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Category: culture

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Stories Behind the Apps - TRIOMPHE

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Please tell us about your app! TRIOMPHE is created by a native speaking French teacher to support students preparing for French exams at GCSE, ALevel, IB and DELF.

I created this App because with 30 students per classroom, I realised very quickly it was just impossible to correct the pronunciation of everyone. We built this app to satisfy the demands of the talented students who really desire to understand the French language.

Through continual communication and feedback with and from my students and customers,  I have spent a lot of time understanding their needs and what will help them to take their spoken French to a higher level. With this in mind, I began to develop a substantial curriculum which is aligned to exam boards criteria.

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We wanted to ensure students and users can practise their listening and pronunciation skills with a native French teacher. TRIOMPHE is a complete tutor in that, it explains the written rules in both English and French.

How is the app different from similar apps? TRIOMPHE explains the pronunciation and written rules of the French language along with practical exercises to fully enable learning. You will learn the French way and understand the language at a much deeper level than existing apps. We believe this app is an innovative step forward in French learning.

TRIOMPHE is mainly focused on pronunciation, written rules, gender classification for nouns and matching adjectives correctly. A unique aspect of this is that the user can easily track progress and also revise and rectify mistakes.

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Tell us about the app icon and design. We created our Icon from our collection of photos and images. Our objective was to ensure the icon design was clean and colourful. We also wanted to highlight the name of the app and it’s clear message of linguistic success: “TRIOMPHE over your French Exam!” “Triumph” and `Triomphe’ mean the same thing in both English and French: to succeed!

All the design work was done using PowerPoint, Paint and Photoshop. We spent over a month debating how we wanted it to look and get to a point we were happy with.

What resources or communities assisted you in building the app? The sound and the quality of the pronunciation was really important for us, so we worked very hard at getting it right. Technically, again we worked incredibly hard to making sure the app was easy to navigate. Friends and Family really helped with continual testing before the initial release.

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What did you learn building the app? I learned that you need to be very patient and determined!

I am so completely passionate about helping people to learn French. It is become more like a hobby to me than a job, I learn something new everyday and I want to share with others the best way to learn. If people learn as much about the French language as I have learned in the development of this app, I will be incredibly happy and proud.

Who is on the team and what are your roles? We are a very small team of 2 ! We are :  Anders Christensen -product developer and myself ( Co-Founders ). So you can appreciate that the development of the app was a massive challenge.

Agnès Gaillard, creator of TRIOMPHE

Agnes Gaillard, creator of TRIOMPHE

What were you doing prior to building the app? I was and I continue to be a french teacher here in the UK. I teach my children, students and customers the French Way with the same methodology I have developed on my app! Most importantly I can say from my own experience: “ it WORKS!” My children did their own french GCSE in Year 8 and Year 5 with both of them gaining an A* each.

Head over to the iTunes App Store to download TRIOMPHEHey you app devs!  Wanna be featured like TRIOMPHEBe sure to check out


5 Keys to Keeping Your Developers Happy

Developers! Developers! Developers!

Steve Ballmer made this chant infamous, but the fact remains that developers are the lifeblood of software companies. This is especially true for web startups, where a good developer can be the difference between success and failure.

Most leaders understand this on an intellectual level. They know that good developers — especially those equipped for the startup world — are hard to find and even harder to keep. But in the day-to-day shuffle, it’s easy to take your developers for granted. This can be a fatal mistake.

Major companies like Google and Intuit (not to mention other startups) are always looking to poach rock-star developers, so it’s more important than ever to keep your developers satisfied.

Here’s how to keep them happy and make sure they’re productive:

1. Manage your expectations. Businesspeople often try to tell developers how long it takes to do things, but this approach doesn’t make any sense. It would be like developers telling you how long it should take you to raise your next capital round.

Understand that no one has ever built your exact requirements before — otherwise, you wouldn’t need to build anything. You will change your mind after the project begins (as you should), and things will come up that no one thought about before. That’s the reality of building complex software — and most custom software is complex.

Having unrealistic deadlines not only frustrates developers, but it has the potential to disappoint shareholders who might not realize how many unknowns there are when it comes to building software. Communicate with your developers throughout the project to stay on top of any obstacles or unforeseen circumstances that may require a shift in deadlines and expectations. Everyone is working toward the same goal; the road may just be longer than expected.

Work together with your developers to create mutually realistic estimates. Better yet, use Scrum agile methodology and build out your stories with complexity levels. Using an agile framework provides a continuous gauge on the anticipated completion dates based on the team’s actual “velocity” on the project. This “velocity” takes into account delays on feedback, internal politics, level of cooperation, and possible tool setbacks.

