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Five women in tech to watch at GeekGirl Meetup Conference

Five women in tech to watch at GeekGirl Meetup Conference

This Saturday one of our favourite networks by and for women, GeekGirl Meetup, is hosting its 5th annual conference.

The confluence of technology and ethics is this year’s hot topic, and we’re excited to head along and hear the insights of some of the most inspiring women in the industry. Here’s a little introduction to five of the speakers: our women in tech to watch.

Ellie Hale, Digital Fellowship Lead at CAST

Photo: CAST


A girl after our own hearts, Ellie Hale started her career in communications. Hale now heads up the Digital Fellowship at CAST, the Centre for the Acceleration of Social Technology. CAST is driving the growth of tech for good by working with investors, non-profits, social enterprises and government.

CAST’s Digital Fellowship is a programme which helps non-profit leaders learn the fundamentals of tech and digital innovation, helping charities embrace digital and put it at the heart of their work.

Jillian Kowalchuk, Founder and CEO of Safe & The City

Photo: Jillian Kowalchuck


Jillian Kowalchuk runs the upcoming app, Safe & the City – a tool to help women navigate safer walking routes. With an aim to help eliminate sexual harassment in London, we’re interested to see what’s on the horizon for Jillian when the app launches soon.

Camilla Hayselden-Ashby, Product Lead at fieldmargin

Photo: filedmargin


Camilla Hayselden-Ashby is the Product Lead at fieldmargin, a platform elevating the future of farming and making farming more efficient. The app is a mapping tool providing a visual record of a farm, upon which farmers can draw maps, make notes and leave messages for their team – even without internet connection.

Devika Wood, Co-founder of Vida

Photo: Vida


Vida, a company harnessing technology and investing in high quality, in-home carers for the elderly and disabled, was born from Devika Wood’s very personal experience growing up. Having lived from the age of 10 with her grandmother, who lived with dementia and epilepsy, Wood witnessed the impacts of a “lack of continuity in carers”. Vida aims to solve this issue in the sector, leveraging tech to provide personalised, expert care through their carer matching and care plans.

Devika has an impressive background in both technology and healthcare, having left school at 18 to work for Google, subsequently working as a breast cancer research scientist at Imperial College London, followed by stints at Babylon and Healthcare Australia.

Scarlett Montanaro, Co-founder of CRACK + CIDER



A rough sleeper once said to Scarlett Montanaro and co-founder Charley Cramer: “People don’t give me money because they think I’ll spend it on crack and cider.” Fed up with campaigns encouraging the public not to give rough sleepers money, but not offering another solution, the pair created CRACK + CIDER, an online shop where people can buy useful items for the homeless.

Snapchat: The App for Innovation in Social Media Marketing

Snapchat Logo

Credit: REUTERS/Mike Segar


The world of social media is fast-paced and ever-changing. You never know when the latest update, trend or social media fad is going to kick off. Case in point: you might remember last week we posted a blog: ‘Make it Snappy: Brands Who Got Creative on Snapchat’. Within a couple of days of posting, Snapchat had already started to roll out its latest feature; one which could completely change the game altogether – Snapchat Memories. (Just when you started to get to grips with the app, eh?)

Snapchat are leading the industry in terms of innovation right now; not only have they managed to find something that is unique to them, they are also setting an example for other networks – who often scramble to follow suit whenever an update is made.

But I don’t get it, what is Snapchat?

Get downloading, it’s the fastest growing social network! For the uninitiated, let’s take it back to basics…

Snapchat is a mobile messaging app, and social media network, where users engage through short disappearing videos and photos known as ‘snaps’. This is different to all other social media because it is ephemeral. Users are able to create daily stories in 10-second max bursts which can be sent to friends privately, or viewed for up to 24 hours if submitted as a ‘Story’.

In May, Snapchat revealed that over 10 million Brits use the app on a daily basis. The app has exploded in use, recently overtaking Twitter in terms of daily users. Originally, content was completely raw and curated ‘in the now’. The founders of Snapchat say it is an app for “instant expression”. There is a certain ‘fear of missing out syndrome’ attached to Snapchat; limited viewing time on snaps makes users log in daily to view content. Clever move? I think so.

So what about Snapchat Memories? Are they, too, ephemeral?

