I’m going to DC!

washington-in-spring

On Sunday, I am traveling to Washington to meet with my elected officials and educate them about the growing mobile economy and tech innovation.  My company is Thinkamingo Inc and we make mobile applications for education and entertainment.

I’ll be joining up with leading entrepreneurs from across the country to participate in the Association for Competitive Technology Washington Fly-In. Around 50 of us will descend on the nation’s capital to help lawmakers recognize the incredible impact that small technology companies are having on our nation’s economy.

More than three-quarters of the most successful companies in the mobile software industry are small businesses – and apps are now a $68 billion marketplace. No one talked about apps six years ago, but now a whole ecosystem has emerged creating jobs for software developers, engineers, graphic artists, marketing professionals, and administrative personnel.

I am traveling to Washington to alert lawmakers about important issues including intellectual property and patent reform, data security and privacy, and regulatory obstacles to growth.  We also look to areas where technology and policy can combine to meet the needs of industry and consumers.

These are all important issues that the federal government is facing.  The outcomes really matter to me and that is why I’m making sure my voice is heard.  Hopefully, an informed Congress will allow companies like mine to continue to flourish.

Thinkamingo Celebrates 2014 Data Privacy Day

Thinkamingo of Tampa, Florida, a leader in the online privacy arena, celebrates Data Privacy Day on January 28

The app developer members of the Know What’s Inside™ program, including Thinkamingo Inc of Tampa, Florida, extend support to Data Privacy Day, an annual event promoting data privacy education. Members of the Moms with Apps Know What’s Inside™ program are thrilled to participate in the effort to empower and educate people to protect their privacy online.

Know what's inside - Moms with Apps Member“Making apps for kids is a lot of fun, but it is also very serious business. I take the privacy of the children that use my apps as seriously as my own child’s privacy. My job as a parent and an app developer is to protect the privacy of our users as if they were my own kids,” said Ann Adair, co-founder of Thinkamingo. “In the current climate of data management missteps, I congratulate the efforts surrounding Data Privacy Day. As a Moms With Apps Know What’s Inside™ member, I pledge to continue to protect the privacy of my consumers and to be completely transparent in regards to my policies and data collection in my apps.”

“Moms With Apps members are excited to celebrate Data Privacy Day. Our members have pledged to take online privacy very seriously,” said Sara Kloek of Moms With Apps. “Their apps are designed especially for children with special attention to online privacy. A lot of our members are parents themselves. They believe in the importance of protecting their children’s privacy, but also educating others on how to provide the same protection by being transparent about their apps and their data collection policies.”

Moms with Apps is the largest community of family friendly app developers in the world. Moms with Apps and the Know What’s Inside™ program are a part of ACT | The Apps Association, and are dedicated to helping family-friendly app developers implement best practices around privacy and comply with privacy rules, including the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA). The program provides developers with guidance on best practices, and requires each developer to implement those best practices in order to display the Know What’s Inside™ seal on their apps. For more information, visit momswithapps.com.

Thinkamingo Supports Tampa Hackerspace Kickstarter

logo9-300x300Congratulations to Tampa Hackerspace for a wildly successful Kickstarter! We are so proud to be a part of such an interesting and fun endeavor!

Tampa Hackerspace is a place you can share what you know and learn something new. There are hackers and makers of all kinds working with all sorts of materials: code, fabric, metal, plastic, circuitry, and much more!

Jon and I had a chance in the Spring of 2013 to help get things going by forming a team for the Red Bull Creation 2013 Challenge. We came up with the concept sport of “Extreme Fencing” and you can check out the video here. This project was a perfect match for our passion for learning new things and sharing that knowledge with others. Hence, our passion for the Tampa Hackerspace.

Every Tuesday night is the weekly Open Make. Come on out and meet the gang, bring your project, or just check out ongoing projects! You will see Arduinos, Raspberry Pi, LEGO, Minecraft, soldering, sewing, quadcopters, 3D printing, and who knows what else!

 

ACT Fly-In Wrap Up — Press Release

 

Senator Marco Rubio and Ann Adair

Senator Marco Rubio and Ann Adair

Ann Adair from Tampa-based company Thinkamingo Inc traveled to Washington on Sunday to tell Capitol Hill lawmakers about the positive impact the technology industry is having in our community. Adair was in the nation’s capitol May 19-21 with 50 other small business tech executives to participate in the Association for Competitive Technology’s Congressional Fly-In. 

Ann Adair is the President and Co-founder of Thinkamingo Inc that makes educational and family-friendly apps for the iPhone, iPad, iPod, Android, NOOK, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry. Their literacy-focused apps Lists for Writers and Story Dice have been featured in the media including National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, BoingBoing.net, and Cult of Mac. Thinkamingo was a featured company in a recent edition of the digital magazine The Educationist.

