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(Ken Hurst/iStockphoto)
(Ken Hurst/iStockphoto)

Small Business Briefing

Startup aims to lighten teachers' workload 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.

Three Ring launches anywhere, anytime access to students' assignments

A trio of friends who share a passion for technological reform in education have joined forces to lighten the load of assignments that teachers have to haul around in a new U.S. startup called Three Ring, according to a Mashable article.

Three Ring was launched six weeks ago as a "digital filing cabinet," with which teachers can snap a photo of a student's assignment with a smartphone or tablet, label the work and access it from a tablet or computer. This process allows teachers to gain access to students' work from almost anywhere, without having to lug around a stack of heavy essays.

Three Ring founders Alec Turnbull, Michael Lindsay and Steve Silvius also say the app will streamline the organizing process, as student names and course codes can be attached to the assignments, allowing a simple search function to find any assignements matching the search criteria.

"Portfolios are powerful tools for teachers, but they have been difficult to maintain," Mr. Lindsay told Mashable. "This app solves that problem and captures the richness of the classroom experience that is lost from the conversation."

And it seems the tech industry and educators have already taken notice. The month-and-a-half old venture already snapped up an award for best education startup at New York Tech Day earlier in April, and is in the hands of almost 2,000 teachers in New York, Delaware and Maryland.

Despite the early success, Three Ring is very much still in its nascent stages. The app is currently looking for seed funding to fully launch, and remains in beta form while tweaks are made. However, the trio hopes to develop parent, student and administrator access to the app, which is currently only available for teacher use. The startup hopes to implement the app through the education system and plans to sell the service to any schools that want to use it.



CFIB pushes for voice in Europe free trade talks

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is calling on the federal government to get a deal finalized that would facilitate easier trade with Europe, according to a CFIB press release.

With Canada inching towards an agreement with Europe, the CFIB wants to make sure its voice is heard and that the agreement has certain concessions to help small businesses succeed within the agreement.

It cites major challenges facing small businesses in such an agreement , such as the fluctuating Canadian dollar, shipping and tariff costs, and having to deal with different standards for each country they hope to trade with.

The press release cites a recent CFIB survey that they say showed that a little more than half of responding small businesses who do business in Europe plan to increase their presence across the pond to expand their businesses. A free-trade agreement would greatly benefit these businesses, according to CFIB president Catherine Swift.

"Canadian small- and medium-sized businesses have always favoured freer trade arrangement," she said in the press release. "We therefore welcome a [Canadian-European trade agreeement]as it will make it easier for these firms to take advantage of opportunities in the enormous European market."

A monster smash; Smashburger comes to Calgary

The arrival of premium burger restaurant Smashburger (which we previewed briefly in December) is finally within sight for hungry Calgarians. The first restaurant will open next Wednesday in the Alberta city and is primed and ready to introduce its locally inspired "Calgary Burger."

Smashburger appears to know what it's getting into, as it puts a new take on a traditional Canadian favourite, the ubiquitous poutine. Smashburger hopes that Calgary is just the beginning of its northern expansion, as it is taking aim at taking the brand into Vancouver and Toronto in the coming years.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

SOBCon

The two-and-a-half day "Cirque de Soleil" of small business conferences kicks off in Chicago on May 4.. The conference will focus on business creation, as well as expanding attendees' knowledge on the social media aspects of business. For more information on the event, visit its website.

Business, Franchise & Investment EXPO & Conference

Aspiring franchisee owners will congregate in Toronto this weekend, affording them an opportunity to speak one-on-one with exhibitors offering franchise and investment opportunities. The conference is aimed at giving entrepreneurs at all levels of knowledge a better understanding of small-business opportunities. For more information, visit its event listing.

EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

The Splurge: Switching gears from one two-wheeled passion to another

In this continuing series, the Report on Small Business looks at how entrepreneurs spend their money on indulgences - purchases that may be interesting, fun, satisfying or enjoyable, but not necessary! In this edition, we look at IT developer Leonard Adams's passion for all things two-wheeled.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Made to order

Entrepreneur and breakfast magnate Cora Tsouflidou explains her recipe for success in this August, 2009, story. Ms. Tsouflidou built the restaurants on a unique and clearly defined business plan, and saw her empire grow from a single Quebec location to more than 100 restaurants across Canada in about 25 years.

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