In the past, Snapchat has encouraged instant communication and the sharing of moments as and when they happen, but now Snapchat also wants you to share your past. Memories does exactly what it says on the tin – it provides a way to save snaps and share old ones within a new section of the app. You guessed it – Snapchat Memories don’t disappear! This is a highly ambitious and significant move by the social media giant, as it takes on the likes of Facebook and Google by moving away from its ephemeral roots. In the meantime, other networks are moving to promote more real-time sharing.

Memories is probably one of the biggest updates to Snapchat in the company’s history (a mere 5 years!) Snapchat has always pitched itself as the app that didn’t store anything for long, but the introduction of the ‘save’, ‘replay’ and ‘stories’ features shows how this has gradually changed.

But what does this update mean overall? And how will this affect companies and brands who use Snapchat?

Initial feedback on Memories has been positive. The main effect could be that Memories will push users to think of Snapchat as their go-to camera app and photo storage space – and, wait for it, there is no cap on storage as of yet. It has yet to be seen, but this may become a problem for other image sharing sites like Instagram and Facebook.

Personally, I think it’s a win-win for Snapchat. While 18-24 year olds are Snapchat’s core base, a recent report in The Wall Street Journal said that 14% of US smartphone users over the age of 35 are now on the app, while 38% of smartphone users aged 25-34 have also signed up to the platform. The rate of growth amongst older audiences is high, and with that, there must be innovation and change to satisfy the audience base. Before dedicated Snapchat fans wince at the thoughts of change they must remember that Memories is essentially a compromise, and Snapchat have simply made another option available.

In terms of marketing, the introduction of Memories is a turning point for marketers looking to use the platform to increase brand awareness and reach new audiences. There is now flexibility to upload branded photos and previously curated content as you would on other platforms. As Tim Peterson of Marketing Land said: “brands will be able to take photos and videos that they had created for use elsewhere – be it print magazines, billboards, YouTube or TV – and syndicate them to Snapchat”.

Memories is not the only place where brands can realise the potential of Snapchat. Apart from having owned Snapchat accounts, brands can also tap into influencer marketing and geofilters. Geofilters are “a fun way to share where you are, or what you’re up to, by adding a fun overlay to your snap”. More and more brands and agencies are experimenting with on-demand Geofilters, where people and businesses design filters for specific physical spaces during set periods of time. This is a great way to increase brand awareness for a launch or major event, or even when a consumer visits a retailer or restaurant, for example. It takes just one day for filters to be approved. Win!

At The PHA Group, we recently created a bespoke Snapchat filter for our summer party and it went down a treat, with lots of engagement across the agency. We had a total of 3.1k views on the filter during the evening.

PHA Summer Party Snapchat FilterPHA Summer Party Snapchat FilterPHA Summer Party Snapchat Filter










So, what’s next?

Snapchat is a really exciting space at the moment, for personal and business users alike. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love Snapchat right now. For me, Snapchat has always seemed like the most authentic social network. It’s a quick and easy way to be social, to learn and to be engaged by other people’s experiences and personalities. So far, the app hasn’t focused too deeply on numbers, with no follower counts. You and you only can see how many people viewed your content – so it’s real, and less of a popularity contest. As it grows, it is likely that there will be a more robust system for analytics introduced, but for now, the onus is on the content, rather than the numbers.

The app is a real platform for innovation right now, as if you don’t change you don’t grow. I believe more and more brands will jump on the Snapchat bandwagon this year as it has become more accessible, but let it be said – to be successful on Snapchat you must also be like the app itself – open to change and ready to meet the demands set by your audience.

The Dawn of Instant Pizza – Will Domino’s One-Tap Order Spoil Our Appetite for Variety?

On the world’s most lethargic bank holiday, New Year’s Day, Domino’s launched a canny new feature to let pizza fans instantly request their favourite cheesy order with just the tap of a button.

The new ‘Order Now’ feature for Apple Watch lets Domino’s customers simply tap once to order their usual pizza, with choice, payment and delivery details being pre-loaded – all to allow emergency hangover relief for those of us on the 1st January who just can’t remember where we live.

