Know your community better: interact, gather feedback, and improve your services.

Info Grove Voting / Survey Module by 14 Oranges

 

Providing services to the community and building a meaningful medium around them is very important. It’s not an easy job, especially when we speak about quality. Sometimes you never know for sure if the job was successful until you ask your community: What are they thinking about?

 

Analyze the success of the event you hosted, the satisfaction of the new improvement you have launched, or in contrast, ask the community. Ask them to support your new ideas, innovations, or to help choose new members and executives – this creates two-way communication that increases the satisfaction and loyalty of your community members.  Consequently maximizing the quality of the job you provide as an organization.

 

14 Oranges understands these needs. We are happy to announce the launch of a new feature in the Info Grove mobile application platform – The Voting / Survey Module.

 

Info Grove’s Voting / Survey Module is a very simple and friendly module which can be used for both voting and survey purposes.

 

Info Grove framework mob app

 

The integrated Voting / Survey module allows your organization to create, send, collect feedback, and analyze information to improve your services. While enabling your community to vote for their favorite ideas, new members, and executives directly in the mobile application.

 

So, with the Info Grove Voting / Survey Module, you have one simple tool for different feedback purposes which includes (but is not limited to):

  • A survey, referendum, plebiscite voting
    Receive feedback with binding results or not
  • Executive voting

    Simple voting = 1 vote for 1 candidate
  • Group voting 

    Vote for more than 1 candidate for a position, for example, board members or city council representatives
  • Resolution voting
    
Have your community give their approval on your resolutions, either to your full membership base or for board members and executives only
  • Write-in voting
    Allow members to write-in the name of a candidate on the spot

 

Aside from the opportunity to improve your community membership engagement, Info Grove Voting / Survey Module allows your organization to save money by reducing costs on the old form of paper printing, mailing, and manually counting feedbacks.

14 Oranges provides a high-security level of data protection with Info Grove Voting / Survey Module. All information is safe during and after the voting/survey process.

 

 

Info Grove mobile apps

 

Sylvain Marcotte Reveals the Origin of the Name 14 Oranges

Evolution 107.9

Evolution 107.9

Mike Turcotte from the British Columbia Institute of Technologies’ (BCIT) radio station Evolution 107.9 interviews 14 Oranges CEO Sylvain Marcotte on his experience in the mobile application development industry. Sylvain shares insights for students, the growth taking place in the industry and also reveals the origin of our firm’s name, 14 Oranges!

Listen to the interview here on Soundcloud, and download the Evolution 107.9 mobile apps for Android and Apple to stay on top of the latest BCIT news, provided by 14 Oranges!

14 Oranges Brings Its Mobile App Software Development Expertise to Ottawa and Halifax

14 Oranges today announced it is expanding its North American market coverage for custom mobile app software development beyond the west coast to Ottawa and Halifax. This move is timed with the hiring of John Craig as its new VP of Sales and Marketing, tasked with growing the organization’s sales across North America.


 

14 Oranges is today announcing the North American market expansion of its mobile application development businesses with the launch of sales offices in both Ottawa and Halifax. Having already established a market leading position and solid reputation for delivery in Vancouver and the north western United States, this move provides customers with two eastern touch points for the company, as well as future access to the world-class software engineering talent that both towns are known for.

“Ottawa and Halifax, both important government towns, are also hub towns for Canadian technology with strong historical ties to trade with United States,” said Sylvain Marcotte, CEO of 14 Oranges. “This expansion will help us to continue to grow our firm and position us to deliver on our next-generation of services to the largest population centers in the US and Canada.”

14 Oranges is also formally announcing the hiring of its new VP of Sales and Marketing, John Craig. Craig, an industry veteran with entrepreneurial experience in the development, deployment and delivery of mobile applications, has joined 14 Oranges to drive the expansion of 14 Oranges North American sales and establish a deeper position with both its traditional telecommunications clients and the next generation of mobile workforce solutions for both the private and public sector.

“14 Oranges has the critical mobile application development DNA needed to build the next generation of mobile telecom and mobile worker applications,” said Craig. “I am glad to be a part of expanding this team’s footprint to Halifax and Ottawa, as well as the prospects of continuing to contribute to the ongoing growth of entrepreneurism and technology across Canada.”

