Tom Minor and Nicola Chilman, who run a company called EZ Education Ltd, have taken their DoodleMaths app for iPhone and iPad over the Pond following 50,000 downloads in the UK.
The app’s content, which in the UK is aimed at Key Stage 2, has been adapted to cater for the elementary school syllabus in the US.
And, with the American market in mind, there has also been a slight tweak to the name – from DoodleMaths to DoodleMath.
The app motivates children to improve their maths by awarding them credits and accessories for their pet character avatar as they tackle each mathematical challenge.
As a child uses the app, DoodleMaths uses a feedback algorithm to detect the child’s strengths and weaknesses and develops a continually-evolving programme of study that is tailored to each individual.
It is a busy summer for Tom and Nicola, who in September will launch a version of the app that is aimed at schools. DM Schools will have multi-user functionality and enable teachers to monitor individual and whole-class progress in real time.
Tom and Nicola are both maths teachers, and the idea for the app was inspired by them watching their own children interact with an iPad.
Tom, who along with Nicola also runs the Kip McGrath Education Centre in Bath, said: “I’ve always been passionate about teaching and I had very clear ideas about how I felt maths should be taught even before we had the concept for the app. I’d started to introduce those ideas at the tuition centre and then when I saw our own children pick up an iPad, I realised we could extend the ideas to a much wider audience.
“It’s exciting that we now have an audience in the United States too, although it’s still early days for us in that market. But as maths is such a fundamental, universal skill, we are confident DoodleMath can match the success we’ve had in the UK.”
From an early stage children from around the Bath area were involved in the app’s development, with Bathford Primary and Writhlington Schools providing input.
Nicola said: “The feedback we’ve had has been excellent and has inspired us to develop DM Schools. We’ve had children with a DoodleMaths age of eight-and-a-half years and they’ve then made two-and-a-half years of progress in just a few weeks.”
But hitting the top 10 list for educational apps on the UK App Store was something that was only achieved after painstaking research, explained Tom.
“Research is absolutely essential for successful app development,” he said. “Does your idea fill a gap in the App Store? If it doesn’t, think again. If it does, then go for it and get as much feedback as you can along the way.”
More information about the app is available at www.doodle-maths.co.uk.
At Cahootify we believe in helping people do more of the work that they love by giving them the tools and resources to make projects happen. At core, this means an online, beautifully designed and fun to use team-building platform. You can use Cahootify to post projects / build a team, find projects / join a team or manage a ‘talent pool’ of freelancers, consultants or volunteers.
Until a few years ago, I’d almost always been an independent professional. For twenty years or so I made a living from various disciplines – freelancing as a graphics operator, freelancing as a web developer, working as a musician, running small businesses… all sorts. During this time I was also involved in projects that were about developing new skills and abilities, or about doing something that I felt was of value to people, or both. Cahootify is the online platform I always wanted.
Well, we’re pre-launch so I guess most of our challenges are still to come. It’s been amazingly plain sailing so far in terms of building the team and attracting interest from potential partners and the like but we’ve just hit our first real challenge, which is to close our seed investment round – and we haven’t yet overcome it.
Whilst Cahootify is going extremely well in many ways, that’s also making things difficult because we don’t have the resources to follow up on the tremendous and rising amount of interest. None of us is of independent means so we do now need cash investment in order to be able to continue.
What has been your biggest success to date?
Speaking personally, and bearing in mind that we are still pre-launch, the biggest success so far was probably when we enrolled a certain Mr. Simon Starr on to the team, who’s now our CTO and Lead Developer. In the world of tech startups, there are far more people with bright ideas looking for partner technologists than there are technologists on the other side of the equation. Finding a truly talented and experienced co-founder to take responsibility for the technical arena, who also has the right kind of entrepreneurial spirit, is like gold dust. I feel honoured.
Have you been able to access any funding for startups?
Not as such, no, though I estimate that the core and supporting teams have put in around £70k worth of “sweat equity” thus far. We launched a crowdfunding campaign on Seedrs about a month ago and there’s currently about £5k sitting in our account, which we can’t get our hands on yet and we’ll lose if we don’t reach our £60k target. Of course, we are going to reach our target – one hundred percent no doubt! (Gulp.) We’re also in the process of applying to the Nominet Trust and the South West Local Enterprise Partnership “Going for Growth” fund, both of which we seem to tick all the boxes for.
Chris Mattingly, Co-Founder of Queen’s Square based ecommerce company Blublot, gives the low-down on moving traditional businesses online.
“The recent cold snap and subsequent impact on high street sales has made a lot of businesses consider online sales as a backup to their business. At Blubolt we provide powerful ecommerce solutions to retailers around the world, and here I am going to share some of my tips for creating a really strong ecommerce platform with you.
When you decide to create an ecommerce site, your first thoughts are likely to be around how that site might look and function, and how much it is going to cost you. Initially, scoping out what your competitors are doing online will show you what works, and what doesn’t. You should consider what you might do to emulate or improve on your competitors sites, and how you’re going to convey this effectively to your chosen agency.
Prioritise your requirements using the MoSCoW method – ‘must’, ‘should’, ‘could’, ‘won’t’. What can and can’t you live with on your new site and how does this influence timings and cost. Use these requirements to set a realistic budget. Bear in mind that a full-solution eCommerce site doesn’t just include web-design, it often includes complex technical requirements that take time to build.
Next, find an agency that understands your business and your goals. This needs to be a long-term decision, not just a ‘fire-and-forget’ one-time build. Choose an agency that is passionate, not just about your business but about what they do and how they’re pushing boundaries. There is no one size fits all agency, they come with varying strengths and specialities and you need to consider how these fit with your business needs.
Most agencies will require a detailed, well thought out ‘Request For Proposal’, commonly referred to as a RFP. When you receive quotes back compare them carefully – don’t just go for the cheapest – eCommerce solutions vary dramatically in cost. Consider how much you really need to invest to see a return.
Consider how feature-rich the solution you’re being offered is ‘out of the box’ and how much you will need to commission as bespoke work. Also consider whether you should separate out the design and technical development of your new site – it is common for design agencies to partner with technical solution providers to give a complete solution.
Technically, consider how the new site will integrate with other systems you use. It might need to integrate with your accounts package or your stock control system. This will add additional expense but will be worth considering from the outset.
Think about how you’ll take payments online. What ‘payment service providers’, or PSPs, does the eCommerce solution integrate with? It is worth negotiating commission rates not only with your chosen PSP but also with your bank.
Consider whether you have the technical resources in-house to manage the new site, and any training your team might need. It is also important to understand early on the amount of control you’ll have to maintain your site, and how much you’ll have to rely on your agency. Make sure you’re given enough control to be able to regularly update key marketing and catalogue content without having to rely on someone else to do it.
Plan the marketing of your site into your overall strategy. Be realistic – if you’re starting a brand new eCommerce site it isn’t going to revolutionise your business overnight. Acquiring customers and traffic takes time and hard work.
By focusing on your marketing from the start of the project you can consider how people will find your site, how you’ll engage in online/offline marketing activities and how you’ll entice customers to come back. You might need to think about how your eCommerce site fits with your physical shops – does the platform support core features like ‘Click and Collect’ for example?
Finally, as with any major project, think about how you will analyse your data. The platform needs to allow access to the basics of the data you collect to allow for effective marketing. You need to be able to easily determine which are the most popular products, who the most loyal customers are, or what your total sales are.”
Queen’s Square based Blubolt was founded in 2006 by Chris Mattingly and Maxwell Lamb, and has grown to become a major player in the eCommerce sector with a proven track record of producing high end eCommerce sites.
These days going to a top university and getting a first class degree isn’t always enough to impress companies recruiting graduates.
At Bath we’re finding that some of the region’s largest employers are looking towards entrepreneurship groups to find the brightest students with added spark.
Last Wednesday saw the final of the University of Baths Students’ Union Enterprise Department ‘Apps Crunch’ competition, which challenged teams of students to come up with novel ideas for mobile apps.
The competition, which was run as part of Bath Digital Festival, was sponsored by Deloitte Digital. They not only financed the event, their staff also played a central role in mentoring and judging the student teams.
This gave our students a great opportunity to meet with and discuss real app development problems with industry experts, but it also gave Deloitte a chance to meet some of the University’s very best students face to face early in their studies.
During the event four short-listed entries pitched to a panel of tech experts, which included members from Deloitte Digital, as well as local business owners from Bath’s digital scene.
The winning entry came from three mathematics students: PhD researchers Daniel Sutton and Andrea Fernandez, along with MA student Ben Pring. Their dating app WLTM (‘Would Like To Meet’) impressed the judges with its innovative business model and live video-chat function.
The student’s prize package included VIP tickets to elements of Bath Digital Festival, and the chance to work on their app with Bath alumnus Gerard Grech, now head of mobile strategy & content for Nokia.