Image: The Telegraph

Image: The Telegraph


With the advent of the ‘Era of the Smartwatch’ comes the prospect of more restaurants and retailers adopting a ‘one-tap’ solution to our every want and need. Earlier last year, Amazon launched a ‘Dash Button’, a small device to stick to your fridge, wall or other convenient place, which lets you re-order your everyday consumables with just one tap. Coffee, laundry detergent and dog food can all be ordered automatically at the press of a button. A weekly shop may quickly be becoming a thing of the past.

Image: The Verge

Image: The Verge


Technology is enabling instant results – instant information, instant access, instant Pepperoni Passion at 3am. But what does catering for such unapologetic laziness mean for the way we shop now? Will the smartwatch embodiment of ‘The Usual, please’ from Domino’s take off in other areas?

The pizza maker may have plenty of fiery options, but variety is the true spice of life. If we start to adopt the uber-convenience that comes with ‘The Usual’, will we lose our taste for variation?

Ease and simplicity are gold dust for millennials who want to have it all, but we must also embrace those technologies that make sure to combine convenience with an exciting introduction to new and unexpected things in the world around us.

Our client FoodMood, the ‘Tinder for food’ app, shows hungry Londoners a whole range of restaurants that will cater to their current hunger pangs. A second app we work with, WINGiT, is an urban travel app that reveals what local events people are talking about most on social media – a convenient way to find something spontaneous to do tonight, but also nurturing our inherent need for variety that new ‘one-tap’ solutions cut out. Foodie start-up Localboxx offers home-cooked meals for time-poor Londoners to collect on their tube ride home, offering much-coveted ease but also introducing customers to new recipes.

As we move into a year where smartwatches may start to become commonplace, it seems pertinent to remind ourselves of the way such technologies can change our attitudes to the way we interact with everything from food to fashion. With any luck, the emerging technologies we can see taking their first steps at this week’s mammoth tech show, CES 2016, will help us discover and embrace new things, and not just settle for what we already know.

Ten Japanese tech start-ups that could take the UK by storm

With Silicon Valley in the US and Silicon Roundabout in our own capital, we know the West is good at taking the plunge and being entrepreneurial. But what of the East?

In Japan, business culture is still ‘dominated by the concept of lifetime employment’ where, in exchange for unwavering obedience and loyalty, the employee can expect stability, security and several company perks. However, as the next generation of 20 year olds reject the restrictions and limitations of the corporate world, Japan’s entrepreneurial spirit is slowly reviving.

As a keen Japanophile, and having lived in the country among a number of budding business minds, I like to keep a close eye on the ideas emerging from the Land of the Rising Sun, in the hope that one day they’ll expand into the UK. So below is a list of some of my top 10 favourite contenders.

A number of Japanese start-ups are set to make a big impact this year.

A number of Japanese start-ups are set to make a big impact this year.

1: Combinator (EN) – So you have a fantastic idea for a business – but what happens when you don’t have the skills to develop your service or product yourself? Helping to turn ideas into reality, Combinator is a platform where budding entrepreneurs can pledge their time to fledgling start-ups in the making. You can be as committed as you want, whether that’s working the odd weekend, helping out after you finish your day job, or fully committing yourself to the project.

2: Air Closet (JP) – Ever looked at your wardrobe brimming with clothes and thought you still have nothing to wear? Fear not, for Air Closet is effectively a library of clothes that you can borrow, with membership costing approximately £40 a month – you receive a package containing three items of clothing, selected for you by a professional stylist, and are allowed to keep the items for as long as you like.  It looks like you can only borrow three items at a time though, so once you’re ready to get your next batch, you simply send the clothes back (free return delivery and no need to wash) and review. The more feedback you share, the more accurate the stylists can be.

Online translation has proven an issue for some businesses.

Online translation has proven an issue for some businesses.

3: Conyac (EN) – Machine translators are getting good, but if anyone has seen this Let It Go Google Translate parody, we know that language is sometimes simply best left to the people who know how to use it! Conyac is an online platform that connects individuals and businesses alike with 40,000 affordable translators around the world, catering up to 75 languages. But perhaps what makes this service special as opposed to your ordinary translation agency is that they have three levels of service: light requests, standard requests and business. For a light request – say a quick email reply in the sender’s language – you can get a translation from a human in as quick as ten minutes.

