Happy National Startup Day!

In 1607, the first sustained European residence in what is now the modern US was founded. These immigrants left England and Europe in the hopes of finding something better in a new land of great opportunity. This is the story of our country, the story of people seeking to improve their lives, and the lives of their children.

This is an issue dear to my heart – after all, I am myself an immigrant. I came to this country 7 years ago with a dream. Not the monumental MLK Jr-style dream; a much simpler dream. I wanted to have a better life for my kids than I myself had.

And for nearly 2 decades, I have built my company, SDI, from the ground up. I have poured my blood, sweat, and tears day and night into this business. I began as a small Startup among hundreds of other Startups in Silicon Valley.

But today, I have a company that has over 10,000 clients, 4 global offices, and a staff of hundreds. I am the American Dream. More importantly, my children have a better life than I could have ever imagined.

Today is National Startup Day. It’s the day were all across these 50 states, we honor entrepreneurs, SMBs, and (obviously) startups and the nation they have helped to build. In the last 30 years alone, Startups under a year old have added over 1.5 million jobs per year to the US economy.

And, as we have already discussed this week, at no time has it been easier to open a startup business – even right from the comfort of your own home.

But companies started by immigrants and their kids often go unrecognized for their own achievements.

Let’s just take a look at one well known list of top US companies, the Fortune 500 (2011): 18% of these companies are owned by immigrants; and another 114 companies have founders who are first generation (i.e. their parents were immigrants).

This means 40% of the biggest companies in the world are founded by immigrants of their children. Including at least half of Google and Apple! Think about that for a second. Immigrants and their children account for just over a tenth of our nation.

But 200 of the top 500 companies? All immigrant-powered. While my company is no longer a startup, we still remember those heydays; those days where you never knew if you would still be in business tomorrow. But damned if you weren’t going to keep going!

Unfortunately, while startups are the lifeblood of this nation, there are still some roadblocks to getting a business up and running. Which is why one of the services we offer is guidance for startups. We help on everything from how to get into the tech startup world, to hammering out the best tech startup ideas.

We focus on two major areas in which most startups need help: the product and the investors. While we aren’t ourselves investors (SDI is my investment), we are connected with some of the biggest names in the industry – and we can put you in touch with them.

But more than that. We are a tech company built for startups and SMBs. We develop tailor-made apps, websites, and software for startups from California to New York. When it comes to success in the Tech Development world, we are the guys you want in your corner.

We’ll even help design your pitch and create a demo of your app, web, or software that will truly blow away investors. Our services are designed to help attract people who invest in tech startups, especially Series A/B funding – contact us for more information!

But maybe you don’t need external investment. Maybe you realize that an app is actually pretty cheap (we start as low as $2grand per platform!). Well that’s our specialty. We have worked in literally thousands of industries.

We even can help provide some inspiration. Afterall we know the industry, to the best cities for tech startups to the best markets to watch. Heck we even keep an eye out for the sleeping giants like the best edtech startups!

We’ve built SaaS programs for Manufacturing companies that span countries; and we’ve built online eCommerce businesses that span living rooms. We’ve even built websites and apps that help HealthCare companies provide better services.

My overall point here is to point out that we make the hurdles to owning a small business lower. We, a company of native-born and Immigrant US citizens, strive everyday to build a better country for the next generation.

While our great country sometimes trips and falls, we always pick ourselves back up again. And we only ever do it together – immigrants and native-born. Because, we have that one all-important shared trait: We are Americans. Happy National Startup Day!

Immigrant or not, we know how to make your startup venture a success. Our team is pulled from the best in the biz – from Cisco to Apple. We know tech, and we know startups. Give us a call at 408.802.2885 / 408.621.8481 – or click to contact us!

How to Build an App that Predicts Political Movements

2016 has resulted in a number of surprising political upsets in many parts of the Western world. This time last year, you would be unable to find a pundit who would say that the GOP front runner would be Donald Trump, or that the UK would no longer be part of the EU!