“I went to Washington to make sure that lawmakers and regulators heard the voices of small business tech companies,” said Ann Adair.  “The pace of innovation right now is remarkable, but overreaching laws or regulation could bring industry growth to a screeching halt.  I explained to my elected representatives the success our company is having in our hometown and what we need that will allow us to continue to grow and create more jobs.  Specifically, Washington should:

  • Allow internet companies to implement new solutions for data transparency; Congress should resist the urge to apply broad regulatory restrictions that would deny consumers many of the products and services they rely on every day;
  • Implement a program for our schools to provide students the computer science education that will help them qualify for rewarding careers in the tech industry.  This would build a larger workforce of American software developers and address the shortage we face;
  • Allow small software companies to protect their intellectual property without having to fight patent trolls and speculative lawsuits;
  • Ensure that the government does not impede efforts to strengthen and expand our internet infrastructure so consumers can benefit from more reliable mobile and fixed data connectivity.

“These are issues that the federal government is facing.  I met with my elected officials and others in Washington to educate them about the technology industry so they can make the right decisions about our future.  Hopefully, an informed Congress will help companies like mine continue to flourish in our community.”

“Specifically, I met with the offices of Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson. Senior Advisors from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Federal Trade Commission’s COPPA (Child Online Privacy and Protection Act) team. Through a series of productive meetings, I shared my experiences and concerns as a parent and tech executive. We want to continue making innovative products for kids and we want our kids to be safe. These are not mutually exclusive, so how do we make this work in the most effective and parent-friendly way?”

Thinkamingo Inc is a member of Moms With Apps, a family-friendly developer community of 1500+ members.

Links for additional information:

Supporting STEM and Robotics Programs

Elizabeth with Will and Jaden SmithOur family has been involved in robotics competitions for several years now, with Elizabeth competing while Ann and Jon help coach and mentor. Elizabeth just finished her second season competing in FIRST Tech Challenge with her team, Brick Buddies, winning the Florida state championship. Just a few weeks later, her team was back together working on a project for the XPRIZE After Earth Challenge, a summer competition for students. They were asked to be an ambassador team and encourage students to participate.

Elizabeth Red CarpetAs part of that, we travelled to Miami for an event at the Miami Science Museum with Will and Jaden Smith to promote the challenge as well as their new After Earth movie. It was quite an experience for the kids – walking the red carpet, talking to media, and getting on stage with Will and Jaden to talk about robotics and the XPRIZE After Earth Challenge.

If you can pull together a team of 1-4 students ages 13-17 plus an adult team captain, check out the challenge and give it a shot. The first phase of the challenge is to create a two-minute video. Brick Buddies posted a list of tips on creating the video. You can learn a lot and you never know where it might take you.

We owe a big thank you to all of our Thinkamingo customers and supporters for giving us the opportunity to take time to participate in things like this.

I’m headed to Capitol Hill!

I’m headed to Washington on Sunday as part of the Association for Competitive Technology‘s Annual Fly-In. Our group of 50 tech CEOs and developers will be meeting with the DC representatives of many Silicon Valley companies to learn about the potential impact that pending government activity may have on our industry. We will also meet with our elected officials and agency staff to educate them about our businesses and how the ecosystem works.

One of the main messages I will bring to Capitol Hill lawmakers is that the [software/app] industry is having a tremendous impact on our local community. ACT did a great study on the revolutionary changes happening right now as America is increasingly becoming a mobile economy. Software companies are finding success in every part of the country and those that are most successful in the mobile space are overwhelmingly small companies and startups.

We need to make sure that lawmakers and regulators hear the voices of small business tech companies.  Innovation is taking place at a remarkable pace, but overreaching laws or regulation could this industry growth to a screeching halt.  I plan to explain to my elected representatives the success our company is having in Tampa and what we need that will allow us to continue to grow and create more jobs.  Specifically, Washington should:

  • Allow internet companies to implement new solutions for data transparency; Congress should resist the urge to apply broad regulatory restrictions that would deny consumers many of the products and services they rely on every day;
  • Implement a program to improve computer science education in our schools to help students qualify for rewarding careers in the tech industry.  This would build a larger workforce of American software developers and address the high skilled worker shortage we face;
  • Allow small software companies to protect their intellectual property without having to fight patent trolls and speculative lawsuits; and
  • Ensure that the government does not impede efforts to strengthen and expand our internet infrastructure so consumers can benefit from more reliable wireline and wireless data connectivity.

These are issues that the federal government is facing that will impact my business.  I’m looking forward to meeting with my elected officials and others in Washington to educate them about the technology industry so they can make the right decisions about our future.  Hopefully, an informed Congress will help companies like mine continue to flourish in our community.

Related Articles:

ACT Members Coming to DC for Annual Fly In Event

Thinkamingo + Maker Faire = Fun!

tbmmf1

I wanted to share with you a little bit about something different we did this past weekend. We had a booth at the Tampa Bay Mini Maker Faire.

