Saturday, February 25, 2012

eClub strikes again

See the opening eClub 2012 presentation. It shows the eClub goals, program of presentations, explains the competition and awards.

I have opened next round of the eClub on Wednesday. The presentation explains the eClub basic: the main goals and how can students benefit from joining us. I have introduces all our great speakers. I also have looked a the rules for entering the competition. They are still very simple, therefore it is easy to enter the competition. You can not loose anything, you can only win. Presentation lists the scholarships as a form of seed money. Every winner will also benefit from a mentor. The number of mentors who cooperate with us constantly grows.

I was very happy to find that almost all students joining the first presentation were new to the eClub. They had many good questions at the end. Check the eClub program page, I will soon publish the video recording. Vojta Meta TV is still working on it. We have also welcomed Petr Koci from Read his interesting article describing our first meeting.

The best at the end. Next Wednesday presents Karel Janecek, who is going to tell us about the importance of high education and research for creating a successful startup.
This presentation is opening a new page in the eClub history. We will be streaming to many sites at universities across our country. I am very happy the community of students interested in startups grows.

See you next Wednesday, Feb 29 at 18:00 we will meet in HUB. Prepare good questions. The presentation will be followed by networking. Do not forget, the refreshment will be served …

Sunday, February 19, 2012

eClub starts this Wednesday

eClub schedule 
eClub starts with the opening presentation on Wednesday 22.2.2012. Let’s hope this magic date will be sign of a successful series. In the first presentation I would like to inform all our fans about what we are offering in the coming series. 
For eClub newbies: the main mission is to bring together students enthusiastic about new technologies, innovation and entrepreneurship. We want to help students who want to change their dreams to reality, to a product, help others, be successful and earn money.

Presentations at two different places.

Join us! We have great speakers in the coming series. You will learn about the success and the misstates too. Each session is followed by networking, come and meet people with the same interest! See the schedule we will meet at two places: HUB and the traditional CVUT FEL location. We are inviting students and friends from other Czech universities for three presentations from HUB Prague. These presentations will be streamed.  We have to do lot of preparations. We had to work with local champions and locate suitable rooms, prepare advertising, publish on blogs and in media etc. We have tested the streaming on Tuesday to make sure all is in place.  Our friends from are helping us with setting up the video. We have tried to stream the video in HD quality and all the data lines sustained the bandwidth. Keep the finger crossed to not get surprised during the transmission. We want to deliver a top experience.

As in the last series we also will record all sessions. The HUB recordings will show on the web with a one week delay. We will try to put the CVUT presentations on web as soon as we can. The HUB presentations will be delayed by one week, because we want to get all students at universities together to discuss with the speaker and network after the show. We want to make very lively idea exchange.

Join the competition!

Similarly as in the previous series we will have a competition for the best startup idea. The rules for joining the competition are quite simple. The first rule is: at least one student of a Czech university in a team. Certainly the PhD. students are mostly welcomed too. If you were successful in other startup competition do not enter, let the chance opened for starting teams. The winning teams will get a scholarship for three months during summer to work on their projects. We will fund maximum two students in a team and the award will be between 15-5K/month. We will also try to get you a mentor and this is even bigger value. We constantly work with our industrial partners to get more donations to CVUT Medialab Foundation. May be you will be surprised as in the last series. We got very lucky, in the last minute Czech ICT Alliance helped us funding seven teams. They are currently working on their projects. To join the competition we ask you to register your project. Do not hesitate, even if your project is not ready and polished. eClub is here to help you to bring up your project. We are also looking forward to see teams from other than Prague universities in our competition. If you are interested let me know. I will answer all questions and will help with the organization.

Learn in eClub.

Learn from our sessions, we will show case studies of different startups to give you motivation for your own projects. Hear from successful entrepreneurs what to do in the initial phases of the startup.  See the links on our eClub pages with some helpful links. We would like to help you to deliver best performance in front of our international jury. All teams will have a chance for a dry run of their presentation to test how it feels and how to put together a catchy presentation. Register, come and deliver the presentation, you will get a very helpful feedback, viewers will ask you questions and this will help you clarify your idea. The teams will also be able to get feedback from their peers to improve the pitch.

Work with us!

I am looking forward to see you next Wednesday. I will try to explain the details, present the speakers and comment how the program was put together and what is the focus. Prepare your questions, because I am also looking forward for questions and suggestions. Come to join us and take your friends with you.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

eClubs starts in two weeks

eClub starts with a new series of presentations and the Best Startup Project competition. We have a great news. Students at universities in Brno, Ostrava, Olomouc, Hradec Kralove and Zlin are joining us. 

I have managed to get together a list of very attractive speakers for this eClub round, see below. As usual we will be meeting on Wednesdays. The big news is: three presentations (blue boxes) will take place in the homely HUB, Prague environment, the rest as usual at CVUT. I believe, we will attract larger crowd of students and their friends. On top of that I am very happy to announce we will stream the three selected presentations to universities in Brno, Ostrava, Olomouc, Hradec Kralove and Zlin. We will list the Universities and the locations on the eClub pages very soon. I am sure, all the new locations and students will make the competition for the best startup plan even more challenging and I am looking forward to share the presentations and new ideas with more enthusiastic people. Spread the news and join us. please.

22.2. Jan Sedivy Introduction, What is eClub, what will you learn, what can you get, how are we going to be organized in this semester.

29.2. Karel Janecek RSJ algoritmic trading owner. The presentation will show the importance of high education and research for creating a successful startup. This will be demonstrated on a phenomenal success of the RSJ algorithmic trading.

