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All posts tagged StartUp

ZCast Launched To Much Fanfare…

… and by fanfare I mean that ZCast rocketed to number 1 on Product Hunt within hours and was everywhere in the blogosphere. If ever there was a definition of going viral this was it.

To the uninformed, this seemed like an incredibly cool app with an idea reduced to elegant simplicity of design and implementation that just went stratospheric.

The truth is a crack team of incredibly talented people ploughed an amazing amount of effort, intellect and creativity into making this happen.

Disclosure: I’m friends with one or two people at ZCast.

What Is ZCast?

You can find the whole history of ZULA the startup right here. Back to this link later.

ZCast is an app that democratizes podcasting and allows your audience to interact thru Twitter. Podcasting some are asking, what’s that not in technobabble?

Podcasting is simply live broadcast, yes your voice shared with anyone who cares to “tune in”. In this case it’s done thru ZCast’s elegantly designed iOS or Web app.

So got a computer with a web browser? Got an iPhone? Either will do, you are ready to broadcast your thoughts, opinions and expertise.

The thing is, up until now podcasting just seemed like one of those things you needed technical know-how, a fancy microphone and setup to do. It wasn’t something open to everyone. Presto change, now it is.

ZCast - web app

Image from the ZCast web application (cropped)

ZCast - iOS app

Image courtesy of the ZCast iOS app store images

The strength of ZCast is you sign in with your Twitter account, click a button and you are talking to whoever will listen. How do you know whether anyone is listening? First, you get to see who is checked in and listening but also and here’s the kicker: you don’t need a switchboard or phones for people to call in, they can comment thru voice or chat. All you need to do is start talking.

The Warptest POV

Simple, elegant and clever. Comparisons to Meerkat or Periscope aside, anyone feeling introverted will have a lot less hassle ZCasting than they will going on livestreaming video. Probably I should have just ZCast this post, but I’m holding on for a bit. What for? ZCast is undoubtedly working on the ability to record your podcasts and publish them. This is an app that I predict will become an ecosystem in its own right. They have stated that they will be releasing an Android version and I expect them, like many others to leap on the Windows10 Universal App bandwagon at some point.

Enough about that, back to the link above, Hillel Fuld ZCast’s CMO shared their journey and very honestly, some ups and downs on the way. After reading it, you’ll probably realize what I did.

This is THE case study for startups who want to build up to a successful product launch. This is a story of really hard work but it’s also a story of how to build your momentum to success. As you’ll have read in this blog several times, I respect anyone who views sharing as empowerment.

 My hat’s off to Hillel, Farhana, Raz and all the team. One thing is for sure, ZCast gets a gold clad Warptest recommendation.

ZCast - Warptested

Get out there and get ZCasting folks and let me know what you think.

Startups By Their Nature Are On The Cutting Edge…

… Some get acquired and in my previous post I mentioned Waze and their acquisition by Google. I suggested that Google could leverage drone technology to enhance the real-time geo-data provided by Waze.

This led to a fascinating conversation on Twitter with one of my favorite tweeps
@AWSOMEDEVSIGNER on the controversy and challenges related to drone usage in the civilian domain.

 

Real World Tech, Real World Consequences

When people create new technologies or find new uses for existing tech, especially in our daily lives in the real world there is a question that has to be asked,

What are the ramifications of releasing our idea into the world unfettered?

In a lot of cases the legislature is not able to keep up with the need for new laws to address these issues. Google Glass is a classic example, should it be legal to drive whilst wearing and using Glass? Should the law require all wearable technology that requires user interaction (read distraction) to have a Driving Mode?

In the case of Glass a user in California was already issued with a ticket for driving whilst wearing Glass (the ticket was allegedly contested and thrown out on a technicality) meanwhile, NYPD are beta testing Glass , but under what constraints and conditions?

A hat tip to the awesome @OrenTodoros for directing me to Google’s Do’s and Don’ts for Glass.

In some cases just how easily can certain innovations be weaponized or used for malicious intent? Foursquare had to contend with privacy and stalking concerns and seems to have done so admirably.

