NewCo Boulder 2015: 8 Lessons Learned

NewCo took Boulder by storm last week and the team at InspiringApps enjoyed participating in the varied presentations around town. We were encouraged at QuickLeft to be intentional about diversity, and glad to see others such as Pivotal Labs committed to lean methodologies. We also enjoyed a tour at eTown, got recruiting tips from Turning the Corner, and one of us even tried brussels sprouts for the first time at the Made in Nature session!

Not only did we learn about our neighbors and the cool and innovative things they’re working on, but we also hosted a session in our office. Our CEO, Brad Weber, presented “8 Lessons Learned in 8 Years of Making Mobile Apps.” As Brad shared a few pivotal stories from our history, he drew out key concepts and provided some salient wisdom for any entrepreneur or business leader:

Don’t partner when you can hire. Although starting alone can feel daunting, hiring may be a better way to begin. A partnership is a serious and long-term relationship and, as the team at TechStars also noted, it’s important to know as much about a potential co-founder as one does about a potential life partner.

Hire with an eye toward the future – but not the distant future. Resources are limited in the early days, so it’s important to be thoughtful about what skills can take the company to the next horizon.

Building a team of employees is hard work, but worth it. Using contractors seems to offer the promise of less risk, but it has its own set of challenges.  Investing in an all-employee team can lead to better cohesion, mutual commitment, and lots of fun!

There is value in working under one (leaky) roof. Flexible out-of-office hours are a key part of our culture, but we gain a lot by also having one space in which to collaborate together.

Without project management, there is chaos. It’s tempting to forego the overhead of project management, but a client-based business benefits greatly from such leadership.

Lean is a better approach to development. A desire to get things just right causes many companies to invest too much and wait too long to release a product. Using small, iterative steps enables a company to be more nimble – and gain better market feedback along the way

Align costs and revenues to bid projects. Instead of fixed bids, we often found it better to use high-level estimates for the whole project, then time and materials for a given sprint.

It’s a delicate balance between product work and custom development work. Client work pays the bills, but it can’t drive all the priorities in resource allocation. Maintaining steady progress toward other goals (in our case, product development) is required to keep the momentum going.

If you’d like to learn more details about what Brad shared, contact us and we’d be happy to share. 


InspiringApps Wins a Prestigious Tabby Award

We’re excited to share that the retail merchandising app we created for SmartWool was named the 2015 winner of the Tabby Award /Business in the iPad App: Data Access & Collection category! We are thrilled to join ranks with other companies who have been in the winners circle like Citrix, SAP, Morningstar, RosettaStone, and Adobe.

The Tabby Award /Business is the only global competition that recognizes the top enterprise and business apps in the industry. Apps are evaluated on numerous criteria, including overall business value, user experience, design, innovation, tablet optimization, and performance. As a company that strives to demonstrate best practices in leveraging technology, we are honored that other industry leaders recognize our commitment to excellence.

An international panel of 24 judges reviewed over 150 apps before selecting the winners. With more than 300,000 business apps collectively available on Android and iOS devices, winners are positioned in the top 0.01% of all apps. “The lineup of apps this year was incredibly impressive,” noted judging panel chair Carson Conant, CEO of Mediafly. “The slate of apps this year brought the perfect mix of business utility and the clean interfaces that you see in the best consumer apps.”

The SmartWool app leverages the extensive experience we have in helping organizations of all sizes to collect, access, and successfully employ business-critical data. This expertise was recognized by the judging panel, who stated, “We immediately recognized the value of the SmartWool FSR app for streamlining field data collection, decreasing reporting time, and improving store service. We found the app to be highly intuitive with clear dashboards and reporting.”


As you may recall, a sales presentation app that we developed in conjunction with Gulfstream Aerospace was also one of two finalists for a different Tabby Award.  In this case, we must tip our hat to Adobe for winning the iPad App: Marketing & Presentation category. Congratulations!


The Tabby Awards: Honoring the Best in App Development

We are so excited and humbled to have our work commended by The Tabby Awards! The Tabby Awards /Business is the only worldwide competition designed to honor the best mobile apps for businesses and professionals. 

Over 150 apps were evaluated this year and just 40 iPad-optimized apps were selected as nominees for the final round. Submissions are judged on a number of factors, including user experience, innovation, design, performance and reliability, and the business value that they add to an organization. Only those that excel in multiple categories move forward. Nominees and winners are selected by an international panel of independent app experts.

An app we developed for Gulfstream Aerospace was nominated in the Marketing and Presentation category. Gulfstream is renown for creating and delivering the world’s finest aviation experience, and they wanted this client touchpoint to reflect their commitment to excellence. Built as a sophisticated mobile education tool, the app showcases the aesthetics of the jet’s interior and exterior, explains Gulfstream’s technological advances, shares critical performance characteristics, and introduces the company’s award-winning customer support. 


