May 23, 2016
Last week brought Google I/O 2016, an annual software developer-focused conference held by Google in San Francisco. Google and Android developers look forward to this with the same enthusiasm that Apple developers anticipate the WWDC conference, and this year we were not disappointed.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai kicked things off with a keynote address that focused mainly on several consumer products, but towards the end he tossed out a few hints about new and upgraded developer tools. In the following days’ breakout sessions those were revealed one-by-one, frequently blowing away the developer attendees. Many of the most exciting developments were new features in the recently released Android Studio 2.2. Here are a few highlights. Read More
March 21, 2016
We attended many impressive sessions during our time at the South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW) conference last week. The festival is a showcase for all things tech, and we were inspired by the exhibits, gadgets, and experiences that filled the city of Austin, TX. We focused on sessions in the Design and Development track including: “Fast and Rigorous User Personas,” “Checkbox That Ruined My Life,” and “Designing for Smartwatches.” We found it interesting that several themes emerged from the design sessions, regardless of the session title and topic.
As predicted in our “Tech Innovations to Watch in 2016” blog post from early this year, the Internet of Things was one such theme, specifically in regard to wearables. Most tech users have transitioned from desktop to mobile, and the next transition from mobile to wearable is happening now. Smartwatches and fitness devices remain the most widely-used items in this network of physical objects embedded with technology.
November 23, 2015
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.
June 18, 2015
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: https://plus.google.com/u/0/events/cenmae20j1522psnqvifhs2idd0
May 13, 2015
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!
May 6, 2015
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.
Our Senior Project Manager, Stacy Griffin, hosted an event this week in our office for the Colorado International Media and Communication Network (CIMCN). Stacy spoke about the NFORS project that InspiringApps is working on (http://911perform.org/n-fors/) and provided details about our development process.
Stacy then welcomed Dr. Revi Sterling, Founding Director of the Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICTD) Graduate Studies Program at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The program is part of the Atlas Institute in the College of Engineering (http://atlas.colorado.edu).
Dr. Sterling spoke about the work she does with graduate students and her impressions of how the International Communication Technology (ICT) space is impacting international development work. She offered some ideas and insights for how companies, non-governmental organizations, and universities can work more closely together to engage in fruitful partnerships.
Specifically, Revi talked about:
- The importance of understanding the culture where a project is taking place. As an example, she discussed a student who solved a communication problem between hill towns by using OCHA Symbols via SMS to communicate weather shifts rather than phone conversations. This solution skirted cultural biases that would not allow unmarried men and women to communicate and allowed the hill towns to better conserve water.
- The focus on field work in her program. She noted other programs around the country that focus on policy and research. She discussed the process she goes through when assigning students to internship positions. It is vital that students work where they are passionate, but she also urges them to step out of their comfort zone.
- The importance of technology in what her students deliver. She has a mix of students with strong technical backgrounds and not so strong. She likes the idea of her students understanding the problems first and then finding the best technology.
The meeting wrapped up with a discussion of the pros and cons of using open source technology. For example, Open Data Kit (ODK: http://opendatakit.org) offers the ability for users to build data collection forms, but has stability issues. Stacy discussed the reasons InspiringApps created our own cloud-syncing solution rather than relying on third-party options.
Thank you Revi and the CIMCN group!
We loved having the excuse to get outside, make new friends, and get a little competitive thanks to this challenge. But you can’t have a good adventure without some misadventures to balance everything out. Here, software engineer Seth McClaine tells us about an afternoon that made him question his cycling karma:
Doing my typical Saturday ride with the Bicycle Village group and one of my new riding friends I met through the Quick Left Strava Challenge, I finally get my first flat ever on a ride.
Starting from the beginning, I decided to ride from my house and get the extra 5 miles in to put towards the challenge. I get to BV (Bicycle Village) and we are scheduled for a 30 mile ride. We head out, get some coffee in Erie, and start heading back. About 5 miles out from returning to BV a fellow rider blows out her rear tire. I stopped to help. After giving some assistance and leaving her with a ride ambassador, my friend and I continued riding back.
