A new product direction leads to success for Virtual Media Productions Limited

April 20, 2015— Halifax, Nova Scotia

Sometimes the path we start out on isn't the one we follow. Nova-Scotia based Virtual Media Productions Limited (VMP Group) is a perfect example of how this sometimes happens. The 20-year-old business started out as a multimedia production company, working on projects related to content creation, ranging from television specials to interactive CDROMs. After a certain point, however, they realized they wanted to do something a little different.

"For a long time, our company was mostly service-oriented, and we wanted to transition from services to products" says Shawn Green, President and CEO of VMP. "When we started to restructure our company, it was an opportunity to reach out to NRC-IRAP to assist us with product commercialization, as well as helping us with technical direction and financial assistance."

Adapting the company and their technology

In 2012, VMP decided they wanted to introduce technologies that could give them a competitive advantage in the market. This made it the perfect time for NRC-IRAP to come and have a look.

"We added a lot of value for VMP in some of those strategy discussions and figuring out not just the technology barrier, but also what the various business models and commercial paths might look like," says Stephen Manley, NRC-IRAP Industrial Technology Advisor (ITA). "We were examining ways they could scale the technology, in an exponential rather than a linear fashion."

When the company participated in a project later that year to develop an artificial intelligence platform for e-commerce web sites, IRAP helped them move up the technology curve. The ITA assigned to the company provided advisory services, assisted them in creating technology, and worked with them to build value within the firm. But this was just the first step on the road to success. VMP started building a system that suggests products based on an individual's previous product selections and personal preferences. Once the technology was ready to be introduced into the market, VMP engaged a retail partner, who in turn assisted them in commercializing it.

"Within the scope of the projects they were able to develop a really great technology, pivot, and in consultation with IRAP, figure out some niches that they could go after, which was met with tremendous success," says Manley.

A rewarding outcome

It was during the marketing process that VMP identified a niche for their product in the wine industry. Through a project with Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, VMP built a product to recommend wine selections that could be deployed online. The company began to have discussions with other provincial beverage alcohol retailers, resulting in its first significant sale. This has led to several new opportunities in the food & beverage retail sector, and the company now has plans to expand into the United States and Europe.

"Within the scope of the projects they were able to develop a really great technology, pivot, and in consultation with IRAP, figure out some niches that they could go after, which was met with tremendous success," says Manley.

In working with NRC-IRAP, VMP was able to increase their capacity in terms of staff and was ultimately able to secure their first big client, as well as pave the way for them to secure their second. "The IRAP process is streamlined and it's very clear, right from the application to the discussions with the ITA and then to post-approval," says Green. "It's a great program and it benefits from being in-tune and in-line with companies from all types of disciplines."

Ambition is the path to success—and it's clear that VMP will be walking this path for a long time to come.

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