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You do the math! Bath developers launch educational app in the States

DoodleMathsAn educational app developed by a husband and wife team in Bath has been launched on the US market after becoming a top-selling educational app on the App Store in the UK.

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.

DoodleMathsAs 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.”

Nicola Chilman and Tom Minor of DoodleMaths

Nicola Chilman and Tom Minor’s DoodleMaths app has had 50,000 downloads 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.

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Jowst acquired by Xfire

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!”

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The SPARKies 2013 shortlist!

We’re pleased to reveal those shortlisted for The SPARKies 2013 awards – celebrating the very best of the region’s digital and tech sector.

The winners will be announced during a fantastic awards ceremony on Wednesday 20 March hosted by award-winning comedian Jarred Christmas at Komedia Bath. Tickets for the ceremony will be available to buy through the Komedia website from Tues 5 March.

The ceremony is made possible by the kind support of our headline sponsors the Innovation Centre, our gold sponsors Eden Ventures, The Agency and Deloitte, and also all of our silver sponsors.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be posting longer pieces through this blog on each category, so do check back to see the stories behind our 2013 shortlist.

Congratulations to all of our shortlisted entries, presented here in no particular order:

The One to Watch in 2013
Mike Barlow @ myHealthPal

Individual contribution to tech
Stuart Farrimond
Paul Kane
Phil Willis

Best tech entrepreneur
Mike Barlow
Glynn Hayward
Mark Mason

Best mentor/adviser
Mike Wilsher
Gavin Eddy
Rob Brown

Totally Killing It – competing globally from the south west
The Agency
Catchy Agency

The Good Award
Charlotte Caulkin for TEDxYouth
Neil Burgess for Cura
Marcelle Speller for Localgiving.com

Best Service Provider to the Tech Sector
The Innovation Centre

Future SPARK
Urban Tribe
James Isbister & Alex Marshall
Ollie Marshall

Best Digital Design Project
Future Insights
The Agency
Complete Control – World Book Day

Best App of 2012
Mubaloo & the Met Office
Opposable Games

Biggest Success Story of 2012
Rockpool Digital
Complete Control

Best Startup
Opposable Games

Competition this year was extremely high and our judges struggled to form a shortlist. Congratulations must also go to those who came really close to making the list, and were highly commended by judges, inlcuding; StoreNextDoor, Steel Media, Hammer, Mac Format, Creative Bloq and WeLoveBath.

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Launched from Bath: myTalky social voicemail

Bath-based developers Alamex Limited have launched their new app ‘myTalky‘ this week which allows users to record and send audio messages.

The electronic message system can send audio messages of up to 140 seconds long to social network contacts via Twitter.  Users log in to myTalky through their web browser or can download the app, record their message, and send it either privately to individual contacts or publicly to all their followers.

Alamex Limited has been creating apps, websites and white labelling digital services for more than a decade. The company is best known for its visual communication app iHi and its translation version, iHi Translate.

Founder and CEO Neil Stanley said: “We are really excited to launch not just a new venture – but what we believe is a completely new concept: Social Voicemail. No-one else is offering an audio service that connects via the social network and is so intuitive and useful.  myTalky is unique.”

With a growing team of developers worldwide and two more significant launches planned for early next year, 2013 promises to be an exciting year for Alamex.

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Riot’s Hammer hits top spot

In a week jam-packed with exciting Bath launches, local app development company Riot has released its newest product, ‘Hammer for Mac’.

Impressively, the app hit the #1 spot in the Developer Tools chart in the UK, and initial sales have been strong.

Hammer is a web development tool for designers and developers that aims to make building websites faster and easier.

Developer Elliott Kember says: “If you’re an HTML and CSS developer who’s sick of using PHP, or if you think building websites could be easier, Hammer is for you. With Sass and Coffeescript compilation, Clever Paths and HTML includes, we’ve got everything you might need to write HTML.”

