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!


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.

Flamingo Fun with Girl Scouts!

We just got a postcard in the mail with a sneak peek at the 2012 Fall product program. We are thrilled to see flamingos all over the place! We support Girl Scouts of West Central Florida! I know one Girl Scout who will be trying to earn one of those fabulous flamingos!


Naming a Company

We struggled quite a bit to come up with a name for our company. We didn’t want to be just another something-alicious or a disemvoweled name. We played for a while with Markov chain word generators but never could find a name that we really liked. We then turned to mind-mapping words and trying different combinations. Adding silly endings, including -alicious, finally resulted in a couple of candidates. We ultimately selected Thinkamingo. We quickly registered the domain and created matching user ids at most of the online services we were interested in.