After all that chili ingestion (and possible indigestion) last week, we opted for a little longer swim than usual—across the pond, in fact—to burn off some of those calories. Don’t worry—most of us totally waited 30 minutes after eating, promise.
This past week we dropped by Apple’s flagship store in London to do some coding with the British youths. The Regent’s Street store was celebrating a grand reopening and we were there for Kids’ Hour, where 40 kids paired up and partnered with 20 SPRK+ bots to create their own mazes.
No amount of dreary rain or soggy Jammie Dodgers could keep this crowd from smiling, as kids and their parents were racing the clock to get their SPRK+ bots to the finish line.
We also had such a good time we decided to bring this show back to the States in Williamsburg next week. Sans the British children, since we had to make room for all the British biscuits.
It’s cool though, they understand.
Q. First thing’s first—the people want to know who you are and what you do here.
A. Lauren Mitchell, Operations Manager.
Q. And what exactly does that entail on the daily?
A. Oversee logistics. We are responsible for the product ex-factory to end consumer.
Q. So you keep the masses happy by making sure we get out bots. What advice can you give for someone also looking to get into operations?
A. Everyone is your customer. Quality service is whatever the customer says it is.
Q. Spoken like pro. What are you working on these days?
A. We're working to keep our B2B channel appropriately stocked for holiday and prepping to support increased B2C activity over holiday.
Q. Last-minute shoppers everywhere breathe a sigh of relief. Besides making their lives easier, what do you enjoy most about working at Sphero?
A. My team is so fun! We always manage to find something to laugh at even when things get crazy.
Q. Yeah, and have epic Nerf-gun battles that I’m never invited to, but it’s fine. Do you have a favorite bot?
A. Sphero 2.0. It's so versatile and was the robot that introduced me to some basic coding.
Q. Shoutout to the OG. Respect. What sort of activities do you enjoy outside of Sphero?
A. Hike, camp, hang out at breweries.
Q. And your favorite aspect of living in Colorado?
A. 300 days of sunshine with 4 seasons.
Q. I’m pretty sure that’s on a move-to-Colorado pamphlet somewhere. Do you have a favorite go-to spot around here?
A. Joyride Brewing Company.
Q. Alright, send us on home with an interesting tidbit about yourself.
A. I can't bake without a healthy dash of expletives.
As the leaves start to fall at an alarming rate (wasn’t that whole tree just there yesterday?) and the temperature drops a few 10 degrees, you could say we’re getting a little CHILI here at Sphero. But before you break out the beanie and boots your barista has been rocking since July, we’re talking about a Sphero Chili Cookoff right here in HQ.
The rules? Simple—bring you best chili game and chili name. The competition? SASHA-FIERCE. A total of 16 chilis were made much to the delight of hungry Sphero-ite judges and chili aficionados, with a wide variety of floor-spice free (so we’re told) recipes to choose from. Some were of the pumpkin spice variety, others threw in their neighbor’s vegetable garden while their counterparts packed enough meat to make a butcher blush. Regardless of your dietary preference, all chilis packed a punch in flavor much to the delight of Sphero-ites the HQ over. Some also packed a spice-inducing cough to an unsuspecting victim, but we’re not naming any Claytons.
With condensation building on the windows of our main kitchen, you could say our cook-off was a hot success. While HR would have us say everyone is a winner—and you guys are—we’d like to congratulate our three winners as determined by the Council of Toothpicks, Julie Boyle, Mike Moran and Nicole Santilli for sharing their best recipes either stolen from their grandmother or Alton Brown.
For next year, we’re really hoping for our own version of Kevin’s Famous Chili and since we have three Kevins in the office, our odds are looking really good. You guys cook, right?
Got a burning recipe you want to share? Pack it in a Crock-pot and send it our way to put our one-time chili-judge experts to the test.
Or just drop by and leave it on our doorstep. It may be subject to search by our local security raccoons, though. They’re pretty diligent about that stuff.
