Tag Archives: Business Blog

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28 Jan

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Protected: Time to Value

23 Apr

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Bitcamp GR

30 May

Bitcamp

You know what sounds fun?  Getting pulled out of class the Friday before Memorial Day to make a webpage about whatever you want.

On Friday, May 23, twenty 6th-8th grade girls from Harrison Park School got to do just that as part of Bitcamp 2014.  They came over to the App Dev space at OST to learn basic HTML and CSS from some of our female developers.  Harrison Park is just a few blocks from OST’s Grand Rapids campus, so it was great to be able to partner with one of our neighbors.  These particular girls were Challenge Scholars, which means they’ve shown academic potential and will receive special learning opportunities and, upon successful graduation from high school, money to attend college.  The goal is to enable them to succeed at the university level when they may be the first ones in their families to do so.

I’m not a teacher, and there’s a reason for that.  Sitting behind a computer screen writing code comes much more naturally to me than interacting with junior highers.  My fellow Bitcamp teachers may have been slightly more qualified but obviously OST believes in me and wants to provide me with opportunities to grow and use my expertise in unexpected ways.  I was thrilled to be a part of this, since I truly believe coding (especially making your first web page, with customized colors and links that pop up right after you hit save and refresh!) is a blast, and wish that more girls were exposed to it at a young age.

It was a challenge to convey some of the abstract concepts inherent in programming in a way that pre-teens who had never heard of HTML could understand and relate to.  Most of them left understanding a lot and being confused about a lot (which is approximately how I feel after attending any tech lecture).  But by the end, we could tell many of them were having fun getting creative with custom colors, links to their favorite sites, and pictures (boy bands were a theme) embedded in their own unique web pages.  The goal wasn’t to teach them everything about web development, or to make them HTML and CSS experts.  My hope was that at least one of the students would leave thinking (1) that she is capable of doing this and (2) that she might enjoy doing something like this.  A little inspiration is all it takes, and I think that happened on Friday.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW PHOTOS

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Andrea Houg joined the OST team as an Application Developer in March 2014. Andrea is a recent Hope College grad who majored in Computer Science and Chemistry, and minored in Spanish. Andrea graciously volunteered her expertise to assist with instructing the girls at Bitcamp GR 2014. 

“Open-Me” Under Your Tree!

18 Dec

Screenshot of Open-Me

Justin Menkveld is a self admitted tech geek. Spend more than two minutes with him and you will soon find out he is also a serial entrepreneur who never stops dreaming. His most recent invention is Open-Me, an application he developed out of necessity.

“I race motorcycles, and as you might guess, I’m also a self-confessed techno geek,” said Open-Me inventor, Justin Menkveld, a 23 year old software developer here at OST. “Opening garage doors when you’re driving a motorcycle is a pain, so I was determined to find a better way. How to begin? Well, I had an idea in mind that I thought just might work. Okay, it was a bit more involved than that, but by the time I was finished I had developed the working prototype I’m still using today. I considered bringing the product to market by myself without any help, but feared it would max out my time and money. I pursued the TV Series Shark Tank for a time and the producers showed a high level of interest — but in the end, they decided against it. Since my days are spent at a technology company that’s loaded with talent, I ultimately decided to team up with them and bring the product to market via Kickstarter,”

The Open-Me app allows you to open and close your garage door, from anywhere in the world, with a simple click on your cell phone. It can also open your garage door automatically when you arrive home and close it when you leave — using GPS technology. Open-Me even allows you to view the door in real time with its video feature (available in the premium version) and can send out an alert when your garage door is left open, giving you peace of mind. The easy-to-use app will be available on Apple iOS and Android smart phones through native apps…as well as any other devices with a web browser.

The price range for the Open-Me Appliance (that attaches to your garage door opener) is $99 for the basic appliance, $139 for the fully featured appliance and $199 for the fully featured appliance plus video.  The app is free.

Justin needs a minimum of $200,000 in Kickstarter pledges before he can move forward with commercial production of Open-Me.  If he achieves his Kickstarter pledge target, Open-Me will be available for shipment in June of 2014!

HOW YOU CAN HELP

The Kickstarter page will only be live for 33 more days (it launched on December 6) so we are looking to generate as much momentum and enthusiasm as possible during these first several days.  Please help by:

​You never know, this could be the perfect gift for the person on your list who “has everything!”

Jason Sich

Justin Menkveld
Application Developer at OST & Founder of Open-Me