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How to Impress a Girl — Start a Tech Company

When I learned that our CEO was speaking about his professional journey at a leadership event, I had to attend as there was some genuine curiosity bubbling up in my head about Björn. I never heard the full story from him, only bits and pieces from others. Little did I know, I was going to be one of dozens of people dropping their jaws from the sincere shock of how he came to the US and created MentorMate.

Björn Stansvik came to the US with a stack of 200 resumes and had one goal, to find a sponsor.

Being that he only had a 90-day window to do so, he knew he needed to stand out, be strategic and find aFsOqs SQ company that could help him grow professionally. Hunt Technologies was the first company that caught his attention. He came into the job interview with a S.W.O.T. analysis and told them what they should do with their company and why they should hire him…pretty direct. While impressed with his ideas, they were not able to sponsor him and sent him on his way.

Björn didn’t stop there.

He took some time, conducted further research and put together an 80-page report (which they didn’t ask for.) He gave it to them as a gift, then asked for a volunteer position (no pay) with a computer and a desk. They gave in. For the next several weeks, he invited himself into meetings, spoke up whenever he had an idea and made himself known in the organization.

Hunt Technologies soon realized they needed to sponsor him, or they would lose a very good thing. So they did.

After 2 years with Hunt, Björn started thinking about the next big thing. During that time in 2001, he met a girl, and soon realized that an 80-page report or S.W.O.T. analysis wouldn’t impress her. So, he developed a Palm Pilot educational tool and showed it off to her as one final attempt to win her over. It worked. That was the start of MentorMate.

Fast forward almost 15 years ahead.

Now MentorMate is a mobile development, design, consulting and strategy company. Along the way, Björn has built out his vision for technology, especially in the mobile space. Currently, his eyes are set on the continued evolution of mobile, such as building out predictive models and discrete wearables. He’s brilliant, tenacious and truly inspiring.

Special thanks to Paul Batz, Founder of Good Leadership Enterprises, for inviting Björn to speak at his leadership networking event and for the warm introduction! 


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What Android 6.0 Marshmallow means for users

This week Google announced the release of Android 6.0. On the tail of Android 4.4 KitKat and Android 5.0 Lollipop, this “sweet release” by Google has been dubbed Android 6.0 Marshmallow. While this Marshmallow won’t complete a s’more, it does offer users more control and flexibility. Android M isn’t expected to launch in the consumer market until late 2015.

Features we’re anticipating the most

  • The Google Search App can be launched by pressing/holding the home screen
  • Now on Tap recognizes context and provides helpful information from busy restaurants nearby to the nearest gas station as you approach the airport
  • The mobile payment system Android Pay built into the OS allows third party apps to process retail or in-app payments
  • Support for the USB Type-C power cable
  • An energy saving mode, Doze, which uses less power than standby
  • Permissions requested for access specific functions on users’ phones

As with any release, new tech capabilities bring new questions. So we tossed a question out into the ether aka internet. “What do you want to know about Marshmallow?” Here are the questions Matthew Sylva (on social) and the team here in the office wanted to know. We checked in with Senior Software Engineer Chris Black for answers.

Why is it important that Marshmallow gives users more control over the information specific apps can view?

Currently, you either have to accept a wall of permissions or choose not to install the app. Either one of two things usually happen at the wall of permissions, the user reads them and decides not to install the app or they are ignored all together. The new permissions model is better for developers and end users. Asking for permissions as you need them will make it more obvious as to why the app needs a specific permission.

Have you begun testing against the developer preview; what are your thoughts?

The Marshmallow release is more about polish and stability. Material design is here to stay, so there is no need to make drastic redesigns for existing applications.

How do you think Android Pay will compare to Apple Pay?

Google has had NFC payment through Google Wallet since 2011. Android Pay is essentially a spin off of Google Wallet to make NFC payments even easier. Instead of needed to open the Google Wallet app, the payment system is built into the OS. With Android Pay supporting 4.4 devices that have NFC, it’s estimated that there will be six million compatible devices out of the gate.