Q. Hi, there. Let’s start this off with a few formalities: name and title here at Sphero?
A. Hey! I'm Matt Knox but most people call me Knox and I am the Senior DevOps Developer on the Platform Team.
Q. Hi, Knox. Please elaborate on what exactly you do at Sphero every day.
A. I keep all of the backend services that support our bots up and running with the rest of my team.
Q. Ah, so that sounds pretty important for all of us bot players. What advice can you give to those wanting to do what you do?
A. Get involved in the community! Both Denver and Boulder have great meetups for the DevOps community.
Q. So what are you working on right now?
A. Currently I am working on migrating our existing applications from one cloud service onto our own infrastructure that will allow us more flexibility and stability while reducing cost.
Q. Timely and efficient, just like my sandwiches. What do you love most about working here?
A. I am very proud to work for a company that has a strong focus on education. I was always the kid who would take things apart to see how they worked or spend late nights learning to code. Working with technology designed to spark that same excitement in a new generation is very exciting to me.
Q. So which of our bots most sparks excitment for you?
A. Of course I love all of our bots, but if I had to pick one I think I would have to go with Ollie. He is just so much fun to drive around, especially with the Force Band!
Q. YAAAAS Ollie. What exciting things do you get into outside of work?
A. Most of my time outside of work is spent either working with large breed dog rescues, home-brewing, or playing hockey.
Q. Three things most people here love, I’d say. What is your favorite part of living in Colorado?
A. The snow melts! I grew up in Michigan and winter just lasted forever there. I love having all of the seasons, but glad that the winters here are not nearly as harsh.
Q. Agreed. What are you favorite places to hit out around here?
A. I am a big pinball fan, so you can often find me at 1up, Press Play, or any of the other arcade bars around.
Q. Completely with you on that. Last question—what can you share that most don’t know about you?
A. I have always been into movies (especially horror) and I think that if I didn't go down the career path I did I would have gone into movie production.
New York, we must say you are looking quite stunning lately. Did you lose weight? Maybe you changed your hair? We can’t help but notice how dazzling your subways around Javits Center looked with our Force Band and BB-8 posters on them. A really nice touch, if we do say so ourselves.
As promised, we finished our East Coast tour with a last stop at New York Comic Con where New Yorkers came out in some fine Cosplay fashion. Much like our stop at IFA in Berlin, we demoed our Force Band and Special Edition Battle-Worn BB-8 to not only the finest humans this galaxy has to offer, but tons of Wookiees, Reys, Ewoks and creatures from some black lagoon. Or any creatures, for that matter, lagoon-dwelling or not. We found that many attention spans were prolonged at our booth, and as a result many accompanying minders (parents) put us on their holiday list. The Force has that affect.
Speaking of holiday, this week we’re back at HQ gearing up to spread the cheer, which means good news for you and your kid brother who you don’t let play any reindeer games. Before we get to that, however, we still have a load of fall-festivities that involve some chili cook-offs and costume contests. Oh yeah, with some work sprinkled in there, of course.*
We’ll see you next week for a cook-off friendly to your tastes but maybe not your spice-tolerance.
*Censored for HR.
Q. Oh, hi. Would you please tell us your name and title here at Sphero?
A. Nicole Catapano, Industrial Designer.
Q. And what do you do at Sphero every day?
A. My position allows me to work on multiple projects at once so it's never a dull moment! I collaborate with mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, artists, and marketing on everything from initial concept development to rapid prototyping to the aesthetic treatments and ergonomic considerations for the final product.
Q. You get to hit a ton of cool people in that collaboration process. Can’t imagine what syncing schedules must be like. What advice can you impart for those looking to get into the same field?
A. Practice your skills every day! Be useful, kind, persistent, and never take yourself seriously!
Q. My own mother doesn’t even take me seriously, so double check. Are you able to share what stuff you're working on these days?
A. Unfortunately, I am working on a few super top secret projects, so be on the lookout for some amazing products hitting the shelves in 2017-2018!
Q. What is your absolute favourite aspect in working at Sphero?
A. Hands down, the people I work with! I am constantly inspired and energized by the passion, creativity, and raw talent of the people I get to collaborate with every day.