Victoria Lennox, the CEO of Startup Canada, also welcomed the expansion of 14 Oranges across Canada, “This is a great example of a firm with regional success expanding to provide pan-Canadian opportunity, and we too are hugely supportive of 14 Oranges as they expand to offer services across Canada.”

Melody Pardoe, the COO Volta Labs who provide co-working space to 14 Oranges in Halifax added, “Volta is happy to support small business expansion into the Atlantic region. It’s great to see 14 Oranges expand across the country and join the tech community in Nova Scotia.”

Michael Porter and the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade

There’s a new look for the Board of Trade here in Vancouver, and with the new look a renewed mandate for regional inclusiveness. 14 Oranges joined the Vancouver Board of Trade this year and I attended a great event yesterday at the Vancouver Convention Center put on by the Board of Trade showcasing a presentation by one of the world’s foremost experts on competitive strategy in business and politics, Michael Porter. I will discuss his presentation in detail further on. The preamble to Michael’s presentation involved the unveiling of the name change, slight shift in mandate and new logo of the Board of Trade.

 

Established in 1887, the Vancouver Board of Trade has a long history of helping business grow and succeed in Vancouver not to mention influencing policy and infrastructure decisions in government. The board of directors recently voted unanimously to rebrand the organization to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, after realizing that businesses are thinking regionally and so should they. The new logo was revealed to much applause. We look forward to our continued involvement with the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade in the coming year.

Brand new logo for Greater Vancouver Board of Trade

Brand new logo for Greater Vancouver Board of Trade

Michael Porter spoke for about an hour on a variety of topics related to a distinct and present competitive advantage that we have in North America. He was referring to the relatively inexpensive oil and gas we have access to, with modern techniques and of particular interest to me was his reference to BC’s liquid natural gas reserves. Many of the commonly asked questions were addressed by Mr. Porter in a way I hadn’t heard before. For example when addressing the idea that using fossil fuels is environmentally bad and that renewable energy is the way of the future, he agreed but made this point. LNG (liquid natural gas) is far cleaner and more environmentally friendly than coal, no one would dispute this, so let’s sell our LNG to China, Germany and other nations that are currently generating at least some of their electricity in highly polluting coal burning plants. I will paraphrase Michael’s summary, Canada literally has the power to lower the world’s carbon footprint.

And guess what, we would create jobs and pump money into our economy. This leads me to another point Michael made when discussing some of his previous work regarding the Porter Hypothesis which suggests that forcing a company to become greener does not make it less profitable but in fact does the opposite. Porter used the example of water recovery in fracking. Fracking is a method of extracting oil and gas by injecting water into the ground cracking the rock allowing the oil or gas to flow more freely. Fracking is controversial to say the least but it was the example used so bare with me. If a company is forced by environmental rules to recover at least 30% of the water for reuse, it is an initial burden on the company to have to find a solution to recover this water. But once the solution is found there is a 30% decrease in the cost of getting that water to the site forever. This is an easy example of course and there could be lots of discussion on it but that’s for another post.

 

The second topic that I found particularly interesting stemmed from an audience question. As a side note, the conference used a technology I had not seen before called Pigeon Hole Live. We were all shown a link right at the point in the introduction where they ask you to ensure your phones are on silent, and asked to visit it and login. Once there you were able to post a question to the organizers digitally and also see/vote on the questions other had posed. The question that was quickly voted to the top was, “Can Donald Trump negatively impact the progress that has been made on clean energy?”  To be honest the question could have been shortened to Trump? but it was on everyone’s mind, what does the clearly intelligent speaker think of what is happening in his country right now.

Porter’s answer was quite long but he tied it back to some points he had made in his presentation so well. One of the first slides in the presentation showed the median income in the US for the past 20 years. He summarized it with a bit of an I told you so where he showed the nine recommendations he made in 1990 that would have to be undertaken for the US to stay competitive in the world. Not a single one of those nine things have been put in place and the shrinking US median income is a result of the US not being competitive anymore. He pointed out to our primarily Canadian audience that in Canada we actually have many of the things on his list. He applauded our immigration policy and banking regulations to name a few.

He tied this all together by pointing out that Americans are leaning towards Trump simply because they have given the Republicans and the Democrats a shot and they just aren’t getting it done. This frustration is leading the people to lash out in response and side with a loud-mouthed narcissist (my words not his).

