I've been getting these sorts of questions again so I've written a few paragraphs on why we exist and where we've come from. Pocket Rice started everything and it's been a long time since I recounted the stories - so let's get straight into the details.
How did I feel developing my first app?
I developed my first app in 2009 - it was called Cube C and received 4 downloads. It was a complete mess of an app, combining a number of different ideas I was learning at the time! A random card game that sorted cards, a ball on a piece of elastic string (that a user could drag around) and a cannon that shot balls at walls which responded to physics (like Angry Birds). It was a hilarious final product but it certainly taught me my first step in app development and design.
The rule, despite being entirely cliche, truly is "don't give up" and 17 apps later - I was on my way to developing JellyChip. As Steve Jobs once said "connect the dots" looking backwards, JellyChip was possible due to the 17 trials and failures before it - including right back in 2009 with Cube C.
What is the most memorable comment someone gave me about Pocket Rice?
The Program Director eventually reviewed Pocket Rice as my final year project in 2013 and scored me 98%. His reclining body gesture, his face awash with perplexed emotion. This is the most memorable comment somebody gave about the app. His words were simple but they were expressed in such a way as they truly carried this strange, deep meaning - he said "wow James, this is going to change the world." It's almost as if Pocket Rice took the words from out of his mouth, something I found quite amusing from somebody so senior at the university.
The genuine emotion I could tell on his face and from the words he spoke really told me that Pocket Rice had the "legs" to grow. That it could very much be a force for good in the world and something considerable. That something I had toiled over, stressed about, relished in and finally completed in my bedroom for a university project - could birth a whole new industry and way of thinking in the charity sector. This was the birth of JellyChip but I didn't know it yet.
How did I come up with the idea for Pocket Rice?
Pocket Rice arose from my final year project pursuing my Master of Business Administration. We were told to either "create a business" or "fix a business." I'm not sure who would fix somebody else's business if given the option of both, so I offered to create my own business.
In searching for ideas I've always had the idea that people should help themselves. I also like the idea of sustainability and believe we should adopt sustainability and "0 loss" methods into every facet of life. I also love technology. People power and technology, linked with this idea of sustainability has always excited me. So I started to look for solutions for sustainability in charitable giving. Global donations have been down since the Global Financial Crisis so the charity sector has needed huge help, and I can tell that people are getting hugely lethargic from the traditional model of charity. People need a new method to giving based on Web 2.0 principles.
I found that the Free Rice Project sponsored by the World Food Programme allowed users to answer English questions online for points. It was a dreadful interface with some truly web 90's design elements - so I thought I could make a trivia version of the Free Rice Project for iOS and Android - called Pocket Rice.
What made me finally decide to start with the project?
As explained, the world needs a new solution to charity giving. The charity industry is tired, people are tired of donating the same ways to the same organisations with the same results, and technology is now everywhere. We can connect daily on Facebook, Snapchat, WhatsApp and Viber - but we can't save the life of someone in need? Or make a tangible difference in somebody's life with the supercomputers in our pocket?
This motivated me to explain to our Program Director that Pocket Rice needed to be created. I developed the app myself for iOS and Android, also designed the app and completed both versions in 3 months.