How the ‘Fantastic Four’ united to become the winners of the President’s Innovation Challenge!

The Presidents Innovation Challenge took place on January 11th, 2014 at Sheridan College. The challenge invited Sheridan College students from multiple disciplines to participate in an initiative aimed at developing a new innovation that will help build smart connections and enhanced experiences between the 2015 Games, the province of Ontario, and the fans.

I had an opportunity to discuss with our winning team, Fantastic Four, what they felt about the challenge and here is what they had to say:

The 'Fantastic Four' accepting their winning certificates!

The ‘Fantastic Four’ accepting their winning certificates!

We wanted to clarify our educational background for you.  We are all classmates in the Interactive Multimedia Postgraduate program at Sheridan College.  The course focuses on mobile technology, user experience design, and front-end responsive web development. We are graduating in April 2014. 

Ron Dekker:  Why did you join the Presidents Innovation Challenge?

Fantastic Four:  We joined the Presidents Innovation Challenge because we believed that our team had a very unique vision to share.  Having just completed a rather large client project together, the four of us really clicked and we were on a bit of a runners high from our accomplishment. We wanted to demonstrate our unique personal skill sets on a innovative large scale project. The Challenge seemed like a terrific opportunity to do just that. It is not often that an event like the Toronto Pan Am/Parapan  Am Games comes to our community, so we wanted to have the chance to contribute.

Ron Dekker:  What sparked your ideas?

Fantastic Four:  We started by looking at what it means to be a visitor to the city of Toronto.  What is the typical tourist experience?  What are the challenges they face, and how can we make their stay more memorable?  We felt that Toronto itself can be a bit isolating, as it is a city of neighborhoods, where the best restaurants, parks, and entertainment are sometimes only known to locals.  We wanted to find a way to get visitors in touch with the ‘local’ Toronto – the dive bars, the tiny restaurants, and eclectic neighborhoods.  We decided to give everyone the ability to ‘ask a local’, in their language, and the opportunity to meet and connect with the citizens of Toronto.

Ron Dekker:  How did your mentors help you succeed? 

Fantastic Four:  The benefit of having the roving mentors was invaluable as we were able to gain a multitude of different perspectives.  We were able to share our preliminary ideas with business professionals, officials associated with the Games, and experts in technology.  It was a pleasure to be able to access such a breadth of knowledge, and apply this expertise to our design.

 In the final round of the competition, our mentor Patrick Weir, from Fuse marketing, helped us refine and structure our ten minute presentation.  Collaborating with Patrick was fantastic as we gained valuable insight from his professional experience.

Ron Dekker:  What are Your thoughts on the challenge overall?

Fantastic Four:  We thoroughly enjoyed the experience, as our team was grateful to have the chance to pitch our ideas to the judges.  It was an enriching experience to design an innovation at this scale, in such a condensed time-frame, trusting our instincts and design skills.  Most importantly, we had fantastic experience that was both fun and rewarding.  We are really excited to share our idea to the rest of the team and bring the app to life!

About Ron Dekker

Ronald J. Dekker is an Executive Sales and Business Development Leader at Cisco Systems Canada. Dekker also serves as Board Chairman at X2O | Media and as Director at Esna Technologies. Before Cisco, Ron was CEO of Connex (formerly Cygnal Technologies), Canada's leading independent provider of wired and wireless communications networks. Ron previously served as VP Alliances & Business Development for Tandberg, the #1 global video communications company where he identified and engaged new market opportunities that delivered the Company's next generation of innovation and growth (before the Company was sold to Cisco). Prior to Tandberg, Ron founded and served as CEO and Director of OneConnect, Canada's first and market-leading IP services provider. Prior to OneConnect, Ron was President & CEO of Ericsson Wireless Internet and before that, President of Williams Communications Canada (WilTel/TTS) which he grew profitably before selling to Telus. Ron has extensive global experience in telecommunications markets, specific skills in management and strategic planning, and a proven track record of delivering strong leadership and profitability. Ron is a member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO), a charter member of the Academy of Technology CEOs (AceTech), volunteered for 6 rewarding years on the Board of Directors for the Children's Aid Foundation ( and currently volunteers as Event Chair for Community Rocks ( to raise necessary funding in support of intellectually handicapped people at Community Living Toronto. Cisco most recently appointed Dekker as Executive Lead for their Premier ICT sponsorship of the TO2015 Pan/Parapan Am Games. Ronald J. Dekker est un cadre supérieur des ventes et de l'expansion des affaires au sein de Cisco Canada. Il siège aussi en tant que président du conseil d'administration de X2O | Media et que directeur d'Esna Technologies. Avant de grossir les rangs de Cisco, Ron était chef de la direction de Connex (anciennement Cygnal Technologies), le premier fournisseur indépendant de réseaux de communication filaires et sans fil au Canada. Auparavant, il a joué le rôle de vice-président aux alliances et à l'expansion des affaires au sein de Tandberg, principale société internationale de communications vidéo, où il a précisé et tiré profit de nouvelles occasions de marché qui ont généré la prochaine génération d'innovation et de croissance de l'entreprise (avant que la compagnie ne soit vendue à Cisco). Avant cela, Ron a mis sur pied OneConnect, fournisseur de services IP chef de file numéro un au Canada, où il était chef de la direction et administrateur. Auparavant, il était président et chef de la direction d'Ericsson Wireless Internet et avant cela, président de Williams Communications Canada (WilTel/TTS), dont il a accru le chiffre d'affaires avant de vendre la société à Telus. Ron possède une vaste expérience mondiale des marchés des télécommunications et des compétences particulières en gestion et en planification stratégiques. Il a une feuille de route exemplaire en matière de leadership et de rentabilité. Ron est un membre de Young Presidents Organization (YPO) et un membre originaire de l'organisme Academy of Technology CEOs (AceTech). Il a fait du bénévolat pendant six années enrichissantes au sein du conseil d'administration de la Fondation de l'aide à l'enfance ( et occupe actuellement le poste bénévole de président de l'événement pour l'organisme Community Rocks (, qui vise à recueillir les fonds nécessaires au soutien de personnes présentant des déficiences intellectuelles à Community Living Toronto. Cisco a récemment nommé Ron au poste de cadre supérieur en chef de sa commandite Premier ICT des Jeux panaméricains/parapanaméricains de Toronto 2015.
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