Sure, some pundits were warning of potential upsets. The great Nate Silver of the website fivethirtyeight.com warned of Trump’s rising popularity before Jeb(!) even left the race. But even Silver was unsure of what would happen with Brexit!

So what does all of this have to do with an app development company like SDI? Well, as American Citizens we have a vested interest in knowing what’s going on in our country and the world in general. We’ve even discussed how to build an app that tracks voting in specific areas!

But more importantly, we’re a company of entrepreneurs, a company that deals with data and data analytics. And in the modern world, where there are politicians, there are pollsters. What is a poll but a set of data, waiting to be analyzed.

Apps that Predict Politics

The problem with many prediction-based apps is accuracy. Largely that’s because so many of these polls are stand alone events, and data tends to be more reflective when taken in the aggregate.

That’s not to say that there are excellent tools out there to help predict political movements. The aforementioned 538 has an accuracy that would impress any marksman! In fact, Silver gained fame in 2008 and 2012 when he predicted which states would go to which presidential nominee – with an accuracy rating of over 90%!

We are necessarily talking about an election tracking app here. While this is a good place to get started (again as Mr. Silver did) we’re talking about more than just a voting app. What about after 2016? What about midterm elections? What about the rest of the world?

Thanks to the excessive emphasis placed on campaigning and polling in the US, voting tracking app will always be useful. But there’s nothing saying you can’t add more value with real time tracking across a variety of different political movements!

While gambling on elections is currently illegal in the US, there is no denying the potential money-making opportunity here. The good news is that betting apps for politics are not illegal in the UK though.

In fact, the popular app BetFair boasts election prediction results in real time so users have a competitive edge in the process. British readers, get in touch now to start building your own voting prediction app!

Politics, like much of the world, is driven by money. The ability to predict top political news can open up the doors to numerous business opportunities. For instance, Mr. Trump is well-known for his emphasis on revitalizing the MFG industry in the US and for his protectionist stances on Free Trade and the global economy.

An app that turned on Smart Data and was able to predict a Trump presidency before it’s announced can prove exceedingly useful to many. Take Stock Brokers; with an app that predicts a broker could divest from global trade and invest in the manufacturing wing of the US, thus preparing oneself for a shift in American economy.

Let me guess – you’re not a stock broker? That’s not an issue, because you don’t need to be! The idea here is to build your own Smart Data App and sell it to the stock brokers. Brokers have neither the time nor the spare thought to create an app. But you can bet the bank that they will use the heck out of an app that gives them a distinct market advantage!

Of course, you don’t have to be a business person to be excited about an app that can predict voting. How about the obvious one – Politicians themselves. You can bet that David Cameron would have loved an app that could’ve told him he’d soon be out of a job.

Look, we build apps, websites, and custom software; our usual clients are entrepreneurs and SMB owner. We especially help those looking for better data analytics. Afterall, business survives off of the reports generated by Big Data.

Moreover, we do this well. Our clients generally find themselves with more money and a more efficient business. Not to mention, a much higher level of happiness! But the reason for this success is that we are a data-driven world.

We collect numbers on everything and most of it goes unused. And what is polling if not a series of data points taken across a wide subsection of a target population. An app that predicts the politics of this crazy world can go along way to alleviating the concerns of businessmen and economic investors around the world.

What the world of politics needs right now is an app that can accurately predict these trends. Something that goes beyond a single polling result or the single opinion of Experts and Pundits. The Smart Data apps that our developers create collect information from hundreds of different data points.

An app that aggregates multiple polls, analyzes information across the web, and breaks down global trends can go a long way to providing a new, comprehensive app for political junkies.

Build Your Own App that Predicts Political Movements with SDI

SDI is a tech company, but we pride ourselves in our ability to predict and capitalize on potential marketing trends. We did it quite successfully with both Gadget apps and AR/VR apps; now we’re doing it with politics.

