Wednesday, August 6, 2008

WUGC CellMap: The Power of Top Level Links

More on the history of the WUGC CellMap.

When we first built the WUGC CellMap, the WUGC organizers were too swamped to link it (I'm a volunteer for Worlds, and I've seen how much work was put into this). So, I wondered: how can we promote this map so people can download it? I know it's something that will be extremely useful, especially for the international visitors that will be attending Worlds.

Then, I saw that the latest forum postings are shown as top level links, right on the navigation pane on the left. This is a great way to get people to participate in the forums, as all the latest messages are shown on every page (since it's part of the nav pane).

So, I made a post in the forum, and waited and see.

Now, I put the CellMap up in the afternoon of July 30. I didn't know what kind of traffic we would have. It was a bit of a "wait and see" approach, but trying to harness the top-level link.

And was it ever powerful.

Without any other type of advertising (other than its prime location), we had over 100 hits in a day!

I wondered how much traction it would've gotten if it was under the venue/competition sub pages, and I have a feeling that it would not get nearly as many. I didn't know whether the webmaster would have enough time to put it under there, so I made an effort to keep the link on the front page. I didn't want to make unnecessary bumps, since that's just bad etiquette. Thus, I made a concerted effort to have useful info and tangible updates to keep it near the top. I updated the schedule, revamped the download page (MUCH more user friendly now).

When it finally made its way officially onto the Venues and Competition pages, I stopped posting so we can see how much that would affect traffic. Interestingly, it didn't dent traffic too much (but it DID go down). That could mean a variety of things, and I have two hypotheses.
  • One, is that word of mouth has taken place. Some people are running around with a CellMap, and are showing it off. (We've had good feed back right on the forum).
  • Two, is that people are purpose driven. If someone is looking at the venues, and comes across a link for CellMap, they'll be intrigued, and check it out. If the visitor isn't looking for a CellMap, having a top level link won't attract them.
Ultimately, having it at the top level did make a difference, but only initially. Even after the link is officially on the subpages, I made a final post on the forum, so it stuck around on the main page for a bit more. Traffic didn't go back up. That could mean that people who are inclined to check it out has already done so, and the "top level-ness" was no longer as important as issue.

If you have any thoughts, feel free to drop us a line!

- Wayne

WUGC CellMap: Dissected

As an avid Ultimate player, it was with great pleasure that we are providing the WFDF 2008 World Ultimate and Guts Championships (that's a mouthful) CellMap. This map really taxed our abilities, both artistic and taxonomical.

First off, the map images out there of UBC (the venue) are so-so at best. Some of their resolution were not high enough, and others, while of sufficient clarity, had huge amounts of clutter (which is another knock against static maps like paper, pdf, images, etc.). We had to do a lot of cleaning up in order to reduce the extra information down to a minimum. It is important to only show the information that is useful for navigation, and hide/delete the rest. Like most things in life, the 80/20 rule applies. 80% of the time, you only need 20% of the stuff. It's even MORE important for this map, since the target audience likely won't care about every single building at UBC, and really only need the major ones.

Take a look at the original compared with the cleaned-up versions:


Cleaned Up

Most of the extra text is taken out, not only because the CellMap software can store the building names separately, but much more to keep the image clean. WUGC specific coloring and buildings have been added, to give the final map much more punch to guide the eyes to the areas of importance.

Next is the taxonomy. The directory needs to show both WUGC items, and UBC items. We had to come up with a categorical structure that best represents this. I'm a guy who likes things sorted, so that was an important task that we had to do.

Now, if you've played with CellMap before, you'll know that we have an Events Listing feature built in. It shows a list of events, and can show you on the map where it is. But what if there are HUNDREDS of events? Since Worlds has 6 divisions (plus Guts), and each division has an average of 16 countries, that's a LOT of events. Our current system has a flat list (don't worry, we're revamping it ;) ), which makes showing all of this unfeasible. You really don't want to scroll 329 times just to see when Canada is playing Japan on Friday.

So, what to do that's within the realms of our current state of technology?

We decided to Use the Map.

As in, build a schedule in the map image. We put a nice table of the days and divisions on the map image, and in each one's details (ie. 8/6, Open) is the full list of games for that day. This also allows up to put that in the Directory, so people can quickly find the games.

With that, we've built the most comprehensive events CellMap to date!

- Wayne

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Make Wireless Better

It's clear we need better wireless service in Canada.

Check out this Petition for Bill C-555, which aims to make wireless carriers behave themselves.

What I don't understand is how Rogers, Bell, and Telus believe they are actually making a better deal for themselves. It's common sense that confusing billing means lower adoption. Lower adoption means less overall revenue.

The carriers are definitely making good revenue, but it could be so much better for everybody. Lower tech support costs, happier customers, and significantly more uptake.