Another app, developed for leading outdoor brand SmartWool, is a contender in the Data Access & Collection category. The app is used by SmartWool’s field sales reps to improve their effectiveness at retail merchandising.  Merchandising plays a critical role in the sell-through of products, but is time-consuming and error prone. Reps are able to use the app to quickly capture and share information about point-of-sale (POS) signage, displays, and stock levels. In addition to cutting reporting time in half, the app helps them to service accounts more quickly.


While different in their function, both apps are valuable sales enablement tools that are making a difference to those who use them.

Learn more about these projects and others by visiting our Clients page.


Chat with the Google Small Business Community

Brad led a lively online discussion with the Google Small Business community, fielding questions ranging in topic from the “app graveyard” to a frequently asked question about the cost to build an app.

It was a first for InspiringApps to participate in this type of forum and we had a lot of fun with it. The Google moderator, Berrak, started the discussion off with a question to distinguish between a mobile app and a mobile website and we kept rolling from there. Participation from the community included questions about the Upbeat Workouts app to “going big” with your app right out of the gate.

Thank you to all who participated and to our Google moderator, Berrak Sarikaya. You can read the full hour’s worth of discussion here:


Mobile Apps 101 with Google

Need to learn some basics about app development and whether it makes sense for your company? Our CEO will be speaking with the Google Small Business Community on Wednesday, June 17 at 2:00 MDT.  Google has numerous community forums, and this one was created to help small businesses get the help they need to succeed on the web by connecting with experts and each other. They provide ongoing training, compelling discussions, and insider tips.

The group describes the upcoming event this way: “The average smartphone user has 33 apps installed on their device. Should your business be their next download? During our June #Mobile #OfficeHours, we’ll be discussing the differences between mobile websites and mobile apps, and the potential value a mobile app could bring to your small business. Join us as we speak with Brad Weber from InspiringApps, a mobile app developer for small businesses.”

We’re looking forward to the discussion around the topics that arise during this hour and encourage you to join in. Check out the event here.


Boulder Startup Week: Event Recap

The “I Moved to Boulder and…” event at our office this week attracted some veteran Boulderites in addition to those newer to the area. The four panelists discussed their jobs, where they live, and the things they like to do including disc golf, enjoying the night life on Pearl Street, hiking in the snow, running, and listening to live music.

One panelist, Courtney, described how she was surprised by the friendliness of Boulderites after moving here from New York City. She had a brace on her leg due to an injury, and it seemed that everywhere she went in Boulder, concerned passers-by were curious about her injury, how she was doing, and quick to offer help.

Sean, also familiar with east coast life, illustrated the difference between a typical business encounter in New Jersey (unfriendly secretary rudely asking “Whaddya want?”) and one in Boulder (outgoing business prospect inviting “Want to talk about it over a beer?”).

Another panelist, Julian, talked about his move from Florida, and how he loves living near Pearl Street and the ability to walk almost anywhere he wants to be.


In addition to the panel discussion, we enjoyed a large variety of soda flavors from Rocket Fizz. The most disgusting, by far, was the ranch dressing flavor. We have plenty of left over bottles of that one, if you’d like to stop by and pick one up!

Thanks for attending and we’ll see you next year!



Boulder Startup Week at InspiringApps

Boulder Startup Week is next week! InspiringApps will again host the always entertaining and tremendously popular “I Moved to Boulder and….” event on Monday, May 11th from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM.

Do you wonder what happens when you move to Boulder? What do people wish they knew before moving here? Instead of just reading about it, come meet people who have moved here in the last year and hear how they’ve integrated into the community. They’ll talk about jobs, housing, social life and more. This small panel of recent Boulder transplants will tell their stories and answer your questions.

Sound like the perfect event for you? Register here to join in the fun. It’s free! Already been here awhile? Come anyway and offer your expertise to the newbies. We’ll have plenty of time for networking as well.

Beyond learning more about Boulder, you’ll also get a chance to explore Boulder’s finest soda scene. We’ll be offering a curated selection of sodas from Boulder’s own Rocket Fizz for guests to enjoy. InspiringApps software engineer, Will Helling, drank EVERY ONE of the offerings from Rocket Fizz over the past months. We’ll have his favorites for you to sample, including Blueberry Birch. Also available will be a few of the less mainstream (uh, gross?) flavors like Lester’s Fixins Ranch Dressing.

If your taste buds aren’t adventurous enough to take a swig based on soda name alone, we’ll share Will’s reviews of all the sodas so you can decide if you want to give it a try. Here’s a sampling:

Blueberry Birch: This says blueberry, but it really tastes more like grape. In any case, if you’ve ever been curious what a marriage of grape and root beer might be, look no further. As any Reading Draft, this soda tastes fantastic, and the unique grape-rootbeer flavor is unique and exceptional. This was exactly the type of soda I was hoping to find when I started this soda tour. 8.5/10

Lester’s Fixins Ranch Dressing: Stop the presses, this one surprises as being one of the best I’ve had on this whole list. Just kidding. It’s gross. It tastes like rotten cheese and the ranch-esque aftertaste just does not go away. Make sure you have something else to wash this one down with otherwise you’ll be tasting spoiled sour cream for the rest of the day. 2/10

Don’t wait!  Join us by registering to attend this fun event.