While this was clearly a fantastic prize, the real benefit for both this team and all the others involved was the opportunity to develop their own company ideas and discuss them with mentors from the region’s best tech companies.
In addition to the formal competition prizes, the students formed mentor relationships, were invited to hack events, given work experience opportunities and in general have made some fantastic contacts.
And the companies involved have the opportunity to work with some very bright young people, helping to shape their learning experience ahead of the time when they’ll come to look for employment.
Being involved in the running of the University of Bath Student Union’s entrepreneurship and enterprise programmes is inspiring – it is great to see what the students came up with in such a short period of time.
There is a huge amount of opportunity for universities and industry to work together to shape the future generation of innovators, entrepreneurs and managers. By developing more programmes like the ‘Apps Crunch’ we can match great students with forward thinking industry mentors for the benefit of all.
We’re always keen to hear from companies interested in getting involved in events like ‘Apps Crunch’. If you’d like to know more please do contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
University of Bath student Jack Franklin has been named in the 2013 ‘.Net Awards‘ as one of the top ten ‘brilliant young web developers’ to watch.
The .Net Awards are publicly nominated to create a shortlist, which is then assessed by a panel of 50 industry judges.
Jack Franklin is a 3rd year BSc Computer Science student, currently on his placement year with Kainos as a Software Engineer. He is well known in Bath’s digital community and has been very involved in his university community too, as Chair of the Bath Student Computer Science Society in his second year of study, and as a student ambassador for his department.
Jack was recently asked by Addy Osmani to contribute to his book Backbone Fundamentals, which was published by O’Reilly and was freely available on the internet too. He helped to write the chapter on using Backbone with RequireJS. Jack’s first book, Testing with CoffeeScript, was recently published as a free mini book and has had over 2000 downloads to date. The book looks at TDD with the JS library Jasmine, whilst writing all the code in CoffeeScript.
Alan Hayes, Jack’s tutor at the University of Bath, said: “Jack is one of those students who makes the most of every opportunity available to him. He continues to impress as he progresses through university, and is set for great heights in the future. We wish him all the best with the .Net awards and commend his achievement in being named ‘one to watch’.”
Bath startup Jowst has announced this week that it has been acquired by US based Xfire.
Jowst is a community platform that aims to centralise a players gaming experience. For both casual and competitive gamers it aims to offer a comprehensive and unique reward and results system to show each player’s achievements and losses through their public profile.
Founder and CEO Gavin Weeks said: “We’re very excited to announce that Jowst has been acquired by Xfire.
“We are very passionate about rewriting the rules of how gamers create, host and participate in tournaments and are confident our product is capable of delivering this. Now we’re joining the Xfire team to accomplish a much bigger vision — one that can only be achieved with Xfire’s support and guidance. We’d like to extend a special thanks to all of our alpha testers who have supported us and given us priceless feedback, allowing us to build the foundations of a fantastic product.
“We have had an amazing experience building Jowst over the last 18 months and look forward to continuing to do so as part of the Xfire family. Full speed ahead!”
After a fantastic festival this year we are extremely grateful to our gold sponsors, The Agency, who not only supported as a gold sponsor in the SPARKies but also as the sole sponsor of the Family Weekend in Queen’s Square.
The Agency is a Bath based advertising and communications business, servicing global brands in international markets. With more than 80% of revenue being driven from digital and technology based accounts, notable international clients include AA, BSM, Boots, BT, Del Monte, Tom Tom, Intercasino and QVC and most recently the James Caan Foundation. The Agency have also pioneered new targeting techniques using digital media channels and advertising platforms in partnership with The Times and Wall Street Journal. This has secured North American company Quintiles, the largest pharmaceuticals CRO and clinical trials company in the world, as a long term client.
Founded in 2008, The Agency is one of the UK’s fastest growing agencies. With a current team of 15-18, including two recent Bath graduates, they expect to expand to around 28 people by the end of the year. In 2012 the Agency were ranked 43 in the UK’s Top 100 Agencies (RAR) based on financial success, client reviews, as well as peer regard.
I spoke to Saman Mansourpour, co-founder and partner of the Agency, about running a highly successful international business from Bath and why they felt it was important to support Bath Digital Festival:
Which project are you most proud of?
I think it would be re-positioning BSM to the youth market. We helped to drive their business online and increase brand awareness of 17-24 year olds to 97%. We also got to work with celebrities such as Pixie Lott and JLS which was great. Helping to define and measure digital media will be the biggest part of the business going forward I’m sure because its all about what can brands do in that environment and how can you capture that activity and quantify it in a commercial way. This will help our clients know, first and foremost, what works and what doesn’t and secondly, how to proportion their budgets accordingly so they know what the online channels are really delivering for them commercially both short and long term. Therefore, for that reason, we’ve also invested this year quite heavily in a digital media team. We’ve got a new planning director, digital media manager and we’ve started to buy quite a lot of media and it’s helping to close that loop for us. So now we’re all the way through from coming up with the strategy, the campaign, the creative to actually getting it pushed out into the media, monitoring and measuring what happens,and taking the learnings and optimising that process. The integration means it’s across all of those digital media channels.
As a sponsor for our festival why do you think it’s important to support Bath’s digital community?
Well, we’re based here first and foremost [laughs]. It’s our home city, we should support it and be seen to support it. We do business here and we do business from here so that in itself is a good reason to support the city as a whole. From a selfish perspective, as Bath thrives and the digital scene in Bath thrives, then we thrive. But equally, for that to work it needs to be a virtuous circle, and we need to give back to the city as well. So for us it’s not just about sponsoring the Festival to help the events take place, it’s about being part of it and helping to promote it as well. The more notoriety Bath gets, the more people come here and thrive here, the more people we’ll hopefully get to work, engage with and learn from. If we can make this a technological hub of advancement then that can only be a good thing for everybody involved. We will benefit from that and in turn our clients benefit from that as well. As an agency we have to be mindful of that- we’re only ever as good as the last thing we’ve done for our clients. We’ve always got to be offering them and delivering them something new to keep their brands abreast of the market and that’s what we strive to do so the city will play a really big role in that . The university in particular will continue to play a part in that so as we grow we hope that the digital scene will grow as well and should be symbiotic.
Do you think there is anything Bath can do as a city to attract more digital companies?
I think that on a wishlist for the digital scene here to grow, the employment opportunities need to grow and by virtue of that it means we’re going to need more companies here doing business. So, as a city, we probably need to attract businesses, small, medium and large, not just start up operations. There’s a lot of start ups that come out of Bath, they’re important, they’re great, we need them and they can be the bedrock to a thriving culture. But, ultimately, it requires some level of scale and we need to have businesses that are bigger, businesses that have more money to invest in R&D and more money to invest in people and growth. I think Bristol does a very good job, it’s bigger, there’s more square footage, there’s more people, by definition it’s easier for them. However, I think Bath has a certain intelligence about the population and certainly the university helps to feed that and we have to make sure that we keep that here and we don’t just let it run off to London and come back when it fancies kicking it’s feet up and having an easier life because that’s not necessarily when people are at their best. The university provides some excellent digital students so we want those people all the way through, we want them to learn here, stay here, be here and hopefully retire here.
Thanks again to The Agency for their generous support. You can find further information about their services on their website www.theagencyonline.co.uk.
Behind most successful companies there is usually a very good mentor, and support in making big business decisions is invaluable but often no publicly recognised. This award gives those benefitting from good mentoring an opportunity to say thank you publicly for the support they’ve received.
Sponsored by The Agency, the Best Mentor category looked for entries who had given their own time and resources to support others in achieving success in the digital and tech sector.
Shortlisted for this award we have:
Mike Wilsher. who is an advisor and mentor to some of this region’s best known technology companies and founders including Gradwell, Moresoda, The House and Storm Consultancy. In total he mentors around twenty MD’s from across the Bath and Bristol region and is considered by many simply to be the best there is. His track record looks pretty good too, with mentee’s net assets growing by almost 40% year-on-year. The person nominating Mike said: “Whilst many mentors can be applauded for their time, effort, goodwill – Mike can not only claim those, he can also say he really does get results. Mike has utterly changed the way I work, and run my business for the better.”
Gavin Eddy, an ex-investment banker, angel investor and founder of workhub provider Forward Space, has generously given his time to countless students, supported networking events, contributed significantly to enterprise education at the University of Bath by delivering workshops and presentations at conferences and BANTER Bath Entrepreneur events. He has also attended award ceremonies and launches, talks and presentations and provided invaluable advice and support. Since 2006 he has chaired the judging of 7 annual business plan competitions at the University of Bath – reading and giving feedback on over 1000 ideas. He has read and commented on over 500 business ideas and over 50 full business plans – giving detailed feedback on each plan and chairing the judging panel as the finalists pitch their ideas. Gavin’s comments to the student businesses have been wise, well-chosen and challenging.