There's potential, but it seems to be blocked by a combination of greed and fear. Fear that they'll lose a massive chunk of revenue, and the repercussion by their shareholders. I guess when your company gets so large it becomes terrifying to make a bold entrepreneurial moves.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Village of Pemberton Map

The Pemberton Music Festival will be kicking off fairly soon. It is scheduled for July 25-27 and should make some big waves out here on the coast (even though its in the Interior of BC). With names like NIN, Jay-Z, Coldplay, The Flaming Lips, and many many others it should be great time for all.

CellMap has been working with the Chamber of Commerce in putting together a map of the Village of Pemberton. The map has gas stations, a pharmacy, food, and retail stores worth noting in case you need anything you forgot at home.

Check out the map at:

Village of Pemberton on CellMap

Let us know if there's anything we forgot or something you want to see on it. We hope this makes life easier for all visitors to Pemberton.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Are Early Exits a good thing?

The following is my follow-up take on the negative aspects of "early exits" as talked about on this blog post by Basil Peters:
The excitement around "Early exits" seems like confusion about cause and effect.

This "built to flip" mentality was proven initially very successful in the dot-com explosion, but it seemed to be more like the cresting of the wave. Once large corps began to jump on the technological shifts, they over spent, and start-ups were awesomely successful. At first.

The business models were being engineered to flip. Nobody was crazy, but everyone were modelling their plans on inflated metrics, and expectations. We all thought an ecosystem of larger companies would eat us up, make billions on ads, or IPO. What seemed like sound business models, collapsed, and worse, cascaded.

Now in 2008, we're seeing the same pattern. A healthy technology shift, powered by social networks, and mobile LBS technologies. Plenty of big investors are elated about this stuff, which is fuelling hundreds of start-ups entrepreneurs to build cool facebook apps or mobile LBS services. But, very few start-ups are actually planning a strong value chain to the dollar, and too many are relying on getting bought by Google.

I personally hate the "Early Exit" from an innovator's stand-point. The whole concept is revolting. It's not respecting my passion to realize a bigger picture. Building to flip, is building another twitter.

If investors really wanted to reduce their risks, it's time we talk about smaller multiples, with sound opportunity to build bigger. Embrace the creative mind, and lets make sure we've got the foundation to scale up big and keep the visionary on-board.

Have a look at this great video of David Heinemeier Hansson (author of Ruby on Rails) at Startup School '08 about addressing the Fortune 5,000,000 and creating a profitable start-up. He nails a lot of delusions on both the investors and entrepreneur perspectives. (Jump to 17:20)

Definitely check out the comments on Basil's post... There's some great other perspectives, both for and against. All of it brilliant.

Hope this puts some perspective out there, ;)
- Aaron.

One year after the jump

The rule of thumb says it takes two years for a business to really get into full swing.   It's been one year since I (Aaron) jumped to Vancouver and now I understand why it takes two.   Much of our time has been spent learning and refining our product, adjusting our business plan, and building our contacts.  Deploying a real-world product means solving everything from bottom to top, across the full spectrum of business, marketing, technical, customer, and end-user challenges.

Our proudest accomplishment was building a CellMap for a large event called VidFest.  We got VIP passes, got promoted on their web and print materials, and won the PopVox award for Best Mobile Application.

We've been pretty busy building our company in creative ways.  Our office is co-located with Kirby Floral, in exchange for some coaching and web development money.  It's enabled Wayne and myself to meet regularly and accelerate development.

We have a new employee.  Michael came onboard in February as a graphic and new-media designer. He continues to impress with a knack for sales and web development.

Speaking of sales, our funnel of customers is primed and ready to roll. We are starting to attract the attention of some high profile players too.  Our partner Mapformation is including our service in with their base map design offering.  In the next few months we'll see a steady revenue stream emerging from their customer base.  This turns out to be a wonderful way for a cartographer to further establish their relationship with a customer.  If a map design needs updating, there is a real motive to get the original design house to upgrade the CellMap while they're at it.  And, we're on contract to build a little flash component.  Michael's taking lead on that project.

Another significant customer is contracting us to do a large development project on the iPhone, which happens to align with our development goals.  I'm taking point on this project, with Wayne's help on the UI design and mock-ups.

And finally, we've got client of a large organization with many locations around downtown Vancouver, in the late stages of approving a CellMap project and deploying it across their locations and promoting it like crazy.  This is leveraging CellMap's latest support for GPS if you've got it, and remote updates to the map, delivered on request by the user.

Sorry I can't be more specific, but until these projects complete we have to keep details confidential.

We began May as our month to begin sales and really execute.  I'm proud of our team, and what we've managed to do together.  Just amazing work.

To summarize our run of publicity, we: 
- Presented at Angel Forum
- Presented at Mobile Mondays in Vancouver
- Got published in VidFest print materials, and on their website.
- Demoed at Launch Party Vancouver 4
- Won the PopVox award for Best Mobile Application
- Won runner-up, honourable mention at the Pitchies with fundfindr.
- Presented at VanDev
- Got mentioned a dozen times on various blogs, (techVibes, fadeToPlay, rez2cool, etc.)

