It's a sunny day! The EpicGem app has launched in the Apple app store. Functionality included in this version 1.0 is limited to "Creating" and "Reading" story album (what we call "Gems"). The development team is currently working on "Sharing" functionality to roll out in a future version of the app.
It recently came to our attention that a nearby domain was offering content aimed at a different group of users than our audience at EpicGem.
While we hope that EpicGem (note the lack of an ‘s’ in our name) empowers users of all stripes – young and old – to create and share memorable content, epicgems.com (with an ‘s’) was serving users interested in photos of a decidedly mature nature.
It was easy to recognize that the potential for our users to land on a site so different - and yet so nearby (in terms of naming) - was not acceptable. But what to do about it?
As I read to my young children (four and five years old, as I write), I hope they find reading to be fun. A key challenge I often face is keeping the reading experience fresh and engaging for them (while passing along memories - as well as lessons - from my childhood that I hope they will want to share with their children some day).
Nothing engages a child in a story like a colorful picture to provide context for the words on the page (except maybe the sound of a parent's voice). It can be surprisingly easy (and even affordable) to find a professional illustrator to help personalize your stories. Here are some lessons I have learned in generating memorable illustrations to engage my young audience.
Find an Artist
Along with the customary holiday cheer, the 2015 holiday season brought new reasons for parents to consider how technology impacts their young loved ones. New and updated versions of toys include enhanced levels of web-enabled interactivity, such as Mattel’s real-time responsive Hello Barbie and a super-computer connected talking dinosaur (available in 2015 for pre-order from elementalpath.com).
Whereas prior generations of tech-enabled toys long kept the conversation between a child and her toy (from Chatty Cathy in the 1950s to Teddy Ruxpin in the 1980s), new incarnations have extended that conversation to outsiders beyond a child’s playroom. The UK press reported earlier this year that 2014’s app-enabled My Friend Cayla doll could be accessed and reprogrammed by unauthorized third parties. The doll’s manufacturer (Vivid Toys and Games) reportedly responded that it can readily deal with such issues as it is “able to adapt and upgrade the app on an ongoing basis” – in effect, another avenue for accessing and reprogramming the doll from beyond the playroom.
I have a shoe box full of old photos. Some have a few words etched on the back - such as “Christmas ‘72”, others are blank. The old adage says ‘each picture is worth a thousand words’, and my grandmother knew many of the words associated with each of the pictures in that shoe box. She lived a long, wonderful life, full of happy grandchildren achieving things and seeing places she could not have even imagined as a child in the early 1900s (think computers). However, she passed away in 2010 and my shoe box full of photos is here now – in 2015.
I was very fortunate to have lived the early parts of my life in middle America within about twenty minutes’ drive of my grandparents, and even when I later lived further away – sometimes on another continent – I benefitted from distance-shortening technologies such as email and online video (as well as a grandmother willing to embrace them as early as the 1990’s). My young children – now aged 3 and 4 now – will grow up a long flight (and, in some ways, an entire culture) removed from at least one of their grandmothers (one living in the US, and the other in Hong Kong). My challenge is to keep them all close – for the good of young and old alike.
This week we wrapped up the coursework at Founder Institute HK!
It's been a great experience both pursuing an idea and a real joy to form new bonds with friends, family and new acquaintances in pursuing that. If you are interested in perspectives on the FI program, I have shared some thoughts on quora.com at http://qr.ae/75lzMh.
At the same time, this is but the first step in a long, long journey, and so ...
A big welcome to the official start of summer!
It feels like we have made real progress this past week at EpicGem.
Until next time, please keep well.
Happy (early) Father's Day to all the dad's out there.
EpicGem is heading into week 11 of 13 at the Founder Institute. After surveying 1,000 random US residents last week to gather information on our product offering, positioning and offering, we surveyed another 500 US residents this week looking for feedback on the EpicGem user interface and experience (or "UI / UX"). User Experience
You can see (and try) our latest online mock-up at http://invis.io/BN39NYZAT. It’s a rough cut intended to illustrate core functionality.
We have engaged with two UI / UX specialists to help carry the design a bit closer to what our initial operating product (our “Minimum Viable Product” in start-up speak) will look like. We will work closely with our designers to iterate their thoughts and hope to have a more polished interface available in about 10 days.
Once we wrap up work with designers by the start of July, we will engage more directly with potential customers, as we will then be able show more clearly EpicGem’s features and ease of use for old and young alike.
Groups identifying themselves in our surveys as being particularly interested in EpicGem included:
In the meantime, please keep well.
EpicGem is a start-up developing solutions to empower users - young and old alike - to connect, bond and inspire by sharing memorable content .