research process more pleasant:. 

Follow sources: When searching for content, you can either search for specific sources (e.g., The Entrepreneur, Forbes, CBC) or enter keywords in the search bar. If you are interested in a particular subject, such as agriculture, you can perform a search and a list of sources will appear related to the topic. Clicking ‘follow’ next to the source will result in the latest headlines from that source appearing on your feed, giving you easy access to its content. For example, instead of going to the Forbes website and having to actively search for articles of interest, their headlines will be shown in one place, easily recognized.

Organize your content into categories: Now that you have multiple headlines from various sources in your news feed, you may want to organize them into categories. Feedly allows you to label your followed sources so that you can browse specific topics. For example, a user working at an agri-tech start-up may label their website with “Industry News,” “Business Tips,” etc. – customize the content into relevant categories, there are no restrictions! This feature allows you to view articles within a single category, thus making your browsing activity more efficient. However, you still have the option to view all websites if you prefer. By clicking ‘Today’ at the top of the sidebar, you will be provided with current content. These options will appear on the left sidebar (shown to the left).

Save your favourite items: See a headline that caught your eye but want to read later? Tag the article as ‘Read Later’ and enjoy reading it anytime. No more having to make note of the URL or keeping it open in a window, it’ll be kept safe in your Feedly account available on any device. Articles that you have read can be ‘Marked as Read,’ allowing you to track articles you have already seen. You can choose to keep these items in your feed or have them disappear.

With the abundance of information on the Internet, it can be time-consuming to navigate through search results. Feedly has the ability to optimize efficiency during your search activities. It is a true time-saver and makes research—whether for business or everyday purposes—a little more enjoyable.

Happy researching!

Sources:
http://ow.ly/Fg1T30d7urL
http://ow.ly/TDsP30d7unH 

Johanna Simco
Strategic Partnership Assistant






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