PixelPin Alpha Trial with The Mobile Academy

From Brian & Sarah, PixelPin:

Last night we were lucky enough to pitch PixelPin to the group at The Mobile Academy and we received some really valu­able feed­back, so thank you for that. At the moment we are keen to trial our current alpha product and gain some more feed­back on overall design, func­tion and user experience.

We would really appre­ciate it if you took a few minutes to follow the link below, sign up and upload a picture using our test site (please ignore the fact it is ‘pic­turepin’ — this is our secret test site!)


Any com­ments — con­structive, crit­ical or even crazy would be most welcome, email: [email protected]

Many thanks, and see you at the final Mobile Academy tomorrow!

Another great opportunity through UCL Advances

If you are at the busi­ness plan stage or have been trading for less than 3 years, you can go and work dir­ectly with the busi­ness owner in a rel­evant busi­ness across Europe with a stipend funded by the European Com­mis­sion and UCL to support  entre­pren­eur­ship. Exchanges last from 1 to 6 months and you can choose your host entre­preneur through an online portal. You will receive support in devel­oping your busi­ness plan and/or make con­nec­tions with poten­tial inter­na­tional part­ners and con­tacts.  For more inform­a­tion, visit https://www.ucl.ac.uk/advances/business/support/  You can also email  [email protected].

Drop In Night — Who is on Offer!

Here is a list of experts that are offering 20 minute sur­geries on Drop In Night, Tuesday 13th November. You will find Bios for them on the Who’s Who page. If the numbers work out, there should be enough for every par­ti­cipant to secure them­selves 2 ses­sions each.  Outside of those ses­sions, the idea is to sit in on other people’s ses­sions.  For the final hour, you will see 2 of the experts are offering 1 hour work­shops as an option for anyone inter­ested.  Any questions?

Alastair Moore General Alastair­ness!
Kieran Gut­ter­idge All Tech bar Microsoft
Viji Pathy Android, iOS, Symbian & Web
Juan Uys APIs & Back End
Katrina Dami­anou Brand & Design
Ann Zit­ter­kopf Building a Business
Ian Mac­Millon Busi­ness Planning
Liz Myers Mobile Design & Devel­op­ment with BB10 Web Works (+1 hour lab. To max­imise time, please down­load the BB10 SDK + Ripple Emu­lator in advance)
Jeff Antram Cross Plat­form Devel­op­ment using Appcel­er­ator Titanium (+1 hour Lab. To max­imise time, please down­load & install Titanium in advance)
Ed Hodges General Busi­ness Advice
Kriss Baird TSB Support Oppor­tun­ities — IC tomorrow, TSB Funding & more
Dominic Pal­framan TSB Support Oppor­tun­ities — IC tomorrow, TSB Funding & more
Richard Groves iOS Devel­op­ment
Adam Cohen Rose iOS, Android & mobile web
Martin Beeby Windows Devel­op­ment
Terence Eden Mobile Innov­a­tion Strategies
Lisa Devaney PR
Ben Carter Product Man­age­ment, Devel­op­ment & Marketing
Steve Karme­insky Busi­ness & Tech­nical Strategy
Michel Sabatier Raising Money
Jo Rabin Tech­no­logy & Busi­ness Strategy (4 ses­sions from 7.10 onwards)

Building a Business” — notes from the Entrepreneurs Panel

Many thanks to Katrina Dami­anou for writing this post:

For those of you who missed last night’s panel session on Building a Busi­ness, where were you?! Luckily, we took some notes to give you a taster of some of the evening’s key takeouts for budding busi­ness heads.

The Pan­el­lists:

Matt Millar, CEO, LiveTalkback

Ex chartered accountant Matt is regarded within the industry as a mobile pioneer. He is respons­ible for leading the product vision and exe­cu­tion at Live Talk­back, the company behind the offi­cial X Factor mobile phone app.

Before Live Talk­back, Matt ran Adobe’s Mobile and Devices group having joined Adobe in 2005 after they acquired his last start-up, Mobile Innovation.

Dr. Will Love­grove, CEO, Release Mobile

Before setting up award winning mobile app soft­ware company, Release Mobile, Will worked in a digital busi­ness incub­ator and was Dir­ector of Uni­versal Music Group International’s IT Digital Initiatives.


  • On the ques­tion of career high­light to date…

MM – The bit that excites me is real human beings actu­ally using the stuff I built – that gives me a real buzz.