What is Google doing to ensure carriers update the OS?

Google is pushing more and more of its updates through Google Play Services, which doesn’t require an OS update. Google also provides design support libraries making it easier to style apps with Material Design and still be compatible back to Android 2.3. Google pushes out security updates and the majority of its new features through Google Play Services. There are still a handful of features that will only work on the latest OS. If you like staying on the cutting edge of Android, I’d recommend getting an unlocked Nexus or Google Play Edition device.

You can also read reactions from Chris on Android M in his Google I/O conference blog published earlier this year.

According to the Android Developers blog, the last Android 6.0 SDK is also available for download. Get the details here.

Photo courtesy of kasezo.

Launch Blog 2

3 mobile app development disasters and how to avoid them

Tales of mobile development disasters are nothing new. Going far over budget. Running out of time. Outsourcing development only to find it’s nothing like you originally expected. You’ve heard the stories whispered in conference rooms or shouted loudly over social media channels. One thing’s for sure, you want to avoid it all cost.

Constructing mobile solutions

Just like construction, mobile solutions connect people. In both types of projects, teams are working — hard — to get from point A to B. In construction, that might mean building a new bridge or widening a freeway to physically move people between two locations. While mobile developers don’t need orange pylons or reflective vests, they connect people too — with features, functionality and capabilities that add value to their daily lives.

The key to preventing a mobile nightmare is being able to recognize the warning signs and setting your project up for success from the very start. Who better to share what works and what doesn’t? Our solutions architects, project managers, developers and designers.

So what are three of the most common mobile disasters?

Mobile disaster 1: Far over time, far over budget

No one likes to be late for an important date, especially when that date involves releasing a first to market mobile app. In the case of most app development, every day and every dollar counts. Know how you can make the most of them.

Plan ahead. Even before you start searching for the best mobile app development company on Google think hard about your mobile solution. The simplest question you can ask to prepare for development is, “What problem do I want to solve?” Let that lead you to define your business needs and users. With that in hand, you’re arming your software provider with information to offer you the best guidance in solving the unique need you’ve identified.

Encourage cross-functional conversations. Coordinating closely between any internal and external development efforts are another way to maintain momentum. This means regular meetings and regular communication. Questions like, “What challenges have we identified in the last week?” can keep the brightest minds on your project focused on any blockers or risks that have emerged.

Set up a system of checks and balances. Spoiler alert. Design and development go hand-in-hand. They should never operate in silos. Bringing them together early on ensures your designers are creating wireframes and actions that are feasible to develop within the budget and timeline your client identified. Developers can tell them. By contrast, designers can provide key insight on user experience that could be overlooked without checking it.

Mobile disaster 2: Aimless investing

The results are in. Throwing money at a problem won’t make it better. But, often redirecting development efforts by choosing another software partner can salvage a ship taking on water.

Ask the hard questions right away. When you’re choosing a new software provider, ask references the right questions. Focus on understanding the quality of the end results and level of collaboration throughout. Ask about work created for other clients. Past experience can help you predict future success.

Consider the long-term value. Everyone likes a bargain. But as the hardcore cost-conscious know, when you take a “deal” you may be accepting that a certain level of extra work may be required to bring a recently acquired purchase up to par. Maybe that means patching a hole or adding a zipper.

Now think about value in the tech space. Consider more than pure economy when you’re choosing a mobile app developer. You don’t want to have to worry about excessive paths or fixes as soon as you release. An experienced mobile app development company can help you keep this to a minimum and provide mobile framework that can grow and evolve efficiently as your solution does.

Mobile disaster 3: Asked for one thing, got another

Developing functional, valuable software is as far as you can get from peering into a crystal ball and divining the future. It relies upon clear and continuous communication between clients and software partners along with actionable results to make that anticipated future a reality.