4: Living Room (JP) – Your children have left their toys all over the floor, refuse to brush their teeth and simply don’t want to help with the household chores. Is there any hope? Yes says Living Room, a Japanese platform that helps to gamify the cleaning, washing, tidying, hygiene – you name it – experience for children. Set for release in February, children are assigned tasks through characters in a ‘game’ app (John the Adventurer in “Chores Quest” for the boys and Princess Marie in “The Magic of Chores” for the girls). The children’s apps are connected to a parent app, where Mums and Dads can confirm when a job has been completed – and once they give the green light, the children receive an in-game reward. The platform also includes a ‘Mama & Papa café’, where parents can discuss ideas and suggestions.

5: Listnr (EN) – We’re getting to a stage in technological development where interacting with your environment by sound is very much becoming a reality – and Listnr fits beautifully into the puzzle as an interactive baby monitor. Working in conjunction with an app, the user receives notifications when the device registers certain sounds – be that laughter or crying. As it develops, Listnr is also set to register the tone of voices in a room and change colour accordingly. The product is still very much in its infancy, but with backing from Panasonic and a successful CES 2015 under its belt, it’s sure to be a strong contender in the smart home arena.

6: Popinfo (JP) – Timing and visibility are of the essence in any marketing and promotional campaign, but can often be difficult to get right – after all, emails and display ads can be easy to ignore. Popinfo aims to increase click-through rates by combining geographical and behavioural insights for perfectly timed push notifications directly to consumers. It appears to be an opt-in service, with users subscribing to shops and cafés of their choice, so it’s a great way to keep your customers updated on activities and events, and drawing in the crowds.

7: AnyPerk (EN) – It’s not unusual nowadays for people to move job every few years, but if you’ve got some great talent in your midst, you won’t want to just let them go. Companies who subscribe to the AnyPerk platform give their employees access to over 700 pre-negotiated products and services, ranging from gym memberships to childcare services. The perks never expire, have no limits on redemption frequency and are redeemable immediately – companies can also customise what’s available to include their own perks, as well as remove those that don’t fit their company culture. Those that sign-up further receive regular updates on redemption statistics, enabling them to identify the most popular perks and benchmark themselves against competitors.

8: Giftee (JP) – How many times has a friend come through for you last minute – whether paying for your taxi home after losing your wallet on a night out, or coming over at a moment’s notice and offering a shoulder to cry on? Giftee specialises in small token gifts, allowing users to show their appreciation through digital vouchers for little treats, such as a cup of coffee, a slice of cake, a beer, a bowl of ice cream or even a copy of their favourite magazine. It’s the perfect way to spread the love.

9: AmazingLife (EN) – Like all things in life, everything and everyone eventually passes – but it can be difficult, and indeed complicated, to prepare for a death. AmazingLife has therefore developed a number of smartphone apps to help simplify the process and payment of services – from cremation and funeral preparations, to wills and inheritances – so that people can take the time to decide what is right for them at their own pace.

10: Type (JP) – As a fellow glasses wearer, it’s not often that a company comes around trying to make specs more ‘cool’. Oh My Glasses, however, attempts to do just that with their new line of eyewear products – Type – inspired by the similarities between the function and design of fonts and frames. The currently have four styles, named after the typefaces they were born from – Din, Futura, Garamond and Helvetica – and I can honestly say I was drawn immediately to my default font…

There are, of course, many, many more fantastic business ideas emerging in Japan – and I’ll be keeping a beady eye out for them. But in the meantime, I hope you’ll agree that there are some worthy contenders in the East that could really take the West by storm – and we should be encouraging them to try.

Love Me Tinder

In the forever advancing world of social media, every platform is only ever a snap(chat) second away from being old news, and it seems that the time has come to say the words that Mark Zuckerberg never wanted to hear – Facebook is officially for your mum.

Over the past year, numerous reports have cited apps such as Snapchat and Instagram as being the go-to sites amongst social media savvy teens, many of whom have proceeded to abandon Facebook in their droves. However, it seems that it’s now not just the teens…

Sat in my local pub in Clapham last weekend, I couldn’t help but notice that I was surrounded by tables of fellow twenty-somethings all hunched over their iPhones, their expressions a mixture of approving nods, looks of indifference and in some cases, audible marks of disgust… another Miley Cyrus-esque celeb haircut fail? Nope – welcome, it seems, to the world of Tinder…

Launching last autumn at a party at the University of Southern California, Tinder has spread across college campuses in the US faster than an outbreak of glandular fever, and it’s now making a similar stir this side of the pond, with daily downloads of the app currently hitting between ten and twenty thousand.

