Archives for December2012

Screach CTO: Do Not Be Afraid To Change Things

Screach is an award-winning Newcastle-based company that delivers interactive experiences between digital screens and mobile phones, such as a trivia quiz in a pub or an awesome mobile-controlled game on a digital billboard. We are speaking today with their CTO David Challener on how the team manages its development process.

Tell us about yourself. What does Screach do and what is your role?

Screach delivers interactive experiences with digital screens. The easiest example is the following: Imagine an interactive quiz running on a screen in a pub, and people using a mobile app to answer the questions in real time. We set up that interactivity between the mobile app that we call Screach, and the digital screen. We have done quizzes, crowd voting and interactive games, to name but a few. We did one experience for insurance firm SwiftCover in which a course was shown on a big screen, and passers-by were challenged to steer a car along it using their phones as a joypad.
We’ve also built a hardware product called ScreachTV, which allows venues like bars and restaurants to put targeted, relevant and engaging smartphone-compatible experiences such as quizzes, messages, offers and games on their TVs. They’re in around 100 UK venues already as well as some in New York, and that’s increasing all the time.

And you are the CTO of the company, right?

Yes. So anything technical basically goes through me and my team.

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YPlan Co-Founder & CTO: Hire Very Smart People And Let Them Loose

YPlan event app has launched in London just three weeks ago – and has already received rave reviews both from the media, customers and Stephen Fry himself. We are talking today to their Co-Founder & CTO Viktoras Jucikas on how they organize their development process. 

What does YPlan do?

YPlan is tonight’s going out app. We are helping people to discover events to go to, for the same night. We give the consumers a beautifully designed app where they can see a short, curated list of events, select the ones they like, pay in two taps, and go to the event on the same evening. There is no need to make any phone calls, print any paper tickets, go to any third-party website – you pay what you see on the app. It is a very smooth and slick experience for the user, and you just get to see the show you like on the very same evening.

What is your role in the company?

I am a co-founder and CTO of YPlan.

How big is your development team? How is it organized?

At the moment the whole YPlan team is 17 people. We grew from two founders four months ago to 17 people now. It has been pretty manic in the first two months, when I would basically onboard two new joiners every week. In the development team we currently have three dedicated developers, myself as not so dedicated developer, one UI designer, one on-and-off UX designer, and a contractor who does our website bit.

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Ovelin CEO: Take Time To Plan Before Acting

Helsinki-based startup Ovelin has developed two wildly successful guitar-learning games – becoming #1 music game in 34 countries with their games WildChordsGuitarBots, and guitar tuner app GuitarTuna. We are talking to their CEO Christoph Thür on how they organize their development process.

Tell us about yourself. What does your company do and what is your role?
I am the co-founder and CEO of Ovelin. We are making learning to play the guitar fun and motivating with computer games. You can play our games with a real guitar on your laptop, and you do not need any kind of special guitar or special equipment. The microphone on your device listens to what you play and then the game gives you real-time feedback if you do well or not – just like a guitar teacher would. The game is packaged in a fun way, so it is easy to approach, simple and step-by-step – and if you do well, you unlock harder levels.

How big is your development team? And how is it organized?
We are eight people on the development side. We have a visual artist, a 3D artist, an audio signal-processing expert, the lead programmer, and two additional programmers – one of which works on the game side and the other one – on the server side. We also have one person who is making the game content – the exercises, the tutorial material and the music. And we have a musician.

The team is based in Helsinki, except the audio signal-processing and the music guys, who are based in Tampere. They are coming here every week for one or two days, and then we have the whole team together.

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Draugiem: We Deploy Multiple Times A Day

Draugiem is one of the few social networks that compete with Facebook heads on – and are still winning. We are very lucky to speak today with Ingus Rūķis, their development team lead, about the way development process works at Draugiem.

Tell us about Draugiem. What does your company do and what is your role?

Draugiem is the largest social network in Latvia, we are still ahead of Facebook here. Draugiem was started in 2004 – at the same time as Facebook was started in the United States. We used to have a decent market share in Hungary as well, but we have lost that market and we are currently focusing on Latvian market only. Draugiem has around 500,000 daily active users in Latvia, and probably around 800,000 monthly active users.

I am software development team lead and I have been doing web development for seven years at Draugiem, after which I moved to this management position. I am also responsible for the social gaming part of Draugiem – talking to game developers, making contacts, and so on.

How big is your development team?

The development team is very small. We have historically kept development team under 10 people – we currently have nine developers and two system administrators plus a couple of mobile developers. It is basically the commitment of the people that has taken Draugiem so far. We also do not have separate positions of back-end developers and front-end developers, every developer is doing both front-end and back-end. The only position that is separated is the dedicated C developer, who is only doing the social graph and various other serverside services. Everyone else is multitasking.

Draugiem has been acting quite long as a startup, thus we did not have any project managers, and the team was self-organized and self-directed – the developers used to decide what they want to do and just did it. In the past couple of years, however, we have moved a bit away from the startup culture and introduced a couple of project managers who are working to direct the team.

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Archify’s CTO: Do Not Overmanage Your Project

Today we are talking to Archify – the providers of an awesome personal archiving service – and their CTO Gerald Bäck. The company is based in Berlin, but their team is distributed across the whole Europe – and Gerald shares how they manage their development process.

Tell us about yourself. What does your company do?

I am Gerald, the CTO of Archify. Archify is a company that helps you find things again you have already seen. Let’s say you have read an article on a website, or saw a video somewhere – if you do not exactly remember where you have seen it, it is often very complicated to find it again. Archify can help you with that. We are recording and archiving every website you browse with a screenshot and the full text, and we are also archiving every update in your social stream, including your friends’ updates on Facebook and Twitter. Archify captures all that and makes it searchable for you.

Great. Can you tell us about your development team? How big is it and how is it organized?

Currently we are a team of four – and it is spread all over Europe. Max and me are the founders of the company – and we are based in Berlin. We both still work as developers, as we really enjoy developing. We also have another guy who does front end development and design – he is currently living in Portugal and will join us in Berlin next year. And we have one more developer in Ukraine. Not really a very centralized team.

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Campalyst’s CTO Tells How Using Lean Development Helps Eliminate Waste

Today we are talking to Campalyst – the social media analytics company behind the Google Analytics Twitter plugin. Campalyst team is based in Tartu, Estonia, and New York, US, and their CTO Juhan Aasaru shares a few insights into their development process. 

Tell us about yourself. What does your company do?

I am a CTO and co-founder of Campalyst. Campalyst is a 1.5-year-old startup that helps brands to sell more via social media. Companies are spending huge amounts of money for campaigns in social media with little or no clue of how much it helps them earn more. We have build the software that measures the income from social media campaigns and provides the metrics to understand what works and what does not in terms of increasing ROI.

Before founding the startup I was working as a developer and private consultant in Estonia and Ireland.

Sounds good. Can you tell us about your development team? How are you organized?

Besides me – I count myself as developer – there are other 3 full-time developers and one part-time tester. Three of us are working in our development office in Tartu, Estonia. One developer and the tester work from home and occasionally pop into the office. We are a US company and the business office is in New York.

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