WL – I agree with Matt… but would like my career high­light to be in front of me.  To date, starting my own busi­ness – I saw this as the pin­nacle of what I could achieve; I really wanted to start some­thing of my own. But when some­body else looks at what I’ve done and says “I value that” – that would be the high­light of my career.


  • On busi­ness learning experiences…

MM – I sold my first start-up and found that our biggest client hadn’t earned us the most revenue.

Also, we started in events, and our first major learning was that events people are really really nice people but there’s no money in events!  “We kept hitting brick walls but we kept going – we believed in it… Focus on the stuff that’s working while keeping an eye on what isn’t.”

Say no to stuff! We don’t do that… Main­tain the ability to go “This is what we do and we won’t do other stuff.” Although it can be hard to tell apart the things you should do when people keep asking for something.

WL – “Entre­pren­eurs invari­ably have assump­tions but you need to go to market and test those assump­tions.” For example, we assumed that the ser­vices we were selling to Uni­versal Records were wanted by other record labels but it wasn’t true. We found that those com­panies had other solu­tions in place.

“Whenever we hit a wall we changed dir­ec­tion rapidly and built that into our product devel­op­ment strategy.”


[Side note – Julia recom­mends LEAN & SCRUM (agile soft­ware devel­op­ment method)]


  • On building suc­cessful teams

MM – Teams are made up of people – you can set certain prin­ciples but cul­tures emerge. “It’s the smal­lest things that can make a dif­fer­ence… the lan­guage you use, that helps create your culture.”

“Find the things that are really working and build on those.”

What are we good at?” we asked. We’re good at pri­or­it­izing lists of things, so we wrote a big list of all the important stuff. On Monday morn­ings we pick two things on the list that we’re going to tackle. And we do it.

“Listen to your team.”

Foursquare employs 350 people! I scratch my head… what are those 350 people doing there? Its’ tempting to throw heads at a problem – par­tic­u­larly when success is meas­ured by how many people a company employs – but “…it’s not how many people are working for me, it’s what I’m making happen. Knowing what you’re doing is really important.”

WL – I formed a sister recruit­ment company headed up by a recruit­ment person I knew well.

My team are my co-directors. They are essen­tial to everything the company does… I couldn’t have done what I’ve done without them. “The core strength of the company is in my rela­tion­ship with my two co-directors.”


  • On holding on to developer talent…

WL – It’s dif­fi­cult. “You need to blend junior talent with senior talent.” It’s essen­tial to keep senior talent happy. For junior pos­i­tions I like to employ people that are hungry but low on exper­i­ence. Usually they will work for a year and a half and then approach me for a pay rise. At that point, we usually part ways.

MM – Give people fun stuff that they enjoy, but you have to plan to lose people. “Accept that people are going to go.” When people are bored, trying to keep hold of them is the wrong model. If someone finds a new job I con­grat­u­late them and tell them to let me know if they ever want to come back!


  • On designers…

WL – We don’t employ a graphic designer as we don’t have the volume. Often though, the better a User Inter­face Designer gets, the better they become at designing graphics. And I’m a great believer in scraping the street… Employ student interns. “When there’s no money, options are limited so go find the talent of tomorrow.”

MM – We use a mix of in-house designers and out­sourced. “A mix of designers helps keep things fresh.” Dribble.com is great for finding design talent.


  • On getting in / getting a meeting with the right people in busi­nesses to pitch to…

MM“Ask: Who do I know who may be able to connect me with the person I need to speak to?”

You can get a meeting with whomever you want, it’s not that hard. “Forget, how do I get to the right person and work out what that company would really be inter­ested in to move their business…”

WL – It’s really dif­fi­cult to get into com­panies. “I’m a big believer in net­working”, putting things on LinkedIn and con­tacting people via the network. It’s also important to under­stand the organ­isa­tional struc­ture of a company… Often you need 6 or 7 meet­ings before you can get to sit down with all the people needed to make a final decision.

“You have got to go in and fail before you know the ques­tions you need to ask. You actu­ally need a couple of dis­asters and to get things wrong so you can get it right next time.”

MM – “Be patient. Timing is everything. Be per­sistent. Keep going at it – if people don’t like your product, they will tell you.” They may not say that they like it – it might just not be the right time for it.

WLAnd if they don’t like it, ask why? It’s all valu­able advice.


