Mobile Apps for Coffee Farmers: 10 Lessons Learned in the Field

Ezra demoing an iPad to farmers in San IgnacioIt’s hard to build mobile apps. But it’s even harder to build them them for people very different from yourself – in this case, coffee farmers in Tanzania. How do you go about building an app for someone who’s never before used a computer, smartphone, or tablet? How do you convince a farmer to use your app when you speak different languages, come from different contexts, and have different needs? How can you ensure that your app is creating a lasting, positive impact?

This month's Mobile Portland presentation shows how Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers faced these challenges, and what they learned along the way. After deploying iOS apps and mobile-optimized websites in coffee-growing communities around the world, Sustainable Harvest has plenty to share. You might be surprised how lessons learned in places like Moshi, Tanzania and San Ignacio, Peru apply to Portland, Oregon.

training coffee farmers
training coffee farmers


  • Developing for audiences who are new to mobile (and computers in general)
  • Deploying technology solutions in distant countries
  • Choosing between and maintaining iOS/native and mobile-optimized web app platforms
  • Helping farmers have more sustainable livelihoods, supported by mobile technology

Join us to learn about Sustainable Harvest’s successes – and challenges – in bringing mobile technology to coffee cooperatives and farmers around the world.

Monday, July 23, 2012 - 6:00pm - 8:00pm

Mobile App Marketing: Selling Your Apps

Marketing your iOS/Android/other app is tough. There are lots of app stores, most of them have ultra-specific rules, and it's easy for your app to get lost in the noise created by thousands of competitors. So how do app marketers actually sell apps within this landscape? What marketing techniques work, and what's up with that black hat stuff that gets crappy apps into the top charts? (Note: we promise not to entice you to the dark side during this presentation.)

At this Mobile Portland panel, we'll hear from Portland mobile marketing gurus Elia Freedman, Andy Rosic, and Dave Howell on a panel moderated by Janet Johnson. Discussed:

  • Marketing apps on a budget
  • Dealing with competition
  • Cutting through the noise
  • Actual app success stories
  • Finer points of popular App Stores (aka Appstores, Marketplaces, and of course "Play")
  • Q&A from the crowd

Bring your mobile marketing questions and an appetite for beer!

Monday, June 25, 2012 - 6:00pm - 8:00pm

When Our Devices Rat Us Out

We've moved this month's meeting up from the 28th to the 21st, due to the 28th being Memorial Day.

There will come a time when it isn't "They're spying on me through my phone" anymore. Eventually, it will be "My phone is spying on me." ― Philip K. Dick

Every day our smartphones, laptops and other devices transmit invisible bytes of data across networks around the world, leaving a deep and permanent digital footprint. Some of this data we are aware of, such as information we post on social networks, or sharing GPS coordinates with a mapping app to locate the nearest restaurant. However, there is a less visible layer of data that at first may seem innocuous, but once aggregated can provide fragments of data that can be reticulated to unveil information regarding identity, location and other potentially invasive and incriminating evidence. This information can be used to solve crimes, as well as abused. Technology is rapidly increasing the rate at which this data is being used by law enforcement, governments, hackers and advertisers alike, with many surprisingly taking advantage of the hazy gray area where antiquated laws and advanced technology meet.

Ken Westin will be presenting several real-life case studies where he has used various technologies and techniques to track down suspects and stolen devices including laptops, smartphones, digital cameras, flash drives, iPods and more. The evidence and research he has provided to law enforcement around the world has helped unveil and solve larger crimes from organized crime rings, car theft, drugs, identity theft and even a violent car jacking. He will be discussing other technologies and information that law enforcement use such as facial recognition, cell tower simulators and access to wireless carrier and ISP customer records. He will also discuss instances where corporations have have used invasive methods and technologies to gain a competitive edge at the cost of your privacy.

About the Speaker

Ken Westin

Ken Westin

Ken Westin is the founder of the popular GadgetTrak cross-platform mobile security and data protection software. Ken launched the first GadgetTrak product in 2007, which provided a way to track media devices such as iPods, digital cameras and external drives. He was awarded a patent for the technology in early 2009, which is has since been embedded in hardware by manufacturers such as Seagate and FLIR.

In 2008 Westin launched the first tracking solution for laptops that utilized integrated web cameras to capture photos of thieves and Wi-Fi positioning for location, resulting in a number of amazing recoveries. Last year the company launched a new mobile security platform that allows users to track missing devices, capture photos and remotely wipe, encrypt and backup sensitive data. He has also recently launched CameraTrace, an innovative free service enabling people to search the web for photos taken with their camera by serial number.

GadgetTrak’s technology has been featured on Dateline NBC, Good Morning America and many top news and tech sites including the New York Times, Forbes, TechCrunch, The Economist and more. The company was recently named in Entrepreuner Magazine's "100 Brilliant Companies" and has won honors and awards from MIT, Tech America, SXSW, CTIA amongst others.

Monday, May 21, 2012 - 6:00pm - 8:00pm

What's Going on in Wireless?

We're all experts at using mobile devices. Many of us even know how to write software for them. But do you know what is going on "under the covers" in mobile phone technology, at carriers, and in the standards development world?

Why won't the new iPad work in Australia? Why is international roaming so difficult? What do developers need to know about future networks? What interesting technology is on the horizon that could contribute to new mobile experiences?

Rob Wilcox will give you a systems level view of wireless, competing wireless standards, and wireless futures, free of the marketing and jargon which can color the industry. He'll also propose some long term trends, both social and technical, your consideration in developing new use cases.

About the Speaker

Rob Wilcox

Rob works in product research, product management, and program management to successfully bring emerging technology into everyday use. Interests include consumer technology, cleantech, and wireless. Notable accomplishments include creating the first international project on the security and reliability of electronic voting with a public interest group of computer scientists at PARC. As a result of that work, he has worked as an analyst on elections planning in Africa and the former Soviet Union.

Monday, April 23, 2012 - 6:00pm - 8:00pm
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