Embrace transparency. Perfection is the enemy of progress. Look to partner with a software provider you wants to show you progress along the way. The only thing worse than a miscommunication is assuming you and your developers are one the same page, when really expectations were confused all along.

Stay involved. It’s easy to consider checking out of the creation process once you’ve onboarded your development partner. You’re busy. Now they’re busy. Problem solved. Well — resist the urge. Decisions will need to be made along the way. Your provider will need to know what you value throughout the process and how well you see the functionality and development addressing your business needs.

Read our latest eBook 3 Mobile App Development Disasters and How to Avoid Them, so you own the development process and it doesn’t own you.

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Crafting an integrated digital experience for France 44

A new app or website is no longer enough to distinguish a business. Only by singing the same song across multiple platforms can brands create continuous experiences that unite users rather than isolating them. Why? Consumer habits are fragmented. Some users may download a business’ new app. Some will visit a new site. Others will do both. Today it’s ever more difficult for a single digital asset or differentiator to break through the chorus of other products looking to solo.

That’s exactly what we helped one Midwest wine, beer, spirit and charcuterie retailer do — break through the chorus. Our integrated digital experience for France 44 leveraged a new app, website and beacon technology all created to enhance or mirror the in-store atmosphere.France 44 Responsive Design

Pruning the vines to define business needs

Just like any vineyard cleanup after a season of growth, we began by guiding France 44 through an initial rapid ideation session to define their top goals for the digital campaign. By pruning the wants from the true needs, we arrived at four key goals.

  1. At its most basic, sell wine, beer, and liquor online.
  2. Grow web sales.
  3. Create a flexible web experience that can evolve as the needs of the retailer do.
  4. Support a top shelf experience for all and forward a premium digital image.
  5. Develop a two-step backend payment transaction.

An interactive brand needs responsive design

Core to the France 44 digital initiative was building a responsive website optimized for mobile devices. The website launched with a new skin and navigation that reflected the improved user experience design.

Unlike its predecessor, it is able to render well on desktops, 10” tablets, 7” tablets and smartphones like the Galaxy S 3 / 4 or the iPhone. The touch-enabled interface works on any form factor due in part to the 40 pixels of safe distance present around each component in the design.

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Connect the in-store and remote customer experiences digitally

Walking into the brick and mortar France 44 location is an experience. Bottles of wine, gin, liqueur and more line the shelves resolutely — each seemingly confident it will provide a new experience. Frequently, the flagship France 44 hosts tasting events or classes. Celebrating an atmosphere where exploration is encouraged makes France 44 unique.

We reflected that commitment to customer education on the new France 44 website by featuring retail space goings-on prominently on the homepage through news and event activity tiles.

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Architecting complex transactions

Unlike appreciating a fine wine, architecting the transactions required to sell and ship gift baskets around the world was far from simple — but it appears that way to users. Why the complication?

By law liquor and cheese can’t be sold together as a single financial transaction — problematic because both items are included in the gift baskets France 44 wanted to feature and sell online. Beyond that, some states require liquor purchases to be taxed at a different rate than food. It certainly didn’t make sense to have customers check out twice during the online process if they were buying a single gift basket.

Ideally the experience would consist of a single credit card entry, with a single receipt and result in two credit transactions. We built a custom web form and interaction allowing the user to select the gift basket via a meta item. When the customer enters their credit card, two independent system transactions are made, and the results of these transactions, including tax calculations, are brought back together into a single receipt.

Creating a smart algorithm for product recommendations

Customers walking into France 44 generally know what they’re looking, maybe it’s vodka distilled locally at the new-to-Minneapolis Du Nord Craft Spirits or a sampling from the now nationwide name Surly. Just as customers can seek help from France 44 staff in the retail space, the app we designed to complement the web experience also offers recommendations based on customers’ preferred tastes.

We created an algorithm just for France 44. The more users engage with the app the better it is able to recommend options and learn customer preferences.