Machine learning and Data Analytics have never been this good. If they can help a company save millions, why can’t they help us better prepare for election results and political movements? SDI is waiting to hear from you – Call us at 408802.2885 / 408.621.8481 or contact us here for a free consultation and quote.

How to Build a Virtual Reality App for Cardboard

There are so many virtual reality projects out there that it’s getting pretty confusing. This is a pretty standard thing we’ve seen with the tech world: there’s a flurry of action as multiple companies try to figure out who will become THE VR/AR company.

So the current big players in the VR Game are Microsoft (HoloLens), Facebook (with Oculus Rift), and Samsung (Gear VR). Amazon recently began building a VR team for an unnamed project, and Tim Cook seems to have some sort of super secret VR division hiding in the wings.

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t mentioned the big one yet: Google. Google probably has the most currently invested in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. They currently have two VR (known) projects in the works – Cardboard and the newly announced Daydream.

But since we are an app development company – and I am an app developer – we’re going to talk primarily about Cardboard today. Don’t get me wrong – Daydream seems very promising and just fantastically cool.

But we’re going to stick with reality (of Virtual Reality?) today – what can you, as an appreneur do right now to get involved in the VR app game? And that answer is Cardboard. If you want to read more about how developers will go about creating a virtual reality ecosystem for Google’s Daydream, click here to read Raj’s excellent analysis.

Just as a quick note – I’m not saying you can’t develop VR apps for Daydream, because you absolutely can. And there’s something to be said for early adoption, but Cardboard has a more established development process. I want to talk about the nuts and bolts of VR app development and design and Daydream hasn’t been around long enough to be meet this desire.

We’ve also talked about the the downloads and success of Google’s Cardboard – suffice to say Cardboard is successful (25+ million downloads, millions of VR apps for Cardboard; hundreds of hours watched etc). So what will we be talking about today? The actual technology and design process our team follows to make winning cardboard apps.

Planning & Conceptualization

As with any web, app, or custom software development project my team undertakes, the first stage is planning. We sit with our client to tease out what they want: what service or product are do they want to provide? How do they want to provide it? What are their end goals?

With a VR app for Cardboard, we know right off the bat that design will be even more critical than usual. First, virtual and augmented realities rely heavily upon visual elements. But more than that, there are a whole new set of challenges that developers have never faced before:

1. Head tracking: While this isn’t too different than how we use accelerometers with apps today, it’s different enough. With a VR app, head tracking is the result of users looking at different visual elements in the VR app. So, as designers we have to create an app that renders perfectly. Users won’t download an app that lags or blurs every time they turn their head.

2. Simulator sickness (aka Sim Sickness) is not something you’d normally associate with Android app development, but it’s long been a consideration for companies that make flight simulator programs for the Air Force. The issue here is a disconnect between what your body is feeling and what your body is seeing.

For instance, let’s say you want to make an Android VR app for Cardboard that simulates base jumping. You’re eyes will tell you that you’re flying through the air at speeds exceeding 100 MPH, but your body will tell you that you’re sitting in a chair. This disconnect generally results in users revisiting their lunch in unpleasant ways.

Eventually your body and mind will adapt to Sim Sickness. Research seems to indicate that prolonged exposure will at first make Sim Sickness worse, but months of prolonged exposure will allow your mind to adapt – again, eventually.

But my team doesn’t work in eventualities. We need to deliver successful products that get our clients users immediately, not eventually.So, one of our ongoing challenges has been to create a design that still provides the VR illusion but minimizes the mind-body sickness. The things we do to limit Sim Sickness include:

a. The more time a user spends in a single VR session, the more likely they are to get sick, so the ability to dip in and out of a VR ecosystem at will (without losing one’s place) is necessary.

b. While “Binocular Disparity” is one of the best visual cues have for creating a VR ecosystem, it’s also unsettling. Really, really unsettling. Our research and experience with Cardboard Apps (as well as that of the developers of VR apps for Oculus Rift) shows that reducing the disparity (not removing it entirely!) makes vomiting less likely while still maintaining the visual effect.

c. Acceleration is another big thing VR app developers need to consider. Trust me when I say that watching yourself accelerate without the physical sensation of gravity is disturbing. So, our VR app developers try to limit the frequency and speed of acceleration and of movement in general.