You don’t have to look hard to see that cutting edge technology will always be ahead of legislation. Several TV shows have made the issue of technology and ethics a core part off their story e.g. Intelligence or Almost Human.

Intelligence - Startup Ethics
Almost Human - Startup Ethics

With thanks to IMDB for the images for each show above.

The Warptest POV

Do the Startups have a moral responsibility to consider the ramifications of their innovations before opening Pandora’s Box? Will a failure to do so eventually result in more draconian legislation in reaction? As a result of my conversations (as mentioned earlier) IMHO Startups should be considering then need for a senior member of the company, even a VP of Ethics to research these ramifications and raise concerns early in the design stages.

By working with the Product Manager, even guiding the Testing team to include tests to ensure not just functional but ethical quality a Startup that is launching a technology into the real world and our daily life is more likely to find best practice and prevent privacy invasions, data leaks, malicious abuses and other ethical problems.

So if you are reading this and you are building a Startup, do you have role in your company to confront the ethics behind your innovation?

Don’t be shy now, let me know what you think.

 

Being A Tester Is A Profession…

Those of us in the profession who embrace it with passion sometimes see it as a calling and when we read certain stories we feel their pain but are often unsurprised.

Never Was A Tale Of More Woe

Techcrunch and other blogs have recently reported on two high profile Startups, Clinkle (over the last few days) and Snapchat (the end of December) suffering hacks / data breaches of differing scales.

A Venture Capitalist I follow on Twitter postulated that these events call into question the skill level of the Startup Devs, allowing user or payment data to be compromised.

The Usual Suspects

Usual Suspects - Tester

In both of these cases I found it hard to point the finger (exclusively) at the Devs and suspected that either: –

  1. The Startups had no testers and didn’t test.
  2. The Startups employed non-testers to do the testing: all hands on deck.
  3. The Startups had testers who reported the bugs but their reports went unheeded.

Testing? We’re Not There Just Yet.

Many startups are known for considering testing an activity that is best left until late in the day. Something the company just doesn’t have the money for but will get to, one of these days.

Money tester dudes

After looking at the LinkedIn profiles of Clinkle and Snapchat I couldn’t find any employees listed in either company as testers. The Techcrunch article on Clinkle refers to “employee testers” clearly they went for option 2 above; calling a bunch of random dudes in their employ testers without knowing what testing actually is.

The Warptest POV

I asked the question “How do you respond when a company says they aren’t ready for testing yet?” to my peers in the Israel QA / Software Testing Forum Facebook Group. The discussion is mainly in Hebrew but some people felt this was a reality to be accepted, others felt this was unacceptable and it was a fascinating insight.

My opinion is that if your product relies on the trust of the people exposed to it to build your user base then it is never too soon for testing but I’ll return to this premise.

The idea that Startup Devs are lacking if they allow these breaches fails to address one important fact: Devs are not Testers. They aren’t trained to be and in fact, they are trained to work with testers who provide backup / cover. In a nutshell, the testers are there to find bugs, report them and ensure the bug is dealt with.

The moment the founders remove these checks and balances then the whole product lifecycle is out of kilter and it is only reasonable to expect a major bug to slip through.

Remember, if you treat testing as a second class activity then don’t be surprised if you create a second class product.

Returning to my premise that it’s never too soon to test, does this mean Startups need to magically find the money to employ a full-time tester or testing team? If you are iterating a web / mobile application then contracting either an early stage, one shot testing cycle or testing on demand until you raise further funding is an affordable option. The testing will either be done for you or your non-testers can be guided and managed to provide better testing coverage.

If you need testing for your app then contact me and I can help you ensure your product doesn’t launch untested or reach critical bug mass.

MESH – The Modiin Entrepreneurs’ Startup Hub Is Open For Business

Modiin one of Israel’s newest cities, formerly branded as City of the Future and historical home of the ancient Maccabees has up until now been best known as a dormitory community. On a daily basis you see traffic congestion resulting from the techie population heading to bigger cities like Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Hertzliya and Raanana.

