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.

2017 Aging 2.0 Sacramento Startup Competition

Sacramento-CA-USA

Aging 2.0 held its third annual Startup Pitch completion April 18th at the KVIE Offices.  The mission of Aging 2.0 is to accelerate innovation that improves the lives of older adults.  From a pool of 12 companies that applied, 8 startups competed in this event this year.  Here are the results:

Envoy America

1st Place

First Place went to Envoy America which is a ride sharing platform for seniors.  They train seniors to provide rides for other seniors.  Their service can be described as non-medical care for seniors.  Envoy America will go on to compete at Aging 2.0 Optimize event in San Francisco on Nov. 14 for the $10,000 grand prize.

funeral360

2nd Place and Audience Choice

Second Place and Audience Choice (determined by votes from the audience goes to Funerals360).  Funerals360 is a resource for end to end planning for funerals and it also is a market place for funeral vendors.

The other startups that competed were:

HomeZada: a digital home management platform

Storyglory:  a tool that helps seniors preserve their family stories

Aspire 211:  an organization that combats financial elder abuse

MEDpense:  a device that is a smart medicine dispenser and telemedicine platform

Livpact: an IoT collaborative care platform

OraChill: a mouth piece that provides drug-free oral pain relief.

As a side note, Stack Labs which won the Aging 2.0 Sacramento competition last year, went on to win the grand prize at last year’s Aging 2.0 Optimize event.

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.

Eric Yuan / Founder of Zoom Communications: Make Products that Make the Customer Happy

Eric Yuan has been deeply involved with engineering since the 90’s with a knack for innovation and collaboration. He was one of the founding engineers and VP of engineering at WebEx for over a decade. Interestingly enough, Eric and his team of engineers laid the foundation for SaaS web conferencing technology almost by accident. In the early years, WebEx was originally a custom development shop until one of the co-founders felt productivity would improve if they monitored the engineers via video conference. This sparked the idea that other companies would benefit from such a concept as well and thus the pivot to web conferencing occurred.

WebEx became the market leader in Web Conferencing and later got acquired by Cisco for $3.2 B.   After the acquisition, Eric stayed on as head of WebEx Engineering.   He realized that in order for WebEx technology to evolve, it would have to be re-engineered from scratch which was something that his upper management would not allow.  Frustrated, Eric left Cisco and started Zoom..

Despite competition from a plethora of web conferencing solutions (Cisco, Microsoft, Citrix), Eric fearlessly began to develop a new solution. As Eric enlightens, “Startups [and smaller companies] are much better for building up individual products. In larger companies, it’s a little bit harder.”

His team of over 100 engineers worked around the clock for 2 1/2 years in developing Zoom’s video conference platform.  Since their launch, Zoom has achieved unicorn status and has a valuation over $1 B. In explaining the success of Zoom, Eric declares, “You can be successful if you make a product that makes a customer happy even in a crowded market.”

You can watch the full interview with Eric here.

Understanding UX and UI Design

I’ve read a number of articles referencing “UI vs. UX” design, including blogs asking the question “which is better?” There is no “versus” or “better” when it comes to User Interface and User eXperience. A professional mobile app developer will tell you that the User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) are equally important.

User Interface Design (UI):

I’ll begin with the User Interface Design (UI) because it includes some of my favorite app elements! UI = the visual design, the colors, the layout and the typography. A successful UI is efficient and easy to use. Tasks and navigation should visually appear to be simple and intuitive, and the technical functionality should balance nicely with the visual elements to create a system which is usable (and also flexible as the users’ needs change).

“Good user interface design facilitates finishing the task at hand without drawing unnecessary attention to itself. Graphic designand typography are utilized to support itsusability, influencing how the user performs certain interactions and improving the aesthetic appeal of the design; design aesthetics may enhance or detract from the ability of users to use the functions of the interface.”

In User Interface Design, we ask: what are we making? Then we apply the visual elements, making it appealing with a focus on the tools. It’s basically the stuff the user sees. However, we cannot get to this piece and have a great UI without the UX.

