Archive for the 'pixelbit' Category

by mkeefe on Dec 31st, 2013

Looking Back on 2013

Well 2013 was certainly packed full of interesting, new, great and sad times. I will touch on the highlights and major events of this year.

From a professional standpoint I was interviewed by VitaminT on mobile and web app development. My company got the opportunity to work on some pretty amazing projects and we recently updated the website to reflect these projects. Some of which included a mobile app for Porsche, an update to the popular Four Stack card game and the beginning of a second screen app for a major broadcaster!

On the personal side of things this year was HUGE! My wife and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary. To think 4 years ago we were at a Dane Cook show on a “non-date” and now this year we bought a house together. So blessed to be able to provide a home for my family and see our son make lots of new friends!

I was also able to check off another one of my dreams this year, which was to purchase a motorcycle and got some good riding time in. I was also able to tinker in the garage and installed HID headlights and an exhaust.

The sad times this year was losing my grandfather Frank, he was the one I had so many meaningful business conversations with. I already miss him so much and don’t expect it to get easier any time soon. I was of course blessed to have such a loving wife that jumped in and helped out during that tough time.

All things considered, 2013 was very interesting. I look forward to growing the company, traveling with the family and anything else 2014 has in store for us.

Happy New Year!!

by mkeefe on Nov 20th, 2012

This week 10 years ago

The Beginning

Its amazing to think that 10 years ago in the comfort of my room while still in high school was the beginning of mkeefeDESIGN. It started as a free time hobby before the logos, website and advertising. It mostly happened during time at the computer lab. I will never forget helping the teachers with graphic design questions, getting access to thousands of dollars in software and in some cases skipping classes to stay there. Not to mention developing an amazing dynamic website on lycos.co.uk. Anyone remember that host? They offered PHP/MySQL servers FOR FREE!

Making it a Career

The Fall after I graduated was when I really started looking at this career path and it was that November Thanksgiving that I was excited to tell my family all about my new “company”. Of course some thought I was insane for working with computers, not going to college and “wasting my time”. Though to my pleasant surprise my dad was excited for me and I really do owe ALOT of my success and experience to him.

Soon after creating mkeefeDESIGN I learned that graphic design was not my preference (great, picked a name with design in it…) and started to learn coding. I picked up some web design books and started created websites. First it was gaming sites, personal weblogs and small business sites for local clients. Then as I began to grow my skill level so did the caliber of clients I had the opportunity to work with. Over the next 8 years I would have the immense pleasure of working with amazing brands, some of which included Adobe, XM Radio, Delphi, Microsoft and Warner Brothers.

Thanks for all the Support

To think if I had been too busy partying and “being a teenager” I wouldn’t have my dream job at my own company still working with some amazing people. Thanks to all my supporters both professional and from my family. I owe much of my success to that constant stream of support.

Now I have my wife supporting my dreams (and I support hers) and putting up with long and tireless hours. I also have my own son who i’m already seeing his dreams be formed and excited for the opportunity to help him achieve them.

Never give up on or let the doubts of others stop your pursuit of your dreams.

 

All too often the world casts a negative light on making mistakes, but the truth is the most successful people make mistakes better than anyone. While this may seem counter-productive it actually builds better products, people and companies. Over the last year and a half while growing PixelBit from all sides i’ve experienced my share of mistakes and learned from them. Here is the top 5.

5 – Gathering the Right Tools on Day 1

It would seem that a new business needs to be very cautious of spending (unless you’re funded) but sometimes you can take that to extremes. Early on I didn’t see a need for legal counsel until a well known client of mine decided to change that perception overnight. Now anytime I start another venture my lawyer will be the 2nd call I make. Now he and my accountant are in my favorites.

4 – Make Bookkeeping and Record-keeping a Weekly Task

As you start to build and grow a company you want your focus to be on growth and money making aspects. However what I did was originally left working in Quickbooks for later and then when it was needed spent 2 days reconciling, reporting and filing (not tax related) everything. This year i’ve made it a point to set aside time and on average spend 20 minutes a week.

3 – Stretch the Funds

If you’ve freelanced you know all about highs and lows in payments. Sometimes you have a record month and other times you can actually see the dust collecting on your mailbox. Well in running a company with others relying on money this becomes a major issue. Having learned and survived the down months (usually in the Summer) I now make it a point to set aside a good chunk of money not allocated to payroll and bills for those dips. The amount you need to set aside will vary based on company but you’ll quickly learn.

