About Rich Foreman

Rich Foreman is the CEO of Apptology. He leads Apptology with 20 years of experience in leadership, engineering, mobile application development and sales. Rich has a BS in Industrial Engineering from the University of Washington, an MPA from Troy State University and was an officer in the US Navy. Rich recently co-authored his first book, “Tap into the Mobile Economy." He has been featured on KCRA3, NEWS10, SiliconIndia, the Sacramento Business Journal, and the Sacramento Bee.

211info App: Adapting to a Mobile Population

211info is a non-profit based in based in Portland, Oregon; they provided referral services for local community services in the State of Oregon and 4 counties in Southwest Washington.  Traditionally, their clients would dial “211” and their team would answer the phone and verbally provide them the answers.  As technology has progressed, they have taken queries from email, SMS, and there is also a self-serve tool on their web site.

211info received a grant from the Oregon Department of Human Services / Child Welfare Division to develop a mobile app to expand their capabilities.   The 211info team developed the user interface in-house and partnered with Apptology to do the coding.  Apptology was able to develop an iPhone and Android app that leverages 211info’s resources database.

The app is a self-serve tool allows their clients to search for local resources.  One of the features of the app is that it will use the user’s location by leveraging the smart phone’s GPS capabilities.  The resource’s description, address, phone number, and web site are displayed and can also be viewed in a map view.  The user can further use the smart phone’s capabilities by using tap-to-call, view their web site, and get turn by turn directions.    Users can also call, email, or text 211info team within the app for further assistance.

In developing the app, 211info was acknowledging the fact that smartphones have widespread adoption and is nearly ubiquitous among young adults.   The adoption has been relatively easy and 15% of inquiries to 211info now come from the app.   A surprising base of users has been health and human services workers.

“I was at a Health Round-Up and someone needed some direction on resources. I pulled out my 211info mobile app and was able to easily direct them to an agency. It was so easy!”

-Michelle Homer-Anderson

(Southern Oregon Head Start Director)

When asked about feedback about the app, Matthew Rasmussen, Coordinator at Oregon Department of Human Services, responded, “The app is simple and easy to use, yet visibly streamline and functional. As a result we have seen an impressive number of downloads and expect this trend to continue. Our goal in developing an app is to engage and assist young people with meeting their own basic needs using technology they already use. Our target audience already uses their phones for nearly everything they do and we want to meet them where they already are, offering them the information they need in an easy to use platform. We believe we achieve this goal with the app.”

Emily Berndt, 211info Director of Partnerships, stated that they are tracking the feedback on the app and overall, it has been overwhelmingly positive.  They definitely see the advantages of having a mobile app has had to their customer base and see it as a useful tool for other referral agencies such as theirs.

Please note if you download the app and you’re not in 211info’s service area, the app will only give the option to call, email or text for referral info.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

 

 

 

From Global to Local, AngelHack Heads Back to Sac!

I found my way into the wonderful world of startups at 24 years old, newly graduated, and excited about making a positive impact on the world. When I first joined AngelHack I didn’t know what a hackathon was (a 36-hour long coding competition), or realize the crazy journey that I was about to embark on that would take me all over the world.

My first trip took me on a multi-country hackathon tour that started in England and ended in Switzerland. I learned the ins-and-outs of what a hackathon was, who participated, and how to nurture the projects created post-event. From there, I went on to Australia, Spain, Thailand, Mexico City, London, Zurich, Fiji, and several places within the United States including Las Vegas, New York, Houston, Austin, and Hawaii. During this time, I explored different tech scenes, met tons of new friends, and saw some developers, designers, and even some non-technical entrepreneurs build some pretty impressive apps.

In 2014 we encouraged our community to become ‘Whole Developers’; a concept AngelHack coined that encourages developers to learn business soft skills to adequately and accurately describe what they built. In 2015 we watched their ‘Thoughts Become Things’ by taking the winning hackathon ideas from around the world, turning them into startup realities. Last year, we proved that ‘Anyone. Can. Code’ regardless of your skill sets, and brought out 52% more hackers than any series in the past.

I truly fell in love with the hackathon culture and community.

While this life of travel, and exploration is more than I ever could have hoped for, there is nothing quite like coming back home to Sacramento. Like a majority of my colleagues, I am based in Sacramento with lots of fond memories of this place. Compared to some other cities it is small, but I have never seen so much heart, coffee, or farm fresh food in one place.

For these reasons, and many others I am beyond excited to bring AngelHack’s 10th Global Hackathon Competition: ‘Commit To Your Code’ to my home town!