  • On top tips…

WL – Building a busi­ness and team – it’s a heck of a respons­ib­ility; man­aging other people’s expect­a­tions. My only advice, “if you really want to start a company then stick to building the kind of company you want to work in.”

MM“Building a busi­ness is cre­ating some­thing. Make sure that, whether it’s suc­cessful or not, you’re happy with cre­ating… That’s what really motiv­ates me. There aren’t enough people making things.”

Co-Curation in Action

On this pro­gramme we talk a lot about user-centred design. Par­ti­cipants are now used to us buzzing around getting feed­back after each session. The pub trips work really for us in that regard too!  So I wanted to reflect on how this co-curation has played out:

Firstly, we left 4 ses­sions free towards the end, for people to nom­inate and vote on what they would like to hear about.

There were 8 nom­in­a­tions and the 4 chosen are:

1). 22nd Nov, Last Single Session:  Wind down with buffet & drinks cour­tesy of UCL — Will start at 7.30 and go through to 10pm, revert to pub

2) Other Mobile Tech - SMS, M2M, NFC, Sim, Mobile Network and Radio – why, how and when.  A pro­fes­sional session that is usually offered to Voda­fone and IBM Employees from our very own Steve Devo!

3) Grants - Find out what grants are avail­able, how to apply and what to expect — delivered by John Spindler, our Sponsor.

4) Affil­iate Mar­keting - What is the tech­no­lo­gical archi­tec­ture of this space? What are the tech­no­lo­gies used? How are these integ­rated into the dif­ferent plat­forms?  What is the busi­ness archi­tec­ture of this space?  What are the dif­ferent busi­ness and revenue models? What kind of Busi­ness terms would you be looking at? What would be con­sidered design best prac­tices for deliv­ering this

Secondly, Ronnie Mitra, a par­ti­cipant on the pro­gramme, was asking about the API / Back End session — turns out he is an expert himself, and he ended up co-delivering a very suc­cessful session with Juan.

Thirdly, I was chat­ting to Mohammed Raja about my troubles finding the right person to talk about building suc­cessful busi­nesses through teams, and he sug­gested instead that we do a panel session and include this as a ques­tion.  Pulling on his pre­vious exper­i­ence as a man­age­ment coach, he has drafted the ques­tions for the session and made some great sug­ges­tions for who to approach.

We also held an NPS exer­cise half way through, which we will repeat at the end of the this pro­gramme. This has given us some great feed­back which we are acting on for the rest of the programme.

I love it when a plan comes together so thought I would share it with ya’ll. See you after half term!

More Freebies! The Guardian Mobile Business Summit

I am really happy that we have been able to offer some really good free­bies on this pro­gramme — ini­tially, the ICTKTN were kind enough to offer some bursary places … then there were 2 free places to Mobile Mar­keting Live … then 2 free tickets from Droidcon…then Angel Hack thanks to Alastair…and now.….


All you need to do is answer the ques­tion I posted on the LinkedIn Private Group Page and a winner will be picked by 30th October.  Remember to let me know if for any reason you are having dif­fi­culties joining the group. Either grab me or mail me at  [email protected]

I look forward to seeing your answers!


Design Session 5 Prep!

One of Thursday’s lec­tures will be on Product Require­ments aka EPICS or User Stories. Andrew will cover the basics of cap­turing ideas, pri­or­it­ising them and a guar­an­teed bul­let­proof way to run a product roadmap with an agile devel­op­ment team.

You might remember from Tuesday night that Andrew asked if anyone has a list of existing product require­ments aka a backlog. If you have one that you’d like to use as part of these exer­cises, then please bring one along. If you think you prob­ably should have a require­ments list but you don’t have it written down yet, please check out this basic product require­ment tem­plate. If you want to work on your own product during the session, please fill this sheet out with ideally 20+ require­ments and then we can get some feed­back during the session.

You will find the tem­plate in the Dropbox folder.


Mental Model & Consumer Journeys (D3) by Manu

After learning how to create a persona and defining your value pro­pos­i­tion, is now time to under­stand better the user and their beha­viour.  What is the user mental model and why is rel­evant to design a suc­cessful  interface?

We’ll go through several design prin­ciples that will help to define a mental model.
Then after the break we’ll look at con­sumer jour­neys and how this can be a really powerful tool to scope, design and eval­u­ation your service.

