Cobi went to the Microsoft Dev Day in Cape Town on 24 May at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. The keynote speech that started it off was quite interesting – MS giving us a nice overview of new features to help developers, nice IDE plugin management, showing off their new Azure web servers, and how they are going to help us move onto the cloud in the future. My main interest was to see their new WP7 development, so Steve Asherson and I decided to attend their morning lectures introducing the WP7 development cycle.
Rudi Grobler from BB&D took us through creating a beer-brewing recipe app – something very simple showing us how to piece together a menu system with a details page, linking up to a local database. WP7 development looks good, the platform looks good, and from this initial introduction, the tools look easy to use.
Of particular interest to me was the device emulator used during development. Those who know me would know that I really dislike most of the emulators that the manufacturers have given us. The iPhone one is so far the best out there – stable and loads really quickly. This new WP7 emulator also seemed to load up fast (of course depending on the laptop running it), but it also has some nice location-spoofing tools. Finally a way to test GPS code on an emulator easily – Android & BlackBerry, take note.
On the platform side, WP7 has some stringent requirements, the chip must be running at 800Mhz. Coupling that with the fact that only one app runs at any one time, means that the UI experience looks great, smooth and slick. Unfortunately, coming from an Android fan, I am a bit disappointed that there is such limited multi-threading, but that can of worms can be opened on another day.
Otherwise, the conference was very well run, the food was great, drinks readily available, conversation on tap at every corner – I could do this everyday. Oh, and there was a raffle for an X-Box 360… I can’t help thinking that if I’d put my entry in after Steve did that I would have won it. Well done, Steve, for winning – get those dancing shoes on!
Cobi’s about 18 months old now, and after gaining a few new employees, things were getting a bit cramped in our snug little flat. We thought it was about time we got a real place to grow with us. Here are a couple of pics.
So last week we were fortunate enough to attend the Mini Seedcamp programme held up in Jo’burg, for African tech startups.
Seedcamp is a programme created to jumpstart the entrepreneurial community in Europe, and now Africa, by connecting next generation developers and entrepreneurs with over 400 mentors from a top-tier network of company builders; including seed investors, serial entrepreneurs, product experts, HR and PR specialists, marketers, lawyers, recruiters, journalists and venture capitalists.
I think it’s fair to say we were quite a long way off from competing for the winning spot – largely due to the current structure of our business. In short and as our website suggests, we positioned largely as a contract business, or agency as it was primarily referred to on the day. Nevertheless the real focus of the day was on a series of mentoring sessions with top entrepreneurs and potential investors from both locally and abroad. We got to sit down with the likes of Alex Hunter, Justin Spratt, Brett St Clair, Andrea Böhmert, Andy Higgins (bidorbuy founder) and Ben Nathanson with the discussions devoted entirely to advising us on our business.
One of the most valuable and interesting aspects of the discussion was that each mentor seemed to identify the same set of problems within our business, but each had a differing approach to solving them. This coupled with a genuine interest from pretty much everyone we met to offer advice and assistance after the day ended, gave me a small insight as to why they were successful entrepreneurs or investors.
The end result for of the day was a friendly wake up call for us – we realised that we have some unrealistic expectations regarding our business model; and also are stuck in a bit of a rut and need to shake things up a bit. An exciting concept that spawned from the experience is that we’ll be launching our own mobile product division, which we’ll keep completely separate from the agency side of things. We’ve also made some excellent contacts that we’ll be maintaining and building on in the future.
Cobi attended mini-Seedcamp Johannesburg last week. It was a really great experience. You meet a lot of mentors with various degrees of experience and knowledge all packed in a couple of hours. We had a lot of questions going in and we’ve come back full of direction and ideas. Exciting things should be happening soon, so watch this space. To all the teams and mentors we met at Seedcamp, it was nice meeting you all and hope we can keep in touch. Also, thanks to the organisers, Philipp and Reshma.