Saturday, January 31, 2015

WWDC 2014 (Apple World Wide Developer Conference)

WWDC is one of the biggest development conferences on the globe. Taking place over five days, at Moscone West in San Francisco, Apple gave five thousand developers (from 65 different countries) an in-depth look at the latest iOS and OS X software. The conference also included a series of hands-on labs with Apple engineers for attendees.

On the 1st June I touched down in San Francisco which was the day before the conference began. After dropping off my luggage in the hotel I wandered over to the Moscone centre to pick up my event pass. Even though, I always closely follow what happens at the WWDC, I was surprised to see how much hype the conference attracts. San Francisco seemed to be catering for the WWDC tourist, offering meet ups and tour guides to all the big tech companies like Apple, Google and Facebook.

At around 7pm I arrived at the Moscone centre only to see it lined with people laying down camps to guarantee a front seat at the keynote speech the next day (one of the most exciting moments in the conference). I don’t know how many people spent the night, but by the time I left at 8pm, there but about 50 people outside.

After this I made my way to a few of the external events that different companies which benefit from the Apple ecosystem host such as Reveal app, Twitter, Pinterest, Cocoapods and others. If you come here one day I fully recommend that you attend all this meet-ups. I was able to interact with developers from Australia, Switzerland, fellow Londoners and more, and share our experiences.

The big day finally arrived, and even though I didn't sleep outside the Moscone I was there at 7 am. The queue to get in was about two blocks long and it took about 3 hours to let everyone in.

After a long wait, the keynote speech started. Apple played a promotional video with people sharing their favourite apps. To my great surprise one of the girls in the video, mentioned Sky Go! I have been working on the Sky Go app for iOS for almost two years now and to be mentioned by Apple, one of the most important companies in IT today, in the keynote of the biggest IT conference, is real validation of all the hard work that everyone in Sky has put into all the apps which give such an incredible experience to customers.

After this emotional start, Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO then came onto the stage to present some of what Apple has been up to in the past year.The biggest release is the Mac OS X Yosemite. This is the latest version of Macintosh’s operative system which is set to go live in autumn. Also due at the same time is iOS 8 which includes new widgets and extensions. These will come with new apps like ‘Health Kit’ which organises data from fitness and health devices in a single place; and ‘Home Kit’ which lets you control internet connected devices from your phone. There will be the possibility to complete a task across apple devices (e.g. start an email in iPhone and finish the same on your mac).

Apple also announced a new programming language to develop iOS and Mac apps called Swift. It will allow developers to write code easier, faster and with less bugs. If you look at Swift you can see that its syntax is really similar to other programming languages such us Ruby and Groovy. But with Swift, Apple has introduced ‘Playground’ that will allow developers to run their code while writing it without the need to run a simulator. I can’t wait to start writing apps using Swift.

From here it was 5 days of talks with amazing developers. One of the most useful events was the developer labs, where you can speak to Apple engineers to get advice on how to improve your apps. For example, an Apple Engineer recommended that we should not use ‘burger menus’. He said those kind of menus don’t meet the requirements of intuitive user interfaces (being focused, clear, simple, easy to navigate and platform savvy). Don’t wait for Apple to add those as one of their UIs default component any time soon.

It was an amazing experience. It was a week that I will never forget.


Key note link:

Apps that I can't live without link:

Thursday, January 22, 2015

My experience with startups (my own and others)

My startups

I have been trying to recall on how many startups I have been involved. But as sometimes memory can be tricky I am going to do the exercise of writing it down that way I won't forget. I haven't make any money with any of them on both founded or worked not a substancial among anyway  but it has been definitely fun.

Here it goes.

The first one. 

When I was 19 myself and some people that I studied with while I was doing my bachelor degree in Colombia got together to start a software development company. The company sells products to other companies to support their operations as well as custom software. At that time I just wanted to be independent, I didn't want to have a boss, I wanted to do my own thing. 

I started as the CEO of the company after 2 months we demoted ourselves to project engineers to be more "credible". We thought that as such a young age was better for customers to see us more at their own level, I guess that was the reason. After 8 months we got investment I resigned from CEO because I didn't want to have as much responsibly as I had at that moment in Colombia the CEO is legally responsible for whatever the company does, no one actually knew why I did it no that they cared but one of my life goals was to live abroad at some point and that was in my way. After that I became the R+D Manager just a title not really in practice, I used to sale our products, do development mainly in the projects that I was managing or had sold. After a while that role name didn't fit at least in my head. As a result I changed to new business manager, some of my partners didn't like it but the business cards were already on production nothing to do there.

From there, there is not much to say was selling the products and at the end I opened the office in Bogota and left the company 5 years after I had founded it to pursue my dream to go and live abroad and study my master in business. 3 years after I sold my shares to my business partners for not much and moved on.

The second one

A guy approached us while I was working with my first startup, he wanted to partner with us on his interesting idea, he was not technical then he needed some people to get his product together. The idea was to be able to send sms through a website for free and sell advertising in the website and sms that people were receiving. 

We developed and launched the product in Colombia, after just four months ir was getting traction but we didn't have money to support it. As a result we have to close it down. By that time the website attracted 30.000 people and its growth was exponential. But nothing to do the sales didn't take off and do the cost to maintain it was a lot and we didn't have the muscle to maintain it.

The third one

A guy in Singapore contacted me to work in an idea that he had. The idea was an app to seal deals (a Groupon copycat) when he was running out of money at he offer me 20% in change for development but I didn't interest me at all. The thing didn't go anywhere.

The fourth one 

I started to work in the UK with a company his owner at that time my boss. Offer me to participate with him in a venture to develop together an app that was supposed to use the Facebook Graph API to replicate Facebook but giving users the opportunity to personalise the app skin. We signed an agreement to work together started the development but that was it.

The fifth one

It looked like at that time the Groupon like apps were the thing. I am saying that because I got a job offer in a town called Bristol to work in another Groupon like app. In there I had a interesting opportunity to have access to a million user based I didn't think it twice and left London and went to work there. I have some share options there but they don't really meant much to me. I left the company after having rebuilt the app from scratch and there was not much to do anymore. The company was sold to Vodafone a while after.

The sixth one

This one was a last minute hotel app with interesting backing. Again share options but no really interesting really. The thing that interest me the most was to have the possibility to live in Spain. I went to live and work in Madrid for 9 months it was an interesting experience but that's it. At some point the company was sold to Groupon.

The seventh one

Another Groupon like app with millions in backing where I got less than 1% in exchange for development. It was a really interesting opportunity but again the company didn't last.

The eighth one

I am still working on this one. I am the CTO we are doing some work for other people as well as creating our own products the future will tell what it is going to happen with this one but it is looking good.

The ninth one

I really love startups as a result myself and my wife got together to offer consultancy services to small companies and potential startups not such in IT but also in strategy. Right now I am helping my wife to develop a product of her own and helping friends with startups of their own it has potential but I need more time.

To sum up the only thing that I can say really is that entrepreneurs are not made they are born. I don't like to work for other people. I don't need people to tell me what I need to do because I know what to do. I was born an entrepreneur it is my lifestyle and as long my heart is beating I will be one no matter what entrepreneurship is my addiction.