I’m a big fan of Bizcamps I have to say. I’ve had great experiences from a knowledge and networking point of view at the two I have attended. When Nichola Bates from IIA Member company Grow Sales Online contacted me on LinkedIn to let me know about an upcoming Bizcamp in Newry I was immediately interested. I also love the logo. Slick!
So what can you expect at BizcampNewry? I’ll allow their own site to do the talking
BizcampNewry is a free business conference taking place in the Southern Regional College Newry on Saturday the 6th of February 2010! There will be talks ranging from entrepreneurs actively working to professionals ready to share their knowledge and skills.
If one of your New Year Resolutions was to get out and network or to do more public speaking or facilitation this is your chance! Register now online or volunteer to give a talk.
Sadly I won’t be able to make it; common sense dictates otherwise. It’s a week before I go on maternity leave!
Last month App School was mentioned here on the IIA blog and since then it has had its first run. There was a really great cross-section of students from all over the industry, which included professional developers, a CEO, a third level student and a staff member from an Institute of Technology. Most had never programmed on any Apple system before, and a few did not even own one, but by the end of the week everyone had made a lot of progress. A few days in a couple of students managed to get a 2D physics simulation going, with a button rolling around the screen and bouncing off the edges! On the last day we had a couple of Twitter clients working (and that’s including profile picture support!)
Some of the students were developing their own personal or business applications during the course, and now there are four apps (that I know about at least) on their way to the App Store from App School students. Some of these apps will display information to users that they would normally access through a website, but what can an iPhone app do that a website can’t? Well, there are few obvious ways that the user experience can be enhanced for your customers with iPhone-specific features.
Looking at the very tip top of the iceberg:
- The iPhone can store data to be made available offline. This has worked out very well for Patrick Collison‘s Encyclopedia app, which gives users access to Wikipedia when they do not have internet connectivity.
- Apps can use the iPhone’s GPS location to find information local to your customer. This is core to many travel apps, restaurant review apps, hotel reservation apps, and social networking apps.
- The user can take photos and upload them to you. Yelp‘s app allows users take photos of restaurants and upload these for other users to see. Just about any Flickr app will let you do this too.
- With a bit of effort, the multi-touch screen and the 3D graphics support can be leveraged to allow customers interact with your business in a way not possible on a desktop computer.
While on the topic of interaction, people enjoy using their iPhones and this can really help if you rely on user-submitted data for you service (“Web 2.0”, if you like to call it that). Above, I mentioned getting the phone’s GPS location, and getting access to the phone’s camera. You can go beyond GPS co-ordinates, photos, bits of user-entered text, email address/phone numbers selected from the address book though, and upload data-types specific to your service. Ocarina is one of my favourite apps and allows users play music by blowing into the microphone while pressing “holes” on the screen. This lets the iPhone work as an ocarina, a wind instrument. Music played by the user is uploaded to some server, along with the user’s location. Users than then explore a 3D earth and hear songs played by users from all around the world.
If you allow customers upload this information to you, what could you do with it? Can you think of how that could add value to your service?
There are so many exciting possibilities with this platform. If you don’t have access to an iPhone or iPod touch to try out some apps for yourself, there are plenty of video demonstrations online. There is definitely something there for everyone… after all, the App Store really does have an app for everything!
I know it’s hard to believe but recently I was feeling a little down. All the doom and gloom was getting to me and no matter what I did to try and cheer myself up my natural optimism was flagging. I felt that if I read one more news item online, in a newspaper or heard another radio or tv item or ad that started with the phrase [Insert your least favourite there’s-a-recession-on phrase here] I was going to go nuts!
By last Saturday evening much of that feeling was dispelled thanks to all of those who participated as speakers and attendees at Bizcamp Dublin in the Digital Hub. The mood was upbeat and, dare I say it, indomitable.
Bizcamp Limerick will be taking place on 21st March and I would strongly recommend that anyone involved in business in Ireland get along if only to re-ignite your passion, do some networking and hear some stories from others who know what you are going through.
Throughout the day attendees could choose between three strands taking place in the venue and sometimes it was a very tough choice. Camps being a little less formal do allow for more movement than many events. However the sessions I went to were all so good that I couldn’t bear to leave them to catch the end of others!
I kicked off the day at Aidan Kenny’s presentation on Servitizing your Business which certainly gave me a lot to think about. However I sometimes think we could do with a stern talk about productizing our business 🙂
I also attended a session give by two representatives of our member companies, Paul McKeever of Front, and Andrew Tobin of T2. This session focused on making the most of your web strategy. If you were there and you liked what you heard and you want more, Paul McKeever and Paul May of Front are both presenting IIA events this quarter.
I also attended a session by Niall Harbison on how he has used social media to grow his business, LookandTaste.com. The funding panel was very well moderated by Patricia O’Sullivan, who ran the M50 incubator program for 6 years and who is currently starting up her own business. The Panel comprised five entrepreneurs who all spoke about their experience of raising funds for their businesses, what helped, and what didn’t, but mostly what helped!
- Caelen King of Reva Health (www.RevaHealth.com) – raised €1.25 million
- Niall Harbison of Look & Taste (formerly iFoods as seen on BBC’s Dragons Den) www.lookandtaste.com – raised €400k
- Campbell Scott of IGOPeople (www.igopeople.com) – raised €750k
- Ciaran Crean of MicksGarage (www.micksgarage.com) – raised €560k
- Keith Bohanna of dbTwang (www.dbtwang.com) – raised €110k
This sesssion also included the perspective of Enterprise Ireland, representatives explaining the different schemes that exist, the benefits and possible obstacles and the future direction of the schemes. Enterprise Ireland were well represented on the day and there was plenty of opportunity to speak with them about business ideas.
For me the most enjoyable session of the day was Robin Blandford’s Battle of the Biz. Basically we were divided into two teams and we have 25 minutes to pull together a credible business and present it to a panel of judges. Our team, Digital Finance, won. It must have been the TV advert that swung it…
At one point during the day I was interviewed for Nuacht RTÉ/ TG4 (Dia Dhuit token Gaeilgeoir!) and the interviewer asked me what I thought was the biggest challenge facing entreprenuers today. I replied that I felt it was not so much the economic situation but the potential of that situation to divert the focus required to start a business in Ireland today. This response is a little facile but it is a danger. I think Bizcamp re-energised people, reminded them of their focus and their reason for starting out on their own.
If you would like to capture this kind of energy, head along to Bizcamp Limerick. I heard, Stephen Kinsella, one of the Limerick organisers speak in Dublin about businesses partnering with third level and if he brings half as much energy to Bizcamp Limerick, you’ll be flying!
#Twask is a great initiative by a Birmingham University final year student in jourmalism, Kasper Sorenson. While he started it as a way to teach his fellow students about how to use Twitter it will hopefully allow Twitter newbies to ask and Twitter oldies to answer questions about the best ways to use Twitter. Adding a short word or acronym preceded by the hashtag (#) to a Twitter message allows it to be grouped with all the other twitter messages on that subject. It makes it very easy to talk about a particular event (Search for #ddire for example which is the hash tag for Dragon’s Den Ireland to read the conversations about it on Twitter.)
#twask kicks off at 2pm today and it’s a great opportunity to get some free lessons in how to tweet. And maybe how not to!
Are there better ways for non-twitterati to pick up this info? Please let me know via the comments below. Thanks!