Using the app, customers can mark favorites, find recommendations based on previous choices, write tasting notes and organize their favorite drinks by mood or occasion. It also integrates with the France 44 rewards program Club 44. Members can download their purchase history, see their club points, update their information and view and redeem Club Rewards credits.

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Custom deals delivered by beacons when users are nearby

The app we designed also allows France 44 to expand its ability to make recommendations without increasing its staff. How? Through innovative beacon technology, the smart algorithm is able to push out recommendations to customers with the app based on their location in the retail space.

Customers lingering in the beer cooler may receive coupons for an IPA, while shoppers with a previous history buying pinots from the West Coast may get similar recommendations when they pass by again. Through this uniquely targeted marketing, France 44 is able to offer customers value and savings even when store staff are busy.

The results

Following the launch of the website and app, store traffic, revenues and regional SEO search rank improved. Also increased for the Midwest retailer? Digital brand recognition across diverse but complementary platforms.

Launch Blog

Presenting a Healthcare eBook: The Complete Guide to Wellness Software Development

Healthcare. It’s just one word, but it feels like over a hundred problems and potential solutions spun up like a spider web — benefits, cost savings and improvements are stuck together without being truly connected.

What are the best ways to ensure patient outcomes and lower cost?

It’s on everyone’s mind. That very question has become a mantra of sorts for healthcare payers, providers, physicians and especially Washington policy makers. But what are we doing about it?

The answer is a lot. And there’s particular promise in the wellness space through apps or health portals to help prevent or more adequately maintain the very — often chronic — conditions that are costing the country so much to treat.

Inspiring actionable progress in healthcare through software

Though we may feel like dialogue is a start, there’s more work to do — especially by way of actionable software to begin addressing more of the ills society and businesses have identified within the healthcare ecosystem.

Still dubious that prevention is as large a problem as professionals say?

86% of healthcare spending is used used by people with one or more chronic conditions. It’s also not a shock that many of these conditions are preventable. And, over 33 percent of new patient prescriptions are never filled.

Statistics like these seem shocking. They are unfortunately, the “new normal” in healthcare. But, it doesn’t have to stay that way.

Presenting: The Complete Guide to Wellness Software Development, Why Health Portals & Apps Matter More Now Than Ever Before

In this eBook we:

  • Take a pulse on wellness trends throughout the country and identify areas for improvement
  • Explore how to improve preventative patient habits through technology
  • Share how to create health portals, apps and software patients want to use
  • Detail a health and wellness software kick-off plan

After reading The Complete Guide to Wellness Software Development, you’ll have answers to the following questions.

  • How is medical nonadherence impacting healthcare cost nationwide?
  • What factors are motivating patients to gamble with their health and wellness?
  • What behaviors do more engaged patients demonstrate?
  • Should you build a custom solution or choose a white label product to fill your need?
  • What are the first steps if you decide to build a custom app?
  • How can you identify a good software development partner from the rest of the pack?
  • How can you begin to identify your target audience?
  • What type of solution should you create: native app, web solution or a hybrid?
  • Before you begin building, how can you identify your priority features?

Read The Complete Guide to Wellness Software Development here.

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EVINE Live: Streamlining the digital shopping experience

The shopping experience has changed dramatically since the early 1900s when department stores rose to prominence. Now eager buyers can purchase from the comfort and privacy of their own home — all thanks to eCommerce.

Once shopping was an experience, an occasion. It was an outing for families, an excuse to dress up. Now shoppers relish the chance to browse in their sweatpants over a cup of coffee in the morning or a bowl of ice cream for a late night snack.

Screen shopping replaces window shopping

The shopping experience first evolved when consumers could call in to purchase products they heard advertised on the radio. Then television sales were introduced. As long as the station was broadcasting, consumers could shop. Goodbye to waiting in line, or waiting for the store to open in the morning. Enter ShopNBC.