But what exactly is it?

Tinder is essentially an app version of the old classic game, ‘kiss, marry, push off a cliff’ (and other more crudely named variations…) in that it essentially provides you with a platform on which to rate or reject people in your local vicinity – think ‘Hot or Not’ meets speed dating, but speedier… you don’t even have to wait several minutes for a bell to ring to affirm your disinterest – simply swipe their face from your phone screen in seconds. If you happen to like someone who has liked you back, then a ‘match’ is made and the messaging can commence.

Tinder’s popularity seems to be rooted in the fact that its users don’t actually think of it as online dating, but view it more like playing a game. Plus, unlike other dating sites Tinder is actually fun to use and thanks to the fact that you can only message people with whom you’ve made a match, you avoid being inundated with an inbox full of ‘selfies’ of shirtless, fake-tanned men posing in their bathroom mirrors, which can only be a bonus…

Whilst it may sound superficial, Tinder merely mimics the social dynamics of the offline world, providing a platform for us to do all the things we like doing online but won’t admit to… namely acting shallow and making snap judgements about people based on their appearance.

Have you dared to date via Tinder? If you’d like to share your Tindering tales with us, then Tweet us @Pha_Digital… we’d love to hear from you!


Cover courtesy of Nancy, <I’m Gonna Snap!,

Instagram Release Video Sharing

Over the past couple of years, Instagram has become the leading social media app for capturing and sharing still imagery. With the option to add a number of filters, it has allowed users to produce really stunning imagery, something which professional photographers with the help of Photoshop would even be proud of.

At the back end of 2012 Twitter purchased the failing video app Vine, which allowed users to record short stop animation style videos and share them around the world.  Until now, Vine has been the only app which has focused solely on sharing video content on a social media platform.

This week has seen Instagram attempt to rival Vine’s dominance as the leader in video sharing, by allowing it’s users to now share video content as well as it’s traditional still imagery. Instagram is also allowing it’s users to upload content 15 seconds long in comparison to Vine’s 6 seconds, while also maintaining the function of adding filters to really enhance the look and feel of the videos.

So what does this mean for Vine? Twitter users have already taken to the platform with the hashtag “please don’t kill my Vine”, referring to the Kendrick Lamar song “please don’t kill my vibe”, suggesting that Vine’s days are over.

Last week it was announced that Vine’s videos are now shared on Twitter more than Instagram photos, mainly due to the fact Instagram cut off it’s Twitter integration in December. So permitting Instagram and Twitter do not integrate again, Vine won’t be in danger.

It is exciting to see what the ability to share video content will bring to the Instagram community, especially with the option to add filters, image stabilization and the option to add a cover frame image. All functionalities Vine has still not enabled.

Only time will tell how the apps will compete in the market, but either way, it has opened the door for video sharing enthusiasts to get even more creative.

Marketing With Vine


Vine marketing social

Image courtesy of:


Vine is growing in popularity, it is a mobile application that enables users to capture and share short looping videos of 6 seconds or less. Due to its brevity, it has led to a creative genre of media and is quickly emerging as a viable marketing tool for brands.

With the high creative potential for Marketers to utilize Vine, here are 5 tips that we recommend:
TELL A STORY – 6 seconds is plenty of time to tell a story with a beginning, middle and end to ensure people are fully engaged.
KEEP IT SIMPLE – Simple concepts are the most effective.
PROMOTE – Try saying something new about your brand to your audience.
HAVE FUN – Or at least make your video look like you are having fun!
USE AUDIO – This is obvious.

Furthermore, Vine has resurfaced a conversation about copyrights and infringement that began when hip-hop exploded into the mainstream. With hip-hop came the art of sampling; borrowing bits and snips from other songs and including them in new instrumentals to be rapped over. Similarly, Vine allows users to create their own original works, whilst making it possible to sample recorded and copyrighted material. But the questions is does this constitute as copyright infringement?