A single reading on Mental Models:

Backup reading:
If you want to know more about mental models

If you want to know more about con­sumer jour­neys:
Service design

some Ipad Apps for UX work­flow

Example of inter­esting and beau­tiful apps

Don Norman — THE DESIGN OF EVERYDAY THINGS https://bit.ly/sTkFOI
B. Mog­gridge — DESIGNING MEDIA https://bit.ly/a5bW6H

Blog by Manu

HTML5 vs Native: Guest Blog by Jake Cassels

Here is an account of this year’s HTML5 vs Native debate held at Mobile Monday London on 24th September.  Many thanks to Jake, @jakecassels, who is on our pro­gramme, for the lively com­mentary!  This is a great primer for Bruce Lawson’s session later in the programme.

HTML5 vs Native: Fast food vs Fine dining?

It’s been more than a year since HTML5 reigned vic­torious over Native apps at the Mobile Monday debate. In fact, as Jo Rabin, dir­ector, Mobile Monday London, con­fessed, the topic has been revis­ited on an annual basis for the last five years.

However, in the fifteen months since the last debate, HTML5 has been scru­tin­ised pub­licly like no other year before (will anyone mention the F word?). Against this tur­bu­lent back­drop, I was keen to deduce from the debate not whether atti­tudes had changed, but to what extent and why.

Jo Rabin’s motion for the debate placed any advocate of HTML5 firmly on the back foot. Rabin’s pre­ferred meta­phor made it sound greasy and cheap:

This house believes that HTML5, far from being part of Gordon Ramsay’s larder is more likely to be used by Stavros at the corner chippie. Fine if you want chips. Do you aspire to be Gordon or are you content to be Stavros?”

Is hard­ware now making it harder for HTML5?

Andrew Betts, Dir­ector, FT Labs, which pub­lishes the Fin­an­cial Times HTML5 app, fired out his most powerful argu­ments for HTML5 up front. These remain unchanged one year on: He main­tains that HTML5 truly is the only cross plat­form solu­tion. It uses a single code­base. It provides a much wider reach allowing greater monetisation.

Betts found support from a sur­prising place: “The web is always going to win” was the cry from Nick Barrett, CEO, Mippin and firm native sup­porter. However, Barrett went on to argue that right now with no guar­an­teed network, closed access to device APIs and cache means that on mobile it’s still not ready.

Alex Caccia, Pres­ident, Marmalade went further, con­tending that whilst HTML5 is great on a surface level, the chal­lenge lies in the hard­ware market. Because the market is chan­ging faster than ever before, developers bump up against a browser problem, which can’t be solved by logic or reason. Developers need to get ‘close to the metal’ going native to keep up with this rapid change in firmware.

It’s not only a tech­no­logy decision

Nick Barrett pulled the debate away from the tech­no­logy, pro­posing that developers need to think about their product’s busi­ness model and dis­tri­bu­tion plan before deciding on the tech­no­logy. He used the FT’s decision to opt for HTML5 to support his point. The FT’s well-defined user group and 130 year brand her­itage has meant it does not have to rely on an app store for dis­cov­er­ab­ility. Besides, didn’t the FT simply want to avoid sharing any rev­enues with Apple?

Andrew Betts, con­ceded that FT did want to retain the 30% and ongoing 39% sub­scrip­tion revenue that Apple would take. However, as an addi­tional benefit, the FT now also owns the rela­tion­ship with its cus­tomers. Native, Betts argued, creates bound­aries between the developer and its customers.

But does the FT ask too much from its cus­tomers? Debate mod­er­ator, Ewan MacLeod thinks so. It’s only because it’s the FT that he’s pre­pared to increase the size of his local cache, fol­lowing the onerous prompts to achieve it but sus­pects there are very few instances when he would be happy to do this for other products.

Betts turns MacLeod ’s point on its head, con­tending that HTML5 actu­ally allows users a ‘gran­ular level of per­mis­sions’ providing a variety of exper­i­ences everything from a straight­for­ward website to a fully integ­rated applic­a­tion – a far greater exper­i­ence than being asked to down­load a sep­arate app from a webpage. His final point is applauded. HTML5 is fighting back.

The app store: A mixed blessing

The clearest indic­ator as to how atti­tudes have changed in the last fifteen months can be found in the dis­cus­sions about app store. In 2011, dis­cov­er­ab­ility was an important con­sid­er­a­tion when devel­oping nat­ively. However, with more than 700k iOS apps avail­able, dis­cov­er­ab­ility is now a huge problem whichever route is taken.

