Crowdsourcing Innovation: Gabriel Ortiz, CEO of Clickslide

Crowdfunding sites are offering a new path for inventors with original ideas. We talk to inventors looking to gain the public’s favour

Crowdfunding sites are offering a new path for inventors with original ideas. We talk to inventors looking to gain the public’s favour with something new to offer. Is this a business of the future?

[image_library_tag 64a414ab-1739-4dd7-9b12-1de2fbb0c88d 185x185 alt="" title="" width="185" height="185"class="left "] Name: Gabriel Ortiz & Aaron Franco

 Job title:  CEO

 Organisation: Clickslide

 Location: London/NYC



Product: Abacus OS

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What it does & How it works:

We invented a way to generalize any APIs into a single format. Then we had a tool for connecting that reformatted data to a pre-configured app page. This system allowed anyone to connect any data to a preconfigured app page with out code. Think of it as IFTTT except you can create apps for mobile.

What makes it special:

We have invented a way to generalize all data for connection to a mobile app interface. APIs are integrated with a simple form and connections are made with a set of two drop down menus.

For example: You can choose between eBay, Amazon, or any other ecommerce product platform and connect that product data to a pre-configured ecommerce app. You make this connection by choosing the data from a drop down list, the page type from a second drop-down list and then pushing a publish button.

What’s your background, and what inspired you to come up with the idea?

The founders went to film school in University. Gabriel graduated from his Masters in Animation at Edinburgh University and Aaron was in Tokyo teaching English and learning Japanese. After around 6 years of working on how to generalize and abstract data in web design, we thought we would try our hand at building a tool that would abstract all open API data into a data standard that was flexible enough to build software.

Why Kickstarter?

First, we had tried hosting our product on Amazon Web Services and found that the amount of processing power it took to compile applications was far too expensive to be sustainable. We assumed that if we were experiencing this, then loads of companies must feel the same pressure when building an app or web services. Simultaneously, we were inspired by a number of companies that were trying their hand at hardware/software products. We discovered that our system was light enough to run on a mobile chip. Out of that, Microservers were born and we attempted to sell several versions to the public using Kickstarter.

Is Crowdfunding good for innovation? How so?

I think perhaps it is, perhaps it isn’t. It really does depend on the audience you addresss. We found that for our specific target market this wasn’t exactly the right fit. We found that the resulting feedback from the Kickstarter was very helpful to shape and define what our product would become. I found the feedback immensely useful.

What was the reaction of people to your project?

Some were confused about what the Microserver object was. Some loved it. Some thought it was too high of an upfront cost. Some wondered why we delivered hardware in the first place. Many of the ones who did fund us thought it hit the right spot. Our backers varied from accomplished technologist, to a school teacher who thought it would be a great way to teach software development to his students.

Why do you think you didn’t meet your goal, and what have you learned from your campaign?

I don’t think there was anything intrinsically wrong with the product. However, we had a great deal of difficulty securing press and our marketing push wasn’t very big due to lack of budget to do so.

Would you do it again?

We might, but I think we would look at signing up backers before we launched. Often our feedback was that if you weren’t funded immediately after you launched, then you wouldn’t get funded at all. Perhaps that is true, it certainly was in our case.

What have been the biggest challenges in making the Abacus OS & Microservers?

Biggest challenges have been messaging. We’re an extremely small team (2 Founders working full-time) to deliver a new form of cloud based operating system. It was no small feat and for our small budget we’ve managed to build a very flexible tool for structuring, mashing and publishing APIs from any legacy, serial port or web API. This can be done without code or with a very simple tag-based coding language.

Why do you think mini-computers like the Pi have become so popular?

They’re cheap, they’re small. In our case, we used high-powered multi-core microcomputers, which are equivalent to an Amazon instance and in our case deliver data much faster.

What’s the benefit of having a personal mini Cloud server?

The ability to create applications locally and distribute them for simple tasks like home automation is pretty cool. We saw this mainly as a way to prototype apps in a simple and easy way for non-developers or indeed a way for more seasoned developers to hack our system without distributing a downloadable version of our software.

Is Green IT an important issue to you?

Absolutely! Massive servers in cold countries are contributing a great deal to global warming. Every hour of youtube video watched uses the same amount of electricity as a refrigerator does in one year.

Do you see your audience as being mainly seasoned app developers looking to increase their productivity or newcomers looking for a user-friendly way to get into App development?

That’s why we did Kickstarter, to find out who our audience was.

What have been the most impressive apps people have made so far with Abacus OS?

Our CTO made 9 apps in 7 hours using our tool with an API we have never integrated before!

Aims for the future?

Now called Datadipity (Abacus OS without the front-end and expressed as an API conversion data-layer.) is a place where interested parties can sign up for an account and have a play. We’re looking to partner with existing API data products, API management companies, publishers and IoT product makers.