2. Pay them. Well, of course you’re paying your developers, but make sure you’re paying them enough. If your programmers feel like they’re not being paid what they’re worth, they won’t be as motivated to work hard. Pay them enough to take the money issue off the table entirely.

3. Challenge them. Programmers, especially the best ones, are driven, creative people always looking for the next interesting problem to solve. The best developers will get bored if they don’t have a challenge every now and then.

Let your programmers build something in a new framework or build out an internal tool to help your business operations. Intuit challenges all its employees to come up with game-changing ideas during its “unstructured time,” and Facebook has a long tradition of all-night hackathons, where the only rule is that developers must work on something different from their day jobs. You could even consider giving them free time on Fridays to build whatever they’d like — that’s how Google made Gmail, after all.

4. Let them make decisions. Good developers will be adults if you let them. If you create extremely tight policies and highly structured environments for developers to work within, you’ll limit innovation, creativity, and motivation. Like Daniel Pink wrote in “Drive,” “People need autonomy over task (what they do), time (when they do it), team (who they do it with), and technique (how they do it).” So give them some autonomy.

You should also implement a framework in which developers can give input on the direction of a product. Make sure they have ownership of the idea or product. At Path, all employees have access to the social network’s source code, and they’re encouraged to make changes if something is broken or if they have an idea to improve the user experience.

5. Give them a direction. As the leader of your company, it’s your job to come up with the vision and communicate it to your employees. If they don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing, they won’t be as motivated. Give your developers a driving purpose that they can get excited about. For everyone to be in it together, everyone must know exactly what “it” is.

Implementing these key steps can help put your developers into a state of flow. You can do this by giving them meaningful projects, ensuring that they have the ability to set their own schedules around their peak performance times, allowing them to customize their working environment, and challenging them. Otherwise, you might want to start learning Ruby yourself.


Zach Ferres is the CEO of Ciplex, a full-service interactive agency that helps clients succeed online by creating award-winning digital solutions for online marketing, E-commerce and content management systems, and social network platforms. Follow them on Twitter.


Improve Startup Culture with the Workspace

With all these tech startup companies booming in the “Tech Mecca” known as the Silicon Valley, it would behoove each and every one of us to take a look at some of the finer points that make the startup culture what it is.


For instance, with so much time spent and work done on the computer, how does a company exhibit its principles, beliefs and attitude without the assistance of an LED screen? There is, after all, an inherent dissonance between the conceptual space and the experienced space, and marrying the two together can be a tall (and necessary) order.


Startup culture has become exigent as a business model because it marries enjoyment with hard work, excitement of the unknown with just enough predictability. For technology companies and startups alike, this special blending translates into a never-ending desire to push boundaries and look for a better way. Process leads to results, and an office space that fosters creativity irradiates an environment where progressive ideas can live.


A San Francisco creative house, Butchershop Creative, designed 27 new wall spaces for the app performance startup AppDynamics through the conceptual capacity of the pixel. But it wasn’t enough to slap some random, pixelated images onto some walls - the conceptual space had to match the physical space. So Butchershop transcribed emotive and tech related concepts into visual representations, in which each wall had its own thematic spirit brought to life while simultaneously representing the core values of the company itself and the individuals who comprise it.


For a creative agency, this process is complex and tends to encompass a multitude of different aspects that need to be taken into consideration; but we’re not talking about corporate sensitivity or those ergonomic keyboards meant to induce efficiency. A project like this spans across varying discourses, beyond the realm of corporatism - like art, culture, corporeal space and abstract symbols. There was heavy research, incredible design, and an impressive amount of mathematical calculations (you don’t have a true appreciation for a centimeter until you are printing large sheets of vinyl to exact dimensions), all with the intent of forging a cohesive work environment.


When you’re dealing with 27 walls, the trick is to not make it feel repetitive. To accomplish this, Butchershop utilized a range of materials, spanning from: acrylic and plastic, vinyl and aluminum; from mirrors and glass, to 6×6 wooden tiles of varying thickness, offering the participant as much interactive variety as possible.


As technology becomes ubiquitous, creative projects like this become more important as ways to explore the ever-advancing horizons of its integration into the social workplace. For a startup like AppDynamics, this was a chance at unifying the companies’ internal network of thoughts onto graphic pieces of theoretical art. Any successful business owner will tell you, a workspace offers the individual a continual onslaught of visceral connections — whether you like it or not — and when this is taken into consideration the visual atmosphere of the place where you spend 8 hours plus a day seems significant.


Art can take on many different shapes. It’s always refreshing to find a company with the guts to do something unique when it comes to cultivating a work environment.