We would love to hear your thoughts and don’t forget to tweet us your vines!


Jonny Davies: The Appy Man

Let’s get digital. DIGITAL… I thought I would give you a rare insight into my phone to reveal my favourite five apps. They are not really ground-breaking but….


GarageBand has done remarkable things for amateur musicians. For a long time, decent recording software cost a fortune, as did studio time. Nowadays whole albums can be recorded at home with ease on the programme. Though the iPhone app lacks a lot of the features of the main version of the MacBook, it is perfect for grabbing a rough demo or messing about with ideas for songs. I dig it and I think it was only £2.99.

Image GarageBand

Image GarageBand

Words with Friends

I love words and wordplay, so scrabble is naturally my favourite board game (other than my World Cup 98 Monopoly special edition). Words with Friends is basically scrabble that you can play against other users or synch to your Facebook to take on your pals.

Image Words with Friends

Image Words with Friends


Sky Sports Football Score Centre

My love of football is well documented and this app allows you to check scores from non-league level to the Hungarian leagues along with lineups, commentary, fixtures, league tables and Jeff Stelling’s face. What more could you want? It is an absolute must for when you are out and about on a Saturday.

ESPN Goals

Imagine Match of the Day without having to sit through the turgid ‘analysis’ of Messrs Hansen, Shearer and Lawrenson. This app makes that a reality and it is free. Plus the goals are available almost immediately after they fly in, meaning you can score massive brownie points; “No it’s fine darling you can watch what you want tonight, don’t worry about Match of the Day.

Sky Go/BBC iPlayer/4OD catch up/ITV Player

I have grouped these together as to all extensive purposes they do the same thing. Watching your favourite programmes on the move is decent. However, it has diminished the number of books I read which is a negative. Nonetheless watching Game of Thrones on a commuter train is the stuff dreams are made of.


 The social pin-boarding site has only been on the social scene for two years (not even a year yet in the UK), and already it’s taking the digital world by storm – doubling its number of unique visitors to 4 million since January.

In case you’re not familiar with the site, Pinterest is a place to organise and share online images that you may find interesting or inspiring.  Once uploaded or shared on Pinterest, these images become known as ‘pins’, which the user can place on customised themed boards.

Some people use the site to share images they find on the web, while others use the site from a more creative perspective. For example, many artists use Pinterest to arrange inspiring images for their work. While bakers may use the social networking site to showcase images of their creative cake collection and interior designers could use it as a platform for different design themes.

Brands, on the other hand, are using it to communicate to their audience through the use of images that best reflect what the brand is currently up to.  An example of a brand that is using Pinterest particularly well is Ikea.

The Swedish furniture store has 15 pin boards, including product ideas and ‘pin it to win it’ competitions hosted weekly – a great way to get people engaged and grow their existing community.

The site uses striking images to represent theme ideas for different rooms.  Some of the images also include price information for each product, so it essentially acts as an extension of its catalogue.

One of its more eye-catching boards for its ‘True Blue’ product range is inspired by Indian Culture, this however, doesn’t seem to be linked to its homepage which could minimise their efforts.


The latest ‘blipp’ in the digital world

Augmented reality is becoming more and more common within campaigns. In previous posts, we have looked at how Lynx and TalkTalk have used this new technology to successfully stimulate and bring to life their campaigns. However, the recent boom in mobile AR is representative of the direction the digital landscape is heading. With over a quarter of adults and nearly half of all teens owning a smartphone, brands are relying on mobile technology to carry their campaigns into the 21st century.

Blippar is an augmented reality app that brings ordinary objects to life with AR experiences. Their latest project includes Justin Beiber and his new album ‘Believe’:


The Blippar app has brought The Beib’s album cover and leaflet to life allowing users to watch exclusive videos and buy the track. They have completed similar campaigns with online fashion store, ASOS. Enabling those who have downloaded the app to be directed straight to the online shop whilst browsing their catalogue.

The scope to use this technology in campaigns is huge, and I’m sure that very soon we will see exciting ways in which 2D objects can be brought to life. What’s great about it is it gives people an exclusive reward for using it, engaging with them in a fun and distinct manner.

What do you think, is this new app just a ‘blipp’ or will you be downloading it as soon as possible?

Cover image courtesy of: