Thoughts on App Camp Greece

The first App Camp in Greece finished on Tuesday 19/7. It was two weeks of coding, fun, caffeine, bugs and debugging, lots of work and positive experiences. As a geek with ideas ready to be deployed, I couldn’t miss it. It all started on Monday, the 4th of July and lasted two weeks until Monday the 18th. On Tuesday the 19th there was the final demo night—more on that later.

The organizational part

The first ever App Camp was focused exclusively on development of mobile apps or tablet PC apps. There were 3 App Campuses throughout Greece—Athens, Thessaloniki and Patras. The App Camp’s main goal was to turn good ideas for mobile apps into commercially viable products and services for the global market, all accelerated through this two-week program. Teams were consisted of at minimum 2 members, no single/solo founders were allowed, if I may say so.

App Campuses were mainly co-lab workspaces, such as Co-Lab in Athens and Thermi-Link in Thessaloniki. Patras’ App Campus was based in Indifex’s HQ, though—a very nice and cozy HQ of a great and promising global startup. Each App Campus provided the basics such as internet access (well, obviously, it’s 2011 and we were developing mobile apps for the TCP’s sake), comfortable couches (at least Thermi-Link here at Thessaloniki—I enjoyed it very much when I was napping and reading my Instapaper saved articles on the iPad 2), video-streaming & projectors for the mentors’ sessions which were available to all teams via UStream. App Campuses also served as the meeting point with the mentors.

Speaking of mentors, the participating teams were guided by mentors who they represented a variety of specialities and skill-sets ranging from development, design, marketing and to intellectual property. Almost each mentor had to prepare a session about his specialty. For example Petros talked about Github (for which he actually works for), Dimitris for mobile apps marketing and so on. Mentors were also available not only via person-in-person meetings at each Campus but also via IMs, Twitter, Skype and email, constantly.

Right in between of the weeks, in the first weekend of the program, the App Camp gig (teams and mentors) went for a 3-day trip to the App Resort, Friday to Sunday. The first ever App Resort was at Pelion, right in the middle between Athens and Thessaloniki. It was not a holiday-trip. Instead, the teams attended many meetings and sessions, coded almost everywhere—from their rooms to by the pool, enjoyed beers at night and various other geeky startup stuff.

The teams and 4sqwifi

I think you already know about my 4sqwifi idea-project which started back in January ’11 as a simple Foursquare initiative only now (to be precise, very soon) to have its own iPhone app, so I won’t bother you with the details: what it’s all about, how it works and how you can take part. On the other hand, if you don’t know anything about 4sqwifi (that’s not bad) and you’re interested on learning more check out 4sqwifi’s website and its presentation at App Camp’s Demo night right below:

Since I didn’t attend the App Resort weekend because I had to do business in Athens (that did sound very badass-like) I won’t talk about the other teams a lot, only some generic words and rants. From what I heard and saw, the level of all teams (Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras) was decent. Some had experienced engineers, some not—but that’s why applied for in the first place (at least me)—to gain experience, not only to launch a product and call it quits. Some apps are cool indeed and look promising—can’t wait to see how the evolve and adapt into new environments and the upcoming challenges.

The 4sqwifi App Camp team consisted of Panos Oikonomakis, Lead Developer aka JavaScript poet, Gerasimos Tsiamalos who kindly provided his ninja design skills in order to design an incredible UI and Eleni Gizi who also provided her artisanal skills for to design 4sqwifi’s logo, and well, me who (tried) to do all these tasks before the guys would enter the team. It was a pain, to be honest. I deeply appreciate each one’s commitment to the team, trying to balance between personal work and life with this project. They could easily decide not to take part and work on some personal stuff, but they decided to take part with 4sqwifi and build something for the fun of it.

Closing rants

App Camp was a great experience. I would, without a second thought, do it again. It’s time for a post-4sqwifi idea now to be developed. Surely, App Camp could improve some things but those aren’t any significant draw-backs. A good idea would be also to have two App Camps per year. A summer and a winter session (just like YC’s batches). That’d be very interesting, challenging and will push each time the limits of creating, thinking, engineering and launching.

Update about 4sqwifi

Due to personal issues which I cannot write about (yet) 4sqwifi’s app launch will be delayed for a few weeks. Sorry, folks. I promise it won’t take long.

posted: July 22, 2011
under: Editorials, Start-Up's, Web

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