User Experience (UX):

With UX, rather than asking “what are we going to make?” we focus instead on “what are we trying to achieve?” It’s in the name! The User eXperience Design focuses on the experiences and the feelings you get while using the app. With development expertise guiding the way, design collaborates with development to focus on the interactions (the broad scope of the project). In fact, I usually describe the UX Design as the interaction process. To be more precise, the COMPLETE package is what makes a good UX; whereas, good User Interface Design is essential, but only an element of a successful User eXperience.

Understanding the User

To get a sense of how UI and UX work together, we first require a complete understanding of what the user needs before we even get to the UI process. This includes a lot of the behind-the-scenes work: wire-framing and prototyping, the information architecture, research and the scenario interpretations. We identify functionality and goals for our clients’ app through significant communication and research. Looking at the broad scope of the project, we tie everything together to translate the client’s ideas into a successful UX.

Then, moving into the information architecture and wire-framing phase, we essentially create the framework and “bones” of the project. We strip out everything and focus simply on content, flow and navigation. With the client’s approval, we then have enough information to move through the User eXperience foundation to create the User Interface Design (the stuff you see).

Once the UI is complete, we continue through the UX process and support the UI with development, API integration, QA testing and finally an upload to the app store.

Both are Critical!

It’s not UX vs. UI! If a mobile app looks great but is difficult to use, this means it has a great UI and a poor UX. On the other hand, if the app is very usable but looks terrible, it has a great UX and poor UI. And if you’re in the business of creating successful apps or websites, User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) are equally important, delivering the best product to clients and users.

By Shellynn Finstad, Apptology Chief Creative Officer

Christopher Johnson / Rapid Brands: Fear vs. Faith

Chris Johnson is an accomplished entrepreneur founding Rapid Products and the Johnson Group Inc.   With his roots firmly grounded in Sacramento, Chris grew up with a diverse duo of family members. His mother was a small-business owner consulting for major corporations and his father was a senior special agent for the Federal Government.  At the age of 16, Chris started down the entrepreneurial road and started a teen dance club and held the first event at Dante’s where he hosted 400 local high school students.

While in college, Chris developed the idea for the Rapid Ramen Cooker when he accidently cooked the perfect bowl of Ramen in the Microwave.  Chris dedicated his time and efforts to creating the ideal ramen cooker; it was his questions that connected him to the right people. He knew what he could do himself and creating a prototype was not one of them. His attorney actually referred him to a group of students at Chico State and they produced the first working prototype. Later, he landed a deal with Walmart and was highlighted on KCRA News. Eventually this attracted enough demand where he was able to successfully pitch it on Shark Tank where he successfully negotiated an offer from Mark Cuban.  Rapid Ramen (now called Rapid Brands) has grown into a full line of microwave cookware with sales at estimated $100 M.

Fear vs. Faith

His advice to entrepreneurs is to know the difference between fear and faith.   Fear is that you’ll be a failure.  Faith is that you’ll be a success.  What they do have in common? Neither has occurred so Chris encourages entrepreneurs to embrace faith and to to not allow fear to dominate your life. Don’t even think about fear.

If you would like to hear more nuggets of entrepreneurial wisdom from Chris, you can view his entire interview with Startup Grind Sacramento here.

6 > 7 = 8

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Okay, I’ll admit it… I have not yet upgraded to an iPhone 7 Plus. In fact, I love my iPhone 6s Plus so much, I don’t even want to upgrade! I know, I know… I’m in the business of apps, I need to upgrade for testing purposes, I need to have the latest and greatest, etc., which means every once in awhile I’ll ask myself if I need to upgrade. However, the iPhone 7 Plus is going to have to send me flowers or do something pretty amazing to convince me to abandon my little 6s Plus buddy, my handheld link to the world. We’ve shared so much!