We have several interests that intersect at an event like this: robotics, makerspace, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and general creativity.

We did not do this to sell anything. In fact, we set Story Dice to go free all day Saturday resulting in over 12,000 downloads and Top 10 rankings in Education for both iPhone and iPad, and a Top 200 ranking in OVERALL iPad Apps. After all that, we still had a great sales day. We did this to get practice talking about what we do, explaining our apps, interacting with a variety of people, and watch people interact with our apps.

Our activities:

Story Dice Flash FictionActivity #1 – Roll the Story Dice using one of our devices, and create a Flash Fiction on a postcard to take with you. This engaged guests to actually play with the app on a device (iPhone, iPad, Kindle Fire), write a short fiction, and have a souvenir that had our company name and logo on it.

 

Group Fiction ProjectActivity #2 – Group Fiction Project called Mini Maker Faire-y Tale. Participants were invited to add a sentence or illustration to an ongoing story throughout the day. This was extremely popular and attracted a lot of attention. Kids and adults were excited about it all day.

 

Group Fiction

This was the first of four completed Group Fiction projects throughout the day. It was a smashing success and I will likely do this at future events.

Ann gives a talk about creativity and brainstorming

 

 

 

Activity #3 - Spark Your Creativity workshop. I gave an informal talk about brainstorming and different ways to get unstuck. I shared a lot of my own secrets and demonstrated our newest app Sketch Spark at the end of the talk.

 

Set up

Specific things we had at the booth: pipe cleaners (we made flamingos with them!), baskets of pens/pencils/markers, postcards for the writing activity, iPad, iPhone, Windows Phone, 2 Kindle Fires, sign stand with a listing of all of our apps and platforms, easel with a company sign, email signup sheet for newsletter, hand sanitizer, media feature book containing articles/reviews/coverage, roll of paper for group fiction project, marine battery in a rolling backpack for recharging devices throughout the day, business cards with holders, lanyards and nametags, flamingo necklace, camera, QR code stickers for Story Dice, and sparkling personalities! We also packed our lunch/snacks/drinks.

story dice
Results: We gained newsletter subscribers. We spread goodwill in our maker community. We acquired photos of us actually doing things with other people. I am ready and willing to give another talk/workshop about Creativity and Brainstorming. We finally got business cards, a large sign and easel for future talks, and started a physical media feature book.

We had a ton of fun and learned a lot. If you have an opportunity to do something like this, go for it!

This post would be incomplete without a shout out to Mark Frauenfelder, editor-in-chief of Make magazine, and the founder of the popular Boing Boing blog. He and his daughter, Jane, featured Story Dice on NPR and Boing Boing because they love playing with it!

Seize the day!

Like every other iOS developer on earth, I’ve been checking out the iPad Mini and trying to determine if it’s a need or a want. I’ve read scores of articles, watched every Apple launch event online, watched plenty of reviews on YouTube, etc.

I still haven’t decided — need or want?

Tonight, I attended a Google Hangout hosted by Ed Dale. “Who is Ed Dale?” you ask. Well, he’s an internet marketing guru. I started following his work years ago and worked through his original Thirty Day Challenge program for internet marketing. Jon and I have both learned a wealth of information from Ed Dale, and continue to follow his teaching and fascination with the latest technology (something he and I share as rabid early adopters!) Follow Ed Dale on his blog, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.

Anyway, I attended Ed’s Hangout all about the iPad Mini and he compared with head-to-head with Kindle Fire HD and Google Nexus 7. He also had an iPad and quite an assorted lot of devices during his chat. Well, he asked the viewers if they’d like to see their Magcast magazines in Newsstand on the iPad Mini (he has a program called Magcast for digitally publishing in Newsstand), so we saw some examples of those magazines, which were quite nice, by the way!

He also asked if anyone would like to see any apps on the mini, so I suggested our app Story Dice in a tweet and followed up in the YouTube comment window. I had a bit of a fangirl moment when he saw my messages, downloaded the app, then proceeded to demo it on his Hangout! I’ll admit that I was a little nervous, but he really liked it! I grinned like a silly schoolgirl on this side of the earth, but also like a proud mama see her child complimented. We are featured at 58:30.

If someone asks for an example company/app/whatever, pull a Hermione Granger and get your hand up in the air! Just do it! If there is a chance for quality advice from someone, get it.

Aside from my fangirl silliness, I cast my worries aside and seized the moment like the entrepreneur that I am. I’m still really tickled that he has my app on his brand new iPad Mini. Bonus: He bought the app. I offered a code, but he just went ahead and purchased it!

I’m mostly writing this to remind myself to keep taking chances. Tell everyone you know about your business. If you are not a fan of your own stuff, perhaps you should try a new field or pick something else that you love! Do something you believe in and are proud of.

We are very proud of our apps and I love demonstrating them, showing people ways to activate their creative core. Creativity is the key to the future. Embrace it.