Michael Porter simply pointed out that if you have polarization like they do in the US right now, you cannot accomplish anything in politics and the same is true in business. Environmental factors MUST be part of the energy business these days but it cannot be the only side of the argument. Companies MUST stay competitive and profitable but not at the expense of mother earth. As we move towards renewable energy, the best way to do that is encourage the American/Canadian spirit of innovation by creating well paying jobs in a stable environment with a constant push towards being greener.

My thanks to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade and Michael Porter for helping me look at a few of the world’s problems through a different set of eyes.  Having studied strategy in university it was an absolute pleasure to hear his strategy for a competitive North America and how that relates to what we do every day. With all the bad press about LNG, and fracking these days, I am encouraged after hearing this presentation that it might be the way of the future … promoting a more sustainable world through strategic thinking.  Sunny ways indeed!

 

4 Underrated Mobile Apps That Will Improve Your Everyday Life

Uncrate iOS or Android

Have you ever found yourself wanting some shoelaces that could start a fire or an underwater drill? Well, look no further because Uncrate has those and plenty of other things that I desperately need in my life. The website is great but the app is even better.  The app is clean, easy to use and has the greatest collection of random stuff you never knew you wanted.  The categories of stuff range from technology, to an umbrella that fold backwards and fancy aged bourbon. There really is something for everyone at Uncrate and you can easily fall into a blackhole of time just scrolling through their offerings and marvelling at the randomness and brilliance.  With Christmas coming I can imagine this app will be getting lots of use.

I need this so badly. Uncrate, you can read my mind

I need this so badly. Uncrate, you can read my mind

Songza iOS or Android

For years I’ve told family and friends that if I suddenly get hit by a bus, the first thing to do is throw all my electronics into the ocean, forever keeping my shameful music taste a secret.  Luckily, because of Songza I can keep fewer playlists on my phone and use the streaming service instead.  Plus, I don’t need to download every horrible 90’s one hit wonder that comes into rotation on my favourite playlists.  The glory of Songza is being able to choose music based on your activity or mood.  For example, when I want people to think I’m sophisticated I bust out the “Instrumental Jazz Cocktail Hour” because it’s non intrusive and doesn’t have singing which I find distracting in jazz (feel free to yell at me in the comments).  When it’s just me, I’m more of a “Never-Ending 00’s Hits” kind of gal. One feature I LOVE about Songza is that it keeps track of your favourite playlists and songs so that you can easily pull them up and then download them later.  Also, Songza can be streamed online in addition to their Android and iOS apps.

I'm too ashamed to show you my own playlists so here's a generic one

I’m too ashamed to show you my own playlists so here’s a generic one

Waze iOS or Android

Waze keeps popping up in my daily life so I figured it was a sign.  It first appeared in a Fast Company article, then Aziz Ansari name dropped it on his new Netflix show Master of None (brilliant, I highly recommend it).  So, I bit the bullet and downloaded Waze to see what all the hype was about.  I was driving to North Vancouver from downtown on Saturday so I figured I’d test out the app for you, dear reader.  It was amazing!  It was all real time information regarding traffic jams, construction, and other goings on so I could stealthy maneuver myself to avoid the danger zones. Now, one feature I would love would include a heads up on speed traps.

I avoided that sewer like a pro

I avoided that sewer like a pro

Pinterest iOS or Android

I know what you’re thinking. ‘Pinterest is NOT underrated’ but hear me out before you laugh. Pinterest is synonymous with Bridezillas, hell bent on picking out decorations and mason jar designs that will express their individuality.  This misguided thinking is exactly what kept me off Pinterest for years and the only loser in this equation was me.  You can search ANYTHING on Pinterest and find it.  You can find food guides to Italy, stunning architecture, technology and so much more.  One of my favourite things to do on Pinterest is look at clothing because when it comes to matching outfits and pulling pieces together, I’m pretty hopeless.  After getting my leopard jacket, matching escalated to a new level so I knew it was time for Power Clashing.  Since I had no idea where to start so I consulted Pinterest.  Luckily, Pinterest was waiting for me with open arms and I can consult it like the Matrix’s Oracle.  

