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Entrepreneurship

Primary Founder, James Billson, Shares Insight On How to Build Better Software with Application Modelling

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James Billson has seen it all in the tech world. He started his first pizza delivery business at a time when Wi-Fi didn’t exist and orders had to be delivered by fax.

This business transformed into a software development outfit, and with it, he witnessed the rise and fall of tech in the early 2000s.

He made his grand exit with a sale to international advertising behemoth BBDO. He now runs Primary,  the result of his years of development service experience. In this article, he shares a simple agile technique for building better software.

Agile methodologies are here to stay. They have received widespread acceptance in the sphere of software development. An agile approach helps teams to work together as well as with their stakeholders.

Agile practices help development organizations focus on their individual end-users and the way they interact with products.

Actions speak louder than words, and in software that is part of the problem. In the Agile Manifesto, having  ‘working software’ is prioritized over compiling comprehensive documentation that exhaustively defines the product before development. Coincidentally, this manifesto was written by coders, and the universal belief of a coder is, if there is a problem, code it. If we extend the definition of ‘working software’ to include an application model, opportunities to work faster and more efficiently arise.

Introducing Application Modelling

Much like in manufacturing, product modelling can be used as an alternative route to effective application design. Modelling is the process of creating a simulation that gives insight into how the real product will function at the end of the development process.

There are many merits to this approach. First, it re-creates the full size and expanse of the product, in a holistic full-dimensional way that allows due consideration of all its facets. This way, it helps the team to understand the features of the product better and translate it into a design that the users can also comprehend. Finally, it presents all the necessary information in a light and vivid format rather than the dull and impenetrable nature of typical requirements documentation…

With a well-developed application model, there is direct access to the full scope required for the development process. It removes the likelihood of overlooking future steps and pathways by revealing the features of the future product.

Involving the Whole Team with Modelling

Modelling creates a unique environment for synergy among the UX team, the developers, and the product owners. A product model is an agile system that allows real-time creation and modification. All parties can raise potential concerns and create a matching solution as work progresses. In comparison to a ‘straight-to-code’ process where decisions are usually made during development, application modelling greatly saves time and team resources.

Telling Stories with User Flows

James Billson founded Primary.app to give developers an easy way to conduct product modelling. However, beyond simply using a tool, there must also be a systematic approach.

Developing a product model should be very much like telling a story. A story has a single important ingredient that allows its teller to connect with audiences. This is the narrative. To find this narrative, the development team must create user flows. A user flow is a series of steps that outlines the journey of the product user through the life cycle of the application. The user is the hero, and over each step, we see what they do, how they do it, and why they do it.

The narrative of the flow is the backbone to which you attach the details and conditions that will inform the different aspects of the product work. Once you have that overreaching structure in place, you can manipulate and modify details, creating different user scenarios and comparing end results. All of this can be done without making any grave changes to the main body of the model.

User flow models have another advantage in helping product managers to avoid the pitfall of ‘happy pathways’.These happy paths are easy and fun when you are looking at an engaging prototype that has all the characteristics of your minimum desirable feature set. However, the building process will reveal all the other less exciting processes that are needed to support these main functions, leading to a development lag and a generally uncoordinated process. A user flow-based model will highlight these necessary support functions and help you stay on top of them from the very beginning.

Modelling is The New Documentation

Comprehensive documentation fell out of favour because it became seen as a blocker to creativity. Development teams want the freedom to identify opportunities that arise from seeing the product in operation.  As decisions are made in development, the document becomes increasingly redundant. The long descriptive passages and confusing diagrams did not lend themselves to easy updating. 

Application modelling completely redefines all of this. It is a light system that can be edited and modified in real-time. The entire team can make input based on the progress to date and see those ideas implemented in the following sprints. The result is a clean and compact model that mirrors the reality of the developed application. 

Conclusion

At Primary.app, James and his team have created a system that allows users to build large application models that are easily modifiable and constantly under development. Models can be changed any time, in response to key drivers that affect the app functionality in real life. It is as easy as changing sheets or doing the dishes before heading out.

Application modelling is the future of software development. User flow-based models of your app can be created with minimal resources, and then used to engage product team members for maximum and meaningful output. What you get is a comprehensive system that can be modified and iterated to synchronize with your desired result perfectly.

I've always had a knack for storytelling! Hi there, I'm Chukwuma Agugbue. I'm a copywriter and, a blogger. I Interview individuals who've achieved some sort of success in their field- Actively building a knowledge base for Millenials

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Entrepreneurship

How To Build A Thriving Brand in 2020 With Entrepreneur Marco Calamassi

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Marco Calamassi  is an Italian entrepreneur and founder of BrandsBuilder. BrandsBuilder helps influencers, web personalities, celebrities and media companies develop their own brand, product or service that speaks to their audience. It takes them from Brand Sponsorship to Building and Scaling their own brand.

What is your background ?

My background is in Business Management. But I’ve been involved with online commerce since I was 10, Ebay.com was just becoming a thing and while my friends were outside playing soccer, I was searching suppliers in China and order a full ship container of goods.