2 – Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Don’t let your ego or desire to “go it on your own” actually hurt you. About 4 months in I wanted to source more local work while maintaining our existing client obligations. I spent money on advertising and quickly learned I should have bet on dog races as I knew nothing about marketing a company. I mean in freelance you market yourself, but its really not the same! Well after a few meetings and help from some great friends I was able to re-run the campaign and had an amazing response.

1 – Create a Website and Keep It Updated

When I started PixelBit my intention was to take the first 2 months and create the brand, website, mobile presence and market it in hopes of capturing work for the team. To our great surprise we had our first project in our hands 2 weeks after announcing the companies existence. Then it was day in and day out of work for clients. Which was awesome, but finally this Summer I had to take a step back and properly build the brand, once and for all. The website is now in its final development stage but next time i’ll be sure to create all that before announcing the company. Its not only awkward for a web company to not have an active website its borderline painful to not be able to show live examples of work with our words and brand attached.

Hopefully this post will help others and don’t be afraid to fail and make mistakes, be afraid not to. If you only take one thing away from these 5 points its to plan ahead, draw out everything and expect things to be rocky as you get started, however as you grow you’ll be thankful you created a firm foundation.

by mkeefe on Nov 22nd, 2011

Time to Set the Record Straight

Originally I wasn’t going to post a response to the outcry of posts/comments about “government spending” on an app of which I was a developer on. However the more I sat back this evening I figured I have nothing to hide, but wanted to set the record straight.

It all started with a simple tweet from a follower of mine and thought it was a critique on the code which i’m sure could be enhanced (it was modified 20 times across 4 rounds). Yet it was a bit more involved than that.. lets begin…

Okay, so first off I was accused of developing an app for OSHA and was paid anywhere from $50,000 – $200,000 to do. Both figures and the range in between is far from the truth. I was hired by a development company in Boston to port an Android app to iPhone which was simple enough. However as the gov continued to make changes, updates and modifications it began to add up. (my personal favorite was the myth that a custom UI is against the iOS TOS). Yet in the end I made a minuscule fraction of what others are claiming. In fact I worked over a weekend just to get “another build” to the team.

Of course to my “luck” I never even was the last developer on the project yet my name was shipped with the source code when it really should have been the company I was working with. Well actually my companies name was included, even worse.. but whatever, the damage or lack of damage is done at this point. I just wanted to set the record straight, not even including the fact I do not label myself a ninja iOS developer and never have. I work on apps, learn in my free time and extend my overall programming knowledge to Objective-C.

I guess the takeaway from this post is don’t always assume what you read is the whole picture and more importantly developers that work with teams get paid a fraction of what the end client is billed.

As an aside my personal favorite comment on some pro-FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) website was my company must be somehow connected to a political arm and in turn won this amazing contract. Well if thats the case than someone owes me a bunch more money!

Update: Without getting into specifics on programming a few people asked me about old code and extending NSLocalisedString. The latter was done in an effort to mimic language switching in-app before the client decided we could use the devices language setting (my preference on the matter). The old code is because the app was never cleaned before being released, not sure why.. but there you have it.

Reposted from PixelBit Lab

Over the last few months i’ve been looking into various web apps to use over at PixelBit. After looking over many, testing a few and reading reviews i’ve formulated a small list of the top tools. We use others as well but these are the ones that shine.

Basecamp
Project and client management. The Suite is a good deal.

Sortfolio
Good advertising opportunity for little cost.

Quickbooks Online
Perfect tools for managing the business, paying employees and contractors. Also integrates with our accountants systems.

Beanstalk
Hosted SVN for secure, offsite backups. While we don’t use this for all code (contract restrictions) it works quite well for our small team.

TestFlight
iOS Developers “new best thing”. It makes testing a breeze and makes it possible to push builds in minutes with a clear communication with our testing pools.

Dribbble
While not really a web tool it really is nice to get feedback in realtime as a project is being developed.

MediaTemple
I have a love/hate for this host, but so far they’ve allowed PixelBit to scale (internally) and provide solutions for our clients.

MailChimp
Excellent newsletter and one-off mailing. Clean, Fast and Intuitive. Plus it has chimps, whats not to love?

There you have it, a little list of the tools we use. I will post some more “company information” in the future as we continue to grow. For now we are focused on our brands and clients, so much that we haven’t even finished our own website. Its the “cobblers children” effect for sure.

What tools and services do you use?

Note: NONE of these recommendations were paid or compensated to be added.

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