Team Member Profile: Ralph Dosser, Software Engineer

Ralph was born and raised in northeastern Tennessee in a town called Johnson City as the fifth of six kids. He spent his childhood enjoying comic books and running his paper route. His love of the outdoors started early, when he frequently hiked the Appalachians with his scout master dad. When Ralph was 17, he embarked on his first trip west with the Boy Scouts to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. After seeing the vistas for the first time, he instantly fell in love and knew he would eventually head west permanently. After 15 years, the dream became reality.

But first Ralph studied journalism, then spent the next several years working for small newspapers in East Tennessee. He left journalism to study computer science at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville after his sister – who worked in the computer science department there – showed her boss Ralph’s GRE scores and got him a graduate assistantship. Ralph worked at the university for awhile, eventually moving to research administration. When writing technical documentation for the department of network engineering, his boss asked him to make it available via the internet. How? A new thing called “the world wide web.” Within months, Ralph was making websites for the school using this new revolutionary technology.

Using his expertise in building websites, Ralph moved to Atlanta to work for CNN, helping to get up and running in 1995. He states that it was really exciting work because “we were making everything up as we went along.” The first really big story on the site was the OJ Simpson verdict in 1995, followed by the Clinton/Gore presidential election in 1996 which killed the servers because of the load. “We couldn’t throw hardware at it fast enough,” Ralph recalled. During his time at CNN, Ralph helped to build the CNN/Sports Illustrated site, the financial site, and the politics site for the brand. He moved on to work for Cox Interactive Media and then as a contractor for IBM interactive where he helped to build sites for the Grammys, the NHL, the NFL, and the Hermitage museum.

Around that time, Ralph planned a vacation to Boulder, CO and then spent the next year looking for a job here. He found one with XOR Network Engineering and moved west in 2000, making that childhood dream come true. The company started to unravel during the first internet bust and Ralph switched to contracting for a few years. He contracted with InspiringApps and soon became employee number three (after Brad and Aaron Gerber)!

Ralph enjoys working for InspiringApps because “the work varies a great deal.” Ralph states that since InspiringApps is small, there is not a lot of hyper-specialization, allowing him to write code, talk to a client, work on a server, and investigate a database…all in the same week. “Our small size keeps us nimble and we have a good culture and environment. The location and view are wonderful and I’m still very much in love with Boulder,” says Ralph. “The scenery, the mountainous beauty that is right there. The bike culture is great. I like the outdoorsy culture.”

In his spare time, Ralph likes to tinker with hobby electronics (“pretty blink-y lights”), do a little soldering, and program Arduinos. He’s built some cool stuff for his trips to Burning Man and gets a lot of inspiration from that event and the amazing engineering and art on display there. Ralph tries to bring that inspiration back and integrate it into his work and non-work life.


The Developer’s Paper Kit

Enjoy a little new year’s fun we cooked up in the InspiringApps design lab – The Developer’s Paper Kit! Ready your printer, sharpen your scissors and locate that glue (it’s in your junk drawer, remember?) Choose a character and get your craft on!

Send a photo of your creation to and we’ll post it for everyone to enjoy.



Team Member Profile: Michele Connors, Marketing Director

Michele recently joined InspiringApps as our Marketing Director. She comes with a wealth of experience in marketing, especially for the active and outdoor markets, due to her 15 plus years working for the GORE-TEX brand.

Michele grew up outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where she spent her days running around the neighborhood, meeting friends at the pool, and playing kickball in the streets. Some of her favorite childhood memories stem from camping in the gorgeous hills of central Pennsylvania.

Although she attended a high school with a strong STEM emphasis, an interest in broadcast cable led Michele to begin her college years as a Communications student at Penn State University. She soon realized, though, that she missed being more technically focused.  She switched gears to engineering, and graduated with high honors in Mechanical Engineering in 1993, confident she’d still be able to use her communication skills along the way.

After college, Michele accepted a position at W.L. Gore & Associates, a company known for its unique corporate structure and innovative products. She worked in product and technology development for a number of years, then moved to product management, and finally landed in the marketing world. Michele jokes that joining the marketing group was likened to “going to the dark side” since she was no longer involved with product technology or development. But the dark side was kind to Michele. In a recent 3-year period, she achieved strong GORE-TEX® brand presence online and doubled the number of sites telling their brand story.

Michele has always loved the business side of things. She enjoys watching the lights go on as potential customers realize why a product is worth their money. At InspiringApps, she is excited for the opportunity to spread the word about what we do well, helping us to grow into new market areas. We are thankful for her dark-side experience!

Outside of work, Michele loves to help create community, often over a shared meal or a glass of wine!  She is grateful to live near world-class mountains, and getting to hike, camp and ski in them is a fabulous treat – especially if friends or family are involved too.  Michele and her husband are raising four kids, so many weekends involve sporting events, Girl Scout activities, or other kid-centric fun. “It’s a full life,” Michele states, “but I am very grateful for it.”

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