Kickstart any app idea: our recipe

It’s easy to be in the centre of attention if you have something cool to offer. Developers are a hot asset now: every now and then, someone wants our agency to do a mobile app for revenue share, a website for future buyout, or me, in person, to be the CTO of a new gig.

I love all these projects.

No, really, I do.

Not because they bring much cash or fame, as I don’t tend to earn much with most of them. But it’s always great to learn new teams and methods, and these projects provide a good field for experimentation.

Quite some guidance may be needed on the project setup and management though, especially if my co-founders lack experience with tech products. Here is the three points I like to send out to them, right at square one.

Our plan to kickstart any tech project (mobile apps, websites etc).

  1. Almost immediately start working on an initial prototype.
    Creating the prototype helps exploring the idea internally, and will also help explaining it once you can start attracting potential investors and new team members.

    By creating a demo product you will need to set up most of the tools and methods needed to – well, to create a product. So it can be nothing but super easy to demonstrate the team’s ability to bring an idea to the market – which can significantly help the negotiating positions with a VC.

  2. Set up the development workflows.
    Any rapid iteration process would do. The key is to answer this question: if anyone comes up with a new feature or idea today, how will that be incorporated in the product and reach the market tomorrow?

    There are a lot of free tools (like Trello or Asana) that will help teams keep track of these features. The bottomline with choosing one is: every new pair of eyes should be able to tell where the company is standing, just by taking a look at the dashboard.

  3. Start PR & marketing efforts from day one.
    Have you ever wished you had a handful of people to ping when you are ready to launch? Set up a ‘coming soon’ landing page and collect subscribers as soon as you start thinking about the product and that is taken care of.

    The rule of the thumb is to always start with the things that can be potential bottle necks, and a good marketing is one of these. First step here is usually to choose a good name, create a corporate identity with a nice logo and an initial mission statement. This will help strengthen the product as well as the team, especially with remote ones.

We tend to do the above in no particular order, and in strong collaboration with the business development. The idea is to get the product only far enough so that we can find out whether there is a market fit for it. If the answer is yes, the foundation to create the next version of the product is as good as it can get.

Let’s create something impossible

Flipped through this hip ebook, listing 100 startup people from Berlin in 2014. Hundred people, that’s a lot. Hundred startups, that’s, yeah, a lot.

A lot of ideas a hundred, not a surprise therefore that most of the ideas are very similar. But then, if all these startups are going to fail, or at least the better part of them, why are the ideas so similar and mundane? Why not starting something actually exciting, that makes you want to wake up every day?

Startups, why don’t you learn from corporates?

Right on, you got the title right. While I’m helping large companies implementing startup techniques in their work culture, it always leaves me surprised how young upstarts have an attitude towards learning from anyone else.

If you are a startup though, you shouldn’t forget that corporates are entrepreneurs too – they are just a bit different. And those differences are not necessarily all that bad; there are at least a few lessons you can take away from them.

So what secrets can startups learn from a big mammoth? Here are my favourites.

How I messed up being vegetarian

Being vegetarian is awesome. Living with a smaller footprint and in harmony with the environment, contributing to a more sustainable life while taking good care of your health. Who doesn’t want this? This last New Years Eve I tried to remove meat from my diet altogether – just to find myself in misery a few months after.

Bitcoin to save Prague (and tourism overall)

Do you know how much a coffee costs in Prague?

£5,40. That’s almost twice as much as it is in London.

Thanks to the snow and a missed connection, I’ve had unexpected hours to kill in Prague. I’ve bought some cakes, wrote this article – and realised the true value of Bitcoin.

Hong Kong Electronics Fair – tech insights for 2014

Being in the mobile software business in US or Europe, you might think that visiting an all-electronics fair in China is simply irrelevant. But it’s not.

This is a sneak peek into your future

Hong Kong Electronics Fair: tech insights for 2014 by Richard Dancsi
View of the Hong Kong Expo building from the Kowloon pier.

Bintan, Indonesia: free wallpaper downloads

Bintan, Indonesia is a truly beautiful island with gorgeous blue skies and a turquoise sea, so it’s no wonder that we took some pictures before jumping in the water. These photos then ended up being my wallpaper, bringing the summer to the cold Northern Europe. Please find the screens available for download (released under free-and-do-whatever-with-it license).

Bintan, Indonesia - free wallpaper from Wimagguc

Custom iOS7 UIAlertView

It was a common pattern for iOS developers to create customised dialogs by attaching a subview to a standard UIAlertView. With iOS7 however, Apple removed this feature and developers are left without a dialog pattern that matches the iPhone UI.

As a solution, I wrote an open source class to create an iOS7-style dialog which can be extended with any UIViews or buttons. The animations and the looks are copied too, and no images or other resources are needed.

You can just grab the open source code from Github now. In this article I will write about the implementation best practices and some background info.

Why the software industry needs more short-time jobs

How taking short-time projects will make you a better developer, and how managers should hire those brains to give a long lasting boost to the software team.

Being a good developer doesn’t end with having a deep understanding in the technologies and languages you use. It goes even further than knowing the ins-and-outs of the tools, patterns and algorithms you utilise on a daily basis. To be a great developer you have to constantly research, and adapt the new solutions and technologies others invented.

So if you are programming Java websites since university, the least you should do is writing some Android apps on the side. It might be the same language and tools, but you will surely end up looking into some UI/UX stuff that will broaden your mind and skill set.

Corporates have a good reason to keep programmers dumb

Remote setup for Android and iOS made easy

Developing a new mobile application takes a lot of iterations: with every new version we are adding new features, polish the old ones, measure user acceptance – and react as fast as possible.

However, with the long App Store submission process and the even longer period until Android users update their apps, it usually takes a while to experiment with new features.

To find the features people will love is the key to win a whole lot of hearts: hearts, that belong to the new users. The faster you can find out what product the users really want, the better – that’s why marketers keep using A/B tests for almost everything.