We sat down with Eoin to talk about starting a business, exciting things in software and the issue of perfection
What’s your role in 8bytes?
I’m a Director at 8bytes and my expertise is in app development. More so on iOS than Android but we do both here. I take home my iPhone at the end of the day, not my Android phone. It’s definitely what I enjoy most.
What’s your background in software development?
I was very fortunate to get a computer from my parents when I was 10 — it ran Windows ME. I spent a long time getting to grips with that, more playing games than any software development or coding but definitely my starting point.
In secondary school, a family friend had a Mac and I remember being very impressed by the movie editing and the iDVD stuff. So in 3rd/4th year, I saved up some money and bought a MacBook which did me right up to my first year of college. We actually used that thing for so much. Myself and *Adam *set up a mini-company where we transcribed VHS cassettes to DVD and that was all done through that Mac. It was amazing.
During the same time, I had bought an iPhone for €50 off a friend of mine. It was the bomb. I believe it was an iPhone 3GS. And basically I remember that I really wanted to make apps for that.
In my first year of college I started off in Engineering in UCD and I swiftly made the jump to computer science about six weeks in. I was fortunate enough to have a older sister who was doing engineering that was finishing off a master’s at that stage. She was able to explain that it was a more theoretical course as opposed to the hands-on building cool shit that I wanted to do.
It was second year where I got the know how in order to dive into the world of
developing iOS Apps.
To you, what is the most exciting aspect of app development right now in 2017?
I think push notifications are big right now. There’s an app out now called Quartz which is just push notifications for news alerts. Notifications* *on your watch or your phone that are relevant to the
individual are what people care about.
If we look at the new things from GoogleI/O and Apple’s WWDC this year we see a big focus on voice-based interactions. I don’t think the technology is there yet. I don’t see people walking down the street talking to Google or Siri, not even within my own nerd friends, so we have a ways to go yet.
What do you see happening to this space in the next 3 years?
Put simply I don’t know. What I would like to see is a move from laptops to Tablets. I think you will see more and more people using iPads for their work or studies. There is a middle space where I think you will see keyboards and maybe mice with tablets and you may even see glass touch-screen keyboards on laptops.
That’s an exciting space for me, to have ‘prosumer’ apps on iPads. The vast majority of consumers *could *use the likes of an iPad to replace a laptop. If they’re playing games, looking at photos or maybe they’re on social media — all this can be done on an iPad.
And then I think, from an app developer point of view, if app developers can solve the “use case” for average users, I think that’s also very powerful. But the issue ties back to Apple’s iPhone being the big marketing thing, the big money-maker for them while the iPad is slipping in sales. I think they need to make it more compelling.
Why do you think Ireland has emerged as a hub for technology and place for startups to scale up?
I think there’s two sides to that. From the Irish Government’s side of things, it’s a technology hub when it comes to big companies like Apple and Google and the jobs that they create when investing in Ireland and Europe.
From a startup point of view, we have a lot going on. I think FinTech (financial technology) is getting big over here. There’s also an array of meetups happening each week around the country that helps foster the Irish entrepreneurial spirit. I think our workforce is good, I think our culture is very good. People like to have, as they say, a bit of “craic”. I think for American companies coming over it’s very easy to integrate with us. Obviously the language isn’t an issue and we’re cheaper than the likes of the UK. Plus we’re still in the European Union.
I would love to see more growth in Dublin in terms of it being a tech hub — not to the scale of Silicon Valley, where everything has turned to tech, tech, tech.
You want to be able to escape that kind of stuff. And I think we’ve definitely got a good mix, but I’d like to see it grow.
Is it better to be perfect and late, or good and on time?
Perfect and late.
Which is a terrible answer but yes, I want perfection, I strive for perfection and it’ll keep me up at night. I will work all hours until it’s perfect. Obviously, there are hard deadlines that need to be made and there are sacrifices that you need to make at some stage. I would rather have a perfect app on time with less features than a mediocre app on time. For example, cut out a feature and put that in a release a week after or something along those lines. Definitely from an 8bytes perspective you want to be punctual and you want to have that quality but perfection haunts me.
For me perfection comes in two flavours. There is the pixel perfect design and user experience but there is also the serendipitous thoughts like quick actions on push and getting onboard with the latest technologies like force touch.
What’s the hardest decision you’ve had to make professional over the last year?
I think the hardest decision is deciding our worth. It’s probably something that we’re continuously moving on. We’re not businessmen, we look to develop and, obviously, make perfect products. But it is pretty difficult to do, when pricing a project and giving estimates based on our worth.
In my third year of college, myself, Brian and Peter got together to make a company. The idea being that the company would make products for clients and any retained profits would be re-invested into other projects in the course of the year. We called it BitFundr. It was hilarious. We didn’t get very far with it as we didn’t have a lot of design sense.
BitFundr’s original logo
It was only later that Adam, a friend that I had known for donkey’s years, joined the team that our team’s design ability got a major upgrade. He had bought 8bytes.io as one of his many projects and we kept pretty much everything from his work on this in terms of designs and colour schemes. We started 8bytes in January 2013 where we worked from an IKEA-clad office in Wicklow.
We got a good few projects keeping the money coming in and we worked on it in our spare time during college.
After a few months of being tempted by an internship at HubSpot, myself and the guys decided to take the experience. So we got cracking on that and we took over all the HubSpot mobile apps. The plan was to get enterprise experience — big apps, lots of usage, how we can architect them better, how we can grow. And I certainly think we got that in bucket-loads at HubSpot.
But there was always the draw of getting through projects, talking to clients, thinking about how we can solve interesting problems for an array of interesting people. And so, one by one, we rejoined the 8bytes team where we got a lovely space on Harcourt Street in Dublin City Centre. Even though there was financial security in HubSpot there was always that passion to do our own thing. Getting the chance to meet these super interesting people and watching their ideas grow and come to life and then seeing their apps on the App and Play Store is incredibly rewarding.
If something you’ve built creates a business for someone, I think that’s pretty powerful. For us, we kind of invest ourselves in our apps as well. I tell every client that if they succeed we succeed, it’s more of a partnership than a client business at 8bytes.