3. One other big thing I’ve emphasized with my VR app development team is that this is a new tech platform. We don’t have established systems so users have no expectation of how a VR UX/UI will look or feel. There’s no set visual clues or elements that guide a user through the app. So we have to create one, based off our prior experience – and iterative testing.

Build Your Own VR App for Google’s Cardboard with SDI

Building a VR app may seem like an intimidating process to many entrepreneurs, but you must consider that this is where the market is heading. There are literally hundreds of billions of dollars at stake here.

But the good news is that Google is really setting up excellent support for VR app developers. Their VR Apps SDK for the Plugin Unity is highly effective at eliminating common VR dev issues (like distortion correction or controls for faking head motions).

Unity is set or precoded features (like one sees with CMS and eCommerce platforms like Magento and WooCommerce) which streamline development and instantly leap over common hurdles. Unity is especially useful because it was made by Google for Google. In other words, it’s designed to work perfectly with Google’s base VR platforms.

Unity allows SDI to create VR Android apps for Daydream and Cardboard (making dual-platform apps all that much easier!). But more importantly, Unity lets developers create Cardboard VR apps for iPhone. This makes it an awesome tool for entrepreneurs who want to bring a more robust VR presence to iOS.

If you would like to learn more about how my development team can leverage the Unity plugin and Googles VR SDK, contact me today. You can also reach SDI by phone at 408.621.8481 or 408.802.2881. Get in touch soon for a free consultation and quote. Our prices start at $2000 an app!

2016 Predictions: The Next Big Thing in Technology

Technology makes the world go ‘round. For untold millennia, technology is what pushed civilizations forward. It started with the invention of agricultural technologies of the ancient hunter-gatherer tribes and is still going on today. Advancements in tech save lives, advance society and make the world a better place.

As a CEO of a company that makes its business in the world of tech, I need to not only keep up with all ongoing trends in the world of tech, but I need to be able to see what’s coming. My success and the success of my business is highly dependent upon me and my technology predictions. And my 10,000 clients, 4000+ projects, and 15+ years of running a successful business is a testament to my ability to predict the future.

So, let’s take a look at what I am predicting will be the next big things in technology for 2016.

Virtual Reality (VR)

While VR has been talked about for decades, it appears that the time is finally here. Recent advances in tech have made VR an achievable reality. Even more striking has been the rise in Augmented Reality (AR). Projects like Google’s Cardboard are already pushing further innovation in the the arena of AR. What is really needed now are apps to take advantage of this rising tides.

Both AR and VR have the potential to revolutionize many industries, but there are a few in particular that really stand to benefit:

• Healthcare and Medicine

Doctors have long been using limited VR technologies to teach and train better health practitioners. But VR has reached the point where it can completely change the way we practice medicine. Imagine a VR app that is capable of creating digital bodies, each afflicted by various digital diseases? Imagine how much better doctors can be if they’ve had realistic, practically indistinguishable from the real thing, training.

• Tourism

Apps for tourist locations will not only provide a way for countries to advertise themselves as tourist destinations. This is different from a commercial though – this is an immersive experience. Heck, app makers could generate even more money by creating fully-fledged VR replicas of Egypt’s Pyramids for those travellers on a budget.

Gaming

Gaming is the big one here. Obviously there is a lot of excitement about the power of immersive, complete VR gaming environments for everything from First Person Shooters to Role Playing Games. Contact us today to get started on your VR Gaming App!

