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Archive for May 2013

100 brilliant innovators. 11 hours. One plane.



Bottle Rocket's Lauren Hasson has been selected by British Airways and its partners to participate in UnGrounded, the company's inaugural Innovation Lab in the Sky. The group will work on global challenges at 30,000 feet, aboard a private British Airways flight from San Francisco to London on June 12, 2013. Hasson will join more than 100 industry leaders and change agents, to collaboratively address the global STEM skills gap with the goal of accelerating global innovation.

Participants were nominated by global technology leaders in both Silicon Valley and London, with primary input from the UnGrounded advisory board. The advisory board is made up of senior representation from RocketSpace, Silicon Valley Bank, Andreessen Horowitz, Stanford University and Innovation Endeavors. All participants have been hand-selected to participate based on their experience and passion for driving the acceleration of innovation within developed and emerging communities across the world.

Hasson said, "I'm so honored to be an invited participant of this extraordinary event and to have the chance to collaborate with such outstanding innovators. It truly is a unique opportunity and I'm looking forward to the experience and more importantly, what comes out of it!"

Hasson is an iOS software engineer at Bottle Rocket and is co-founder of Women in Wireless Dallas. As an active member of the national software development community, Hasson participates year-round in hackathons and startup competitions where she has served as a technical mentor. Sharing Bottle Rocket's strong passion for software development, Hasson is motivated by knowledge-sharing challenges in which she can contribute to innovation and further perfect her craft.

Upon landing, the ideas and solutions created on the flight will be received by the United Nations ITU Secretary General at the DNA Summit, in association with the G8 Innovation Conference, in London.

Click here to read the full news story.

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Rocketeer Charity: The Nature Conservancy

This week, the Nature Conservancy was selected for our second charity of the month. The nonprofit is the leading conservation organization, working in all 50 states and 35 countries to protect ecologically important lands and waters.

Since its founding in 1951, the Nature Conservancy has protected more than 119 million acres of land and thousands of miles of rivers worldwide. The organization addresses threats to conservation involving climate change, fresh water, oceans and conservation lands.

Rocketeer Joy Rogers nominated the Nature Conservancy because of their efforts to preserve nature in her home state of Texas.

Joy said she got involved because she enjoys nature and wanted to help preserve our natural resources for the future. She and her husband, a master naturalist, have also traveled to several areas in Texas and Colorado to photograph and promote the Nature Conservancy’s work.

For more information about the Nature Conservancy, click here.

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Hospitality & Retail Industries Get Personal with Mobile

Rocketeer Karin Wurm attended The Mobile Summit for Hospitality and Retail last week in Las Vegas, which offered incredible insight into the future of mobile in these industries.

Karin said the conference focused on how to best interact with customers, but the following were also key topics:

  • Social
    The ROI of social is really your Return of Influence. The ability to get users engaged is key to expanding the exposure of your brand. In retail, the biggest successes have been by those who use social to listen and give their customers a voice.

  • Connected Guests
    With the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend, guests can use their own technology to interact. They can connect to Wi-Fi, watch Netflix, read the news, order room service and receive deals on restaurants from their tablet or phone. Hospitality companies will be able to keep a more detailed guest profile, which will lead to a more customized experience.

  • Enterprise Applications
    Not only customers will be bringing their own devices into hospitality and retail locations, but the people they interact with will have tablets to access profile information, receive mobile payments on the fly and more. This unstructured environment will cater to the way the customer wants to interact. Passbook and Google Wallet will also become more prevalent.

Here's what some of the companies leading mobile innovations in retail and hospitality had to share:

Hotels.com said travel apps are the second most-downloaded app genre, with mobile travel bookings to exceed eight billion this year. The company said they will continue to push users to interact through Twitter, Facebook and app exclusive specials. 

Shazam announced their new app the day of the event, which makes retail purchases more relevant and readily available to users. In addition to expanding to iPad, the app has the ability to tag commercials, TV shows and movies and will direct users to a source page with information on the artist, a place to purchase the song and additional products. If a movie trailer is tagged, the app will direct the user to Fandango to purchase a movie ticket. Shazam also has the ability to listen to the background without you telling it to, so the user is not responsible for activating it.

Karin believes companies will interact with their customers at a higher level in the future. “Whether through mobile hotel keys, mobile check-in at hotels, mobile check-out in stores, mobile concierge and room service using the device’s location – being able to reach a customer at any time during their trip is a huge advantage,” Karin said. “Not only can users access anything they need from any location with their device, but internal employees can also help customers using internal apps on corporate devices.”

Hotels.com said it best – mobile will be “wherever, whenever the customer needs it”.

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Mr. Goldstein Goes to Washington

We recently had the privilege of participating in the Association for Competitive Technology’s (ACT) Congressional Fly-In along with 50 other small business tech executives. Representing Bottle Rocket on Capitol Hill was Rocketeer David Goldstein, our VP of Solutions and Delivery. While there David spoke to lawmakers about the positive impact the technology industry is having on our community and throughout our country.

David’s motivation for going to Washington was “to make sure that lawmakers and regulators hear the voices of small business tech companies. The pace of innovation right now is remarkable, but overreaching laws or regulation could bring industry growth to a screeching halt.  I wanted to explain to our elected representatives the success that Bottle Rocket is having and what we need (or don’t need) that will allow us to continue to grow and create more jobs.”

While in Washington, DC, David and his fellow executives discussed the following hot topic issues currently affecting software development:

  • Allowing Internet companies to implement new solutions for data transparency- Congress should resist the urge to apply broad regulatory restrictions that would deny consumers many of the products and services they rely on every day.
  • Implementing programs for our schools to provide students with the computer science education that will help them qualify for rewarding careers in the tech industry. This would build a larger workforce of American software engineers and address the shortage that we and other development companies face.
  • STEM education initiatives through increased fees from H-1B visas and green cards. This addresses the short-term urgency to find high skilled workers while laying the groundwork to grow the U.S. workforce.
  • Allowing small software companies to protect their intellectual property without having to fight patent trolls and speculative lawsuits.
  • Ensuring that the government does not impede efforts to strengthen and expand our Internet infrastructure so consumers can benefit from more reliable mobile and fixed data connectivity. 

“It was rewarding to meet with and help educate my elected officials and others in Washington about the technology industry, so they can make informed decisions on legislation that affects the industry,” said Goldstein. “It is my hope that Congress will help companies, like mine, continue to flourish.”

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Google I/O: New Features for Android Developers

Last week, Bottle Rocket’s Luke Wallace attended Google I/O, an annual developer-focused conference held in San Francisco. The conference gave an in-depth look at Google’s technologies, plus quite a few sessions on design and business.

Luke returned with plenty of information to share with fellow Rocketeers – especially Android developers.

“During the keynote and sessions, we heard a high-level overview of some of the new Android features coming from Google,” Luke said. “Nearly all are being implemented so we can use them right away, meaning they are seriously combating the fragmentation concerns expressed inside and outside the industry.”

Luke feels that the following features are key for Android developers:

  • Location, Location, Location – Three new APIs will allow for better detection of location, activity recognition (if the user is walking, biking or driving) and geofencing
  • Google Cloud Messaging – Enhanced to allow upstream messaging (pushing back from the device) and persistent connections.
  • Google Play Game Services – Similar to GameCenter, but available on Android and iOS, allowing for saved games to be cross-platform.
  • New Development Tools – A new development environment toolkit based on ItelliJ, with nice features for developers.
  • Volley – A new networking library that makes downloading feeds and images much easier.
  • New Support Library – DrawerLayout for making navigation drawers and more.

For a complete list of Google I/O sessions, including videos, click here.

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