MentorMate partnered with ShopNBC in 2012 in a strategic effort to evolve its digital footprint with a custom iOS app. The app was conceived to take power shopping to the next level for the segment of the network’s viewership who liked purchasing watches and couldn’t get enough. The app allowed the target audience to peruse collections of watches and celebrate their purchases with their networks on social media.

Transforming a known consumer brand through digital

When ShopNBC rebranded to ShopHQ MentorMate was at bat to complete a comprehensive redesign to differentiate the app from the now ShopHQ website and jumpstart the return rate of users.

The design and development work strengthened an already engaging consumer journey with a revised navigation structure, popular previews and a streamlined aesthetic. The app also featured additional content to pair with the live programming including top daily values and host bios.


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When ShopHQ rebranded to EVINE Live in early 2015, MentorMate was called to bat again. This time to further integrate the streaming television broadcast with online access and exclusives users value. The goals were two-fold. One, introduce the new brand in a way that transitioned past users easily and allow content consumption across a variety of screens — seamlessly.

As consumers’ digital prowess increased, they needed more ways to shop, view and interact with the live broadcast.

The EVINE Live iOS and Android tablet apps united live TV, online media and the ability to shop via a mobile device with social media sharing across outlets from Facebook to Pinterest.

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EVINE 2015 First Quarter Results

  • Average purchase frequency rose to 4.1 units per customer, a 15% increase.
  • Mobile remains fastest growing platform with sales of $28 million, a 26% increase.
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10 updates we’re still talking about from Google I/O

This year’s hidden secrets and innovative projects from Google I/O were shared last at the ATAP (Advanced Technology and Projects) keynote-like session. This group of researchers, that call themselves pirates, shared their latest projects bound to change the way technology interacts with humans. Here are the 10 things you need to know about Google I/O 2015:

1. Project Soli — Gesture radar

Google opened the ATAP session with Project Soli, an initiative aimed at enabling the use of technology through gestures with radar. This tiny chip, small enough to fit in a smart watch, is a full system capable of measuring velocity and distance, and therefore motions and gestures, allowing the user to control devices with ergonomic and intuitive human-tailored motions.

2. Project Jacquard — Interactive textiles

Google’s new interactive textile experience, named after Joseph Jacquard’s weaving process and loom, aims to transform your clothes into wearables. Partnering with Levi Straus, Google has developed a method of weaving in touch-sensitive strands of copper into every-day wearable fabrics. Both Soli and Jacquard focus on “tech infused with humanity” by allowing the user to interact with technology without actually touching the actual devices they aim to control.

3. Project Vault — User authentication

Humans are bad at remembering passwords, and in this day and age, with more and more of our lives connected to our mobile devices and our technology, security has become a focus. Fingerprint authentication is certainly a step in the right direction, but Project Vault has found a better way. Vault is a removable card that slides into any Mirco SD port and is operating system agnostic. Instead of what you type as  your password, Vault measures how you type or say your password, increasing the security over 10x more than any existing user authentication system.

4. Project Ara — Configurable devices

So far, wallpapers, ringtones and covers are the extent to which a user has been able to customize their mobile phone. Project Ara introduces a modular approach to mobile devices. Google engineer Rafa Camargo physically assembled his smart phone and booted it in less than 1 minute. This new way of thinking about mobile phones allows anyone to customize the components of a phone by just sliding in a “camera” or “speaker” capabilities into the phone hub’s slots.

5. Android Pay — Hands-free wallet

Although not that much different from the already-existing Google Wallet, Android Pay makes things a bit easier. This new-ish, hands-free payment method similar to Apple Pay is built right into the operating system. It no longer requires a user to open a separate app and enter a pin. It will also take full advantage of any phone with fingerprint reader, allowing you to pay effortlessly.

6. Google now on tap on Android M — Contextual search

This is by far the most exciting thing about Android’s new operating system, Android M, yet to be given a name. Most everyone is familiar with Google Now. The added feature, Now On Tap, provides contextual information on almost anything that you’re doing on your phone. It proactively gives you the information you’re looking for, learns your lifestyle and behaviors and helps you get things done.