One audi­ence member felt that the growing power of app stores has led to developers losing control. Working with HTML5 provides much needed com­pet­i­tion an may prevent developers from becoming host­ages of the app store.

In the most heated exchange of the debate, the native cham­pions on the panel likened the app store model to a curated depart­ment store retail exper­i­ence like John Lewis or Deben­hams. For many in the room, this is counter to everything that is good about the web. There should be no bound­aries, rules and constraints.

Banking and security

Why are there so few HTML5 banking apps? Banking apps have limited content man­age­ment require­ments and native pro­ponents argue that native offers a greater level of security. Plus the noti­fic­a­tions and per­son­al­isa­tion is also a strong benefit of native.

Jose Valles, Head of Blue Via, doesn’t under­stand why there are so few banking apps either. He argues that there are the same security issues with desktop online banking as with the use of HTML5.

What about fragmentation?

Does HTML5 solve the problem of needing to develop for a frag­mented land­scape of browsers and devices? No, argues Alex Caccia and Chris Book. It is a myth that you can develop in HTML5 once. Developers still need to rework for iPhone, iPad and other devices.

Because you’re not that good at devel­oping HTML5” retorted Andrew Betts. “What about Face­book?” The ques­tion we’ve all been waiting for from the native cham­pions. Betts argues that Face­book wasted two years on HTML5 because they “didn’t do it well”.

But how does that answer the ques­tion about providing for com­pletely dif­ferent UIs? Nick Barrett illus­trates his point by sug­gesting that developers might as well develop nat­ively to achieve the UI expect­a­tions for devices like Windows phone. Surely a single HTML5 app would stick out?

The FT has developed a brand UI as opposed to a plat­form UI to counter this, Betts reveals. That means what is designed is not spe­cific to Metro or iOS and is what readers expect from the FT having read the paper for years.

Dif­ferent modes of use

Betts believes HTML5 allows a far broader and ambi­tious scope in modes of use and is not as con­strained as native is. Using this single web tech­no­logy with a single code base Betts is con­vinced HTML5 can adapt well to dif­ferent modes of use. “With HTML5 we can talk about TV, kiosks and bill­boards” he claims going on to mention a hack day that allowed developers to use Kinect ges­tural tech­no­logy to control the FT.

Caccia rushes to defend native apps sug­gesting they can also be used on dif­ferent devices but with a much greater control on what the app looks like. In fact, Caccia uses gaming as an example where native offers a far better exper­i­ence than HMTL5. The HTML5 promise is only delivered for a narrow band of applications.

An audi­ence member goes further asking whether HTML5 has actu­ally des­troyed usab­ility? The panel are delighted with the oppor­tunity to discuss maps to demon­strate both sides of the argu­ment. Google Maps mobile web service is used an example of being inferior to a native app, but it’s not long before everyone’s laughing at fail­ings of Apple maps in iOS6.

A happy hybrid?

Surely this argu­ment isn’t simply two-sided?” asked one audi­ence member. In a moment of con­cili­ation the panel agreed that there is a place for ‘wrap­pers’ such as PhoneGap for iOS and Android or Web­works for Black­Berry. Although, there was a feeling amongst both the panel and the audi­ence that these did offer incon­sist­ency of experience.

The result

There is never a better time to make your website mobile” came one final call from the audi­ence, explaining that Safari in iOS6 now offers a debug­ging suite. But it was not enough to con­vince this evening’s del­eg­a­tion that HTML5 would win the day. In a con­vin­cing result, native gained at least three quar­ters of the vote, much to the dis­ap­point­ment of Dir­ector, Jo Rabin.

It was clear that under­lying this, there still remains a strong desire for the mobile web to work, but in the medium term neither the panel nor the audi­ence could see this mater­i­al­ising. Fine dining was favoured over fast food. I still think that everyone would have been delighted with a big bag of steaming hot chips with plenty of salt and vinegar. If only Cross­rail hadn’t meant the demoli­tion of Dionysius’ Fish Bar just opposite our venue.

Rabin urged del­eg­ates to turn this around and help make the mobile web better by joining the Core Mobile Web Plat­form Com­munity Group at https://coremob.org

You can find out about the next event by fol­lowing @MoMoLondon on Twitter — they get booked up fast!