7.3. Jan Sova CVUT Media Lab helped starting this company. Jan is going to tell us how is his company organized and you will also learn what are the basic legal requirements. 
14.3. Jakub Nesetril After he has been working in the web industry for 15 years as a developer, team leader, director and product manager, he lives his dream of 90-hour work-weeks as a founder of a web startup, now. Come to learn how to do it too.

21.3. Jan Zdarsa will visit us and show all the magics of AdWords. How to promote your application, attract more users, boost your sales ...
28.3. Jan Rezab Social Bakers owner. This presentation will describe the initial startup steps. Good idea, creating a team, developing the first application and getting funding. The Social Baker received 2.5 mil USD and is rapidly growing.

4.4. First Demo Day
this is the dry run of all new teams, with new projects

11.4. Daniel Franz Some soft skills for you. Dan will tell us how to create well working team, how to successfully communicate in the team and customers too.

18.4. Olda Neuberger How to build a 30 people company, miss the selling sweet point and than shrink it back to 10. Case study.
25.4. Patrick Zandl the editor in chief of is following the the Czech Internet startup and the whole community from the early beginnings and will show the up and downs of the most important players. He will also present his future visions.

2.5. Marek Johanes  How to create a new startup and how to grow it, what are the employees benefits, what are the employees options, how to distribute them, how much is your company worth. 
9.5. Demo day presentations of the teams competing for the awards

16.5. Announcing winners

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Create a new mobile app – first steps

This blog is listing and explaining the first steps for inventing and verifying a new mobile application. It shows the systematic steps you need to take before the coding should start.

There are hundreds of thousands of applications on iTunes or Android markets these days and it becomes more and more difficult to come up with a new idea. On the other hand there are many situations where simple and focused applications can help. Smaller communities of users may need very specialized or customized applications because of their job, hobby, disability etc. These are niche applications but world-wide they may address an interesting number of customers.

The motivation to write new apps may have different inspirations. Many developers are writing the applications for themselves. This is a fortunate situation since the developer understands very well the needs. Sometimes a developer is asked to write an app for his friends. This is also good, friends will be able to explain their needs and they will help with testing. Writing an application for a customer is a little bit more adventures. Customers sometimes do not know how to formulate the problem. Communication may be demanding. Agile software development is the answer, but requires cooperative customers. You may also spark an innovative idea. Everyday you face many situations and problems, which are difficult to solve or overcome. Make a note, may be a mobile app can solve them.

First, check the existing applications. It is very likely someone has already written an app you need. Finding and reviewing the apps is a tedious process. It is difficult to understand the functionality. They don’t come with a description, because they mostly rely on intuitive interfaces. To understand you would need to test them and this has its shortcomings. In many cases the apps are social or use data sharing. You must register and you need to find some friends who will cooperate, share the data. All this takes lot of time but it will help you to differentiate or enhance your new idea. Don't skip this step but do not spend too much time on it either. Remember your idea doesn’t need to be completely new, but it must bring at least some new features to be competitive.

If you don't find any existing app you may have hit a new idea. Start with describing it in the simplest terms. Select the application name and try to describe it using this template:

(project name) is developing (this offering) to help (an audience) solving (a problem).

Keep all very simple don’t start inventing new features. Work on a brief application description. Once the simple sentence is ready, explain your idea to your friends. Use web, twitter, blogs etc to get feedback. Explaining and getting feedback is the best way to understand the customer’s needs. Don't forget asking your friends for how much they would buy your product. You also may decide to provide the application for free for non-profit or humanitarian purposes. In any case you have to be sure someone will use it. Don’t be secretive. Many people have the same idea in the same time. Your task at this point is to make the problem formulation as simple as possible, understanding the essentials. You may need to modify the idea and repeat the process. What is the result? Either you will discover no one needs your app or you have a clear case.

Now, you know who are your customers, what they need and how much they would pay. The full featured application may have a lot of branches, it can be quite complex. We need to focus on basic features. Identify the essential action and its outcome. Sketch an app flow diagram describing a sequence of actions the user needs to go through to get the outcome.  To each action draw by hand a graphical elements. i.e. screens, buttons, pictures, icons, menus etc. Don't forget the errors pop ups, dialog boxes etc. The diagram will show the first scenario of your application.

Once the logistics is clear, it is the best time to try it on real users. Create the necessary buttons, text fields, etc. from the app flow diagram. Use some wire-frame tools, that let you create a clickable static screens. For example Keynotopia provides templates in Powerpoint for different apps. Export the screens in a clickable pdf and with a proper pdf reader you can simulate the whole app on a mobile device. HTML is also easy for creating static pages. Get back to your friends let them face your clickable mock up and observe how they accomplish the first simplest task. Get prepared, the interaction with the testers has two basic steps:

  • Quickly explain the task. 
  • Observe and note the problems.

Do the same with three to four people. It should be enough to discover the biggest design problems.  Fix the UI problems and do the same one more time. Most of the developers are skipping this stage. Don’t do it. This exercise will save you lot of time while coding.  You may repeat this stage several times but you will converge to a sensible solution. If you are patient and you successfully finish all the steps you are ready to start coding. As a reward you will produce much cleaner code.

I have reviewed very simple, known steps for inventing and testing usefulness of a new app. They may not apply for all apps, but they are showing how to systematically think about apps development. One more comment: this steps  don't need programming, but soft and organizational skills, therefore people with expertise in the targeted field will typically produce much better results then programmers.

The main reason why I have put this blog together is the course I’ll be teaching in the next semester. Students will learn the basic programming skills in Java. I believe, students need motivation, they need to understand what is the purpose of the course.  Main programming language for Android is Java and I hope, combining development of simple apps and learning Java will be attractive enough for most of them. I am really looking forward how this would work. Stay tuned I will be reporting how we are doing ...