For the skeptical holdouts like me, I’ll share some of the research I’ve read if you’re still resisting as I am:

No Headphone Jack: This really is a dealbreaker for me. I can’t imagine driving without a little Joy Division, Foxy Shazam or some Hendrix, and I’m simply connected by a $1 cord adapter while I simultaneously charge my phone. It works, okay? But now the iPhone 7 Plus has the “haptic engine” and it’s “faster.” Have I joined the ranks of “Old Dogs?” Give me back my headphone jack, please. I’ve read that I can use Apple’s $159 wireless AirPods or Bluetooth headphones, or use a Lightning to 3.5mm adapter bundle. Sigh, but it works now, and I’m happy. More accessories = more money, or maybe a new car? Hmmm…

Processor Speed and Graphics Speed: In my research, I’ve read that the iPhone 7 boasts up to twice the Processor Speed of iPhone 6s Plus, and a Graphics Speed up to three times faster. Apple claims a substantial CPU increase of 40% and a significant GPU increase of 50% over the iPhone 6s Plus. I was blissfully unaware these were issues, but I can be logical. It is technology, after all. Faster = upgrade. Got it.

  • iPhone 7 Plus – Apple A10 Fusion chipset: Quad Core CPU, 3GB of RAM
  • iPhone 6S Plus – Apple A9 chipset, CPU: Dual-core 1.84 GHz Twister; GPU: PowerVR GT7600, 2GB RAM

Water Resistance: Okay, this seems like a big deal, but when I purchased my 6s Plus, its water resistance claim was also appealing to me. Knock on wood, I’ve been lucky with this phone and have never had to test its swimming capabilities; however, the 7 Plus features mention a full submersion for up to 30 minutes.

The Look: Other than the glaring removal of my beloved headphone jack, the iPhone 7 Plus and the iPhone 6 Plus are visually very similar. I am a fan of the color options for the 7 Plus, though: Jet Black, Rose Gold, Gold, Silver and Black (on the 128GB and 256GB models). Additionally, the displays are 25% brighter on the iPhone 7 Plus, but the general specs are the same:

  • iPhone 7 Plus – 5.5-inch LED-backlit IPS LCD, 1920 x 1080 pixels (401 ppi), 67.7% screen-to-body ratio
  • iPhone 6S Plus – 5.5-inch LED-backlit IPS LCD, 1920 x 1080 pixels (401 ppi), 67.7% screen-to-body ratio

Better Earpiece Speaker: the iPhone 7 Plus has louder dual speakers compared to the iPhone 6s Plus which has just the mono speaker. This is great, but doesn’t have me running to AT&T just yet.

Battery Life: Will we ever be happy? The iPhone 7 has an hour longer of battery life, but the remaining battery features are pretty much similar to the iPhone 6s Plus. In fact, it seems the 6s Plus gives you more audio playback time and 3 more hours of talk time than the 7 Plus.

And Finally, the Camera: I’m a mom, which means by default I am a self-proclaimed photographer and videographer, right? How can I say no to better pictures, a better flash and improved digital zoom?

Think I’m going to have to pass on the iPhone 7 Plus. They almost had me with the camera, but I think I’ll wait for the iPhone 8 rumored to release in September if I’m going to spend $1,000. The possibility of a front 3D camera, wireless charging and a Touch ID sensor integrated into the screen are exciting if they can navigate the delays. Also, a rumored bigger battery could significantly increase the battery life features which in my opinion did not overwhelmingly improve with the iPhone 7 Plus.

If the iPhone 8 lives up to its superphone status, the wait will be worth it… gives me time to properly retire my iPhone 6s Plus friend.

 

Shellynn Finstad is the Chief Creative Officer for Apptology and Project Manager for Apptology’s Custom App Division.

How Do You Turn Your Idea Into an App?

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I will always remember my first convention as a vendor representing Apptology. As we set up our booth, I was nervous for a number of reasons: Did I understand our technical services well enough to answer questions? Would convention-goers suspect I was new at this? Should I have worn the Apptology-branded baseball jersey versus the outfit I’d purchased specifically for this event?

In short, none of this mattered. As people slowly migrated to our booth, they watched our video presentation and read our marketing materials… it was surprisingly comfortable. However, what I noticed more than anything was that most of the people stayed to chat! Some even waited in line simply because they had an idea and they wanted to talk about it.

If you have an idea for an app but have no clue how to get to the next step, it really is easy to have the conversation. Don’t be intimidated! It’s okay if you aren’t tech savvy. It’s okay if you have only jotted down a few notes. Of course, it’s wonderful if you’ve come fully prepared with a wireframe, a flow and navigation document and an architecture diagram, but in my five plus years in the Mobile Application Project Management world, very few clients actually come to us fully prepared. It’s okay! That’s our job!

To get started, we will want to have a clear understanding of your vision for your app. If you have sketches or samples of things that inspire you, we can begin there. If there are functions in other apps that you love, but they have nothing to do with your product and you’re not sure how that could translate to your specific app specs, we can help you get there. In fact, many clients come to us with their ideas and ask us to collaborate with them. We are happy to research and suggest solutions that will enhance the performance or user experience of your app,

Once we are ready to move forward, we can initially provide a package that helps define the project scope and creates the “bones” for your app from concept through submission. With the client’s constant input, we provide:

• Page Schematics with explanations of page-by-page functionality and features required for all screens.

• Site Architecture (both user and admin when applicable)

• Presentation of Final Site Architecture

Once these documents are created, we have a clear and precise roadmap to move forward with design and development.

If you plan to develop an app, my advice is to have fun! Research other apps to see what is out there! Find colors and designs you like! Our job is to adapt our development methodologies to meet the technical specifications of your project by helping you determine resources needed depending on your app’s complexity. Whether you have Post-It notes or detailed digital files, it’s okay! YOUR job is to be the expert of YOUR idea.

 

Shellynn Finstad is the Chief Creative Officer for Apptology and Project Manager for Apptology’s Custom App Division.

500 Startups Batch 19 Demo Day

500 Startups Batch 19

The theme for 500 Startups Batch 19 Demo Day was Valentine’s Day (although it technically was on February 15) and accordingly Founder, Dave McClure, kicked it off dressed as the Queen of Hearts.  Batch 19 had 44 companies participated in two tracks, B2B and Fashion and Beauty.  I’m always impressed with the diversity of 500’s startups.   Almost half of the startups are international and over half the founders are woman and minorities.  I wish I had the time to write about each startup but alas, I only have time to mention my personal favorites.  So in no particular order…

 

Park Evergreen

Check Please

The startup that I would personally invest is Park Evergreen.  They have developed a parking management software that makes it easy to find and pay for parking.  Oddly enough, on my drive to Demo Day, I was listening to a Freakonmics podcast called Parking is Hell which describes the high cost of parking.  It made me think of the times when parking is a challenge and how much I would pay to not have to drive in circles to find parking.  Their platform allows a driver to pay and reserve a parking space.  In my mind, if it solves this problem effectively, it will be a unicorn.

 

o6

I’d Buy That!

O6 makes a little widget that can be mounted on the steering wheel.  In conjunction with their companion app, you can navigate through your iPhone while you’re driving without taking your hands off the steering wheel and it allows you to keep y our eyes on the road.  Interestingly enough, as I was getting a demo of the product, Silicon Valley icon, Tim Draper, was waiting in line behind me wanting to buy one (I don’t  know if actually was interested in investing in them also).

 

claimcompass

Free Money!

ClaimCompass declaration of free money caught my attention.   If your flight gets delayed or cancelled, their platform will automatically check if you are eligible for compensation and if you are; they will make a claim on your behalf.   They can get you compensated up to $650 and take a 25% commission if successful.  I’ve bookmarked their site just in case I have to go to battle with an airline in the future.

 

pawprint

Sign Ruby Up!

PawPrint allows you to move and maintain your pet records on their platform.  If you have a pet, you know what a hassle it is to manage their shot records.  Mental note:  sign Ruby (she’s our dog) up.

 

gymhit

Shameless Plug for the Sacramento Region

This is a shameless plug for Sacramento based startup, GymHit.  GymHit has developed a business management software for the fitness industry.   (I also gave them a warm referral to 500 Startups).

