Veteran innovator launches start-up to leverage business success

VistaShift, the brainchild of former innovation Factory head Ron Neumann, helps business shift their perspective and solve problems with out of the box thinking.
Ron Neumann (seated) left the innovation Factory in June to work on VistaShift, a start-up about six years in the making. Neumann is pictured with his iF successor, David Carter. (Julia Chapman/CBC)

Ron Neumann used a unique way of thinking to propel one of his former start-ups from “ nowhere to number one.”

A former executive at Slipstream Data Inc., a company whose technology allowed users to access webpages faster, Neumann realized Internet customers had a stronger connection with the service provider rather than the company the their service provider turned to for help.

“The competition always wanted to put to put their brand in front,” Neumann said. “We became subservient to the brand.”

The successful Slipstream caught RIM’s attention, and it was later sold to the Waterloo-based company for an undisclosed amount.

It’s that type of problem-solving strategy that Neumann, a veteran of start-ups and former head of Hamilton’s innovation Factory, has turned into his next venture, VistaShift. It's aimed to make businesses more successful, increase revenue and attract clients.

“It lets [businesses] have a look at their own problems with fresh eyes,” he said.

Neumann calls the methodology he’s developed a science that’s rooted in ‘perspective dynamics.’ Or encouraging business heads to look at their needs and problems from an existing perspective.

Neumann brings out a graphic on his iPad that shows a line with a dip in it. That groove is where someone’s perspective is, he said, and the ball is just rolling back and forth inside that groove.

The point is to get that ball out.

It’s a five-tier process, Neumann said, starting with locating the problem, navigating different perspectives, investigating the problem, integrating possible perspectives and figuring out how to act.

“It changed the way they think about their customer base,” he said.

By the end of this month, about 700 individuals in dozens of companies will have gone through Neumann’s methodology. They span many industries – high-tech, restaurants, and hospitality.

“The problem is old solutions don’t work anymore,” Neumann said. “A lot of companies don’t know what to do.”

Why? Because everything and everyone is interconnected now and the speed of business is moving faster.

“There are many fears, businesses thinking how to survive, how to exist,” he said. “There is a position of fear and they can’t move ahead or innovate.”

Neumann said his methodology is launching at an ideal time, with Blackberry, formerly RIM, falling fast.

“Companies are failing faster,” he said, adding his methodology could have helped save the massive tech giant. “Efficiency [cutting jobs] is not a strategy.”

Neumann, who has had his hands in dozens of start-ups, has used the basics in many of his companies to help look at customer’s needs from a different angle, create a better cash flow and increase fundraising.

He even used the methodology to leverage Innovation Factory, attracting clients and creating a friendly environment for budding entrepreneurs.

Neumann and his three business partners, including one who from California who works with creative companies in the U.S., are now working to patent the methodology.


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