Archive | June 2011

Hook, line and sinker: My thoughts on pitching an App

I was recently a judge at the ‘Muther of All Hackathons’, a 36 hour developer event at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View California. The concept was simple, you get 24 hours to develop an app using a variety of API’s and services and then you pitch your App to your peers and judges to get awesome prizes.

Developers had 3 minutes to sell their App and the previous 12 hours will have been for nothing if they could not get their point across. A good app can be destroyed by a poor or confusing pitch, we the judges had 3 minutes to assess the App, its purpose, innovation, marketability and overall quality. Sadly some of the teams had not heeded the advice in the previous days panel.

Pitching is not easy, especially to a room of 300 or more people, here’s some advice for the future:

  •     If you want to succeed, you need to set aside some time to practice your pitch in front of your team as it will help you separate the important facts from the waffle.
  •     If your App crashed, don’t panic about it and keep talking! Bugs happen at the worst times
  • Practice your pitch some more
  •     In the first minute you will have the most attention, cover the important stuff first: App name, purpose.
  •     Under five minutes to pitch? Don’t read out your CV or give a history lesson.
  •     Never say “This is the most/best/revolutionary X”, if it is trust in your audience to realise it
  • Although bugs happen, test every thing you will be demonstrating, then get someone 100% new to your product to test it
  • You don’t have to demonstrate all features, just the ones that best showcase your App
  • If you have time, offer a summary of the product, you may have have sped through your demo due to nerves, recap and help the people listening to you
  • Breathe, the worst that can happen is that they say no, remember they are people just like you!
  • Prepare to back up any claims stated in your pitch, judges/panels etc will more than likely test them!
  • Lastly, try to enjoy yourself, thinking “I hate presenting” is a self fulfilling prophesy

There are many more tips but those are the essential I think, got something to add to the list? Get in contact!

I’m leeeeeeeeeeeeeeavvvvvvvvvingggggggggg on a Jet Plane

Tomorrow am I’m off to California for a week to meet new developers and seek out new companies

To boldly go where quite a lot of people but not me have gone before.

WiFi permitting I’ll try and post some video updates of my escapades

AfterMath: Berlin

So did I get pelted with rotten fruit?


In fact I think my message about thinking beyond the initial point of purchase went down well. (I’m about 35 mins in)

I’d love to hear what you think about it



Welcome to Berlin

I’m live in Berlin over the next few days as I’m presenting at NN4D, the navteq developer day. The day started with no sleep and a 4am start, never a good combination.

But an empty plane and not flying Ryan Air or Easyjet made life a lot better. Food including and no advertising.


Anyhow im in the Park Inn Alexander Platz, its a chain I used frequently in Belfast and ticks the does the job category. I’m due to talk about BlueVia and its the first test of my Beyond 0.x series, it will be interesting to see how people respond.

Hopefully they wont throw their freebies at me.

iMessage: A Clarion call for Operators

So WWDC (Apples developer conference) has come and gone and it did not disappoint.

We get iOS that fixes a whole bunch of issues like finally getting rid of Apples hugely annoying modal notification system but that’s not what i’m talking about tonight.

No, whilst that feature is long overdue, the one that really grabbed my attention was iMessage.

iMessage, shit just got real

Now the concept of iMessage is simple, it enables all devices capable of running iOS5 can send SMS style messages.

So a iPod Touch 3G, 4G, iPad WiFi, iPad 3G, 3GS and iPhone 4 can now communicate to each other with an SMS message, except that they aren’t SMS messages as they run over data.

And that after I processed that announcement, I had two thoughts:

  1. As a consumer, its a great idea
  2. Operators are going to lose a lot of SMS revenue
A lot of people have dismissed this as just Blackberry Messenger for iOS and nothing much will change.

I see differently and this is the reason why:

Its not a separate action to send an iMessage, its handled in the main message application, when you write a message it check if the recipient is on iOS5, if they are.

It defaults to sending an iMessage,with no action required from the user.

There are well over 2 million iPhones on o2 uk alone, there is most likely a new iPhone being launched at the end of the year. Which means that a number of people that held off on the iPhone 4 for whatever reason will be purchasing a new handset. So we have a huge number of devices that will no longer be using SMS.

 Sure if the recipient doesn’t have iOS5 the message will still be sent via SMS, but most people with an iPhone know someone else with an iPhone.

This is one conference by just one company and its just severely restricted one of the cornerstones of the operator revenue model.

Operators need to take a long hard look at themselves, because their lack of innovation has left them dangerously exposed. It may sound trite, but the old ways simply cannot work anymore, one of two things happen to companies that don’t innovate.

They either fail or get taken over.

BlueVia is about creating new innovative ways to deliver content and services to users, is it perfect? No, but its a step in the right direction.

And  after Monday, I am convinced that BlueVia is more important to Telefonica than ever before.

One small step for a man…..

It would appear that I left this earthly realm after posting my Pre 2 review, while rumours of my death are greatly exaggerated…. I have been monumentally busy.

I left the education sector last month to join BlueVia, Telefonica’s new developer platform and I thought I would take five minutes to discuss the reasons why. To say I was spinning my wheels in my previous job would be an understatement, the company under delivered for both clients and myself personally and I am very glad to no longer be associated with them. I had signed up to drive the use of technology within education (and I still believe that it can be the difference maker to students lives), what I got was a well paying helpdesk job for an under utilised product.

My personal idea of hell.

So I poured my energy into Twitter, read a lot of websites, followed interesting people and Tweeted like a madman. 2010 turns into 2011 and I had decided that my musing about changing jobs had to become reality as that job was killing me. However I knew that if I wanted to get into mobile as a profession I would always be at a disadvantage, my then CV experience for mobile was slim at best. I also knew that if I could get talking face to face with anyone that my lack of on paper experience wouldn’t mean anything. Because I love to talk about technology and I know its a marketable skill.

The trouble was getting to that interview……

So There I was, ready to pull the cord and leave education but with nothing a fist full of nothing and a pocket full of dreams.

I noticed that BlueVia was looking for new people, I had followed James for a while but I knew the traditional approach would not work. So I took a chance and DM’d him on twitter and asked straight up who was good to talk to about what I thought I would be good at, namely product evangilsation.

Thankfully he didn’t tell me to piss off, but invited me down for a chat about life, the universe and mobile technology.

The rest they say was history, save a second interview with Jose Valles where, when asked to sell BlueVia to an imaginary company, came up with the most random whatthehellwasithinking idea of,

“People surf the internet a lot at work which you can monitor on workstations, but what about when they use their company phone away from their desk? Using our user context API you can find out if they are a high use user and separate whos working and who is having fun on the internet on company time”

I know, there isn’t a big enough facepalm.

However I must have done something right as he gave me the nod and a couple of months later I was joining the team as Marketing Manager.

I can safely say that I’ve learnt, seen and done more in the last month than in the last year.

I believe that BlueVia is the only way that operators can stay relevant in the next 5 years; Orange, Vodafone, 3UK need to follow our example of opening up API’s and providing the incentives for developers to use it, without interfering.

I’ve never been in mobile or in marketing, so I will make mistakes, but you can be damn sure that I’ll be enjoying myself all the same.