Apps for Good Launch Event

Weatherbirds at Apps for Good Launch EventWhat a fantastic day that was. The culmination of a ton of effort by seven different school teams, seven different developers, loads of mentors and everyone at Apps for Good.

This was the launch event for the Apps for Good 2012 award winners. Held at the top of the BT Tower, it drew in a large crowd of tech folks to applaud the efforts of everyone involved.

The views from the top of the tower were great too:
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All of the teams got there, which was a great start. We rode up in the lift watching the speed indicator and all getting a popping of ears part way up. We apparently were travelling at 1000 feet per minute. When I did the calculation this was only 37 mph. I suspect the indicator was on all of the social media sites by the end of the day judging by the number of camera phones out in the lift

Promise Keeper PosterThe event space was a circle and the teams each had a market stall from which to promote their app. Their marketing ranged from stickers based on their app badges to great posters. The main marketing tactic that all of the teams had been encouraged to use was tell  a concise story about their app. Start with “Why” and move along to “How & What”.

Once we had helped them get set up, they began practising their pitches for the crowd. Each team after the opening speeches would have a two minute pitch to try and entice the visitors to their stall. The teams were very nervous, but after seeing the first pitch being given confidently, each team seemed to relax and their natural confidence began to shine through.

At one point the wireless began to play up on one side of the tower and this was a serious issue for some of the teams as their app either relied upon a Facebook login or access to back end server assistance in some way. It really brought home how few apps being developed are stand alone. For me this is not a bad thing, I just hope that the attention to detail that the development companies here have given to graceful degradation was more prevalent in the industry as a whole. To get the issue resolved I was referred to a helpful BT chap who for some reason I thought was going to retire to a patch room somewhere to fix it. Maybe it was the monolithic 60’s architecture of the tower that had me thinking this way. The helpful BT chap just flipped down a small wooden panel to reveal a BT wireless home hub that he then rebooted. Problem sorted then.

Before the event began we were shown down to the bottom of the Tower whilst it was spruced up to receive the days visitors. On our return the quiet experience of the earlier practice was swept away by a noisy hubbub of friendly banter.

The event was brought to order and kicked off by Iris and Debbie from Apps for Good. They gave way to Ian Livingstone who gave the keynote speech on the importance of coding in schools.

Ian Livingstone at Apps for Good Launch Event

David giving his Beat the Book pitchThe teams were then invited to make their pitches and they did so with aplomb. I heard so many of the visitors either praising the speeches or being amazed that these were “just” school kids.

The fact was that by the end of the six months since they won the competition, each team has had given a vast amount of input in all parts of the app creation process. They have also been coached in marketing & presentation skills. It was therefore no surprise to me to see them confidently speaking at the event. These were now young entrepreneurs.

It was fantastic to get name checked by the teams too.

Once the speeches & pitches were finished, there followed two hours of frenetic pitching by the teams and networking by the attendees.

Oyster on the Go
It was slightly disconcerting when there was a slight bump and then the floor began to move. I knew the tower could do this and the teams had asked about it, but I didn’t know it was going to happen. Obviously one of the teams had pestered (in a nice way) the great folks at BT to get it going. For twenty two minutes (a standard rotation program apparently) teams were furiously selling their apps whilst the London skyline slide slowly past the windows.

Feelings in a Flash

I still had a job to do and that was to make sure that the teams and the developers were happy. Whilst making the rounds I bumped into Debbie from AFG leading a guest around. I turned to ask her something that had popped into my head and found myself facing Davina Mccall. I’m not one for celebrities, but all I could manage was a polite “hello” whilst my mind was forcing the “that’s Davina McCall” into the space where the question for Debbie was. Needless to say all I got from the teams on the rest of the round was “when is Davina coming to talk to us?”

davina

At the end of the launch, all of the teams and the remaining attendees gathered together for a big thank you and my six month adventure with the school teams was drawing to a close. I commented to Charlie and Chris from putITout that I was going to miss all of the visits with the teams. I’d come to know them and their teachers so well.

AFG Teams Assembled

I was on the go so much on the day, I think I only managed to get a few bites of a slice of pizza. Once I’d left the celebratory drinks across the road with a couple of the AFG folks and developers, I retired to a local restaurant for a posh burger, chips and beer that didn’t touch the sides.

Well done one and all.


The seven apps launched were:

  • Beat the Book – an app that uses gamification to encourage students to read and has been produced by a boy from St Matthews Academy with Injoit and sponsored by Nesta.
  • Feelings in a Flash – a communications app that helps teenagers track, share and deal with their mood or feeling and has been created by two girls from Blackheath Computer Club with Plant Pot and sponsored by Nominet Trust.
  • Mapp Your Way – app that helps students navigate their way around a large school using QR codes and was produced by five students from Wildern School with Codeten and sponsored by BlackBerry.
  • Weather Birds – garden watering app that instructs users based on weather predictions and has been produced by two girls from Central Foundation Girls’ School with Fuerte International and sponsored by Thomson Reuters.
  • Promise Keeper – an app that allows two parties to track commitments and has been developed by five boys from St Matthews Academy with Put It Out and sponsored by Omidyar Network.
  • Oyster on the Go – proof of concept app that shows information from TFL based on an individual Oyster card and was developed by four boys from Featherstone High School with Novoda and sponsored by Barclaycard.
  • RMBme – a highly customisable reminder app that uses images and has been developed by four girls from Reading Girls’ School with Service2Media and sponsored by Dell.

Joe Molloy is a freelance technical consultant, project manager and writer, based in London, UK.

Joe helps start-ups and companies convert their vision and ideas into real world products and services. Joe specialises in helping companies get it done.