Rob Brown works in the film industry and is also a new lecturer in film production at Bath Spa University. The student nominating Rob for this award said: “Rob’s support, experience and enthusiasm stood out in not only helping myself but our whole class to drastically improve our methods of film making.” Rob has encouraged students to specialise in specific roles like script writing, camera operating or directing, and as a result three student films have been nominated for the Student RTS awards. Many of the projects are being entered into short film competitions nationally and internationally.
Rob has gond above and beyond in mentoring students, bringing in guest lecturers that were at the top of their game in terms of their trade, giving students insight into how they could learn and be inspired from the very best.
To find out who wins the award for the best mentor at The SPARKies come to our fantastic party at Komedia on 20 March!
The companies shortlisted for the Biggest Success Story of 2012 are Complete Control, Mubaloo and Rockpool Digital.
To find the biggest success story in 2012, The SPARKies judges were looking for nominees that could demonstrate significant growth, some form of sector recognition or a technological breakthrough.
In 2012 Complete Control had a fantastic year; they were winner’s of The 2012 SPARKies ‘Best Digital Design Agency’, and their first original IP game concept was commissioned by Cartoon Network – a hugely ambitious multiplayer online sports game called SuperStadia and a ground breaking project the small, but perfectly formed, digital agency. The concept was so well received that Cartoon Network commissioned SuperStadia as their worldwide offering for children’s online sporting games across ALL their global websites – so a massively prestigious project for the talented Bath based agency.
Aside from this, Complete Control also created the new BAFTA kids website, seeing the most successful amount of votes ever – a massive 590,000 kids votes in just 4 weeks. Complete Control’s work with Bath Spa University has resulted in their Sutdent Employee win Student of The Year 2012 and subsequently they have been nominated for National Graduate Recruitment awards alongside Cap Gemini and American Express. They’ve really set the standard for success for 2013!
Bristol based Rockpool Digital was commissioned to produce Red Bull’s website, online game, interactive experiences and social integration for one of the biggest events of 2012 – Felix Baumgartner’s Stratos Jump. The result? Over 9 million people watched the jump online. With over 8 million concurrent streams on YouTube, it became the biggest event in their history. Rockpool Digital’s website received over 22 million users on jump day and over 150,000 people played the game to guess where Felix would land. Social media usage was amazing with over 3.1 million tweets about Stratos on jump day and over half of the trending topics relating to the jump. Facebook shares of the image of Felix on the ground reached over 29,000 in 40 minutes and the group page collected 800,000 likes, with 216,000 of these coming on the day of the jump.
Stratos will be the content marketing project by which others are judged in the future. For Rockpool Digital, the global attention is one of the defining moments in their history and without a doubt made 2012 a standout year with such an incredible success.
Mubaloo was founded by Mark Mason in 2009, seizing the opportunity presented by the growing app market. 2012 has seen a number of successes for the company with new clients acquired including BP, Schroders, Met Office, RAF and Argos, Mubaloo is not only growing in terms of client base, but also in terms of financial growth, in numbers of staff employed and in technical experience.
Over the last 12 months, Mubaloo has developed an array of enterprise apps from an iPad presentation tool for Schroders, to a location based logistics app for DHL and an events app for the London Stock Exchange. Mubaloo is also listed as a recommended enterprise app developer by Apple. Mubaloo has also developed a number of successful consumer apps for clients including the Met Office, RAF, Argos, Monocle and William Hill. Mubaloo’s status as an industry leader has been affirmed throughout the past 12 months with a number of very successful thought leader seminars and presentations, as well the level of PR that Mubaloo has achieved.
Over the last year Mubaloo has received coverage in The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Drum, Mobile Marketing Magazine, BBC, Strategy Eye, the Evening Post, Android Magazine, and Digital Arts Magazine to name a few – all of which have been highlights for the company. Last year Mubaloo won a number of awards. These include App Developer of the Year 2012 at the Appsters and Best Enterprise App Developer at the 2012 Mobile Entertainment awards. The company also won Business of the Year 2012 and Best company employing under 100 people at the Post Business Awards. All in all, Mubaloo has had a fantastic year and looks to be set for more great things to come…
This category, sponsored by Bath Spa University, was extremely strong and demonstrates that 2012 was a fantastic year for many of our region’s tech and digital organisations.
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