How Many Phone Apps can YOU Write in 2 Weeks?

If you’re Boston-based startup JMA Web Technologies and the phone in question is Windows Phone 7, then the answer is six phone apps in two weeks.  Not too shabby.

Screenshots from some of JMA's Windows Phone applications
A peak at some of JMA’s Windows Phone applications

JMA’s founder and president, Joseph Anderson, had never developed for Windows Phone 7 before, but he wanted to expand his business into the mobile web space.  He already knew Silverlight, C# and Visual Studio so developing for Windows Phone was a good fit. He developed his first six apps in 2 weeks and rounded out the month with a couple more!

What inspired you to found JMA Web Technologies?

Joseph: Coming from a long line of successful entrepreneurs, I always wanted to own a business. After working for a start-up software company, in the roles of sales, marketing, technical support and software development, for two and a half years, I felt I had the skills to start my own business. I have a passion for software, writing and testing code and I believed it would be a great fit to have my own software business.

How did you get started as a developer?

Joseph: I originally learned HTML back in 1995 from a friend in Middle School. I began programming websites as a hobby. In college, I majored in Technical Writing and I took some programming courses. About a year after college, I was hired for a entry level sales position where I moved into a programming role.

Had you developed for any other mobile platforms before?

Joseph: I tried Windows Mobile 6 and Android, however, I found development difficult on both of them. Windows Mobile 6 lacked documentation and examples. I found Android’s IDE and language, Java, slow and difficult to use.

And the Windows Phone 7 development experience?

Joseph: I found the phone easy to program because there was a training kit, many articles on MSDN and a familiar Silverlight programming model.  

I like how the emulator loads really fast. When I used Android, I had to wait almost 5 minutes for the emulator to load. I like that I can use the same languages and IDE that I use to make regular ASP.NET websites. And I really enjoy how the user interface looks.

What about your experience submitting apps to the marketplace?

Joseph: The submission form is easy to use, contains all the fields I need to show off my app properly in the marketplace, and they responded to each within 1 business day.

Most of my applications took 1 round to get submitted. That is: I would submit, within 1 business day, they’d give me back a PDF report of what failed and what steps they took to generate the failure.  They were very descriptive about how it failed, so I fixed the errors, resubmitted, and it was then accepted into marketplace within 1-2 business days from resubmission.

I really liked their creativity, attention to detail, and descriptiveness of how they got it to fail. For example, starting the application and then turning off internet access.

Where do you see the greatest opportunities in the mobile application space?

Joseph: I think integrating the phone with a CRM is the biggest opportunity, since not many apps exist.

Any advice for other startups that are looking to develop for Windows Phone?

Joseph: I would recommend downloading the Windows Phone 7 Training Kit and start learning from there. This was a big help, I just went through the exercises and realized this was really easy to do.  Learning about the patterns like MVVM was also very helpful.

Joseph also recommended these books to get started:

  • Beginning Silverlight 2 From Novice to Professional by Robert Lair
  • Foundation Expression Blend 4 with Silverlight by Victor Gaudioso
  • Professional Windows Phone 7 Application Development by N. Randolph, & C. Fairbairn

Great, thanks so much!

JMA is a BizSpark startup based in Boston, Massachusetts.  Their first batch of Windows Phone 7 apps include a Twitter Search app, a Stock and News app for precious metals, and (coming soon) a Map Runner application with a stop watch and turn by turn directions that it reads you using Windows Phone’s text-to-speech (a feature that several of their apps employ).  You can find the ever growing list and more about JMA on their website.

About BizSpark
Microsoft® BizSpark is a global program that helps software startups succeed by giving them access to Microsoft software development tools, connecting them with key industry players, including investors, and providing marketing visibility to help entrepreneurs starting a business.