On route with the FOWA Tour ’09

Phew – the inaugural whistle stop Future Of Web Apps (FOWA)  UK Tour has finished. I attended 3 of the 4 Tour stops: Leeds, Cambridge and Bristol. The Tour was a condensed version of the highly successful  Carsonified FOWA conferences. This was the first time  Carsonified had taken the UK tour on the road. The aim of FOWA is to help developers, freelancers and entrepreneurs learn and socialize. On the Tour we met many wonderful people and heard some great talks.

london-bus_frontTaking the Tour out of London (a conceptual London bus)

The Tour followed the same format for each venue: big company demo in the morning and other talks in the afternoon. This was followed by speed networking and then drinks in the evening. The demo from Microsoft’s David  Gristwood was on the Azure’s solid architecture and road map; Simone  Brunozzi  from Amazon Web Services gave a very useful demo of EC2/S3; and Doug  Merrett/Simon Wheeldon from Salesforce.com showed how simple it was building an app on fly with Force.com. Tony Lucus of Flexiscale also demonstrated their Cloud platform at the Cambridge event.

Many of the attendees I spoke too at each event felt that the corporate sessions were too much of a pitch. I guess they were sponsoring the event to keep ticket prices  down. The managed hosting providers EveryCity also sponsored the Tour and took heaps of photos of attendees wearing EveryCity stickers in the most unusual places:


Nick Barker
(Some will do anything to get their photo taken 😉
vote me & silly hat to win, click here )

2st Stop – Leeds – “Fares.. please”

Simon  Collison from Erskine Design gave an entertaining talk about building client trust. Simon high recommended involving customers in an Agile feedback loop to create a usable app. An important point we need to remember. Dan Rubin then gave a wonderful talk on designing intuitive user interfaces which mimic non-frustrating real world physical interfaces. Dan used great images of taps, buttons and door handles/locks. Like his slide deck: Keep it simple, don’t over design and “don’t give instructions to users” – if you do the apps not intuitive. Next up was Lorna Mitchell, a senior developer  from iBuildings, who talked about developing in PHP and database architecture. Click for Lorna’s slide deck. Finally Ryan Carson of Carsonified gave an excellent talk on marketing web apps through on-line measurement and building social capital. Ryan’s slide deck to follow..

3rd Stop – Cambridge – “Hold tight..”

First up was Wil  Harris of ChannelFlip with a wort’s n’ all presentation on “Lessons learned starting a successful digital media publication with no budget, no technology and no idea”. The key message was start something, NOW! Then learn and iterate. With an offering in 87 countries Stefan Magdalinski of Moo.com gave an insightful talk about scaling and growing an international business. The American market proved to be the most demanding. Dorothy Briggs of Rabbitsoft then gave a talk on using Web2.0 in the Enterprise. Our startup knows all about Enterprise 2.0. Last but no means least was the charismatic German Christian Heilmann from Yahoo. Christian gave an enjoyable and entertaining talk on Yahoo’s exciting YQL API platform. The Tech crowd loved it!

4th Stop – Bristol – “All alight”

Our good friend Andy McLoughlin from Huddle give an excellent talk on partnering. Click here for Andy’s deck. His advice to finding partners was as to über network and get lucky. Once found, partnerships take  a long time to develop and can be challenging to finalize. You also need the ability to scale rapidly.  The next presenter was Ian Broom of Weboo. Ian give a useful reminder on goal setting, having fun and staying fit to be being super effective.  Richard Healy from BaseKit then gave a talk on their exciting new DIY website building app. Like our website monitoring app they are also  in alpha 🙂 Last up was Dan Rubin again, who gave a very similar presentation to his outstanding Leeds talk.

The speed networking was very intense. After the sixth person I generally started to loose all ability to speak.  However it was good to meet so many people in such a short period as we made some great new friends 🙂

I last attended a 3 day London FOWA in 2007 and taking FOWA into the regions proved to be a great idea. It shows there is startup life and thriving web community  outside of London. Roll on the next Tour!

Dan Ruben gave a excellent talk on designing intuitive user interfaces which mimic natural and unfrustrating physical interfaces. Click here for Dan’s slide dec

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5 Responses to “On route with the FOWA Tour ’09”

  1. Trista Says:

    Hey Nick, very nice, I am working (slowly but surely) to get the content up from most of the talks and Ryan’s talk is currently up with a few other you may be interested in linking to or so: http://events.carsonified.com/fowa/2009/tour/content

    Thanks again!

  2. Nick Barker Says:

    Hey Trista!

    Thanks 🙂 Glad you liked it. I know how long it takes – my post took forever. It has 37 links. A new record! You must have a big job keeping up. I may do another write-up about building social capital based on Ryan’s talk.. Thanks for link



  3. Nick Barker Says:

    @emson Twitter comment:

    “RT @nickpoint Enjoyed your @carsonified @fowa article:”

  4. 5 ways to Launch a new Web/SaaS App « Nickpoint Says:

    […] Huddle started providing on-line shared workspaces in 2006 and launched in 2007. Since then they’ve attracted 100,000’s of users, secured two rounds of VC funding (Eden Ventures) and partnered with LinkedIn/InterCall.  The team also regularly presents at US and UK conferences. […]

  5. Aware Monitoring Hat 3rd in EveryCity photothon competition « Nickpoint Says:

    […] By Nick Barker From the 100’s of photograph’s taken during the FOWA Tour for the Sun/EveryCity’s photothon competition I managed to reach third place! Thanks everyone […]

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