Category Archives: DemoCamp

Boring tech pays and other lessons from John Vujicic

Last week at DemoCampHamilton17 we had VIZIYA CEO John Vujicic give a keynote about the firm’s growth and lessons learned along the way. It was an engaging and refreshingly blunt talk.

VIZIYA is Hamilton’s most successful tech company by two of the most important measures – revenue growth and employee count. And yet you don’t hear about them much. Part of that’s because they do “boring stuff” – enterprise-level asset management software. I was half-expecting John to either gloss over that or play it up somehow, but he made it clear earlier in his talk they’re well aware that’s the case. I actually really enjoyed that he just completely owned that head on like that, like it was nothing to be ashamed about.

 

viziyajohn

 

Here was my quick notes on lessons learned from John that night:

 

1) Boring tech pays the bills

Many of the startup apps developed locally have targeted “sexy tech” – social media, crowdfunding, gaming, etc. The stuff that you see in the mainstream tech media a lot, the stuff Silicon Valley does well, the stuff that can go viral. And though we have examples of people succeeding in these areas locally, especially in niche areas, there’s a lot of “boring tech” that seems to do pretty well at making money and creating jobs. Maybe we need to start owning and encouraging that more?

 

2) Give (a lot) before you get

VIZIYA has been able to work with major companies around the world. These types of clients have the revenues to make them really worthwhile, but how do you get companies this large as clients at all? One aspect is sales of course (see below), but how do you even get the ball rolling?

John talked about how VIZIYA had to work extremely hard for a single major partner first before they were able to work with other major firms – doing essentially whatever they had to do to keep this partner happy.

 

3) Sales matter

John really pushed the concept of sales, which wasn’t especially new. But he was particularly earnest about the need to hire sales people in the different regions that you are selling. He also emphasized that your competitors can crush you with superior sales if you neglect it yourself.

 

4) Residual revenues

John said something along the lines of “if you don’t think this matters, you’re in the wrong business”. He emphasized that residual revenues are required to keep you afloat over longer periods of time. By ensuring that at least your costs are covered by residual revenues, anything you make on top of this can be profit.

 

5) Create multiple products (battleship strategy)

Lots of people advise that startups should focus on an MVP, so it was interesting to hear a counter-argument that startups should throw multiple products at the wall and see what sticks. John gave an example of a massive German battleship that was sunk by a fleet of destroyers – sure a few destroyers were lost, but the battleship was sunk.

One weakness with the single MVP strategy is that, sure, you can try to iterate and build-repeat-learn until you find something that connects, but what if you’re searching in the wrong space altogether? By trying out and iterating different products you may increase your chances of a hit.

Easier said than done, but that’s the theory, and I suspect it applies in some cases.

 

Full DemoCampHamilton17 demo line-up revealed

 

When: Tuesday June 17th, 2014 from 6:30pm to 9:00pm

Where: The Art Gallery of Hamilton – Joey and Toby Tanebaum Pavilion – 123 King Street West Hamilton, Ontario

What: DemoCamp is an event format that involves a keynote speaker, about 5 software demos which each consist of 5 minutes of actually demoing the software and 5 minutes of Q&A, followed by general socializing with the good company in attendance.

 

Keynote Speaker


 

 

Paul Lupinacci

 

 

 

Vice President of Development and Operations at VIZIYA

 

 

 

Paul is responsible for VIZIYA‘s product development, service and support teams. Paul’s engineering and enterprise software experience guides the delivery team and makes sure our products exceed expectations.

Prior to joining VIZIYA, Paul started his career in manufacturing engineering and industrial automation. In 1992 Paul helped start Changepoint Corporation and was part of the management team that grew Changepoint into an enterprise software company with staff of 185 and annual revenues of over $30 million. Changepoint was acquired by Compuware Corporation in 2004.

In 2006 Paul became COO of MedShare transforming the company from a services firm to a software product company in the home health care market. Most recently Paul was a partner at investment firm Hewick Research Inc., where he advised companies in a wide range of markets including human capital management, identity management, and clean-tech. Paul is a professional engineer, has an MBA and is on the board of the Golden Horseshoe Venture Forum.

 

Demos


 

Demo 1
Promenade is an iPad app designed for family members and caregivers to use when visiting loved ones living with dementia or related illnesses.Created by experts in the field of Gerontology and Therapeutic Recreation, Promenade is a tool that can help stimulate conversation, encourage reminiscence, and make personal visits more rewarding and engaging.

 

Demo 2
Teachably is a cloud based all-in-one management suite for teachers that allow them to manage everything from their students, class timetables, and create lesson plans. It’s main goal is to provide simplicity and organization into teachers’ lives.

 

Demo 3
Developed in-house by factor[e], Tenon is both a content management system (CMS) and a rapid application development (RAD) framework. Tenon is free, open-source software whose source code is freely available online. It provides leading edge, responsive, content management capabilities combined with the ability for rapid development of new design and functionality.

 

Demo 4
Capredoni-Empower tablet computers and educational software by Chris Capredoni will demo a Math for Kids Android App.

 

Demo 5
Have you ever needed to work on two documents simultaneously? Have you ever taken the time to set things up just the way you wanted, only to have to do it all again the next time you returned to that task? Have you ever found that it was such a pain to position both documents on screen the way you wanted them, that you just couldn’t be bothered? Next time, don’t switch between full-screen documents when you don’t want to. After a simple drag and drop setup, those two documents will ALWAYS open right where you want them.

 

Sponsors


 

 

Art Gallery of Hamilton
 

background          background
 

       

 

DemoCampHamilton17 on June 17 inside The AGH

 

When: Tuesday June 17th, 2014 from 6:30pm to 9:00pm

Where: The Art Gallery of Hamilton – Joey and Toby Tanebaum Pavilion – 123 King Street West Hamilton, Ontario

What: DemoCamp is an event format that involves a keynote speaker, about 5 software demos which each consist of 5 minutes of actually demoing the software and 5 minutes of Q&A, followed by general socializing with the good company in attendance.

 

Keynote Speaker


 

 

Paul Lupinacci

 

 

 

Vice President of Development and Operations at VIZIYA

 

 

 

Paul is responsible for VIZIYA‘s product development, service and support teams. Paul’s engineering and enterprise software experience guides the delivery team and makes sure our products exceed expectations.

Prior to joining VIZIYA, Paul started his career in manufacturing engineering and industrial automation. In 1992 Paul helped start Changepoint Corporation and was part of the management team that grew Changepoint into an enterprise software company with staff of 185 and annual revenues of over $30 million. Changepoint was acquired by Compuware Corporation in 2004.

In 2006 Paul became COO of MedShare transforming the company from a services firm to a software product company in the home health care market. Most recently Paul was a partner at investment firm Hewick Research Inc., where he advised companies in a wide range of markets including human capital management, identity management, and clean-tech. Paul is a professional engineer, has an MBA and is on the board of the Golden Horseshoe Venture Forum.

 

Sponsors


 

 

Art Gallery of Hamilton
 

background          background
 

       

 

Demos


 

To be announced.

 

DemoCampHamilton16 demo line-up revealed

 

When: Wednesday April 2nd, 2014 from 6:30pm to 9:00pm

Where: TwelvEighty Pub @ McMaster University – 1280 Main Street West Hamilton, Ontario

What: DemoCamp is an event format that involves a keynote speaker, about 5 software demos which each consist of 5 minutes of actually demoing the software and 5 minutes of Q&A, followed by general socializing with the good company in attendance.

 

 

Demos


 

Demo 1
Remote printer for e-commerce by Reed Zao. Reed’s previous project required a cheap & reliable printer to send order notification to restaurants. After exhausted all avenues, he couldn’t find a provider of such a printer. Therefore Reed decided to make his own hardware. Now a remote printer with developer-friendly API and simple usage is ready for anyone who has novel ideas.

Demo 2
With over 45,000 users and 740 sites, Global 1000 companies have adopted VIZIYA’s WorkAlign® products for their world-class maintenance organizations. VIZIYA’s newest product is a mobile application and, unlike most mobile solutions in this market which are custom development projects with high costs and long implementations, the VIZIYA WorkAlign® Mobile product is “out of the box and ready to go.”

Demo 3
Dan Zen will demonstrate his latest mobile mediated experience – a multiuser application called Droner! Droner lets you control your friends (or be controlled) and is available for free on the Apple iTunes and Google Play stores. The app makes use of in-app purchases and features the Robin Multiuser Server initially built by Zen and reprogrammed in NodeJS by Andrew Blackbourn. NodeJS is up and running on Amazon EC2. The interface is in Flash AIR – marketing site here: http://droner.mobi Grab the app before the demo and control Dan Zen on stage!

Demo 4
MacSMS provides instant access to information such as weather conditions and alerts, bus timings and more. It’s a free service that works without wifi or data.

Demo 5
“We’re up….we’re live…and yes, we’re looking for #HamOnt businesses who need some seed money. FundHamOnt is a crowdfunding platform or portal where people who want to raise money for their #HamOnt centred startup can create fundraising Campaigns to tell their story and get the word out. Got a new cupcake bakery opening up on James St North and need funds? Pick us! Got a software app for the iStore and need some capital to add an Android version too? Pick us! Need a new kiln for your pottery business or want to finance a trip to Montreal for an art conference? We can help…no matter what the need, if you’re a Hamilton based business or citizen looking for crowdfunding….we’d love to help!”

Demo 6
McMaster Game Development Association (MacGDA) will demo an early build of a video game the group has been creating together.

 

Keynote Speaker


 

vitasound

 

Karl Wiklund

 

R&D Manager at VitaSound

 

 

Karl Wiklund received his B.Eng.Scty, M.A.Sc, and Ph.D. degrees from McMaster University. His research work has focused on signal processing and machine learning, specifically with respect to the auditory system. Currently, he is R&D Manager for VitaSound Audio, a Hamilton-based hearing devices company. Prior to joining VitaSound, he worked as a research contractor for Defence Research and Development Canada in addition to other organizations. He has also worked with the Sonar Signal Processing group at Defence Research Establishment Atlantic in Dartmouth, NS.

 

DemoCampHamilton16 with Karl Wiklund

When: Wednesday April 2nd, 2014 from 6:30pm to 9:00pm

Where: TwelvEighty Pub @ McMaster University – 1280 Main Street West Hamilton, Ontario

What: DemoCamp is an event format that involves a keynote speaker, about 5 software demos which each consist of 5 minutes of actually demoing the software and 5 minutes of Q&A, followed by general socializing with the good company in attendance.

 

 

Keynote Speaker


 

vitasound

 

Karl Wiklund

 

R&D Manager at VitaSound

 

 

Karl Wiklund is a problem-solver with a passion for high technology as well as the engineering applications of cutting-edge science. In his role at VitaSound Audio he worked as lead engineer as part of an international development team to create the Personal Audio Enhancer (PEA) wearable hearing enhancement device featuring user programmability and customizability. Karl continues to design and implement improvements to the PEA, as well as conduct research projects with academic and industrial partners. Karl completed his PhD in Electrical and Electronics Engineering at McMaster University.

 

Sponsors


 

 

background        background
 

2gen      netaccess           

Demos


 

The full demo line-up will be announced soon!

E-mail info@softwarehamilton.com if you are interested in a demo spot.

 

Interview with Adrian Duyzer of factor[e]

Check out the following interview with Adrian Duyzer (@adriandz) CTO of factor[e] (@factor_e) and keynote speaker at DemoCampHamilton15 this coming Tuesday February 4th at Mohawk College!