 

sickweather

Clever Use of Social Media Data

Sickweather has developed an innovative method to track the spread of disease using social media.  You can track the spread of illness on a map like a meteorologist tracks weather.  The data they’ve gleamed has outperformed data provided by the CDC.

 

kompyte

That’s Original

This is original idea I haven’t seen before.  Kompyte has developed a platform that allows their users to automatically track and analyze their competitors.    At my last company, we had a full time employee that performed this function.    I can see this platform being extremely useful for any company that actively tracks their competitors.

 

Join Batch 21

How well the Batch 19 companies do remains to be seen, but 500 Startups does have an excellent track record. Producing 3 Unicorn startups (with a 4th possibly on the way), 37 Centaurs (valued $100-999 M), and over 300 Ponies ($10-99 M), you might be wondering how to get into 500 Startups. Well, first you’ve got to apply!

If I piqued your interest in 500 Startups, they are currently looking for applicants for Batch 21. Good candidates should have:

 

  • Balanced Team

 

  • Product Launched

 

  • Traction with Good Metrics

 

If your startup is interested in applying for Batch 21, find the application here.

After applying, be sure to ask your local Startup Grind director for a warm referral!

 

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.

 

Sacramento Kings Hosts 2nd Annual Capitalize Startup Contest

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Last  year, 89 startups participated in the Sacramento King’s Capitalize Contest.  It was a March Madness type of event which had several judging rounds that culminated to a four finalist where the winner was decided by Kings Fans.

The Sacramento Kings announced the second year of Capitalize, the NBA’s first startup pitch contest showcasing local entrepreneurs. Moneta Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm based in Folsom, California, is collaborating with the Kings to highlight the most promising innovators and companies of the Sacramento region, potentially launching their unique products into a global marketplace.

Startups within 75 miles of Sacramento may submit applications for this unique contest. Visit Kings.com/Capitalize to begin the application process.

“The inaugural Capitalize contest highlighted the best and brightest innovators that come right from our community who are ready to compete on a global stage,” said Kings President Chris Granger. “We’re excited to see what projects rise during this year’s competition and grow Sacramento’s emerging innovation economy. It’s a unique way for us to use our robust background in tech to support our community’s entrepreneurs.”

Last year’s finalists have seen tremendous opportunities following the first NBA VC contest. Finalist California Safe Soil provides its innovative waste solution at the Kings new home, Golden 1 Center – the most environmentally friendly and technologically advanced arena in the world – and has expanded to an 80,000 square-foot facility to meet new client needs. Finalist Barobo received the 2016 Sacramento Regional Innovation Award for Hardware and Electronics and looks to partner with the Kings Foundation on a school STEM initiative.

“We are excited and proud to be working with the Sacramento Kings to continue to grow the Sacramento tech economy,” said Moneta Ventures Managing Partner Lokesh Sikaria. “As a fund focused on early-stage companies, the Moneta team hopes to add valuable insight to the Capitalize contest process.”

Capitalize is a two-round tournament where 16 local innovators will compete to be selected for a cash prize and lunch with an owner of the Sacramento Kings. Sixteen semi-finalists will be selected to participate in a one-day pitchfest, where they will have an opportunity to impress a panel of judges consisting of local investors and technology executives. These judges will select the top four companies to move on to the finals.

The four finalists will compete for the fan vote on Twitter from March 15 through March 22, when they will join the join the Kings and Moneta Ventures at Golden 1 Center for Tech Night on March 22. The winner will be announced and awarded a grand prize package.  The deadline to apply for the contest is February 17, 2017.

Impact Venture Capital Entrepreneurs Showcase Accelerator

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Impact Venture Capital (formerly Velocity VC) is taking applications for their Entrepreneur’s Showcase Accelerator.  The most promising technology startups from Northern CA are selected to engage in 8 weeks of intensive education and mentoring sessions in order to refine their business model, hone their pitches, and prepare to take the stage in front of investors on Demo Day. The Entrepreneur’s Showcase was a recipient of the City of Sacramento’s RAILS Grant.    Apptology went through the program in 2013 and we highly recommend the program.

