Gregory Dahl

Mobile Camp LA 2015 review

App monetization panel

App monetization panel, @cjbeauchamp from @crittercism presenting.

Our mothers kissed us good-by and tucked a sack lunch into our backpacks and sent us off to Mobile Camp LA  at WeWork Hollywood, January 31, 2015. We were greeted at the door by a gauntlet of sponsors including T-Mobile , and Zukini Mobile. In the demonstration of virtual reality I was asked to sit in a chair as I placed the virtual reality goggles on my head. The contraption featured a Samsung Gallaxy positioned about 2 inches from my eyes. The contraption was switched on and I was virtually seated in the center of an empty movie theater. I turned my head to look behind and saw more empty seats. At least I wouldn’t be bothered by talkers. The Titles began to roll on the screen as the demonstrator switched my environment to a lunar surface with rocks. I wondered if he had a room with cartoon monsters. Monsters make for a great audience. The ones that don’t live in swamps anyway.

Plied with stickers and key chains we made our way into camp wework. There was a full day of speakers lined up for this “open source” event with two speaker tracks.

rock and roll the robot

Ron rocks and rolls the robot photo by Jen Blatz

Ron Evans told us The robot “evolution” is here and his company has created  a number of frameworks to control them. Chief among them is, a mobile app to control robots and connected devices. You can think of it like a “Universal remote control for the Internet of Things”. Developed using PhoneGap and Ionic Framework, it is open source software. It can communicate with any device that supports the Common Protocol for Programming Physical I/O. Cylon.js, and; all frameworks that implement an compatible API’s. His live robotic demo included a round pill shaped thing that spun around (out of view of the audience). What made it interesting was the small amount of code he wrote to accomplish this daring feat. @deadprogram

Justin Woo is a Developer Evangelist at PayPal in Seattle. He talked about what not to do when coding a credit card form and what merchants should not do when trying to make a customer buy more stuff. He demonstrated with his e-commerce site that sold the opportunity to walk or pet his dog. Petting $75. 20 minuet walk $120. He assured us it was a really nice dog. His humor got us to laugh about a potentially dry subject. He went through customer time wasters on credit card purchase forms and showed us how to improve them. Many of the tips involved jQuery form verifiers. My favorite was the simple way of using the correct Virtual keyboard by coding <input type=”email”>. This presents the keyboard that makes it easy to enter your email. Simple. Review all of the keyboard types at I used the code on on the check out page and they work great! Buy a football sized chocolate dipped fortune cookie on your cell phone to see it in action. My sister loved her’s at her birthday party. Although the custom message was probably too risque for grandma. @jzwoo

I missed the phonegap session in favor of Karim Varela presentation: “14 Tips for Starting a Mobile App Business (and not sucking)” His tech credits include Tinder and Coffee Meets Bagel where he was a Software Architect, you could say he did the back end at Tinder at lest for Android. He told the story of one of his early web businesses, a liquor and mixed drink delivery service in Seattle. The law shook their finger at him for selling to inebriated people late at night. Fortunately they didn’t throw the book at him.

Here are as many of the 14 as I could capture in my notes:

  1. Don’t suck.
  2. Make your idea matter.
  3. Have a Business Plan; He recommended, when interviewing, you ask the start-up “what is your path to profits”. Include this in your decision to work there.
  4. Don’t out-source your core competency. If you are getting your tech done overseas, you are not a tech company and everything is taking longer than it should.
  5. Build a team. a) don’t do it alone. b) hire passion c) hire doers.
  6. Make design matter.
  7. All-in and passion: founders need to be totally committed.
  8. Virality
  9. (oops missed this one)
  10. Roll out slowly.
  11. Customer Service still matters.
  12. Measure Everything. • cutover service (survey monkey, google forms • landing page (when developing an app, have a page people can visit on the web) • have (Google) Analytics installed and study them.


I am looking forward to next year. I am told the lake will have alligators. at GA

In a room usually crowded with coders and feverish start-up crews, took over General Assemble’s main hall with wagging tails and conversation. The Puppy Adoption Pen got lots of play and maybe a few people became pet sitters at this sure to be repeated event.

Next time I’ll get dogs’ names and maybe a few people. (Comment or tweet me with the dog’s and your name)

click to enlarge.

New Co. LA

IMG_0767 Organizer John Battelle, thinks of this two-day event to be part art opening, part music festival — like a field trip in a city. Battelle had been organizing “industry events” for lots of years, until one day he just got tired of the rent-a-banquet-room-listen-to-speakers treadmill. He enjoyed the moments between stages at music festivals like Coachella or Lollapalooza and wanted to find a way to get that dynamic operating in the start-up movement.  In 2014 New Co. events have popped up in Silicon Valley, Amsterdam, New York, the United Kingdom, Detroit, Boulder Colorado and San Francisco. Los Angeles is his eighth.

IMG_0774The first night of the event, was held at the offices of CBRE‘s Downtown Los Angeles Commercial Real Estate offices. Jason Nazar, Founder Docstoc and Start-Ups Uncensored sponsored my VIP tickets to this brilliant event and “Fireside Chat” between John Battelle and Ze Frank, President of Buzz Feed Motion Pictures.

IMG_0778_2Ze broke down the meaning of morality and why dancing babies go viral. He instructed us, “to better understand post structuralism, put down your C++ manual and pick up Marcel Duchamp, Susan Sontag and Roland Barthes”. Frank also talked about how we tend to “characterize events” (like watching a movie or traveling in Italy) “is different from your actual experience” and “social media is a place to talk about that experience”. Continue reading