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Ask A Techie 20 Questions – Marc Estwick – Tech Entrepreneur

I want to cover different islands in the region. For this #20Questions I connected with Marc from Barbados. He is a tech entrepreneur and a member of the App Developer Community (Barbados) facebook group. The group’s focus is Barbados but you don’t have to be from Barbados to join the group. You can connect with Marc through his website : marcestwick.com. Spread some positivity by sharing this blog post, it will be greatly appreciated.

How would you define a techie?

Someone who can’t live without learning, knowing and using the latest in tech and tech trends.

What made you fall in love with tech?

My Super Nintendo (SNES). I’ll always remember waking up 6am on weekends when I was around 7 to play The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario World. That combination of circuitry and plastic enabled me to go on adventures, discover new places, people and things, solve riddles/puzzles, level up and rescue the girl. Looking back, I believe those games (and others like it) subconsciously conditioned me to be adventurous in real life, explore and discover new places, people and things, solve real life problems, practice Kenzai (the practice of continuous improvement) and to help others.

How has tech improved your life?

I was born in ’85, so before Google and cellphones. To make a call when not at home I’d have to use a payphone so I always had to carry change in my pocket … which sometimes I didn’t have which meant asking someone for change or not making the call. To get info about something I’d have to ask someone or go to the library and usually the info would be inaccurate or out of date.

Now in 2015 I have Google on my smartphone and that combination along with the other sensors, features and apps makes me feel like a GOD compared to how it used to be. Always in contact with whomever I want, whenever I want in various ways, always being able to get relevant and timely info wherever and whenever I want means time, money, effort and opportunity saved – definite life improvement.

Who is your favorite tech YouTuber?

Marques Brownlee. To the point, good opinions, entertaining, well made videos.

Describe the state of ICT in Barbados.

Improving. About 5 years ago the cost of internet, smartphones and mobile data was relatively high – now I’d say the cost is pretty affordable. Also, public access to internet was scarce and now a lot of stores, restaurants and businesses in general provide it (thanks in part to the efforts of the Free Wi-Fi initiative by the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation).

Also, the Barbadian ICT community seems to be growing and more active. Local groups such as the App Developer’s Community (Barbados) and Foo Cafe Barbados provide a way for the community to cross paths and share ideas which is necessary for the industry to grow. Local companies such as Bitt (Bitt.com) and Caribbean Transit Solutions (CaribbeanTSI.com) are providing tech services at an international standard. So it’s definitely improving.

Tell us anything about yourself.

I like to describe myself as a tech enthusiast, beach lover and foodie. I’m currently creating apps for each of these interests (BBBeachBum.com and Bonappity.com) under my app development company Trident Apps (TridentApps.com). To learn more about me and to access my social media check out MarcEstwick.com.

Most prized gadget you own?

My iPhone 5s, which enables me to go into “God mode” and control and know everything … (well not everything). I’ll be upgrading to the 6s when it comes out … or might even switch to Android. Marshmallow and Material Design along with tonnes of customisation options makes Android pretty sweet.

What are some of the challenges of being a Tech Entrepreneur?

Keeping up! The tech landscape in general changes everyday.

I currently focus on iOS development and multiple times per year there are updates to the language, the OS (operating system) and the tools to develop them. So throughout the year I have to continually learn something new or be left behind. It’s like trying to catch a moving bus! But I love it cause the updates usually makes things easier and/or provides more opportunities.

Twitter or Facebook?

Facebook. Both are useful but I definitely prefer the flexibility and more features of Facebook.

What question would you ask someone interviewing for an app developer position?

I’d ask them why they want to be an app developer.

Knowing why is one of the most important things (sidenote: Start With Why by Simon Sinek’s a good read). The ones who do it because they genuinely enjoy the act of developing will go far. The same goes for any industry. Doing any job for the intrinsic value it provides is always best.

What sports teams do you support?

If I had to choose I’d say the Barbados Squash team. I play squash several times a week and love to swim but I’m not much of a spectator sport person.

Rearrange the following letters so as to form one word: NEW DOOR

Interesting.

WONDER

(Disclaimer: I used https://www.word-grabber.com/letter-sorting. Sorry. Techie.)

What do you wish there was an app for?

I wish there was an app that would help you avoid the awkward situation of forgetting someone’s name, also one that would help you find your best Barbados beach and finally one that would help you decide where and what to eat in Barbados … hold on these are the apps I’m currently working on! Check out TridentApps.com/apps for more info (I know … shameless plug).

What would you say to Google to encourage them to set up an office in Barbados?

I’d tell them “Do you want to sell ad space for the rest of your life … or do you want to change the world..?”

Ok, maybe that might not work for Google. Alternatively, I’d first make an argument for Barbados as a country, then argue the need for software development in Barbados, then state why Barbados and not other Caribbean countries.