A little behind this year’s theme: Commit To Your Code. Since 2011, AngelHack has been in the business of organizing, facilitating, and executing hackathons – however, something some may not know about us is that we are also in the business of accelerating hackathon ideas. Having perfected the sourcing process over the course of our ten global hackathon series’, we invite each winning hackathon project into our HACKcelerator; ensuring global representation during our 12-week program, Silicon Valley week, and Annual Global Demo Day.

You can get a glimpse of this from the documentary Seed, now streaming on Amazon Prime, which shows the entrepreneurial journey of three startups from Nairobi, Palestine, and Palo Alto – all of whom went through our program last year.

While I am excited to bring a hackathon to Sacramento, I am even more excited to have Sacramento representation in our HACKcelerator this year! Though small, the tech community in Sacramento is thriving, and stock piled full of, super talented entrepreneurs.

Join us June 24th-25th in Sacramento at The Urban Hive for your chance to gain entry into our HACKcelerator, and represent SacTown with the top 1% of developers, designers, and entrepreneurs, globally!  Use: kels for a free ticket as a thank you for reading!

Our guest blogger, Kelsey Ruiz, is the PR and Media Relations Manager for AngelHack.

Sign Up for the 3rd Annual Startup Grind Summer Party

Startup Grind Sacramento will be hosting the 3rd Annual Startup Grind Summer Party on July 11th at the Urban Hive.  Unlike our normal monthly event which features an interview with an accomplished entrepreneur, this event is just a party to celebrate the Sacramento Startup Community.  We’ll have food, adult beverages, and live music.  Best of all, it’s free.

The party will feature tables with 10 Startups.  If you would like a table to promote your startup at this party, you can sign up here.  Our party typically has over 200 attendees and we have had some media coverage.  Here’s Mark S. Allen giving the Startup Grind Summer Party some TV coverage.

Here’s the event info:

Date:  July 11, 2017

Time:  6 pm – 9 pm

Location:      The Urban Hive

                        1931 H Street

                        Sacramento, CA 95811

Fee:  Free (but you have to register here)

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

SMUD offering up to $100K Sponsorships to Nonprofits

One of the great things that I like about the Sacramento region is that I often see entrepreneurs creating nonprofits.   SMUD, our local electric service, just announced some great news for nonprofits—they’re awarding grants of up to $100K to nonprofits through their new Shine program.

To be eligible, the applicant must be a 501 c3 or 501 c6 located within SMUD’s service territory.  The types of projects that SMUD is looking for include:

  • Neighborhood revitalization
  • STEM Education
  • Environmental, energy efficiency, greenhouse gas reduction, and energy conversation
  • General beautification

SMUD is offering three levels of sponsorship:

Spark Sponsorships ($10 K or less):  Short-term (less than 3 months) and requires 50% fund matching.

Amplifier Sponsorships (up to $50 K): 3-6 month projects and requires a dollar for dollar match.

Transformer Sponsorships (Up to $100 K): 6-12 month projects and requires a dollar for dollar match.

“We want to help local communities make permanent improvements that will benefit their residents for years,” said Erica Manuel, SMUD’s manager of community relations, education and economic development. “Our new Shine program provides a great opportunity for nonprofits to receive the resources they need to really make a difference.”

The projects will be awarded based on the potential impact on the local community.  The deadline to apply is June 26, 2017.  More info can be found here:  smud.org/Shine.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

Highlights From the 2017 Apple WWDC

Apple held their annual WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) in San Jose, CA on June 5, 2017.  Tim Cook, Apple CEO, kicked off the keynote to 5,000 developers  by declaring this will be the biggest WWDC (I had to chuckle because he says this every year).  Here are the things I found interesting in the two hour and half hour keynote.

 

Apple HomePad

As predicted, Apple announced, HomePad, which directly competes with the Amazon Echo and Google Home.  They positioned it as a cross between a high end wireless speaker (specifically comparing it to Sonos) and voice assistant (aka Amazon Echo).   They spent a lot of time focusing on the quality of the speakers and it seem like the voice assistant was more of an add-on.   I think they did so to justify the $350 price tag to differentiate it from the other voice assistants which are substantially less expensive.

 

VR Support

I have to admit, whenever they do the hardware demo at the keynotes, I usually find it cliché …wait for it…it’s the most power Mac ever (duh).  What was interesting was their demo of a Star Wars virtual reality scene being developed by Industrial Light and Magic.   Apple is not known for being a gaming platform but they’ve beefed up the iMac Pro to accommodate VR development .