Imagine your friend emailing you about the new movie that comes out on Friday that he wants to go see. Now On Tap would bring up the movie ratings, trailer, and nearby theaters and times available for Friday. But it gets even better! Now On Tap is able to interact with any installed application on your phone, whether it be the Whatsapp messaging app, or the music-streaming Spotify app. Now On Tap has seamlessly solved connecting us to the right information at the right time.

7. Doze on Android M – Battery improvements

This year Android M focused a little less on innovation, and a little more on getting things right and improving existing experiences. Doze is a mode on mobile devices that is able to identify a device’s idle state and switch to a low-power state by doing less in the background and prioritizing actions, such as suppressing unimportant app notifications, therefore extending battery life significantly.

8. App permissions on Android M — User control

A big change for Android’s new operating system announced this year at Google I/O was application permissions. Android M aims to empower the user to choose and grant permissions not all upfront upon app installation, but as the app interactions require permissions. Additionally, users will be able to change their minds and individually revoke access after-the-fact of certain permissions for whichever application they desire.

9. Brillo and Weave – Internet of things

Brillo and Weave offer an ecosystem for the IoT (Internet of Things), with a focus on smart homes. Brillo is an Android-based operating system, and Weave is the cross-platform communications layer that allows devices to talk to one-another. Google aims to standardize and simplify the IoT.

10. Google Photos App – Revamped

Google revamped its existing Google Photos app and now offers unlimited storage for all media. The coolest feature is the app’s “Assistant” that categorizes your media by person, location, and category.

Other notable items

  • Material design
    Materials design is here to stay. Google’s design team has improved its documentation. I/O contained several showcases of several applications excelling at material design implementations.
  • Android TV
    There was a trend of bringing apps into the living room, particularly for Android TV – games and apps.
  • No glass
    No mention of Google Glass, and no sandbox areas where visible anywhere at I/O. Other attendees were wondering the same thing.
  • Google Spotlight Stories
    Another ATAP initiative where stories are told through interactive camera-view with the use of 360 cameras.
  • Improved Polymer library
    Polymer is fairly new, but has been around for a while now. Its updated library makes it easier to build for mobile and web with pre-set elements and components, implementing material design concepts.
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What mobile and digital strategists can learn from Apple Music

Even less than two weeks since WWDC 2015, it’s nearly old news that Apple is releasing a streaming service — rather worldwide music experience — to be called Apple Music. That said, industry tastemakers have far from reached consensus on whether they welcome the new service or rather are acquiescing to one of the largest forces in progressive tech. It seems like the anticipated music service garners top headlines each day. And much can be learned from what features the new music service offers and why.

It’s different, but is it really better?

Apple Music purports it will differ from other popular music services like Spotify and Rdio by allowing users to stream any song in the iTunes library. Beyond that, users can tune into a live radio station broadcasting around the world. Sure, listeners who pursue a global experience can stream radio stations from around the world, but the experience is inconsistent. Often, and especially if they favor indie and underground artists, they are forced to rely on buggy apps developed with college radio station grant money or an online player accessed via a bookmark saved as a home screen icon. If user tastes are aligned with Beats 1 and they don’t have brand loyalty to another station, it could represent a step up.

How to create true user value

Despite what you may think about the politics of Apple Music and how they treat independent artists, tech developers and strategists have managed to combine some of the key differentiators that separate a mediocre mobile experience and an exemplary one.

Integrate to great

Like the best solutions, Apple is integrating functionality — streaming with radio with recommended playlists. According to the WWDC talk, Apple Music will “create a complete experience.”

The best software and apps distill key user functionality and present it all in a single, simple interface. Rdio and Spotify have proved the value of streaming, and Pandora sets itself apart through smart music playlists. Apple Music will combine and build on both these features.

