Spotlight: Android

The little androids, that could, have made their way into cell phones and tablets. The platform has gain insurmountable ground in the realm of the mobile space in such a short time, being one the top OSes on the market. Various companies, in the space such as HTC, Samsung, Motorola, and several others, have dubbed their devices with over seven iterations of Android. Android’s deployment is not only the most user friendly, but also, the quickest, allowing even folks with Eclipse and a few SDKs to get started through both native and html apps with just the syntax to master. Those smart little robots.  And surprisingly, we’re not talking about anything to do with Star Wars.

At #devTO 13, we’re giving away two FITC Spotlight: Android tickets(Approx. value for early bird 109.00) to get your learn on, June 23rd, with some of Toronto’s brightest Android builders,  including one of our regulars, Mark Lapasa, and talent from one of the leaders in the Toronto mobile game, Xtreme Labs. 7 technical talks that are definitely worth the visit. We’re also giving out a special discount code at the event!

5 Tips On Finding A Mobile Job In Toronto

I took for granted the transition would be easy for me and that I could easily get a job in 2 months or less. 5 months later, I was clearly wrong and I had to learn some of those lessons the hardest way possible. Here are some tips I wish someone told me before I quit my well-paying comfortable desktop software developer job to pursue the exciting world of mobile development:

1) You are not a mobile app developer unless you have developed and released a mobile app

Your worth as an app developer is not measured by your blog, business card, or how many API’s you have read up on. It’s measured on your proven ability to deliver a useful mobile app or possess a history of releases demonstrating you are on the way there.

I went to a #devTO meeting in late 2011 and I told people I was a mobile developer in search for a job without having actually released an app. I peeked the interests of some of the people I spoke to and they asked me what apps have I done, I told them I am still working on releasing them. They scoffed. They had every right to do so. A VC gave me sage advice and said “Just focus on releasing apps, prove that you have applied what you have learned, deliver it to the masses. I am sorry, man: you are not a mobile developer until you get that app out there.”

He was right. You really don’t know what it’s like to develop an app until you have got real users telling you it sucks or they demand change requests.

2) Make quality, face-to-face, connections in the local community

Network with people who are developers, like yourself or with professionals, who are a part of a company with a mobile offering. Tech meet-ups like #devTO are really great for this because everyone is so friendly. By developing your mobile professional network, you’ll gain a first-hand perspective through your primary connections about companies you could potentially work for. Alternatively, it could also give you insight on red flagged companies that you should not work for.

If actively taking control of your future is not your thing, you could network with recruiters who can only provide a very limited perspective about a company as they are not cognizant of that company’s culture from the view point of a developer. If your resume  matches the keywords their client is looking for, they will do everything in their power to present their client as your best, exciting, and only career choice even if it means not disclosing things that may discourage you.

Having technical insiders in your network will give you a better picture as they can speak first-hand about both the pros and cons about their workplace off the record. In most cases, they would be happy to share this information with you because you are a fellow developer and there is no financial incentive. Whereas in the case of recruiters who have zero technical background, us developers are seen as an immense source of revenue (25-35% of our salary).  For career technical advice, you would be better served by your technical brethren.

3) Your past work experience or education doesn’t play as big of a role as you think

When applying for jobs, if you can showcase your ability to develop mobile apps, you will have an advantage over those applicants who may have comprehensive technology experience that does not necessarily translate to mobile. Many employers in our area cannot afford to hire people so that they can pay them to learn. In their mind, it’s cheaper to pay someone who knows their stuff over someone who doesn’t. If you were lucky to get one of these positions, congratulations to you as it is very rare. Mobile is so brand new and hot right now that if you graduated 2 or more years ago, chances are the technologies you covered in school don’t apply.

However, I want to make it clear that I am not promoting the idea that education is undervalued. If anything, if you survive the academic gauntlet, you will walk away with the tools and rigor required to survive in a shifting landscape that is hard to predict.

Having a formal education in Computer Science/Engineering will definitely give you an advantage but there are currently more opportunities out there than graduates of this type. Many competitive companies are more than willing to hire candidates who are a good fit but not necessarily comp sci / eng degree holders because they can add value in other ways.