Application: http://impactvc.com/showcase-accelerator/

Benefits include:

  • 30+ hours of intensive coaching, mentorship & peer review
  • 6 months of access to co-working space
  • Free Office hours – including legal, sales, business & marketing
  • Promotion via web, social & events
  • Opportunity to present to investors, customers, mentors at Demo Day
  • 50 company Alumni Network

Applications Due: 2/20 Accepted Companies Announced: 2/23

Please contact info@impactvc.com with any questions.

*Sessions will be Tuesday nights (6:00-9:00pm) at 801 K Street, ste 2800, Sacramento 95814

TechCrunch’s 10th Annual Crunchie Awards

TechCrunch Monkey

TechCrunch’s 10th Annual Crunchies Awards is Silicon Valley’s version of the Academy Awards.  With the venue at the spectacular San Francisco War Memorial Opera House, the attire ranged from evening wear to hoodies (it’s Silicon Valley after all).    Tech celebrity sightings included Yahoo Marissa Mayer, Atom Factory Troy Carter and 500 Startups Dave McClure.  The emcee of the awards ceremony was comedian Chelsea Peretti who described sex as 3D printing using DNA.  The event was kicked off by a witty opera performance by Laura Krumm that took jabs at President Trump and Peter Thiel (a high profile Trump supporter) — Silicon Valley’s disdain for the Trump Administration was voice often during the evening.  Now the moment you’ve all been waiting for and the envelope please…

 

slack techcrunch

Best Startup:  A Star startup in all categories

Slack (Winner)

Stripe (Runner-Up)

Didi

Giphy

SpaceX

 

otto

Hot New Startup:  A startup founded or publicly launched this year

Otto (Winner)

Prelude Fertility (Runner –Up)

MarcoPolo

VIV

Winnie

 

crispr

Best Technology: An exceptional recent technological achievement

CRISPR – Cas9 (Winner)

Tesla Solar Roof (Runner – Up)

Blue Origin

Facebook Solar Plane

SpaceX Falcon 9 Landing

 

 Pokemon Go tech crunch

Best App:  A recent standout that has earned a place on your home screen

Pokémon GO (Winner)

Musical.ly (Runner- Up)

Clue

Prisma

Weedmaps

 

snapchat troy carter techcrunch

Hardware of the Year: Breakout hardware product of the year

Snapchat Spectacles (Winner)

Bevel Trimmer (Runner-Up)

Doppler Labs Here One

June Oven

Markforged Mark Two

 

 

project include techcrunch

TechCrunch Include Award:  An organization or individual that has advanced inclusion in tech

Project Include (Winner)

Tony Prophet, Salesforce (Runner-Up)

Change Catalyst

DigitalUndivided

Mission Bit

 

kapor crunchie social impact

Social Impact:  Excelling in using technology to advance social impact

Kapor Center for Social Impact (Winner)

Signal Protocol (Runner – Up)

A Vision for Black Lives

Oakland Digital

We The Protesters

 

jeff lawson techcrunch

Founder of the Year:  A founder that has made a statement in leadership or execution this year

Jeff Lawson, Twilio (Winner)

Tristan Walker, Walker & Company (Runner-Up)

Jessica O. Matthews, Uncharted Play

Morgan DeBaun, Blavity

Ryan Petersen, Flexport

 

naval

Angel Investor of the Year: A breakout portfolio

Naval Ravikant  (Winner)

Troy Carter (Runner-Up)

Carine Magescas

Eric Paley

Fabrice Grinda

 

kristin

VC of the Year: An investor whose bets on founders and companies have borne fruit this year

Kirsten Green, Forerunner Ventures (Winner)

Aydin Senkut, Felicis Ventures (Runner-Up)

Byron Deeter, Bessemer Venture Partners

Stuart Peterson, ARTIS Ventures

Tony Florence, NEA

 

snapchat2

Best Startup Video:  Best launch or explanatory video

Snapchat Spectacles (Winner)

Slack (Runner-Up)

Lyft

Navdy

StockX

 

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.