For those readers who don’t know Riot, they’re a small but dedicated team of three developers and two designers with offices on Wood Street in the centre of Bath. Check out their website.

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‘Storenextdoor’ launch

This week saw the much anticipated launch of Bath’s latest startup – a website and peer to peer matchmaking service in the self storage space called Storenextdoor.com.

The founders are seeking to disrupt the traditional self-storage marketplace by providing a neighbourhood based alternative where people with spare space in their home (loft, garage or spare room) can rent it out to people who need space. Given this ambition it seemed only fitting that the party was held at ‘Revolution’ and the date coincided with Global Sharing Day (November 14th).

Storenextdoor was launched at Revolution this week

Storenextdoor aims to ‘disrupt’ the traditional self storage market

Speaking after the event, Co-founder and Community Director Rosie Bennett said that she was delighted with the turnout and overwhelmed by the positive support from the Bath business and tech communities, as well as the local press.

“Bath is a great place to launch a new company at the moment – there is not only a wealth of resource to draw upon (a freelance pool of highly skilled design and tech freelancers) but also a genuine enthusiasm and support structure for innovation and new startups.

“It would be true to say that entrepreneurialism is alive, well and being nurtured in Bath; whether it’s by default of getting deskspace at Digicity or soon to open co-working space, or moral support and advice from fellow entrepreneurs at networking events at the Innovation Centre, Bathspark and Bathcamp.”

The Storenextdoor website certainly seems to have had a strong start with over a thousand visitors in the first two weeks. However, the team are under no illusion about the marketing and logistical challenge ahead. As with any new brand getting the customer proposition right is key, and the collaborative consumption business model is no ordinary proposition.

As Rosie says: “Our ambition is to be a nationwide brand – but as with any peer to peer service it’s important to roll out neighbourhood by neighbourhood.

“The real value for Storenextdoor users is to feel that they are connected on a local level. As well as sophisticated targeting online  we are going door to door in an old school marketing campaign. And where better to start than in our own communities – so if you see me on your street in my Squirrel outfit please say hello!”

To learn more about the origins of the company and Founder Dom Moorhouse see this earlier Bath Digital blog post.

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Congratulations Bardowl!

Congratulations to Bardowl CEO Chris Book on winning the CEO Summit Award for Innovation this week at the Meffys awards.

The Meffy’s are coveted global awards for mobile content and commerce, and are the industry’s official benchmark for measuring success and rewarding innovation.

Now in their 9th year, entries from over 35 countries were represented at the awards ceremony, and were judged by expert panels of independent journalists, analysts, academics and VCs.

The CEO Summit Award for Innovation is a new award category, and recognises the most innovative products, services and initiatives in mobile content and commerce over the past year.

Participants pitched their businesses to 200 assembled leaders from leading mobile entertainment and commerce organisations around the world. The CEOs then voted for the best company to win the award.

Chris received the global accolade for his startup Bardowl, which is rapidly reinventing the audiobook. Bardowl subscribers pay just £9.99 a month for unlimited immediate access to a diverse audiobook catalogue, and favourite books are cached for those awkward moments when there is no internet signal.

Chris said: “Our objective with Bardowl was to get more people listening to audiobook content – especially those who are time-poor and always on the go. Our business model really opens up the world of audiobooks to those who wouldn’t have previously considered listening to books rather than reading them.

“Winning the Meffy award is a huge honour. Having our innovation recognised on the international stage by the MEF CEO summit is phenomenally exciting – and it means a lot that mobile CEOs get what we’re doing.

“I am really grateful to those who’ve helped get Bardowl to this point, with special thanks to designer Laura Kalbag and Bath-based app developers Intohand.”

Chris received the award at a glistening event in London, hosted by singer and comedian Paddy Cullivan and his band, the Camembert Quartet. The ceremony was attended by an international audience of top industry executives and press.

