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Attendees play the Cross Board video game using the motion-sensing Kinect accessory on a Microsoft Corp. Xbox 360 gaming console at the Gamescom video games trade fair in Cologne, Germany, on Aug. 19, 2010. (Ralph Orlowski/© 2010 Bloomberg Finance LP)
Attendees play the Cross Board video game using the motion-sensing Kinect accessory on a Microsoft Corp. Xbox 360 gaming console at the Gamescom video games trade fair in Cologne, Germany, on Aug. 19, 2010. (Ralph Orlowski/© 2010 Bloomberg Finance LP)

Small Business Briefing

Microsoft houses startups to build Kinect apps Add to ...

The latest news and information for entrepreneurs from across the web universe, brought to you by the Report on Small Business team. Follow us on Twitter @GlobeSmallBiz. Download our app here.

Startups help design Microsoft's future

Microsoft is hosting 11 startups for a 13-week accelerator program to build apps for Kinect for Windows, a version of the Xbox device designed for PCs, Bloomberg.com reports.

In order for Kinect to play a central role in the future of computing, the story explains, Microsoft needs startups to build applications that make gesture-based controls and 3-D scanning important to non-gamers. Nearly 500 startups applied for the program, an indication that Kinect continues to be a key strategic play for the software giant.

Montreal-based Jintronix, founded in 2010 by MIT student Justin Tan, scored one of the coveted 11 spots. Mr. Tan's father had a stroke that left him paralyzed on one side of his body, and the entrepreneur noticed a reduction in rehab time after patients are discharged, the company’s chief technology officer, Lex Youssef, told Bloomberg.

Mr. Tan and several high school friends created hardware for in-home rehab that's now built on Kinect for Windows. It apparently does a better job of tracking a patient’s motion and it can determine whether someone is doing the exercises correctly. Therapists can track progress and analyze data without a visit to the home.

Microsoft's accelerator program ends June 28, at which time the entrepreneurs meet with potential investors.

The program comes on the heels of a similar announcement in March when Microsoft and Nokia said they would invest a total of $23.9-million (U.S.) into a new mobile application development program, AppCampus, at Helsinki’s Aalto University during the next three years.

What makes a company brilliant?

Entrepreneur magazine has released its annual roundup of 100 Brilliant Companies. "It should come as no surprise," the introduction says, "that our list is heavy on digital technology, with apps, development platforms and gadgets related to mobile phones, social networking and health care, as well as some mind-blowing inventions that are just plain cool." The list is broken down into 10 sectors, with a new category this year entitled Geek Chic, with so many products tapping into "retro hipster appeal." The companies are not necessarily the biggest money makers in their fields: part of the selection process involved talking to venture capitalists to get a sense of potential value.

Talent is hard to find

I do not like to fire people, Jay Goltz writes in a small-business blog post for The New York Times, referring to reaction to a previous column about his struggles to find a production manager. Adds Mr. Goltz, who owns five small businesses in Chicago, hiring the right people and unhiring the wrong people is something owners don't want to talk about. But he argues they should do a great deal of talking. Finding the right employees involves a lot of interviewing, "something that takes time you might not have. Find the time." And how to afford them, he says, is the wrong question. It should be "how much can you afford to have go wrong?" You have to pay a market wage for good people, and good people always pay for themselves.


World Entrepreneur of the Year

Ernst & Young will induct its latest batch of country winners in a "hall of fame" as part of its World Entrepreneur of the Year Awards on June 9. The champion will be announced following the ceremony. Dani Reiss, president and CEO of Canada Goose Inc., which manufactures one of the world’s top outerwear lines, is Canada's representative. Click here for a complete list of winners, and here to link to the page that will host the live webcast. Last year, Olivia Lum of Singapore, who founded Hyflux Ltd. in 1989 with a staff of two and $15,000 in startup funds, became the award's first female winner.

Share your top manufacturing challenges

Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME), with several of its partners, is developing a vision and strategy for the future of Canadian manufacturing and global business. As part of those efforts, it is looking for participants for its bi-annual Management Issues Survey, examining each company’s current operations, its top challenges and how they are being addressed in the face of the current business environment. Responses will provide a foundation for support and services, and it will direct the CME's engagement strategies with governments to strengthen Canada's ability to compete. Each survey takes about 30 minutes to complete and it is strictly confidential. The deadline for completion is June 15 at 5 p.m. EDT.


Meaningful work makes all the difference

According to interns, the difference between a good and bad internship depends largely on how involved the company allows them to be. Interns want to be given meaningful work so they feel empowered and part of the team. Grunt work may be part of it, but if companies want to attract the best and the brightest to their internships – whether paid or unpaid – they had better offer a real learning experience, too. They also prize the ability to join in multiple projects, including those with a high level of responsibility, Hattem Mohyeldin, a communications graduate of the University of Toronto, says in this story.


The way to go

There are no clear recipes for starting a new business, but here are a few guidelines that can help you get going in the right direction.

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