Have you ever had an idea for an App? Our latest guests on The Social Media Show not only come up with app ideas, they actually build them. Father and Son duo Rick and Ethan Duggan are bringing the art of app building to Las Vegas. Host Sam Dever sat down with Rick and Ethan to discuss their app building projects, the Vegas Tech community and how they use Social Media.
The interview begins by Rick discussing his day life which includes the role of Director of Website Systems at Zappos. By night, Rick is mentor to the Vegas Tech community mentioning his roles as adviser for Roll Tech Bowling and Launch Key. He talks about attending the first ever Las Vegas “Jelly” which is a meet up for tech enthusiasts alike to discuss new ideas and get help with their current tech related projects.
The conversation then moved to Ethan Duggan who described himself as a 7th grader by day and an app developer by night. While most kids Ethan’s age (Ethan is now 13, he was 12 at time of interview) come home and sit in front of the TV or play video games, he has chosen a different path by discovering his love for app building. At the time of interview, Ethan had five apps already in the app store. Ethan told Dever about one of his apps called “Lazy Husband.” He said the app is a go to for any husband that needs a quick response to a wife’s question. For example, if your wife asks “How do I look in this dress” a “lazy” husband simply goes to the app and might get a response such as “You look beautiful!” Ethan says his father Rick was a very big influence in getting him involved in the tech scene. He would go with his dad to various Vegas Tech events and started to learn how to code at Code Academy. He credits the Vegas Community for their support while he was developing this app all the way until he launched it at South By Southwest.
Rick goes onto to explain that the reason why Ethan is able to complete these apps is because he has a strong passion for it. After he gets home from school and completes his homework, Ethan will get right to work on building his latest app project. They have a created a list of ideas for him to go to after he completes an app to figure out which one he will work on next. Rick says it’s completely Ethan’s choice to build these apps and is their to assist him and give support. Ethan said most definitely wants to work in the computer field as he gets older and work as a computer programmer although he is unsure of which field at this time. He has a goal of programming for a couple thousand hours and know five programming languages by the time he is 18.
Dever then switches the topic to Start Up Weekend, where he met the Father and Son duo who were there to work on Rick’s creation called “Pl8TSEE” pronounced “Plate See.” Rick originally envisioned this app as a license plate decoder. He gave the example of a license plate reading “1BGSWCH” which could mean several things such as “One Big Sandwich,” “One Big Switch” or “One Bogus Witch.” After making it past the voting rounds and assembling a team, the idea turned into a license plate guessing game. At the time of the interview, Rick and his team were still working on the project even after the end of Start Up Weekend.
Social Media came next in the discussion as both Rick and Ethan gave their take on how tech and Social Media go hand in hand. Ethan said he had used Social Media to run a contest for his lazy husband app. Rick mentions how by the end of Start Up Weekend, his PL8TSEE app was already being posted to Facebook as people started playing the game. He then goes back to April 2011 when the first Vegas Jelly took place. Everyone at the initial meeting agreed that they needed to have a way to make what they were doing visible. After discussing it over they concluded they would started using the hash tag “#VegasTech” on Twitter. Rick describes this hash tag as becoming the rallying cry for the entire Vegas Tech community. If people were working on projects, having events or simply wanting to talk tech, they could now use the #VegasTech symbol as a way to connect with others looking for the same types of things. With this system, people could simply get on Twitter and search for this symbol and find tech events to go to. From there, individuals who had never met in person before could immediately connect and form relationships which could evolve in friendships and working collaborations. Rick feels the Vegas Tech community would not be as strong as it is today if it wasn’t for this Social Media based system of communicating. He then went on to say that #VegasTech was the symbol of representation for not one company but an entire Vegas Tech community at South By Southwest having one of the largest booths there.
Finally, Dever poses the question to both Rick and Ethan where they thought the fast growing Vegas Tech scene was going. Ethan said it’s hard to exactly pinpoint where it’s going due to it’s rapid growth however he sees it going toward a younger demographic mentioning a high school team that competed in the same Start Up Weekend he and his father did. He also said one of his friends has now gotten into coding as well due to Ethan’s influence. For Rick, he’s seen the Vegas Tech scene as a natural evolution. When it first started, it was just a group of people for ideas for their own projects and a community where people could learn from each other. From there is where the different Start Ups started spawning out of existence. With that momentum, Rick sees the next step being these companies taking it to the next level by selling products, bringing in customers and eventually see exits such as acquisitions and IPO’s (Initial Public Offering). Rick and Ethan say for those wanting to get involved in the Vegas Tech community, the best advice would be to come to some of the meet ups and take action. Rick says the community in Downtown Las Vegas are known for being “Doers” and taking action will take an individual a long way.
We would like to thank Rick and Ethan for coming on to The Social Media Show. We can’t wait to see what they have in store for the Vegas Tech community and the world of applications in 2014!
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