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Bath start-up Mystery Applicant triumphs in Silicon Valley competition

A start-up from Bath has proved it’s a match for Silicon Valley’s tech firms after winning an international competition for companies specialising in recruitment software.

Mystery Applicant, which is based in North Parade, beat rival bids from 50 other applicants to take the spoils at the Recruiting Innovation Summit in Mountain View, California.

Nick Price, founder of award-winning start-up firm Mystery Applicant. Picture: Kevin Bates, Bath News & Media/The Bath Chronicle

The company’s founder, Nick Price, collected the award of $10,000 after pitching his business to leading lights in the human resources industry. The award was presented at the Computer Science Museum in Silicon Valley.

Mystery Applicant provides an online software tool that records a candidate’s experience of a firm’s recruitment process, providing data to HR departments about the perceptions, motivations and experience that applicants have when they apply for a post.

Nick said: “We are incredibly proud to have won this award against strong competition from other companies around the world.

“It’s testament to our technology, our team and our vision that we were the chosen winners.

“The money is brilliant, but the recognition of what we’re doing is really good too.”

Among Mystery Applicant’s clients is global security firm G4S, which receives tens of thousands of applications a month.

“We are already working with global companies who are realising the benefits of being able to measure their employer brand and refine their recruitment processes,” added Nick. “Companies invest huge sums of money in attracting the best talent so providing the best recruitment experience really matters.

This post is based on an article that originally appeared in The Bath Chronicle

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Bath publishing giant Future continues growth in digital markets

Bath’s largest private sector employer is continuing to spread its tentacles around the globe as it stays ahead of the curve  in digital publishing.

Since Mark Wood took the hot seat at Future in October following the resignation of previous CEO Stevie Spring, the digital specialist has acclererated the company’s evolution from in-print magazine specialist to all-singing, all-dancing digital pioneer.

Future CEO Mark Wood

Mark Wood has accelerated Future's digital expansion since becoming CEO

Figures released this week show the company is striding boldly, rapidly and successfully into digital markets – and is becoming an increasingly global presence.

Interim results for the half-year to the end of March show Future’s digital revenues grew 37 per cent to £9.6 million. Future’s sales on the iPad have now passed £3 million following the launch of Apple’s Newsstand in October 2011. In the UK, digital growth offset a decline in print revenues.

The growth of the iPad and other tablet devices as a means of consuming media is central to Future’s strategy, and one figure that caught my eye is that 80 per cent of its iPad sales are outside the UK.

Future is fast becoming a business whose products are consumed all over the globe –  but Bath remains the beating heart of its operations.

“Bath is the biggest centre in Future and the centre of a lot of our innovation,”  chief executive Mark Wood told The Bath Chronicle. “We have first-class people and it’s the driving force of the business in most ways.”

Future’s operating profit before exceptional items was down five per cent to £1.8 million, with revenues down four per cent year-on-year to £59.1 million. The figures are based on the exclusion of revenues and costs relating to activities that Future has closed since October 2010.

The figures represent a significant improvement on results for the year to September, when Future lodged an adjusted pre-tax profit for the year of £5.1 million, down 39 per cent on 2010. The ship, it seems, has been steadied with Wood’s hand on the tiller.

For more of Mark Wood’s thoughts on Future’s Bath operations, and for news of a tie-up between the University of Bath’s computer science department and special effects firm Double Negative, see this week’s Bath Chronicle.

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Future leading the way in digital editions

Bath-based publishing giant Future have announced digital edition sales of 150,000 copies of its magazines across the entire portfolio, with the digital edition of T3 the cream of the crop, according to New Media Age.

The digital version of the popular gadget magazine has claimed number one spot for highest grossing app on Apple’s Newsstand selling on average 14,223 copies per month from July to December 2011 (according to independent audit from Bright Grahame Murray).

Future is due to release the ABCs (Audited Bureau of Circulation official numbers) for its print magazines later today, but this earlier announcement goes to show how much of an emphasis the publishing firm is putting on its digital editions.


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