4) Specialize in Native or HTML5, not both

There are two schools of thought right now in which direction mobile should go. There is a trend for many established websites announcing they have place their bets on mobile web because of its cross mobile audience reach. However, this strategy doesn’t work well if you want to deliver a premium user experience that exploits the underlying features of a the device such as deep native OS integration, battery life optimization, OpenGL, and so much more. To do either mobile web or native properly requires you to focus on one. Each discipline is a universe onto itself with not just a lot to learn but a lot to apply. Because each of these disciplines are so vast, attempting to do both will result in half-assed results.

If an employer would ever hire you to do both, you could only do one of them at a time while your investment in the other goes to waste. Know your own limitations and aim for depth rather than breadth. Taking on both these technologies involves more learning than you could possibly apply and what you apply is what counts.

5) Know who you want to work for and give them a compelling reason why they should hire you

Let’s just cut to the chase. Aside from actually releasing apps, who you know, having a technology background, practice HTML5 or native, it all boils down to one thing: Relevance.

Take a look at this list ( and visit their websites. Look at what value do they provide to their customers and see how your experience can add value to that offering. This pro-active approach is very much different than waiting to apply for the traditional Workoplois/ job ad. Mobile companies are always hiring but only for the right people as described in the aforementioned.

Although there are many doors you can knock on in Toronto, if you cannot present how your skill sets apply to their company, in my own personal face-to-face experience, you are wasting their time. If you even try to talk your way into getting a job without having released any apps, they won’t be shy in telling you that you that you are not the right candidate they are looking for.

A potential employer will evaluate the user experience of your mobile apps. It’s an indicator of what value you will add to their own mobile
products or services offering. If that company is already in mobile, the first question they will ask is will this candidate slow us down
or help us move forward. If you target a company that is not in mobile, your work may blow them away despite how simple it is. Getting
hired as a mobile developer in Toronto comes down to your ability demonstrate how your experience is relevant to that mobile company.

Good luck with your search!

Mark Lapasa(@mlapasa) is a mobile developer who has released Native Android apps for both phones and tablets. He collaborates with business analysts, development and design teams to deliver engaging user experiences at the client-tier. He has many years of experience developing user interfaces for Enterprise Mobile, Healthcare, Financial, Social Gaming, and Online Gambling sectors. He blogs at

It’s a new year for #DevTO: May Tickets


After wrapping up a full year of #DevTO events last month, we will be back at the ING Cafe at Yonge & Shuter this month. Get your tickets now before they’re gone, then come back and read about the exciting speakers this month.
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We are very excited to present our speakers Katherine and Yuriy this month.

The Decentralized Future of eCommerce

Katherine Hague – Founder at ShopLocket
In the past, selling online has meant setting up a storefront, or submitting your product to a marketplace. Katherine believes that these options are cultural artifacts. They resemble offline models like retail stores or print catalogs. But in the age of blogs, Facebook Pages, Pinterest, Tumblr and Twitter, many people have already established networks and communication channels online.

There was a time when watching a video required going to a specific host site. But those days are long gone. With services like Youtube, we’ve come to expect the ability to share our content anywhere. The same is now becoming expected in eCommerce.

Companies like Gumroad, Kout, Chirpify, Stripe, WePay, and ShopLocket that focus on new models for eCommerce are quickly changing the way people look at buying and selling online. The rapid decentralization of eCommerce will allow sellers to take advantage of their existing networks, and will lower the barriers to entry for selling online.

Katherine is the Co-Founder of ShopLocket. Katherine has worked as an independent digital media consultant, Shopify Theme Developer, and in a variety of Marketing positions for Toronto-based startups. Last summer Katherine was looking for a way to sell some cute t-shirts she had custom made. Despite a variety of solutions available to help sellers set up online retail stores, she couldn’t find an easy solution for those just wanting to sell a single product from their website, blog, or Facebook page. Katherine decided that hers was a problem worth solving. ShopLocket now provides a simple platform for anyone to start selling in minutes. You can follow Katherine on Twitter @KatherineHague.

Building a development platform: lessons learned

Yuriy Blokhin – Platform Evangelist at Kik Interactive

We are spoiled nowadays. There are thousands of APIs available for every possible need. Given the competition for developer time, API developers are becoming progressively better at making sure that adopters are informed and ready to rock’n’roll within minutes of downloading the SDK.