 

AdrianDuyzersWhat got you interested in software development?

We got our first computer, an IBM-clone PC XT, when I was 10 or 11 years old. It was amazing. Like any kid I was particularly interested in games, especially King’s Quest and the other Sierra titles. So it was super exciting when I came across a book at the library that promised to let you program your own game in BASIC. I still remember the cover, which showed a full-colour illustration of a rocket ship blasting off from the moon.

I took out the book and painstakingly copied dozens, perhaps hundreds of lines of BASIC code out of the book and into an editor. When I was finally done and ran the program I fully expected a colourful, graphical extravaganza, just like the illustration on the cover. I was dismayed to get a text prompt instead: “Enter the angle at which to fire the rocket: “, “Enter the velocity: “, etc.

In spite of this disappointment the magic stuck with me and I still find the open-ended, creative nature of software development fascinating.

 

Given your own experiences, is there any advice you would give to students and those starting off in the field today?

When I speak to people who are starting out in the industry I tend to find they often share two problems. First, they aren’t sure what area to focus on. Second, they don’t know which tools and languages are actually being used by experienced practitioners in the field.

To solve the first problem, pick something you find personally interesting that also has good growth potential. A somewhat narrow choice is better than a really general one, in my opinion. Deciding to focus on Android development using Java, or front-end web development using Javascript/HTML/CSS, is better than just deciding to be a “computer programmer”. Just make sure that you’re passionate about it (or think you could become that way), and that you’ve got a good chance of actually finding work doing it.

To solve the second problem, talk to some people with experience who you can verify are keeping up in their fields. There are a lot of developers (and development shops) that stagnate and are still using, for example, ASP. You need to find people who’ve kept up and are producing great work and then really grill them on what they’re doing so you can find out what’s worth learning.

 

factorebuilding

 

How did you get started at factor[e]?

I moved in next door to the person who was the sole owner of the company at that time, Tyler Cowie. That was about 7 or 8 years ago. I was a freelance developer back then, after the failure of another company I’d started a few years earlier. We quickly became friends and I started doing contract work for factor[e], which had just one full-time programmer (Sean Roberts, who is now Senior Software Architect at the firm).

We had a lot of beer-fuelled strategy conversations, conducted over the fence between our backyards, and worked out a plan to have me join the company. I did, and a couple of years later became partner.

 

What makes factor[e] different than other studios?

My partner Tyler’s background is the arts. He is an accomplished sculptor and painter and taught art before he started the company. My background has always been technology. Together, we ground the company in two disciplines: design and technology. Our unique strength is in marrying these two disciplines and ensuring we have leading-edge expertise in both.

 

What’s the most important part of creating an amazing user experience?

A lot’s been written about this so rather than describing what I think is the “most important” part, I’ll relate what I think is an important part that is often not done well, which is the text that appears in interfaces.

Writing good software involves two types of writing. Obviously there’s the code. The other part is all of the text that the user reads, such as instructions. I often come across convoluted instructions in web applications that confuse and overly complicate the experience.

I try to avoid that by writing clear and simple text in an active voice and I frequently revise the wording. You can be a great programmer but a poor writer of the English language; in which case, don’t neglect having someone proofread the text that appears in your software.

 

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There’s dozens of young web design and development companies in Hamilton, many of which are just a few years old. What advice would you give to up and coming firms looking to expand and take on bigger clients and projects?

I have two pieces of advice. The first comes from Dale Mugford’s amazing keynote speech at a DemoCamp last year. He related the saying, “Smooth seas never made a skillful sailor”. I refer back to that line often. It reassures me that it is normal for things to be difficult and that even when they are truly, horribly difficult, I’m learning something from the experience. So my first piece of advice is to take this line to heart, because growing a business is not easy.

