Nanaimo app developers win gold in competition

NANAIMO – Shawn Adrian and Gavin Vickery won Evernote's DevCup 2013.

Winning $20,000 and an impressive trophy were only part of the perks Nanaimo based Shawn Adrian and Gavin Vickery brought home from Evernote’s DevCup 2013.

Sponsored by the Internet app giant, the competition landed them an intimate soiree with Chief Executive Officer, Phil Libin, and a month hobnobbing with developers and potential investors in San Francisco.

A note taking and archiving suite of services, Evernote boasts more than 65 million users.

Tapping in to that market can be lucrative and life altering. When Adrian and Vickery got an invite to participate, they jumped at the chance to present their idea.

“We put all other projects on hold and focused on raising capital and winning gold,” said Adrian. “Because earning that prize would mean access to significant investor dollars and validation for our ideas.”

After landing startup capital from a Vancouver firm, they set to work, building and fine-tuning, an app that allows bloggers to post content directly from their Evernote account to their own blog.

DevCup is an annual developer competition focused on apps and services using the Evernote platform. Nearly 200 submissions in 2013 were narrowed down, in a first cut, to category winners, where won for best in publishing, and then sliced to six finalists.

“Each of the six were more than worthy of winning,” said Adrian. “So we were unsure about our own status going in to the award ceremony.”

The month long event, involves workshops, speakers, and brainstorming sessions geared to further marketing, product design and business developing.

“We get access to Evernote experts,” said Adrian. “And venture capitalists that offer feedback on our vision and direction.”

Vickery said a highlight for him, involved a session with HootSuite developer, Ryan Holmes, and for Adrian, connecting with Jasan Calacanis, whom Adrian calls the godfather of blogging, both motivated and inspired.

“It felt like we were part of something bigger, like we were really contributing,” added Vickery.

Tall and lanky, sporting black rimmed eyeglasses and carrying a large, dark moleskin journal, Adrian’s enthusiasm is easy to get drawn into as he leans forward in his seat and periodically jots down ideas in his notebook in small, precise handwriting. Vickery, the technical side of the partnership, sits back in his chair with an easy smile, quietly adding comments and details about the experience.

With more than a thousand people watching the finale, hosted by MC Hammer, the team waited for the announcement, nervous but hopeful. Sitting in front row seats, Vickery and Adrian watched while worthy competitors received second and third place.

“We wanted to be in the top three,” said Gavin. “But when they announced bronze and silver my heart skipped a beat and I held my breath thinking we were either going home with the gold, or heading back with nothing. When they called us I felt both relief and elation.”

With DevCup gold under their belt, goals now revolve around growing their audience, building a relationship with investors and creating a customer base that drives development.

“We’re discovering what people’s needs are, aligning interests across the network and naturally building a product that people want,” said Vickery.

It must be working. In the past four months the number of users has jumped from 5000 to 15,000.