News

Helena Krusec

Ryan Fischer chosen for Best Tech Manager, Chicago

Aug. 28, 2017

We are excited to announce that our very own Founder & Lead Architect Ryan Fischer has been selected as a finalist for Chicago's Best Tech Manager for Tech In Motion's 2017 Timmy Awards!!

It's an honor to be nominated and chosen as a finalist for this award. We wouldn't be here if not for the support of our community, and we certainly can't win this next stage of the competition without continued support from you.

When Tech In Motion initially sent out calls for nominations for Best Tech Manager, they asked for submissions to

recognize companies not just for their use or development of technology, but also for their investment in the people that make technology possible.

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I nominated Ryan for this honor because he embodies all of these things and more. Here at 20spokes, we believe that our values are what separates us from our competition. We operate our business with a sincere commitment to transparency, and live by a couple of core tenants:

  • Don't make promises that you can't keep
  • Honesty over pride
  • It's not "done" unless it's done right
  • Communication X Results = Trust
  • True partnerships require transparency

When I was hired onto this team I was told that our primary differentiator as a tech company was our commitment to treating our prospectives, clients, and team members alike as family. Ryan highlighted that he valued - above all - personal growth and honesty, which he cultivates in a supportive environment that encourages creativity and fun. He stands by a firm commitment to respecting peoples' ideas and circumstances, particularly in the context of client prospecting where he has notoriously turned down money in order to do what's best for the client. He demands integrity from everyone with whom he surrounds himself, and his leadership style bleeds into everything we do here at 20spokes. He's a a true believer in the mantra of "learning by doing," and in working for this team, I've found that he doesn't see failures, only opportunities for growth; and success as an occasion to celebrate and reflect on methodology. This environment is one of the primary reasons that I took this job, and I believe that this culture shift is one that we need to encourage and support across all organizations.

I hope that our commitment to that honesty and integrity is demonstrable in everything that we do. If you agree, please consider supporting us for this competition. In order to show your support, please vote every day until September 21st from ALL of your devices for your favorite dev super heroes at 20spokes! The link to vote is here, and we will be sure to share it with you many times more over our social media accounts so that you don't forget.

If after reading this post you feel so inclined to share your support, please feel free to share this post on facebook, twitter, and over email.

We thank you for this opportunity, and whether we win or lose, we are honored to have been chosen as a finalist in the first place. Please join us in celebration on September 21st, at Tech In Motion Chicago's 3rd Annual Timmy Awards @1871 from 6:00 - 8:00pm. RSVP Here

Helena Krusec

What People Are Reading

News

10/18/17

ChangeMaker Launches!

In a world where marches and protests are making weekly headlines, people are always looking for the next cause to get behind.

But what do you do when a cause or issue you’re passionate about needs more awareness and support? How do you find people to come together? How do you organize people, activities, events, and whatever else you might need to do? And if you do find people, how do you manage all the different moving parts?

And, well, what does that have to do with us at 20spokes?

Meet ChangeMaker -- a project we recently completed and launched.

Similar to sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, ChangeMaker allows organizations to add a project and find fellow activists to donate to or join the cause as a volunteer. The interface provides organizations the ability to detail an issue or problem, outline a solution, and how donors or volunteers can help. When people join the project as a volunteer, they can specify their particular skillset in fields such as marketing, design, legal, or data so project managers can delegate tasks to the right people.

With funding from donations, users can work on projects for their cause by using the free website. While most project management tools have some sort of fancy, pay-to-use features, ChangeMaker is completely free to use because it is donor funded and donor maintained.

We branded, designed, and coded the ChangeMaker platform in a Rails environment. We also integrated Stripe Connect, which enables organizations to receive those donations they need to power their projects.

Putting all this together sounds like it would take a good chunk of time, right? But we kicked off this project on August 8 and launched the website this week. A little more than two months. Not too shabby, eh? Just in time for the Newfounders Conference. ChangeMaker will have a big presence at the conference with donors ready to help out organizations that have ready-to-pitch projects for its demo night. Nothing is too small or too large for ChangeMaker to help its users and organizations tackle.

Give ChangeMaker a whirl at changemaker.newfounders.us.

Technology

11/20/17

Cross-Platform mobile development is cost-effective and faster to launch

Two years ago, if a person approached us for mobile app development, the first question would be what platform to launch on first - iOS or Android. It was almost double the cost to deploy on both and double the maintenance.

Fast forward to today, we can deploy on iOS and Android quicker before, at the same time, and with the expected native quality.

So what has changed? Technology has gotten a lot better. We particularly use React Native, an open source framework from Facebook, that allows developers to develop in a common language, Javascript, and deploy on both iOS and Android.

And it is native! Previous technologies for cross platform mobile apps would create a wrapper of a web view. Think of the older experience as using the browser on your phone for a site with a few more bells and whistles. It was close but the difference is noticeable when switching to native applications, from scrolling to the overall experience.

How does this impact everything now?

Cost is no longer double for both platforms. It can even cost less due to wide spread community support developing open source libraries.

Maintenance is a lot easier. A majority of the issues can be fixed in one code base and of the same language.

Recruitment and team knowledge is easier. Your team only need to know one language and most developers know Javascript. iOS is written in Objective C or Swift and Android is written in Java.

Reusable code for desktop web views. With React Native, we are able to share over 50% of the code with the web view, saving all of the above even more.

Stay tuned, as I’ll be going more into the technologies and other benefits.

Operations

8/29/16

Watch us eat our own dog food

20spokes is trying a new diet, so to speak. If you’re unfamiliar with the phrase “eating your own dog food,” it’s a common expression in the software world referring to a developer’s practice of using their own products. It’s said to have originated from 1970s television advertisements for Alpo dog food, where the owner of the company would make a point of feeding Alpo to his own dogs. So in its broader interpretation, “practice what you preach” would be an appropriate alternative. Either way, if we can help others build great products, we want to show that we can build our own great products as well.

It’s something we’ve thought about for a while, and now we’re finally taking the steps to make it happen. Client work will still always be our primary focus, but we have the team, the experience, and the aspirations; why wouldn't we work on our own ideas too? Like our clients, though, we don't want to jump into these ventures haphazardly only to end up with a well built app that nobody else wants. So we're putting these ideas through the same process of discovery, validation, and planning that we would with anyone who came into our office. In a way, by becoming clients of our own process, we’re getting our first helping of dog food!

Over the last week or so, we’ve adopted the mindset of a founder with a vision, and taken one of our ideas through the first steps of conception. Working through this process as the “founder” has already given us some great new insight, and we're excited to share this journey with you. So stay tuned for the next several weeks as we document all the steps we take and lessons we learn along the way; we're going to find out just how good our dog food tastes.

Trying to get your own product idea to market? Contact us to learn more about our process and how we can help.