Parse: Another BAAS Bites The Dust

By John Houghton on February 16, 2016

mobile strategy BAAS

When my team was writing a particular data-driven app last year, we had a number of options for setting up our back-end.  A lot of companies use backend-as-a-service (BAAS) providers to simplify back-end development, for example, hosting the server, database, and writing the APIs.  There was a lot of pressure for us to go with Parse, a BAAS company bought by Facebook in 2013.  Running a BAAS company can be a thankless task and I noticed that they frequently go out of business as StackMob did in 2014. 

It’s important for a BAAS to have great backing and Facebook is a top brand, so Parse was in great shape there.  The ease of use […]

The Dangers of Mobile App Development Without Design Documents

By John Houghton on April 9, 2015

In the last few months I have come across a lot of failed projects.  I suppose the main reason for failure is because of a poor quality offshore team (or sometimes on-shore), but what contributes to failure and makes the project hard to salvage is that there are no design documents (a.k.a. Product Requirements Documents).  A PRD can increase the quality of work of any team.

When the project comes to me and I’m asked to save it, I look at the barely functioning app and I’m not sure what it is supposed to do.  Looking at the code isn’t helpful, because in looking at it, the previous developer didn’t seem clear about what […]

Improve Mobile App Development Quality By Using A Bug Database

By John Houghton on April 9, 2015

As the owner of a Mobile App Development company, I see a lot of projects go wrong.  In the last article, I talked about the problems of not using a repository and in this article I’ll talk about the problems associate with not using a bug database.  Established developers will wonder why I’m writing about this, and it’s because I see a large number of failed app development projects that don’t use repositories, bug databases, or design documents.  These projects are commonly initiated by non-software developers, and sometimes, serious money is spent and wasted. 

If you’re new to mobile app development, this article will help save you from one of the major pitfalls of […]

Staying In Control Of Your Mobile App Development Project With A Repository

By John Houghton on April 9, 2015

In my position, I help out hundreds of people who are either investors or stakeholders of mobile development projects and I’d like to share with you what can go terribly wrong if you do not set up and use a repository.  This article isn’t so much for established teams at large software companies, but small teams where a basic processes and structures haven’t yet been set up.  Let’s say that you’re not very technical, but you need to understand what’s going on with your mobile app development project and stay in control.  A repository will help you keep ownership of the project and verify completed work as it happens.  By sticking to these tips, […]

ContractRoom: Streamlining B2B Contracts

By John Houghton on December 4, 2014

Contract Room

By way of keeping you connected to the hot new companies that debut here in Silicon Valley, one in particular caught my eye and it’s called ContactRoom.  As you can imagine, a company that does a lot of B2B contracts needs to have a streamlined process and until now we’ve had basic ERP functionality, but the Workday of B2B contracts hasn’t existed until now.  Getting a contract signed is part of the sales function and both the selling performance and the legal terms are key.  Now companies can track both the sales reps and the terms to see which are performing, or not, and adjust accordingly.  

There are a number of wins here.  First, all […]

HTML5 Is An Alternative When Getting Started With Apps

By John Houghton on November 22, 2014

Screen Shot of Good UI/UX.

At the DEMO Fall 2014 conference what we do is watch other companies debut their products and then take feedback from a panel of judges.  I watched Brad Lawler of Draft present and the judges liked his financial services solution and they commented a lot on the excellent look-and-feel of his app.  

Sorry to say, but appearances make a huge difference in just about everything these days and mobile apps are no exception.  Incredible to me is that Brad designed the app himself.  He says he studied design for a few years on his own, and when it came time to design his app, he worked with a few different agencies, where he learned a lot […]

Finding Success With Enterprise Apps: Usability Is Key

By John Houghton on November 22, 2014

Enterprise Usability

Ryan Huff is CEO of Cirruspath which provides a way of more seamlessly integrating with CRM systems. When asked what the trend is with enterprise apps, he said it was all about usability and you can’t expect to get it right in the first release. I speak with many enterprises who are interested in app development and many of them are just becoming aware of what it takes to develop a good mobile app. Keep in mind that a poor mobile app is likely not to be used and might not have much of an impact on an organization.  

Ryan says that organizations can’t expect to get it right on the first try or even […]

DEMO Fall 2014: Mobile Trends

By John Houghton on November 21, 2014

Single purpose apps are a trend such as Valet Anywhere.

I was excited to cover DEMO Fall 2014, which ended yesterday. I have a lot of content and thoughts, some of it is already out and I’ll be pushing the rest of it out as time permits. What I want to bring you is a sense of what you would learn if you were there and I’ve picked a good person to interview to give you that perspective (I encourage you to catch the next DEMO event). Erick Schonfeld is the executive producer of DEMO and he and his team reviewed scores of startups and selected the 40 who are attending. After reviewing so many startups in the space and considering he’s been covering technology […]

Advice to Wearables Entrepreneurs From Skully CEO

By John Houghton on November 19, 2014

Skully Wearables Helmet

I spoke with Marcus Weller, CEO of Skully today at DEMO Fall 2014. I asked him what advice he would give to entrepreneurs who are thinking about getting involved in wearables. He had some great advice and that is to focus on your core use case and get that right before you move on. I thought that was spot on, because you may have read other posts of mine where Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, says, “It’s easy to add; it’s hard to edit – it’s hard to focus.”  Apple is successful because Apple has always focused.  That’s what entrepreneurs these days need to do and not only that, there are many executives at important […]

Payment System Turns People Into ATMs

By John Houghton on November 18, 2014

Hello Bit Payment System

One of the things I love about conferences like DEMO Fall 2014 is they get you outside of your normal way of thinking, and that’s what is necessary to be truly innovative. Who ever thought of turning people into ATMs? It’s pretty crazy and it could either go wrong or it could go right. Just like the mobile carriers were disintermediated by WhatsApp, this payment solution by Ali Goss of HelloBit could push banks aside for at least one of their services – money transfer.

International money transfer processes are full of friction.  It’s hard to pay vendors overseas, there are hefty fees involved, and it usually requires a special trip to the bank where you fill […]

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