 

Send and Receive Money with Apple Pay

In demoing the updates to iMessage, Apple showed the ability to send and receive money through Apple Pay.  Wait a second; that sounds like Venmo.  Looks like the Peer-to-Peer payment space just got a big competitor.

 

ARKit

One of the more interesting and exciting things I saw as developer is Apple’s announcement of ARKit .  This allows developers to make Augmented Reality apps for the iOS.  For those of you unfamiliar with AR, Pokemon Go is an example.  It will be interesting what developers will do with ARKit.

 

watchOS 4 features Machine Learning

One of the faces of watchOS 4 is that it will use machine learning to display relevant info to the user.  Pretty cool, but I still don’t plan to wear a watch any time soon (why do I need a watch when I already have an iPhone).

There was actually a lot more stuff announced at the keynote.  This was just  the things I found interesting.  To see the entire keynote, just click here.

 

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

MARICOPA COUNTY EARNS NATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR MARICOPA HEALTHY MOBILE APP

WASHINGTON – Maricopa County Dept. of Public Health Nutrition & Physical Activity has been recognized with an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo). The awards honor innovative, effective county government programs that enhance services for residents.

NACo recognized “Healthy Eating and Active Living are a SNAP with Mobile Technology” in the category of Information Technology.  The iPhone App and Android App was developed by Apptology.

NACo President Bryan Desloge said, “Counties overcome complex challenges, provide essential services and constantly do more with less. We applaud these Achievement Award-winning counties for outstanding efforts to improve residents’ quality of life.”

Nationally, awards are given in 18 different categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive services counties provide. The categories include children and youth, criminal justice, county administration, information technology, health, civic engagement and many more.

NACo will recognize award-winning counties at its 2017 Annual Conference and Exposition July 21–24 in Franklin County, Ohio.

Started in 1970, NACo’s annual Achievement Award Program is designed to recognize innovative county government programs. Each nominee is judged on its own merits and not against other applications received.

###

The National Association of Counties (NACo) unites America’s 3,069 county governments. Founded in 1935, NACo brings county officials together to advocate with a collective voice on national policy, exchange ideas and build new leadership skills, pursue transformational county solutions, enrich the public’s understanding of county government and exercise exemplary leadership in public service.  Learn more at www.naco.org

2017 Sacramento Region Innovation Awards Launch

The Second Annual 2017 Sacramento Region Innovation Awards has kicked off and awards will be given out in the following categories:

  • ADVANCED MANUFACTURING (utilizes advanced systems for information management, robotics, and workplace organization)
  • FOOD & AGRIBUSINESS
  • HARDWARE & ELECTRONICS
  • MEDICAL & HEALTH (devices, drugs, diagnostics, medical IT products, etc.)
  • SOFTWARE (consumer/enterprise, social media, apps, gaming, cloud, big data)
  • SUSTAINABILITY (including clean technology, energy, water, climate change adaptation, green building)

You can nominate or self-nominate your technology or product for consideration here.   The awards will be evaluated by notable professionals in the Sacramento Region (Including StartupSac own Laura Good).  Applications are due by July 31, 2017 and announced during the Awards Luncheon on  November 7, 2017.  More information about the awards can be found here.  The coverage of last year’s awards can be seen here.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

2017 UC Davis Big Bang Competition Awards

UC Davis Big Bang Competition is the biggest startup event in Davis.  This year, 70 companies participated in the 8 month program that started in October 2016 and concluded with the final pitches held on May 25th.   Personally, I was impressed with the final presentations.  Here are the award winners of the competition:

1st Place ($10, 000) 

Raydiant Oximetry has developed a low-cost, noninvasive fetal pulse oximeter that keeps mothers and babies safe during labor and delivery. The device is intended to reduce medically unnecessary c-sections that can create health complications to millions of babies and mothers each year and increase healthcare costs.

 

2nd Place ($5,000)

Chromatiscope aims to boost students’ scientific literacy by combining four specialized laboratory devices—each of which costs thousands of dollars—into a single, easy-to-use device that costs just $40 to $70. The result: more students can have the experiences necessary to excel in STEM.

 

People’s Choice ($2,500)

This award was voted by the audience.

AthleticOutlook:  A web-based platform that connects high school and college athletes with NCAA-experienced coaches for evaluations, feedback and resources.

 

Gowan / AGR Challenge Award ($10,000)

Two teams tied for this award and split the cash prize.

FloraPulse is building a data service for growers that provides water stress data for their crops in real time. This could replace current technology (pressure chambers) that dates back to the 1960s and that is slow, expensive and often inaccurate.