– As of Sep 2015, Barbados has a relatively highly educated workforce, politically stable, economically stable (currency wise), world-class telecommunications, low tax rate (as low as 0.25%), at least half the HR cost of the US, same time zone … beaches and rum punch.

– Since Barbados relatively has very little land mass and natural resources an industry that doesn’t require much land and natural resources would be ideal – an industry such as software development. At a very basic level the industry requires an idea, a laptop, an internet connection, time to develop code, marketing and maintenance. The industry is highly scalable, has extremely low distribution costs and a global customer base. The industry has the potential to bring in significant amounts of revenue (foreign exchange) for relatively little input. There’s no reason Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp, etc could not have been made in Barbados. The one downside is that the “Silicon Valley” culture of risk, entrepreneurship, venture capital and related services that has made these apps successful isn’t well established in Barbados as yet but it’s definitely growing and Google could accelerate this process.

– Why Barbados and not anywhere else? Because we can provide Google with a bottle of 1703 rum signed by Rihanna). In all seriousness, since Barbados as a nation NEEDS to diversify its main revenue industries (more so than other countries in the region with other natural resources) and software development is an extremely viable solution, it should provide significant incentives and be particularly accommodating to entice Google to come – as long as the incentives given to Google do not outweigh the value of Google’s presence to Barbados in the long run.

What tech event would you like to attend?

Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) 2016. Hopefully I can actually go next year!

List five things that make a good app.

  1. Purpose
    • The app has to actually satisfy a need.
  2. Simplicity/Ease of use
    • The app has to be easy to understand and easy to use otherwise people wouldn’t want to use it.
  3. User Interface (UI)/ Design
    • People generally prefer to use apps that visually appeal to them.
  4. User Experience (UX)
    • No one likes boring. Apps that include elements that are fun, exciting, thought provoking, or simply interesting keeps people using the app. At the same time it’s not good to go overboard. Balance is necessary to provide a good experience.
  5. Value
    • Even if there was an app that will give you $1,000,000 no one would buy it if it costs $1,000,001. Pricing and providing great value for the price could make or break an app.

Do you read the documentation that comes with your gadgets?

Haha. Yep. My Grandad is the only other person I know that also does it. I try to encourage others to do it because usually it makes the gadget easier to understand and use – plus you may discover features that you didn’t even know were there!

What future technology interests you?

Having my own JARVIS (Iron Man’s AI assistant). Google Now, Siri and Cortana are the start of this. They are already wherever we go, on our mobile devices (phones, tablets, and watches) and with Apple’s HomeKit and Carplay, and Google’s NestLabs and Android Auto we will be able to monitor and control these spaces and the devices within them with our voice and other actions via an AI assistant very soon.

The same way Jarvis aids Tony Stark in his everyday tasks imagine having one of our own, tailored to our individual tastes and needs. I honestly believe that the technology will improve and be easier to use and we’ll all have our own JARVIS very soon.

Do you think society is getting less educated the more we advance in technology? (Explain)

No way. Education is fundamentally acquiring knowledge and the internet provides immediate, relevant and current knowledge to anyone who wants to access it.

Anything we want to know/learn can be accessed via the internet – and usually there’s a video that explains what you need to know or how to do it (Youtube, eHow, etc). MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) from respected universities are becoming mainstream and include a vast array of topics (Lynda.com, Coursera, EdX, Udacity). Apps such as Duolingo make it easy and affordable to learn a new language. WolframAlpha makes relatively complex calculations simple.

All these things are possible due to advancements in technology. I believe there’s a difference between not learning obsolete knowledge/techniques and being less educated. Not learning how to use an abacus or a typewriter and using a calculator and a tablet instead doesn’t mean we’re less educated. I’d argue that those without access to technology are at an educational disadvantage.

What question would you ask the next techie?

Which startups in the Caribbean interest you and why?

BONUS ANSWERS:

What are your thoughts on working from home?

Love it. Especially after reading “Rework” and “Remote” (both by Jason Fried) and the Power of Habit (by Charles Duhigg). These books really helped to give me the tools and the mindset to be productive not only from home but from anywhere.

What are your favorite apps?

Besides my apps, I love Google Photos, Cook With Me, Sunrise, Mailbox, Asana and Bastion.

What project would you like to work on if money was not an objective?

JARVIS! lol

Also, I’d like to create a Silicon Valley type space in Barbados. One that enables Coders, Engineers, Designers, Marketers, Lawyers, Financiers, Entrepreneurs, etc to physically meet, share ideas, share resources, collaborate, etc. A space like this would attract the best of their respective fields and accelerate the software development industry of Barbados. Barbados as a nation needs to diversify its main revenue industries and I believe software development is the perfect solution given its limited natural resources and size.

If I had the funds I’d create one on the South Coast right next to the beach. Call it BBeach (Bit Beach).

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