(Google Alerts is great for keeping track of this stuff!)

Some higher profile stuff is coming in the next few months, and we're pretty excited about where CellMap is going.

Until next time!
- Aaron.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Building for the Fortune 5,000,000

Building CellMap for the last year has been an incredibly enlightening experience.  I think David Heinemeier (author of Ruby on Rails) really captured the lessons learned over the past year.  You can build a successful business sanely.

Check it out!  Very cool perspective.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

We beat Cancer! (on Google)

A random thought. If you search for CellMap, we're at the top of the rankings. A little ways down is, that does cellular mapping for cancer.

So I guess we beat cancer.

On another note, we'll talk about the evolution of coming up with a company name an logo. It's more turbulent than one might imagine...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

CellMap Wins Best Mobile Application at PopVox Awards!

You like us, you really like us!

Yay! We won! Yes, yes, it was in a category of 2, but STILL! A win's a win.

To recap the night a bit, I'd have to say that it's my first "big" award show. I mean, I've been in high school award nights, and even university "fun" award nights, but this was something else.

When I first entered the "Great Northern Way Campus", I didn't think much of the venue. Yes, it looks pretty neat on the outside, but the first couple of hallways were like every other concrete university buildings.

Then, I entered "The Hangar". WOW. They really turned it into a gala. Lights were low, spinning colour lights were everywhere. There were caterers coming around with fancy hors d'oeuvres, and everyone was dressed up, geek chic style. (When I was at the VIDFEST's opening ceremonies at Vancouver Art Gallery, I was in a nice shirt and slacks. I felt a little out of place, since everyone there was in "geek/artist" type style. I made sure I fit in this time, with my new trademark-pending look. ;) )

There was a bit of mingling, but the event went on its way shortly thereafter. The PopVox Awards. Lots of presenters, lots of big sponsors like Microsoft and Bell. Every time an award was presented, I can't help but think how much this is like what you see on TV: there was a presenter, then "Here are the nominees", along with a video of their stuff. Even when the winners went up, some of them had a prepared list of "thank yous". (Hm... I wonder if Aaron prepared something. And how would the let-down feel if we didn't win, but still have prepared a speech?)

Anyway, as the night went on, I became more and more anxious. When our category came up - Best Mobile Application - my heart was definitely racing. Then, the winner: CellMap!

We went up to receive the award, and Aaron DID have a short list prepared. Michael and myself stood to the side, and only in retrospect did I realize that we should'ved crowded around the podium (think Oscar's, when the entire crew goes up for Best Picture). Ah well. As we left the stage, Kenton, the president of New Media BC, even said a few more words about CellMap! That's pretty awesome.

Afterwards, went to the back to get our pictures taken, and on to mingling! I found out how much carrying the the award is a great conversation piece. Met some cool people, even another UI guy, who works for EA. Raced on PGR4 on the 360, and had some food.

Speaking of UI, the had a buffet table for chow mein. This in of itself isn't anything crazy. They had the same food on both ends leading towards the middle, to allow more people going through. Still not the problem. The main issue was that the table was AGAINST THE WALL. This effectively reduces the number of people going through by HALF! If they moved it away from the wall, the line-ups would've been MUCH shorter.

Phew, there's my UI design rant.

Anyway, the rest of the night went great, met more people, and had more cool food. And, of course, winning an award is always nice! Hope to be back next year!

Oh, and it's cool to have other people blog about the event (TechVibes, Fade to Play). Thanks to Fade to Play for the pic!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Today's the Day!

CellMap Inc. will be at VidFest's PopVox Awards Gala tonight. We are up for Best Mobile Application, so we got our fingers crossed. It should be an awesome experience mingling with some of the IT and creative industry's leaders and champions.

Should be another excellent night in Vancouver.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

VIDFEST 2008 is using CellMap!

VIDFEST (Vancouver International Digital Festival), May 21 - 24, has asked us to do a CellMap for them. We're the official mobile map provider for this event, and they've even listed us in the print program as well as on their event schedule page.

Be sure to check out the VIDFEST CellMap, which has the latest features - events listing and better BlackBerry support. Also look for Easter Eggs around the map! (Even if you're not going to VIDFEST, it's a great map of Granville Island.)

We'll see you there!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

New Feature!

We've been hard at work over the past couple of days putting together a new feature! (Well, Aaron's the main dev for this stuff. I tossed in UI thoughts, as always).

Check out some test CellMaps with this feature, and let us know what you think!
VIDFEST 2008 - look for Easter Eggs in this map!

PAX 2007

Thursday, May 1, 2008

12 Days to Vote

CellMap is entered in the Popvox Awards for Best Mobile Application.
Vote for us at: Popvox Awards

CellMap in Techvibes

For the Angel Forum that happened only a few days ago, we got mentioned in Techvibes, along with several other up and coming start ups in the Vancouver area.

Check the article: