Last week, a small group of boys in Grade 7 (plus one lucky Grade 5 student) ventured over to Yaletown by public transit to visit the new head office of Xomo Digital Inc. Xomo is a company that produces smartphone apps for some of the largest events on earth, including the London 2012 Olympics & the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, South By SouthWest (SXSW), Social Media Week,and Lollapalooza.
The students who visited Xomo were very keen to find out what lay behind their doors – all of them have been working on projects that involve computer programming as well as the development of their own smartphone apps (or at least the attempt thereof.) They arrived well-informed and with an arsenal of questions, but for most of them, what they discovered was not what they expected.
One of the boys on the trip, Matt, had this to say: “I learned many things like all of app development is NOT about games and NOT about sitting at a computer typing all day. Planning is A HUGE part of making an app and so is the environment you work in. What would you prefer? A dark cramped cubical with harsh lighting? Or a naturally lighted, social, airy room with lots of rooms to think in, to talk in, and of course, to keep all the Macs in?”
Ken had some similar sentiments: “One of the things that was unexpected was that the office is really comfortable and has a friendly atmosphere. The entire office was open and everyone could communicate with everyone else. I thought that companies like this had employees in cubicles, where no one communicated, and it was just ‘work, work, work’ the whole day.”
Alexander S., the sole Grade 5 student on the trip, found out that he had a personal connection with the boss at Xomo: “Ben (West, the co-founder of Xomo) is a Trekkie like me, and they have TNG-themed signs for the “Borg Room” and “Ten Forward” in the lounge. I personally learned that not all Trekkies are bums that live in their mom’s basement. Maybe there’s hope for me yet . . .”
Although many of the observations were focused on the work environment, the boys also learned a lot about the app creation process. Neil had this to say: “(One) important thing that I learned was that app creation doesn’t have to be expensive. As long as you have people qualified enough to complete the task it can be extremely cost- effective.”
The trip had quite an impact on Alexander W.: “I had a marvelous time going to Mr. West’s office. I never expected it to be so open or full of ideas. He was very welcoming and understanding of what we wanted to know. This was a great learning experience and will definitely be one the main highlights of my time at the Junior School.”
Even Mr. Weber learned a great deal from this visit! He found it interesting listening to Mr. West talk about the origins of the company, and how he and his business partner secured the contract to build the app for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. He also found it fascinating hearing about Mr. West’s preparation for a presentation he did for hundreds of people at this year’s SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas. SXSW is a unique convergence of original music, independent films, and emerging technologies, where creative and technological professionals gather in the pursuit of new ideas and discoveries.
A big thank you from our whole group to Mr. Ben West for showing us around Xomo’s headquarters, as well as sharing his personal stories and insights about the app development process. (Thank you as well for the amazing lunch!) We all had an amazing experience. Mr. Weber even overheard some of the boys talking excitedly about applying to Xomo for an internship in the future!
Click here (or on the logo above) to visit Xomo’s official website. Or check out the video below, which offers a demonstration of last year’s SXSW Go app . . .