Humanize the technology

Apple is also positioning the service as a “human answer” to mobile music. Unlike other services, Apple playlists will not be automated. They will be thoughtfully compiled by humans. The best apps give users a reason to form an emotional connection with the technology. Knowing that the playlists were curated by a listener “like them” or connecting to one of the Beats 1 DJs will allow listeners to form this connection based on more than functionality alone.

Meet users where they live — or listen

Because Apple is integrating diverse functionality, music will be accessible to users how they want it and when they want it. If users want to more passively consume music by listening to Beats 1 or take a more active role and choose songs based on their mood or whim, they can.

We continue to anticipate June 30 when the metaphorical beat drops or rather Apple Music launches.

Photo courtesy of venimo.

Talk to us more about what makes an app valuable.

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MentorMate to host June Minnesota Enterprise Mobile meetup

MentorMate is proud host this month’s Minnesota Enterprise Mobile Meetup. Network and dig into the latest developments in mobile technology with some of the best Xamarin developers in the Twin Cities.

Presented by Steve Killingbeck, the June event will highlight advanced debugging tools — Reveal, Charles, and WireShark — and techniques for mobile development. Attendees will also discuss the best use cases for Xamarin implementation.

Event quick-look

WHEN: Thursday, June 18 at 6pm

WHERE: MentorMate HQ, 3036 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis

The way of Xamarin

For Senior Software Engineer Anurag Shukla, Xamarin opens doors for developers and offers a way to streamline development.

“Xamarin allows users to write code once using Xamarin Forms and run it on iOS, Andriod and Windows phones. It uses one of the most popular languages (C#) to enable developers who to leverage the power of mobile without learning a new language.”

For Anurag, the platform encourages developers to think ahead.

“It forces developers to properly organize the code in shareable and non-sharable components. Overall Xamarin is a good tool to practice proper object orientation.”

Join this meetup.

Photo courtesy of venimo.

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How to build apps people really need

I’ve been blessed over the past twenty-odd years in the digital field to work with countless idea men and women. The early days of dot com from 1995-2000 were frankly pretty incredible. Everyone believed they were going to change the world, and you know what? Many of them did. Then the greedsters showed up, and the whole ball unraveled.

In those early Internet days, it took more than an idea to make a business. It took a lot of programming horsepower. There were no stacks, to speak of. The code base to build upon was non-existent. And let’s face it, even hooking up a database to HTML was “new.”

Today, everybody and their mom has an idea for an app, the freshly-minted “web page.” I love it. I love ingenuity, and I won’t be one of those to get in anyone’s way. But if we learned one thing from the dot com and other micro-eras of emergence in digital, it’s that the world isn’t looking for another app like they were web pages in the early days. (Literally, people would ask me, “Give me a web page to visit!”)

Success in the app marketplace doesn’t begin with code. Success is earned by those idea people who see a need in the consumer’s life, can create an experience that solves a problem (imagined or otherwise), and will be used persistently. My experience has shown me that coding chops alone doesn’t solve problems. Having a keen sense of awareness for how a person navigates their daily life, then imaging a better way of doing so is the killer idea.

Think of it this way. Steve Jobs needed his Steve Wozniak. Or better put, Steve Wozniak needed Steve Jobs. The one without the other wouldn’t have created the world’s most valuable company. They were each other’s right and left brain.

The risks associated with creating a new application are astonishingly low these days. The arc between an idea and execution can be measured in a 12 pack of Coke and a free evening. But building a sustainable business ain’t so. A successful company requires a selfless commitment to understanding your consumer, adapting your ideas to their lives, and recognizing that no consumer will do any extra work to make your idea come to life. They’re not obligated to you. You are to them.

So if you’re serious about creating applications — as a start-up or for your company — you will save yourself a heap of pain and agony by staying laser focused on how you are creating value and richness to your consumers’ lives, even before the first line of code is put to screen.

Photo courtesy emojoez.

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