What was your first business venture ?

First “online” business I managed to setup was buying and selling sneakers. It was the early history of Ebay and online sales were starting to skyrocket, at the end of the past century. Economies were booming and consumerism was at its peak. I was 10 and making between 5 and 8k a month.

What was your first success story ?

A surprisingly successful business deal was the purchase of a full container of Jumping Stilts when I was like 12. When I saw the truck with the ship container arriving at my house, from China, made me “wow”. I was able to flip those Stilts for a 6x markup.

Remember to follow him on Instagram

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Entrepreneurship

From College Football Star to Fitness Apparel Owner; Journey of Justin Allen

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Justin Allen

For most athletes the next step after college is to head straight into the major leagues. Whether that is the NFL, the NBA, the MLB or even the NHL the journey to get to the next level is almost 90% of all collegiate player’s plans. They put their bodies on the line for those college years without the ability to earn a penny from their talents on the field. Getting to the next level is the common goal that makes all the hard work and sacrifices throughout college worth it.

Meet Justin Allen. He is a serial entrepreneur, but before all of that he was a nationally ranked linebacker at Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. He attended that college as a business management major which propelled him not to the NFL, but to be the owner of several companies. His biggest company to date is a fitness apparel clothing called “DA Method Apparel”.

Planting the seeds

Since an early age Justin Allen knew he was going to be an entrepreneur. Although he had dreams of playing in the NFL, his vision of ownership eclipsed those thoughts. He went to share with me that entrepreneurship has always been apart of who he was. He came from a very driven, disciplined and hardworking background. His parents were hard workers so it was something that was always around him. Although as child, his job was always to focus on his education, his personal love for sports, work ethics of determination, dedication and follow through seemed to reveal itself in everything that he did. Whether it was in the classroom, church, the football field or just as a leader amongst his peers. When a strong foundation is built on those principles it becomes second nature to put your all into everything you touch.

Determinate Action

Understanding Justin’s passion for sports, entering into the fitness apparel industry was not to far from his love. Knowing he would be competing with some heavyweights in the fitness apparel industry such as Nike, Champion, Under Armor, Gym Shark and many more. I wanted to understand what inspired his company “DA Method Apparel”.

“The goal of DA Method is to be a lifestyle brand. The apparel is piece of a larger entity where the overall focus is to inspire and empower the whole individual to be the best that they can be, period. Being the best is more than physical, it’s mental, emotional and environmental” Justin says.

He believes in and stands by the principles of his brand Determinate Action – You as the determinate must put the method into action.

Turning Point

As a fellow entrepreneur there is always a turning point that puts us in a certain direction. Justin attributes his turning point to a time when he was working for another company and they asked him to either sell them his business or quit. It was then that he had to make a decision to make the safe and comfortable choice or go all in and bet on himself. Clearly he chose the latter.

PG Valor Basketball

To date his company is growing into one of the fastest fitness apparel companies nationwide. DA Method Apparel is the lead sponsor for the American Basketball Association PG Valor basketball team. They are also sponsors for many athletes in mixed martial arts, professional wrestling and boxing.

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Entertainment

Why Kaho Shibuya Was Born To Be An Entrepreneur

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Time is finite. Whether you accept this or not, one day your life on this planet will come to an end. While that is out of your control, what you make of this life is very much in your hands. For Kaho Shibuya, realizing this at a young age has changed the game for her and she wastes no time chasing her dreams and making a name for herself. 

A cosplayer and writer from Tokyo, Kaho has an incredibly diverse resume of work experience and has always been active in pursuing what she is passionate about. After watching American wrestling shows as a high schooler, she did not just develop a passion for the industry, she went all in on immersing herself in American culture. In fact, she became completely fluent in English in college and majored in international communication. Post graduation, she spent time as a newspaper publisher and reporter, worked as a school teacher that focused on the English language, and even spent time in the adult film industry where she garnered a large audience that would help her YouTube and entertainment ventures take off rapidly. 

At the moment, Kaho is fully invested in the entertainment industry, spending time as a DJ and appearing at anime conventions and meet and greets. In the coming months, she will be a voice actress on a brand new anime series that will be premiering. Her dedication to learning the English language has paid off in a major way as well, as she has been able to travel to the United States for anime conventions in Los Angeles and will be in Houston in July this year for another one.

While she started out as an office worker, her transition into entrepreneurship was a no brainer. She has always gravitated towards freelance work, and has always wanted to try new things that she would not be able to do at a desk job. While her experiences as a journalist were invaluable, she is able to work towards her passion every single day as an entrepreneur in the entertainment industry. 

In Japan, agencies are extremely tough to work with, and take around half of its clients earnings before paying them. While Kaho used to suffer from a partnership with an agency, she has since grown her social media presence on Twitter and Instagram so much to the point where she has achieved independence and is able to take on clients that she is eager to work with rather than having to hit a certain number for her agency. 

While she is still young, Kaho Shibuya is a force in the anime and entertainment industry and will only look to grow her personal brand both in Japan and internationally, and it will not be long before she is a household name in her homeland and countries worldwide.

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