See? You can find anything on Pinterest

See? You can find anything on Pinterest

Honorable Mention

GasBuddy iOS or Android

Super simple idea but it’s brilliant and very useful.  I put my postal code in and check out the gas prices on a list or map format.  I don’t need to log in or create an account if I just want to look at prices without contributing anything.  It’s not the greatest UI but it’s functional and simple which I appreciate.  

Look at all that cheap gas!

Look at all that cheap gas!

Facebook’s fbStart Seminar: Couldn’t Get off the Ground

At 14 Oranges, we integrate Facebook with many of our client’s projects so when we heard that Facebook was making an appearance here in Vancouver, we were excited to check it out. fbStart is a new program Facebook is rolling out that encourages Startups and App developers to use their tools.

Facebook hosted an evening event last Tuesday at The Hive downtown to share some information about the latest and greatest of their offerings and how app developers and startups can benefit from taking part.

If you haven’t heard of the Hive before it is a collaborative workspace located next door to Lighthouse Labs. Facebook had arranged for catering including beer and wine so the event was way better than I expected (free wine is my catnip! – kirsten)

Facebook sent up around 7 Facebook employees from Seattle and the Bay Area which included a range of engineers and managers. One of the staffers asked me about my ‘little red flower’ (snerk – kirsten) as she noticed lots of people wearing them and since she’s not from Canada, had no idea what they were for (this makes me want to watch Saving Private Ryan – kirsten).

Matt from Facebook did most of the speaking starting off by welcoming us and giving us a bit of an overview about what they were going to cover. The presentation covered three topics:

  1. FbStart program

As mentioned above, fbStart is a program geared at startups and app developers. This program provides them with lots of free tools and direct support from Facebook engineers. Some more info on fbStart can be found here and here

  1. The Facebook SDK

Matt went on to discuss the Facebook SDK and specifically some of the newer features. These features include: a sharing dialog via the native FB app, a message dialog via native FB Messenger app and FB login plus its use in your apps.  

One of the more interesting parts to this topic were the ideas Matt presented on growing your app. Matt talked about deep linking back to your app from ads ensuring you target specific audiences to specific areas of the app.

Another topic that was definitely of interest to the startups in the room was advertising through Facebook. Matt recommended using using a video or a series of photos because they drive more conversions.  The room got excited when they mentioned FREE Facebook ad credits when you get accepted to the FbStart program.

Matt went on to discuss some more detail on Facebook Ads, specifically focusing on how advertisers can create custom audiences though very specific targeting of truly accurate demographics.

Matt handed the mic over to another Facebooker, this time an expert in the Facebook analytics platform.

  1. Facebook Analytics

One of the most interesting and slightly scary things I learned at this presentation was that if you have the Facebook app installed on your device, app developers can track user demographics (that’s normal – kirsten). The user data is anonymous to the developers but the very detailed demographics information available to the developers can allow them to create very targeted ads or content. Facebook advertisers can then create a custom lookalike audience using analytic statistics for testing purposes.

Most of the other analytic features seemed very similar to Google Analytics and aren’t really worth delving into.

Summary

Matt was back at the mike for the Q&A section which actually was one of the most enjoyable parts of the evening. During the mingling portion, there was an informal Q&A session as well, which gave us all a chance to ask some more detailed questions and schmooze with him.

Please enjoy a few paraphrased highlights of the Q&A session.

Q “What percentage of the applicants to the fbStart program are accepted?”

A “Let’s put it this way, the most likely reason you wouldn’t be accepted would be you didn’t fill the form out correctly.” (this is true for life – kirsten)

Q “Is there a way to implement 2 factor authentication with” {something or other…}

A “Facebook Login implements 2 factor authentication. So use Facebook login and you are using 2 factor authentication”

Q “With the Lookalike audiences, are you able to see what info specifically is being used to create that audience.”

A “No” (well then..- kirsten)

Overall I feel like the fbStart program was a good idea and Facebook was on the right track taking it to the streets so to speak. That being said, the presentation itself just didn’t have the required substance or detail to make it the hugely successful event that it could have been. Facebook advertised Parse in its intro to this event but there was no mention of it and when a question was asked about Parse, they simply shrugged it off saying they didn’t have anyone from Parse there. Strange, because that’s part of the reason I attended.

I felt like I got a salad course with the promise of dessert, but someone forgot to include the steak and potatoes. Fingers crossed they improve the presentation for the next cities because there’s a lot of value in the content.