Secondly, people growing a business should not feel as though they need to go it alone. Don’t be too proud to ask for help. Get an advisor, talk to your peers, call the Innovation Factory and set up a meeting. As entrepreneurs it is easy to start thinking you’ve got all the answers and that you’re going to be the next Steve Jobs. Maybe you are, but most of us never will be, so talk to the people who can guide you, challenge your assumptions, and set you on the right path.

 

What will you be talking about at DemoCamp this Tuesday night?

Our dream of making Hamilton a successful technology city cannot succeed without active and informed political leadership. As technologists, designers, entrepreneurs and so on we’ve worked hard to create a vibrant technology sector in Hamilton and this hard work has led to many achievements. But there is also an important role for our city’s political leaders. I plan to discuss that role – and how well I think they’re filling it! – on Tuesday.

 

Come see Adrian’s talk and a line-up of great demos at DemoCampHamilton15 this Tuesday February 4th from 6:30pm – 9:00pm in The Arnie pub at Mohawk College!

 

DemoCampHamilton15 line-up announced

Logo_Vert_CMYK

 

When: Tuesday February 4th from 6:30pm – 9:00pm

Where: The Arnie pub @ Mohawk College (135 Fennel Ave West)

 

 

In addition to the keynote by Adrian Duyzer (@adriandz) CTO of factor[e], we’ll have the following demo line-up out at DemoCamp:

 

Demos

Demo 1
Apptui – adaptive remotes that instantly control the apps and websites you love.

Demo 2
Mohawk students Nino Dragic and Julian Villella are building a social mobile application that lets people take on challenges which they can then share with the world. Users will be able to pick challenges they like, then record themselves performing it. They will also be able to challenge others and explore newly created videos.

Demo 3
Tivitas Interactive, an Ontario-based designer and manufacturer of precision gaming accessories, will show off their premiere haptic gaming device, Sinister. Using ViviTouch’s revolutionary haptic feedback technology, Sinister offers gamers a truly sensational gaming experience unlike anything they have ever felt before.

Demo 4
We do hours of Analysis in Seconds. WealthManager compiles massive amounts of financial, historical and real-time data into its analysis, giving you instant insight into the quality of a stock – without having to do all the work yourself.

Demo 5
Mohawk College AI Club is a social group for programming enthusiasts using AI Challenges to promote Software Development. The AI Club has created a battleship competition which allows students to compete against each other in a friendly environment.

Demo 6
Devocracy.org is web app for students to crowdfund their own scholarship. It has a school database, currently software development bootcamps, with interactive sortable maps and statistics to help students find their ideal school and funders support the students of their choice.

 

DemoCampHamilton15 with Adrian Duyzer on February 4th

When: Tuesday February 4th, 2014 from 6:30pm to 9:00pm

Where: Mohawk College – The Arnie Student Pub (135 Fennel Avenue West)

What: DemoCamp is an event format that involves a keynote speaker, about 5 software demos which each consist of 5 minutes of actually demoing the software and 5 minutes of Q&A, followed by general socializing with the good company in attendance.

 

 

Keynote Speaker


adrianduyzer

 

Adrian Duyzer

 

CTO of factor[e]

 

 

 

Adrian is the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at factor[e]. As the leader of a team of dedicated technical professionals, his roles range from hands-on development and engineering work to project management, strategy development and consulting.

Adrian graduated from the Computer Science – Software Engineering programme at Mohawk College in 2000. He has over fifteen years of professional development and project management experience, ranging from large and complex database-driven systems, to fun experiments and mobile applications. When it comes to software development, Adrian values the combination of an amazing user experience with technical robustness, reliability, and precision.

Adrian is also the Associate Editor of Raise The Hammer.

 

Sponsors


 

 

background        background
 

                    Mohawk Collge
 

 

Demos


 

TBD.

 

Submission of Demos


 

Demos for DemoCampHamilton can be submitted to: democamp@softwarehamilton.com. You will have an internet connection, a power outlet and a VGA input to a projector. You will have 5 minutes to demo your software, and 5 minutes for Q&A.

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