Unimaize: An Indigenous solution to a global challenge

November 23, 2021
New Economy Technology
iStock 1170186451 Newsroom

Calgary-based Unimaize Technologies Inc. solves universal event industry challenges with its BarKode Hospitality Suite, which digitalizes beverage management and provides contact tracing SaaS and hardware.

Led by Lead Executive Officer Gregory John, a proud gay Métis man, the company ensures Indigenous-owned and operated hotels, event centres and casinos across Canada have the opportunity to adopt this game-changing technology along with the rest of the industry.

“We’re responsive to the communities that have raised us and through that we’ve created a competitive advantage,” said John. “The relationships we’ve invested in let others steward our innovation. We establish relationships of trust that are community-based.”

The Unimaize team is made entirely of Indigenous, LGBTQ2+, and women professionals and is dedicated to making space in the technology industry in Canada for diverse voices and groups by ensuring their technology reaches the far corners of the economy beyond traditional markets.

“I seek people who can tell me what I don’t know, and now my network has allowed me to be connected with all the right people to give Unimaize the best shot at success,” said John.

Hailed as one of Calgary’s – and Canada’s – up-and-coming companies, Unimaize’s billion-dollar unicorn aspirations are reflected in its name. The term “Maize” is Spanish for corn, who heard it first from the Indigenous Taino people of the Caribbean (who called it “mahiz”). Unimaize = Unicorn.

“My big audacious goal is one day to install a huge glowing unicorn horn on the top of the Calgary skyscraper where our world headquarters will be. I know that the more you say it and work towards it, the closer it gets to becoming reality – just watch us!”

With a goal to become the go-to solution for large-scale events, Unimaize is making inroads in international markets, including the Asia Pacific region.

“A global presence is very possible for local businesses, if they seize opportunities neglected by others,” said John. “And we’ve seized every one.”

The company has strong relationships with all levels of government, Indigenous Gaming Authorities, hotels across Western Canada, and many First Nations governments. Unimaize is a founding SME member of Canadian Business for Social Responsibility and a Certified Aboriginal Business with the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, through which the company is also pursuing the Progressive Aboriginal Relations Certification.

The company is also an inaugural participant in the Alberta IoT Fast Track program, which helps Calgary-area businesses scale up, collaborate, and access resources.

Closely connected to the local community, John is one of the University of Calgary's youngest elected senators, a member of the Calgary Police Chief's Indigenous Advisory Board, and serves on the Global Energy Show’s executive advisory board. He is also on the Leadership Council for the IOT North Conference held in Calgary, March 30, and March 31, 2022.

For the full story on Unimaize and more on the many innovative tech companies in Calgary, visit Live Tech, Love Life.

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