Wearables and the Internet of Things (IoT)

Wearables are really taking off this year, especially as new tech like Amazon’s Echo make the IoT ever more real and present. Wearables are a unique new platform for app development and represent a whole new opportunity for startups and entrepreneurs alike.

Wearables have a wide range of uses, especially as the IOT in 2016 grows larger. From devices like Fitbit, to devices that monitor an infant’s vital signs through a pacifier, Wearable Tech trends in 2016 are proliferating at a staggering rate. I predict that within 10 years, Wearables will be as common and useful as SmartPhones are today – possibly even replacing SmartPhones at some point in the future

As Wearable technology grows in usefulness, the need for apps to interact and manage these devices will grow. To put this in better terms, the point we are at with Wearable tech in 2016 is the equivalent to where we were with the iPhone in 2008: on the cusp of a creating a new trillion dollar industry. Don’t get left behind.

Smart TVs

This maybe a surprising trend, but we’re starting to see a lot of notice being paid attention to Smart TVs – another result of the growing presence of the IoT! I predict that Smart TVs will be the norm by 2020 and the need for apps to interact and control these connected TVs will grow.

Apps for this new breed of televisions stand to be highly successful when designed by people who know what they are doing. More so, over 90% of US Americans already utilize a second screen while watching TV. Why is this important? Because one of the most important rules in design is to create interfaces that mesh with established habits and systems.

Creating an app for second screen experiences will fit with what your users are already doing. The less risk and effort your app poses, the more likely it is to be adopted to one’s daily habits. Believe me when I say that Smart TVs and Second Screen Apps are the next big thing in TV technologies.

Programming Languages 2016

With more than 50% of Glassdoor’s list of in-Demand professions in 2016 involve programming, you know it’s going to be a big trend. Apple is moving away from Objective C and C++ towards their own programming language Swift. This new programming language was released relatively recently, but is already revolutionizing how iOS development is conducted. Get in touch with us to learn how to make Swift work for you. At SDI we ensure to develop an app for you that will succeed get a free quote today.

Your Tech Partners

From the irrigation technologies of India and Sri Lanka to the architecture of Ancient China, to the philosophy and medicine to the Greeks, to the Internet of the modern era, technology changes the world slowly as well as in leaps and bounds. Technology is always an investment with a high reward, but an equally high risk.

That’s why we’re here – to mitigate that risk with informed strategies, experienced teams, and high quality design and development. Our expertise ranges from Software, Websites and Apps, to Marketing and Monetization strategies.

We are Silicon Valley’s development company – let us work for you! We provide entrepreneurs, startups and SMB’s a complete solution at affordable pricing. Get a free consultation, call today at 408.802.2885 or send us an email us at team@sdi.la – All information shared with us is kept 100% confidential.

Offshore or Inshore: Is There a Risk in Sending Programming Work Offshore

As a software development company, we obviously care a lot about hosting and servers. Afterall, our business is dependent upon the success of our clients – and the success of our clients is dependent upon the quality and reliability of their websites. Even a few hours of a downed website can be catastrophic to many of our clients, especially SMBs – the meat of our business.

So, when we were in the market for a new hosting company some time ago, we expended considerable energy to research the options available. We finally narrowed it down to two options, neither of which we can currently name so we shall refer to them by pseudonyms: Company Q and Company Z.

The biggest issue we faced was that while Company Z is one of the top-rated server companies in the world, they were preparing to ramp up their business. This meant Co.Z needed to physically move their servers. This would in possible or definite interruptions in service for our clients.

Let’s dive a little deeper into the good and bad of each company and take a closer look at the decision we faced:

1. Company Q: A hosting company based in India.

a. Pros:

i. Extraordinarily inexpensive, especially when compared to U.S. options;

ii. Bigger staff; developers in India are not only more numerous (compared to the U.S.) but they’re less expensive to employ.

iii. Stability – they had a large facility that gave them plenty of space. This meant they wouldn’t need to move anytime soon – no service interruption.

b. Cons:

i. Our biggest concern was reliability. Let’s face it, offshore work has a reputation that isn’t great, undeservedly or not. We were concerned that the work of the developers, the quality of the servers and the reliability of the connection to the internet. This was heightened to new levels because Co.Q was an unknown entity.

ii. Time differential and distance is always a downside to international outsourcing. If we had an issue, we would likely need to wait (or so we thought).