ReNew Foods is developing great-tasting, healthy snacks from high-quality rescued fruit and vegetable pressings.

Biomedical Innovation Award ($4,000)

Oomni Inc. is developing a drug called Oomnicoxib. When combined with current chemotherapies, the drug will improve cancer treatment.

 

Global Poverty Alleviation ($3,000)

Reach 1600 Foundation has developed a free, adaptive SAT prep program for students from underserved communities.

Innovation in Food & Agriculture Award ($3,000)

WISRAN identifies operation logistics inefficiencies in real-time for growers to capture profits.

1st Place Food + Ag Innovation Pitch and Poster Contest ($1,000)

Global Water Farms is working on developing solar powered desalination plants.

 

It will be interesting to see how the startups that participated in the competition turn out.  Sierra Energy can trace their roots as a past Big Bang People’s Choice Winner.  If you are interested in participating in next year’s Big Bang’s Competition, check out their site around October.

 

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

 

 

The $400 K Exercise

The idea of creating a SaaS based project management platform for the construction industry came from Todd Robertti while speaking to his father, an industry veteran.  Todd who is also well versed in the construction industry, as well as in software development, knew there was a lot of potential for improvement.

In developing Linkd, Todd and his team had a goal of completing their MVP in time to demo it at the Startup Grind SOCAL Regional Conference.  Although they got accepted into the conference, they did not make the top 20 startups which had the opportunity to pitch to investors.

However, Derek Anderson, Startup Grind CEO, liked their product and offered to put the WireFlare team in front of investors if they could get 5 potential customers to write $5k checks each for future services (the checks could be voided and were only to prove market validation).   A funny thing happened during this exercise; the potential customers actually offered to invest in WireFlare and they inadvertently raised $400 k.

Since then, WireFlare has hired 5 developers, was accepted to the IBM Global Entrepreneur Program, Oracle’s Velocity Program, and Amazon Activate.  In addition, WireFlare was one of the top 50 companies to present, and pitch to investors, at Startup Grind Global 2017.  In May of 2017, WireFlare raised another round of money, expanded their relationship with IBM and introduced plans for incorporating AI through the use of Watson. WireFlare’s platform, called “Linkd”, will be released this September.

The take away from this tale is that ideas, help and guidance come in all forms.  Listen to those around you that want to help, and believe in your product.  More importantly, listen to those who criticize, accept setbacks and be ready to pivot.  Validate, understand and thoroughly research your market. If you build something with expertise and true demand you might even get your potential clientele to invest in your ideas.

 

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

How to Introduce Your Brand New Company to the World in 5 Easy Steps

Compared to established companies, startups often have to play by different rules. They are just starting their journeys into the business world and face additional challenges to conquer early on.

One of the biggest challenges is marketing. Because startups have little to no brand recognition and often offer a niche product or service which might be difficult to explain to outsiders, a foray into marketing has to be carefully considered. Whereas other companies may make use of tried-and-true techniques, startups have to be more creative in order to succeed.

5 Key Steps to Market Your Startup

1. Identify your key audience and influencers

Before you take one step, first identify where you will market your product. A staggering 42 per cent of founders cite a lack of market need as the number one reason for failure. Even if you have an outstanding product or an excellent service, it is absolutely useless unless people actually want to use it.

Of course, that’s not to say you should only cater to an existing audience. Steve Jobs famously said that people don’t know what they want until you give it to them.

For instance, smartphones were adopted extremely quickly, yet few people could have predicted their popularity. Even so, you must understand exactly who your product will be marketed toward so you can create relevant content and marketing campaigns that will actually interest your audience.

2. Analyze and plan accordingly

Entrepreneurs often hear that the majority of startups are doomed to fail before they are even conceived, a notion that is supported by hard statistics. In fact, 90 per cent of startups inevitably fail for one reason or another; that’s a fact every person in the business has to face.

The first step is to make a cohesive plan. As any entrepreneur will tell you, plans are also prone to failure. The turbulent nature of business will render a lot of them useless by the time they are supposed to come into fruition.

Even so, studies have shown that setting challenging and specific goals is linked to more effective performance and increased motivation. When you have clear objectives in sight, you work slowly toward achieving them.

Even if you fail in some steps along the way, keep working toward fulfilling your purpose. Hurdles and obstacles in the entrepreneurial world are not just common; they are to be expected at nearly every turn.

Once you carefully lay out your plans, it’s time to make an in-depth analysis of what makes your startup tick. Before you go into market and start promoting your product, it’s vital to properly understand what your startup is made of. It’s only when you can safely answer all the questions that may be thrown at you that you are actually ready to go out and meet the world.

3. Craft targeted and engaging content

Some of the most effective B2B marketers spend 39 per cent of their marketing budgets on content, and there’s a general trend toward creating relevant, targeted content for specific audiences. That’s why ignoring content creation is a bad idea. After all, the majority of consumers learn about a company through content rather than ads. Though this takes into account a number of different services and ways to serve content, as a startup you may be limited on the type of content marketing that you can create and push.

Blogs, however, are fantastic and inexpensive, and the vast majority of companies employ blogs for marketing purposes. Marketers who prioritize blogging see increased search-engine traffic, build their company’s authority in the industry, improve conversion rates, increase leads, and more. It’s not hard to see the benefits of such a practice, particularly because you have full creative control over what’s happening in your company’s blog. It’s a great way to create a brand identity, reach out to potential consumers, and create much-needed awareness for your brand, your product, and what it entails.

4. Make sure you’re on social media (your competitors already are!)

In this day and age, you have no excuse for not keeping up with social media platforms. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other sites provide a free way of directly reaching out to your target audience. They are great places to promote your brand, explain how your product or service works, and keep your startup in the spotlight for as long as possible.

When you first start, social media management can easily be done by one person—often you, the founder. As you grow, you can always delegate social media marketing to other people within your company. Of course, first educate yourself in how social media marketing works. What you may think is simple and obvious might turn out to be a difficult lesson indeed.

5. Maintain engaging and interactive social media presence

In addition to being social, being interactive is of equal importance. If you maintain a social media presence that is faceless and cold, consumers will turn their backs on you. In the digital age, users expect their questions to be answered and companies to interact with them on a personal level.

As long as you respond immediately (or within two hours), 34 per cent of customers are more likely to complete a purchase with your company. In addition, about 43 per cent are much more likely to recommend your product or service to friends and family as well as promote it through social media. On the other hand, failing to respond may result in customers feeling indifferent about your brand, which means you won’t receive word of mouth advertising and a positive image in social media.

Common Mistakes Made by Founders When Marketing

  1. Putting too much trust in the idea of their product, not its real-world applicability. Since entrepreneurs live and breathe the products and services they offer, they often (mistakenly) think everyone will feel the same way.
  2. Failing to connect with customers and listen to their feedback. No one can offer a service without customers, and it’s the general population that largely defines the market.
  3. Failing to work out a personal, tailor-made plan for the company. Just because something works for another startup doesn’t mean it will work for yours.
  4. Managing the budget poorly. Though investments are necessary, they should be carefully thought out and executed since money is tight, especially in the beginning.
  5. Failing to identity the actual target market, and thus creating a completely irrelevant campaign. As mentioned before, in-depth research is absolutely necessary before attempting to reach your target market.

Take a Cue from other Entrepreneurs’ Successes

Shopify may be an incredibly successful Canadian company, but that wasn’t always the case. According to CEO Tobias Lütke, there are some key elements that all startups should take into account when they are trying to launch their business and introduce it to a wider audience.

First and foremost, a startup that fixes an existing problem is much more likely to be successful. Even better, if you create something that you need for yourself, it means that you will be that much more connected to the product. You’ll also have an easier time identifying the right market.

Find the right team. This can mean a number of different things, but in essence it boils down to finding people who share your passion for the product and who are also able to help with its growth. A team of engineers might create a fantastic product, but if no one else can use it, then it has no value in the market.

Expect to do everything at once. When you are just starting out, you may need to conduct a range of jobs that you’re not well-suited for—and that’s perfectly fine. Though you may just want to create a product and leave everything else for other people to handle, you’ll most likely need to address those issues by yourself. This also applies to marketing. No one knows your product better than you do, and creating a brand should and most likely will be your responsibility.

Be visible, both to your target audience and to any potential investors. For example, you may find that the product you offer will do great in another city, but if you’re not prepared to move, you may risk everything else. If you don’t have a presence, users who may have been interested in your product will simply be satisfied elsewhere, with another product.

Stay focused and true to your purpose. Once you start marketing your product, you will face a lot of challenges. You’ll also be confronted by a lot of distractions and failures. Being distracted and inconsistent is a surefire path toward failure because your users need to identify stability in your product. A company that doesn’t know what to do with itself is harder to trust.

By guest writer, Jonha Richman  who is a marketing strategist with over 9 years of experience advising tech startups. She’s also a staff writer at Small Business Trends and her works were featured on The Huffington Post, Fast Company, Business Insider, among others. You may connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.