RRC grad wins Future Leaders of Manitoba award
JONATHAN PIRRIE, CONTRIBUTOR
Daniel Blair needed to remind himself that this is reality, not a virtual one he’s created.
Earlier this month, Blair received an award naming him one of the Future Leaders of Manitoba for his professional accomplishments and work in the community. He’s the CEO and founder of Bit Space Development Ltd., an Innovation Alley company working with new technology such as virtual reality, 3D printing and custom web applications.
“For me it’s validation for all the work I’ve done, and it shows that the stuff I’ve been doing matters,” the RRC business information technology grad said. “I didn’t do it to win anything, I did it because I believe it matters, but I’m happy to receive the award.”
Blair also volunteers his time with developer groups Winnipeg Android and Winnipeg Web and Mobile Developers. And he assists with RRC’s accounting and computer education department., he also helps with Ramp Up Weekend.
Blair somehow finds time to do all of this while being a father to his seven-year-old daughter.
“Here’s a young guy, single parent, who is very active in the community. He’s a well-rounded individual, “said Guy Dugas, former chair of RRC’s accounting and computing education department and Blair’s personal mentor. “He’s showing people it’s possible to strike out on your own and do something you care about, while still helping out in the community.”
The Future Leaders of Manitoba considers community service, professional contributions and advocacy for the province when selecting finalists and the eventual winners. Dugas nominated Blair for the award knowing he would be a strong candidate.
“In just a year so much has changed. This award is recognition for him and it legitimizes everything he’s doing,” said Dugas.
On top of the consulting work Bit Space Development Ltd. does, it also has two flagship projects underway: PanoPla, a virtual reality tool for users to easily create panoramas and virtual tours, and Geofy, a geo-location app set to enter closed-beta soon. For Blair, one of the highlights of the Future Leaders of Manitoba awards was host Ace Burpee talking about PanoPla, and recommending those in the audience seek out Blair.
“It was sweet to just be a nominee and a finalist. Then to have Ace Burpee call you out in front of 300 people” said Blair. “Then I won, and everyone did try and get face-time with me. I’m still following up with people.”
Bit Space Development Ltd. has three current RRC students, selected by Blair, and three graduates (including Blair) on the team. Julia Chiarello Passamani, a 25-year-old web developer, was a classmate of Blair’s and has been working with him at Bit Space Development Ltd. since it was founded.
“Everyone was surprised he won because of the competition he was up against,” said Chiarello Passamani. “I’m super proud of him and I know this is just the beginning. He’s going to be big.”
Blair intends to continue all of his community efforts while Bit Space Development Ltd. continues to grow.
From his vantage point on Innovation Alley, the horizon is bright. Geofy will be released soon, PanoPla is set to receive a large update, and the company has also been developing their own 3D printer, which will be open-source and accessible to the public.
Blair plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign early summer for the project, and have the 3D printer accessible to the public shortly after.