2. Company Z: A top-rated U.S. based hosting company

a. Pros:

i. An excellent reputation – one of the top 5 hosting companies in the U.S. alone;

ii.Some of the best server equipment on the market;

iii. Local to us in Silicon Valley (compared to Co.Q). This was important to us because if we had issues, we wanted to be able to contact them immediately.

b. Cons:

i. Co.Z was pretty pricey. Of course the idea here is that you get the work for which you pay (we learned that this isn’t necessarily, as you shall see);

ii. As mentioned above, they were preparing to move to a bigger location. While long term, this would increase their ability to meet our needs and the needs of our clients. Short term, this meant interruptions to our websites and a potential loss of revenue for our clients – and us.

So we were faced with a choice: the known, well-respected local company that could very well result in the loss of business for us; or, the unknown Co.Q based in India, with little to no reputation. At the end of the day, we chose Co.Z, the reliable, high-quality U.S. company.

Co.Z had the skills, the equipment, the location, everything we wanted – except that move. Co.Z did offer the following assurances (which ended up being the deciding factor):

• They had done this before and knew what they were doing;

• They were going to move in stages;

• i.e. only some of their servers would be offline at any given time, which would prevent service interruptions; and The whole move would take less than two months.

The Reality

So what ended up happening? Exactly what you think would happen: Co.Z’s timeline of 8 weeks turned into 6+ months of moving, with continual interruptions to our service. And not minor interruptions; several of our clients’ websites were down for hours.

In retrospect, we should not have judged Co.Q because of the reputation of other Indian companies. At the end of the day, we had to drop Co.Z and had to migrate our servers over to Co.Q. Since the said migration, we have had no issues and love the service we receive. Still, we not only had to spend time dealing with Co.Z, but we had to commit ourselves to two server migrations in one year.

A server migration, for those of you who are unaware, is the process by which websites and apps are transferred from one hosting company to another. It’s laborious, intensive, requires extreme attention to detail, and comprehensive knowledge of tech development and management.

Most website, app, and software development companies need to hire a third party; fortunately for us, our developers are more than capable of doing this themselves (hire our developers on an hourly rate to help migrate your website!). Of course, we did spend way too much time and effort to do it when we could have done it correctly from the get-go.

The irony is not lost on us: we are in fact a company that utilizes over 200 developers. We frequently get faced with questions as to the quality of our Indian development team, so we should have been cognizant of the inherent bias. We weren’t. Like Company Q, our staff has more development experience than most U.S. based companies (all of our developers have 5 years of programming experience plus at least one degree from a recognized university) and, like Co.Q, our Indian team works constantly.

The one concern we had with Co.Q remains standing: the unfortunate time and location differentials. We have yet to have any issues and Co.Q has people on standby in India, but their concern is valid, and one we face frequently ourselves.

However, unlike Co.Q, we are not based in India. Our main office is in Silicon Valley, at the heart of the tech universe. We have global offices and global clients – from Australia to the Bay, we’re there. Our development team, while based in India, is managed out of our international offices by a staff pulled from Webex, Cisco, Apple, and other Valley giants.

We stand by the work we do, and so do our clients. Our work with notable clients like PepsiCo, Louis Vuitton, and Stanford has earned us an excellent and well-deserved reputation. Today, over 80% of our business comes from repeat customers and, after 16 years in this business, we’re still going strong.

If you would like to get started on your own app, website or custom software (or any other tech help), give us a call at 408.802.2885. Call soon to take advantage of our deals, ranging from a free app screen design to responsive website conversion for as low as $499 (up to 10 pages).