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Modest Tree Media Inc. – Software firm gets military boost

Four arms of the Canadian military have licensed 3-D training software from a Halifax startup to help personnel learn how to work with machines and equipment.

Modest Tree Media Inc. announced this month that the Canadian military is the first customer of its Modest 3D software, which is designed to help users write and update 3D interactive training programs. Having met with representatives of the military at the I/ITSEC defence and aerospace conference in Orlando, Fla., in December, the company met several times with personnel and ended up licensing the product to the army, navy, air force and the Canadian Defence Academy.

“Once we get the Canadian military behind us, it makes it easier to get through to the U.S. military, which is one of our goals,” said CEO Saman Sannandeji in an interview in the Volta startup house, where the company has its headquarters. “Not only that but the Canadian military has very close ties to the U.K. military.”

Formed last year by Sannandeji, chief operating officer Emily Sannandeji, and chief technology officer Steven Vermeulen, Modest Tree has designed a software-as-a-service product that reduces the cost and time involved in making three-dimensional training programs by as much as 85 per cent. The programs are intended for users working with equipment — repairing or building engines, for example — and can be used by training or technical experts without needing expertise in animation or programming.

Modest 3D lets instruction designers or subject matter experts create 3D interactive training programs and publish them on any device. The software enables users to take a 3D model, apply built-in animation, and create a step-by-step lesson to train people on the maintenance, assembly and/or operation of an object or machine.

“Modest3D appears to not only provide DND with state-of-the-art learning content but if done properly it will result in cost savings, increased production rates and provide a substantial impact towards training modernization,” Bill Railer, senior staff officer of learning technologies for the Canadian Defence Academy, said in a statement.

After graduating from the Launch36 accelerator in October, the Modest Tree founders ramped up their sales efforts and identified the defence and aerospace segment as one of its key markets.

After it first made contact with the military in Orlando, the company held several follow-up meetings that culminated with a meeting in Toronto at which 20 people from various segments of the military all tested the software. “We had never had so many people with hands-on experience with the software, so it was great for feedback,” said Emily Sannandeji.

That session led to a paid contract with the military, even though Modest Tree will not fully release Modest 3D until the DEFSEC defence and aerospace trade show in Halifax in September. The company is continuing to work with the military on adding features to Modest 3D, which will be included in the full release of the product.

The founders said the company has a strong pipeline for additional customers, both in the defence segment and among original equipment manufacturers.

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