Over the last year, our development team has had to build two dramatically different sets of APIs, developer tools and developer portals for both of our products – Kik and Clik. I’d like to tell you about various mistakes that we have made, so that you won’t repeat them. I will also tell you some war room stories and API promotion tips, so that once you set your mind on adding an API to your product, you will be ready to nail it.

Yuriy started working at Kik 3 years ago on the server team, where he built the first version of the backend infrastructure for Kik Messenger. When Kik launched their API, Yuriy took on the job of building a developer community around it. Yuriy went to the University of Waterloo where he studied Mathematical Physics but never completed his degree because, well, sometimes Kik happens.


Three ways your brain lies about pain

A mobility restriction in your Ankle can cause you neck pain and a leg length discrepancy can cause your jaw to be Mal-aligned. These are just a couple of several ways in which your brain gets confused about the the source of pain. Furthermore. in this extreme era of specialization, Health Professionals often do not make the connection and the issue goes unresolved.

Faz Moosa RMT is a Sutherlan-Chan Massage Therapy Graduate who now runs his own practice in Downtown Toronto. He once worked as a Techie in a Fortune 500 company but could not advance his career because DevTO did not exist then.

High fives to all our great sponsors below helping us bring this event every month! By the way, if you’re looking for a change in career check these companies out, we’ll even introduce you to the right people to speak to! Want to learn how to sponsor #DevTO? Talk to us.


Headstart Solutions  is a social recruiting and career development agency. We specialize in social media recruiting on-demand and outsourcing solutions, using the latest social media tools and methodologies to engage, recruit, and stay in touch with the best talent.
You probaly have met Marc or Sue at some point in the past year, remember they spoke about personal branding and how to give awesome presentations? Marc and Sue are here to provide our community with personal branding tips,career advice, and exciting new job opportunities for FREE! Get in touch with us at for a FREE career coaching session!

Silver Sponsors

Thinkwrap is a team of outstanding software developers, engineers, architects, strategists, and designers whose ability to create responsive web environments serving 100,000 users doesn’t stop them from architecting for millions as if they were one.Our strong community of purpose is built on our clients’ lasting business success.

Mercatus Technologies enables retailers and advertisers to achieve competitive advantage, boost brand equity, and improve financial performance. Leveraging Mercatus’ smart shopping technology on a cross-channel marketing level, achieve the ultimate one-to-one relationship with shoppers throughout their buying cycle—from intent to influence to purchase.

Bronze Sponsors

Rypple is a social performance platform built for teams to share goals, recognize great work, and help each other improve. With Rypple, performance management becomes painless and effective.

Extreme Startups
is the epicenter of innovation in Toronto and is dedicated to providing everything it takes to see its startups succeed!

In Kind Sponsors

ThirdOcean is a social media marketing and community management company. Our communications are delivered by and hosted on social mediums.

FITC produces design and technology focused conferences and seminars worldwide which inspire, educate and challenge attendees.

The best skins on the planet! GelaSkins are removable covers for protecting and customizing your portable devices. They feature stunning, photo-quality graphics ranging from fine art prints to contemporary urban images designed by our growing family of artists from around the globe. Stand out in the crowd with personalized protection from GelaSkins.

Delicious, all-natural, healthier. that’s popchips. when they said it couldn’t be done, we raised the snack bar.

Toronto’s oldest craft brewery!

Humber Digital x #devTO x ING Cafe

To follow up with the impressive attendance, Humber’s Interactive Multimedia Alumni of 2012 did the same thing that we #devto’ers pulled off last month:

Bring the awesome to ING Cafe!

But, unlike us: Humber brought their OWN talent to the spot including our latest photography talent Adam Chow(UI Developer), Daniela Turchiaro(UI Developer), Joanna Barretto(Graphic Designer), and Chris Flemming, of that class. Glad they were able to get the responsive design locked down already! App development via iOS was also present, and also, just as incredible. A great way to follow up after the FITC 2012 Best Canadian Student Website, JeJun Lee, win. Especially with …

… the branding! Daniela did an awesome job making her skill stick. What a calling card!

Glad I was able to pop in and take a peak at what the predessesors became and possibly will become. As one of their proffs and my favorite Humber alumni artist, Linda Nakanishi, pointed out that night: we can’t wait to see them in the industry!

Be sure to check out their new student portfolio reel.

Thanks to Greg, Tom, and James, for the catch-ups.