Cloud Four Blog

Technical notes, War stories and anecdotes

You have an idea for an app? Come to Mobile Portland on Monday to learn what it takes.

Out of all the conversations I’ve had with individuals who have had ideas for apps, the one I had with Miloš Jovanović stands out the most. That’s why I’m so pleased he is going to be telling his tale at Mobile Portland on Monday.

Most of the conversations about app ideas have similar characteristics. Someone has an idea for an app. They think it will be a hit. They don’t have the technical abilities to build the app. They don’t know what it will cost. And they’re trying to figure out how to make the app a reality. So they ask me for advice.

I start by sharing some articles that I’ve found that describe how much app development costs.1 We’ll talk about how it isn’t enough to simply build an app. You need to have a business plan. That you need recurring revenue to maintain the app. What happens if you build it and they don’t come?

And that is often the last I see of the individual. The app never gets created. I always feel bad to see their ideas die, but simply having an idea isn’t enough to be successful.

Screenshot of SpaceView appMiloš was different from the beginning. Yes, he had an idea for an app, but he set himself apart in our first meeting by demonstrating how much research he had already done. He had domain expertise. He wanted to learn everything there was about how to build an app and a business.

He had even gone so far as to hire someone to build a crude, throwaway application just so he could see what the process was like.

And Miloš didn’t just distinguish himself during our meeting. He has shown perseverance in his pursuit of his vision like no other person I have met. He has been working on making his vision a reality for two years now.

There are many points where it would have been easy to give up. And even now, I don’t know if SpaceView, that app that Miloš is building, will be successful.

What I have no doubt about is that Miloš will be successful in whatever he does.

And I now have a simple answer when someone asked me what it takes to build an app: you need to be as persistent and dogged in pursuit of your vision as Miloš has been.

If you have an idea for an app and you’re wondering what it takes to build one, I highly encourage you to come listen to Miloš on Monday at Mobile Portland. It’s not to be missed.2


  1. In case you’re curious, here are the articles that I’ve found do a good job of describing how much it costs to build an app.

  2. I realized as I wrote those words how sad I was that I’m going to miss the meeting. I’m going to be in Boston speaking at An Event Apart. I’m always sad when I miss Mobile Portland, but this month is a double whammy. I’m not only missing Miloš, but I’m missing out on an opportunity to see Urban Airship’s new offices. :-(

A Big Day for Lucid Meetings

Last year, John Keith, one of the founders of Cloud Four, started a side venture called Lucid Meeting. John doesn’t like Lucid Meetings to impinge on Cloud Four which is why you haven’t heard much about it on our blog. It is also the reason why I’m writing this post without his knowledge (sorry John!).

John and his co-founders at Lucid Meetings set out to make meetings that don’t suck. We’ve complained for years about rudderless meetings with no agenda, no leader and no follow up.

They decided to do something about it.

So Lucid Meetings started out focused on providing a way for people to set agendas, focus meetings, and take action items out of the meeting. Over the last year, it has grown into much more than that including:

  • Meeting minutes
  • Screen sharing and pdf presentations
  • Time tracking to keep people on task
  • Voting on motions and recording of decisions
  • Integrated conference calling

It is the last one that they’ve made big improvements on today. They’ve just shipped:

  • Free toll calling for every room up to 50 participants
  • Volume discounts for businesses that want to switch over

Those may not seem like a big deal on the surface, but the changes are huge because the combined solution is better than current web sharing and collaboration software at a price that is significantly cheaper.

Basically, you get something better and save money. Pretty much a no brainer if you’re doing any web conferencing or running remote meetings. Check it out.

What’s even more exciting for me is that all of this has been built by a small team with hard work and passion. They’ve had no outside investment. And they’ve built something that I think will have a big impact.

I’m very excited by what they’ve done thus far and what they’ve got planned on their roadmap. Congratulations to John and the Lucid Meetings team!

Mentoring at PIE, Your Start Up Opportunity

I am honored to be a mentor for the next version of the Portland Incubator Experiment (PIE). It is a great organization and the next version of it promises to be something really special. If you’re thinking of creating a start up, you should apply to be part of the program.

I’ll admit it. When PIE was first announced in 2009, I didn’t get it. I couldn’t figure out what Wieden and Kennedy was doing or why.

But despite not getting it, I still had a strong affinity for PIE. When my friends started Urban Airship, PIE was its first home. When Mobile Portland outgrew the space at About Us, PIE hosted our meetings.

PIE was attractive because it was vibrant and full of smart people. But until I read Rick’s history of PIE, I still didn’t get it.

All of that time, I couldn’t believe the W+K and others would donate space to a big experiment. I thought there had to be some master plan that I just didn’t get. They said it was an experiment from day one, but it took me reading about the various versions of PIE to finally get that yes indeed, it was a grand experiment.

Which is why I’m so excited about what PIE has now become. The experiment had results. And those results include:

That’s an amazing list. The three other companies in our building—Bank Simple, Uncorked Studios and Urban Airship—all spent time at PIE. We owe a lot to PIE.

Which is why I’m so happy that PIE is getting serious about its role as an incubator. They are taking applications for startups right now—the deadline is August 1st so apply soon.

And mostly, I’m looking forward to mentoring some fantastic new startups and helping PIE add them to the list above.

Office Warming Party

Please join us as we celebrate the grand opening of our new office space and the birth of our new company:

When:
Thursday, Dec 13th at 5:00pm
Where:
Cloud Four
107 SE Washington St., Suite 440
Portland, OR 97214
(503) 477-5340
Directions
Map (The main entrance to our side of the building is on SE Stark St)

Festive drinks and light appetizers will be served! RSVP if you get a chance (but feel free to drop by).

What We Believe

Despite the fact that we’ve worked together for years, the first thing we did when starting Cloud Four was to make sure that we shared the same values and beliefs. We spent a weekend defining what we expected of each other and who we wanted to be in our relationships with our customers and employees.

Recently, we had a customer tell us that what he valued most about working with us was that he knew that he always got the straight scoop. He said that he knew that we would tell him the truth and give him the best advice even when it wasn’t what he wanted to hear, but instead was what he needed to hear.

There is little feedback that a client could give us that would make us happier. Honesty and integrity top the list of things that we value. Here are some others:

  • We believe that the world is an abundant place. We believe that the world reciprocates generosity. Therefore, we are optimistic about our work and the people we work with.
  • We believe that openness and transparency are the foundations of trust. We will answer any question you have. We will explain how we do what we do and provide visibility into what we are doing every step of the way.
  • We believe in vigorous discussion. Ideas can be tested and challenged without becoming personal. And only through this discussion can the best ideas be found.
  • We believe that our success is tied to the success of our larger community. Our business is nothing more than the people in it, the customers we work with, and the community we live in. Business = People. It’s that simple.
  • We believe that culture is key. Our culture is the embodiment of our values. We treasure our culture and use it to guide our growth.
  • We believe that we can make a difference. We make a difference in the lives of our customers, employees, and community. Call it naive idealism if you like, but we still believe that a small group of dedicated people can change the world.

Finally, we know that we have the best jobs in the world. We love what we do, and we have fun doing it.

If these values resonate with you, you’re likely a dream client or a future employee. Either way, we’d love to hear from you.