I went on to say “I always try to stop because I feel like it’s good karma. In the four years I’ve been riding I’ve never gotten a flat on a ride…”
About a mile from BV I have a massive blowout. A pop, three whizzes (rotation of the tire while you can hear the air coming out), and my tire is completely flat. So much for karma!
I’m thinking, “Ehh, about a mile out, I could just walk back to BV then drive home… Oh wait, I didn’t drive.” I replace my tire, using CO2 to fill it up, get back on and get back to BV. A couple minutes after I had set my bike in the rack we hear a pop. At first I figured someone else popped their tire throwing it on the rack, as someone was putting their bike on the rack next to mine.
Later I find out, no my tire blew up, blow out number 2! The CO2 must have warmed up and over inflated the tire. Conveniently I brought an extra tube since my friend didn’t have extras. I take my wheel into the shop and replace the tube again.
As I get close to 100PSI BANG! Nothing makes your ears ring like exploding a tube inside a building. I managed to pinch the tube with the tire since I was being hasty replacing the tube and didn’t roll the tire correctly. I was out of tubes and a little frustrated.
Fine, I take it back to the service area and let them fix it. A couple minutes later I get my tire back and start to walk toward the register. Then I notice a small bubble coming out of the side of the tire… Apparently the pinch flat I had just done caused the side of the tire to blow out. Ok, back to service. They set me up with a new tire, and I’m finally good to go after paying.
All in all, at the end of the day, I now have matching red wall tires on my bike for the first time in two years.
We had lots of fun this month, misadventures and all. Thanks to Quick Left for organizing this challenge! It was an excellent way to foster community, get people out and about, and support a wonderful cause. In honor of Radio 360’s win, we’re making a donation to their chosen organization, the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.
One of our favorite weeks of the year, Boulder Startup Week, is right around the corner! It’s a great opportunity to spend time learning from our fellow startup and tech enthusiasts – and to meet some of the most amazing people the scene has to offer.
Swing by our office on Tuesday at 2 for the “I Moved to Boulder and…” event. A handful of newly-minted Boulderites (including our own Stephanie!) will share what it was like to move to Boulder, from job hunting to relocating a family and scouting out the best happy hours around town. We’ll even have some beer on hand (and we’ll be making it rain with our new stickers.)
But, enough about us – here are a few more events we’re looking forward to:
- Crafting Incredible Designs
Tuesday, 1pm, Galvanize
- Impact Investing in Technology
Tuesday, 4:30pm, Impact HUB
- A Better Boulder through Sustainable Urbanism
Wednesday, 9am, BMoCA
We’ll also be reppin’ at the sold-out Ignite Boulder. If you see us around, make sure to say hello! And if you’re attending Boulder Startup Week as a job seeker, we’re hiring and would love to meet you.
It’s hard to live in Boulder – the fittest city in the country – without finding your own niche of physical activity. We’re a pretty active bunch here at InspiringApps, with yoga, cycling, swimming, running and even dancing among our favorite pastimes. And while we spend plenty of time at the gym during the winter, our “ActiveIA” selves truly shine when the weather’s nice and we can get outdoors as a team – from participating in the IronMan triathlon relay last year to this summer’s National EMS Memorial Bike Ride.
That’s why we were stoked to learn our friends down the street, Quick Left, had planned the Startup Strava Challenge (#startupchallenge), which kicked off yesterday. It’s the perfect combination of a lot of our favorite things – apps, startups, getting active, community, and supporting great causes. All this month, we’ll be using Strava to track our miles as we compete with 20 of Boulder’s finest startups like PivotDesk and Pearl Izumi. The team with the most miles per capita will have the “pot” of entry fees donated to the organization of their choice. We’re walking, running, hiking and biking on behalf of People for Bikes, a great organization that gets people active and improves cycling conditions in cities across the US.
Follow along as we rack up the miles by checking the Strava widget below – and to see how we compare with the other teams, head on over to the Quick Left blog. We’re small but mighty, and we’re pumped to have another reason to spend some time out and about this month.
Ready, set… GO!
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