Modiin is situated halfway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem but until now has had no major hi-tech or Startup companies.

Several entrepreneurs teamed up to launch the local Hub as a place for Startups and an open, shared workplace for others to use.

The resources are priced well and the location in Modiin’s slightly off the beaten track Ligad Industrial Estate keep those prices down.

Modiin MESH 4sq Map

The Hub, just outside Modiin (Foursquare link embedded in the image)

MESH Launch

My first impression was the amazing layout of the open space and offices at the launch party. I was overwhelmed by the number of attendees at the launch indicating the potential of the Hub.

Modiin MESH Launch Event

Clearly a lot of thought had gone into the look and feel of the place.

Modiin MESH Clocks

Modiin MESH Hub Logo

Modiin MESH Hub

I managed to chat during the event with two of the founders who I know, Moshe Porat and Daniel Morris about the Hub.

I am given to understand that many of the offices have been been rented out already but the shared space is still available with WiFi, phones, a Nespresso coffee machine and other resources.

The variety of Startups already with office space there ranged from a Facebook based app for party suggestions, an enterprise IT oriented company and several others.

One of the founders of the Hub told me of the strong sense of community felt by them and the Startups and the collaborative atmosphere felt there on a daily basis.

The founders are looking at addressing challenges as they arise with creative solutions ranging from: –

  • How to matchmake the employment needs of the Startups with the vast pool of local talent.
  • Working on creating a car pooling service to help people who want to work at the Hub but find it difficult to get there themselves.

The Warptest POV

The Modiin Entrepreneurs’ Startup Hub is a golden opportunity for the city of Modiin, an opportunity that begs to be grabbed with both fists,

The Hub is a stimulus package for the city just waiting to happen: –

  • If X people work locally that is X people less commuting in and out of the city.
  • The business of Hitech requires many tertiary services ranging from finance, IT, office supplies, transport, logistics, legal and more.
  • Startups live and breathe on free-flowing caffeine and take away food / restaurants. Especially for those late night coding / testing sessions.

All of these local businesses will benefit and flourish as demand for their services increases thanks to the Hub.

I left feeling the launch had clearly demonstrated that Modiin Hitech is a force to be reckoned with and big things can be expected from our great city.

If you want to visit the Hub or work there then you can contact them through their site www.modiinhub.com

A huge bravo to the MESH Founders for their hard work getting this launched.

Soluto – In the Beginning:

Soluto has done it again. No longer a simple client PC application it has evolved and iterated into a sophisticated Control Panel for system management of multiple PCs.

soluto - button

Uncle Monty’s Got No Internet:

Many of us who are used to the frantic calls to resolve PC issues for friends and family were overjoyed with this remote access solution; allowing you the Power User to solve these issues from the comfort of your own chair and computer.

You may have heard it here first:

I wrote on my old blog in July 2010 about how to use Soluto hand in hand with CCleaner and FileHippo; this was the best way at the time to ensure a smooth running, stable PC.

Awhile later I indulged in predicting via Twitter that @soluto should romance either CCleaner or FIlehippo as the results would be awesome.

Soluto-logoCcleaner-logo - Solutofilehippo-logo - Soluto

Will It Blend?

Last week the guys at Soluto did one better and announced on their blog that they are incorporating a Disk Cleaner and App Installer (beginning with Skype apparently with other apps to follow).

As a freemium user you get to invite 4 other users and be their Power User / Online Support:

Soluto - grab

So we have one killer app that basically will allow you to do away with: –

  • Maintaining a stable, optimized boot and running OS
  • 3rd Party Patch Management
  • Remote Access Tools for Support
  • The uncertainty of DIY 3rd Party App Maintenance

What Next?

That’s Soluto today as a Freemium version. It doesn’t take much to imagine the Web App / Soluto Client providing support for iOS or Linux (even Mobile platforms) but the kicker is going to be seeing your Sys-admin maintain your whole IT infrastructure via Soluto with an Enterprise version. (prediction)

In a nutshell for all you LOTR fans this will likely be the One Ring to Rule Them All.