Update: The deadline to sign up has been extended to March 10! Be sure to sign up now here!

Citi Mobile Challenge participants

Last year, I had the honor of being a judge at the second iteration of the Citi Mobile Challenge, a development contest put on by Citi where developers from all over the world compete in a hackathon-like competition to come up with the best banking-focused solutions to support the next generation of mobile-friendly consumers. Citi has already begun working with some of the 2014 winners to integrate their ideas into real world products and are supporting those teams with funding, resources, and consulting. The team here at Appency is donating consulting time to help some of the winners through mobile marketing tactics such as ASO and app launch best practices.

The Contest
While the American challenge winners were selected only a few months ago, Citi has already opened the challenge to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia (EMEA) with a brand new contest. Developers have until March 6, 2015 to register as participants. Once registered, developers must get their ideas on paper by March 13. After that, it’s go, go, go: Final concepts will be expected by March 27.

Once finalists are chosen they will be invited to present at one of four demo days at the end of April in London, Warsaw, Jerusalem, or Nairobi. Entries are being accepted from all over the world so developers don’t have to be located in an EMEA country to enter. Some of the best entries to the American challenge were international developers who traveled thousands of miles to pitch their ideas! It’s definitely worth the trip: There is $100,000 in cash prizes up for grabs, plus Citi and its partners like IBM, MasterCard, Uber, and even Appency will provide support and feedback to help hone the final product.

How to Win
As a past judge, here are a few tips on how to win that prize money. To start, you must understand that entries are being judged at every step by Citi employees. It’s only at the last step, the live demo, that the judges will be both Citi employees and outside consultants. To make it past those first hurdles you have to put yourself in the shoes of Citi and their consumers. How does your idea help Citi customers? How does it help Citi itself? If your idea cannot answer both sides of the question, then you need to head back to the drawing board.

Make sure you use the APIs that Citi provides. There are a number of data feeds to tap into that will allow your app to really become a part of the user’s banking life. Think about both consumer customers, and business customers — they expect less entries into the business customer area so the competition will be less fierce in that category.

Design is vital. If you do not have a quality designer on your team, get one. The presentation of an idea can by as vital to success as the idea itself. Both solid ideas and solid presentation are needed to convince the judges that your team and your app have what it takes.

Many entries come from experienced development shops, but I must caution them against shoe-horning banking or Citi-focused features into an existing project unless there is a clear, salient reason to do so. As a judge I saw — and, frankly, didn’t vote for — too many presentations that looked like a pre-existing app with Citi-specific features slapped on in hopes of sliding by and winning. Usefulness is rewarded in this competition.

Lastly, if you do make it to the finals, be sure to practice your presentation several times in front of real people who can give you good feedback. This will ensure your presentation flows well, anticipates questions or criticism, and fits in the limited amount of time allotted. Practicing your presentation in front of people outside your development team can also help prepare you for potential audience questions you may have to field after the presentation.

The chance to have a big brand get behind your work with this level of support does not come around very often so the competition will be brutal. Best of luck to all the entrants, and please feel free to reach out if you have any questions! I am more than happy to give tips to anyone who asks — just shoot us an email at contactus@appency.com.

 

Aaron Watkins is the founder and president of Appency and was a judge at the 2014 Citi Mobile Challenge. He’s a big fan of apps that work.

Last week we were honored to be awarded the 2012 CAPPIE Gold Award for Individual Public Relations Tools – Writing by the Sacramento Public Relations Association. Back in February of 2012 we worked on a campaign to promote The Official Lorax App (available in the iTunes App Store, of course). Inspired by the source, Aaron Watkins wrote a pitch that Dr. Seuss would have been proud of – fun, but effective. (You can check out the pitch below the picture.)

Congratulations, Aaron! We’re proud of you, and happy that our creativity has been recognized by our public relations colleagues.

2012 CAPPIE

CAPPIEs are quite shiny.

Well thank you for reading my pitch-a-ma-phone
for I must tell a tale of an app you should own
or at least write about, yes you must tell the tale
for apps just like this, well… they must leave a trail.

Now, dear reader, please listen I say (with a wheeze)
for I am the Lorax – I SPEAK FOR THE TREES!
I’ve made me an app
out of tidbits and digits
as you know mobile apps are more useful than widgets

What’s an app sir you say?
Well I know that you know
But THIS app my dear friend on your website must go
For unlike other apps that go out with the breeze,
This is the one app that lets YOU speak for trees.

What’s important you see, is you must have the stach’
(I’ve grown mine with the help of the orange miffle mash)
Just hold phone to mouth and start jabbin away
(There are barbaloots listening… please watch what you say)

Or perhaps its your friends that are lacking some whiskers
Just pull up their photo and slap on some ticklers
Then email away, you can even send post!
To your friends and your loved ones you’re missing the most.

So now lift yourself up by the seat of your pants
and get to the app store and give it a glance

Unless someone like you
cares a whole awful lot
No one will review it
I’m afraid they will not.

We’re very happy to announce that several of our friends have been nominated in different categories for the Best App Ever Awards. For four years, Best App Ever has been in search of the most innovative, most useful, and most entertaining apps out there, regardless of the operating system or device. The awards are supported by a list of excellent resources for app enthusiasts, including 148 Apps, Pocket Gamer, Android Rundown, Portable Gamer, Giggle Apps, App Hall of Fame, and more.

Voting is open through January 31, 2013. Winners for all categories, including the Best App Ever, will be announced on February 26, 2013.

iCookbook™ is nominated for Best Cooking App. iCookbook has over 2,000 recipes from bloggers and big brand names. Shopping lists, personalized recipes, voice control and more make this the essential app for any chef, regardless of their skill level.

iCookbook™ Diabetic is nominated for Best Health App. This app from the iCookbook™ team was created with diabetics and health-minded chefs alike. With all the great features of iCookbook™, this app also provides nutritional information and access to curated articles on healthy living and diabetes care.

Catalogue by TheFind is nominated for Best Shopping App. This beautiful app for iPad combines dozens of catalogs from brands like Williams-Sonoma, Nordstrom, Saks, Brookstone, Sears, Best Buy and more into one easy-to-use, easy-to-organize shopping center.

I Spy With Lola Panda has been nominated for Best Kid Distraction App. From the makers of the beloved Lola Panda suite of apps, this hide-and-go-seek addition engages kids with fun from around the world, sneaking in a bit of learning alongside the entertainment.

Arc Squadron is nominated for Best Action Game. Splendidly rendered on the Unreal Engine, this rail-shooter pays loving homage to “Star Fox,” while giving it an exciting face lift.

Quizboard is nominated for Best Trivia Game. Strategy and random knowledge collide in this fun game, challenging players to not only probe their memory, but test their cleverness against their opponent.