Q. Which of our bots is your fave?
A. That's a really tough question, but if I had to pick one I would pick SPRK+! The Lightning Lab app is amazing! I am continually inspired by the creative ways educators, parents, and kids are using this bot to transform their ideas into code and create new experiences.
Q. Much inspiration. Such code. What kind of things do you like to do outside of work?
A. Outside of Sphero I enjoy exploring new places in Colorado, hiking with my dog, running, snowboarding, drawing, pottery, and cooking.
Q. What do you love the most about living in Colorado?
A. The mountains!!!
Q. Succinctly said. Any recommendations on where to go or what to see?
A. Being new to Colorado, I am still exploring places. A few current favorite places are Forest Room 5, Rocky Mountain National Park, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and Crema Coffee House.
Q. Solid places. Alright, to wrap this up, please share something surprising about yourself.
A. I am PADI open water scuba certified and have dove alongside three different types of sharks!
Did you catch the first inaugural South by South Lawn last night? What is that, you say? President Obama was filled with so much festival inspiration after visiting this year’s South By Southwest that he decided to partner with SXSW and have a one-day festival of “Ideas, Art and Action” on the green pastures of the White House. In the same vein as SXSW, attendees to SXSL got to attend panels with the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Dr. Katharine Hayhoe about climate change, sing along to live performances of The Dap Kings and The Lumineers, and pepper in a slew food and interactive art and tech booths in between.
Those of us who weren’t on the guest list were still able to live stream the show to feel a part of the action. If you were one of said viewers, you might’ve seen a few familiar bots on the scene. Our EDU team was there showing attendees the myriad of ways SPRK+ and Lightning Lab are innovating tech learning in the classroom and beyond. We also had a few surprise visitors you may recognize to our booth, who were dazzled by our bots and endless supply of dad jokes, we’re sure.
It was indeed a show for the ages we felt honored to attend and a heck of a great way for the POTUS and FLOTUS to celebrate their wedding anniversary.
As for us, our east coast tour doesn’t end with SXSL, as we’re heading to New York Comic Con this week for some spandex in the city (not Vegas).
From the Lawn to the Con. SXSL 2 NYCC.
Q. S’up, buddy. For those who don’t know you, who are you and what’s you title here?
A. David Saucedo (aka DSauce), Digital Director.
Q. And what do you do at Sphero every day?
A. I take care of all things RGB (web stuff), event booth designs and walk Biggie Smalls 3 times a day.
Q. A day filled with art and dogs can’t be a bad day. What advice can you offer for those looking to get into the same stuff?
A. Do work, son. Don’t be lazy. Becoming a good designer doesn’t happen over night. I’ve been lucky enough to work along side some great artists at Sphero, so I’m constantly feeding off of their creativity.
Q. You guys sure make our stuff look REAL good. So what are you working on these days?
A. I’m currently working on the Paris [Games Week] booth and some top-secret new product renders.
Q. What is your favourite part of working at Sphero?
A. Everyone at Sphero is super cool and fun to hang out with at and after work. I’ve never been at another place where everyone gets along so well. The free ice cream is pretty cool, too.
Q. YEAH IT IS. Which bot is your fave?
A. Ollie is my favorite for sure. Even if you’re not a good driver it’s so fun to make it crash in to things. Nothing can stop Ollie!!
Q. T-Rex-Arm-Extension unstoppable!! Kinda. Well, you know what I mean. What do you like to do outside of work?
A. I love working out and breaking a sweat. If I’m not at work I’m doing some sort of physical activity.
Q. And what’s your favourite aspect of living in Colorado?
A. The WEEEEEEEEEED!!! Just kidding. I love having beautiful scenery in my backyard. We’re so close to so many awesome adventures in the wild. Although I’m a huge ocean lover, the mountains are a VERY close second. I love getting lost in nature and hiking for hours every second I get.
Q. Any sweet or favourite spots you care to share?
A. A family favorite in the Saucey household is Fate in Boulder. If you haven’t had the Pit Boss with the fried egg on top, you haven’t lived yet. (WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU???!!!)
Q. Follow one's Fate, if you will. Sorry. Ok, last question: what interesting fact or tidbit can you share about yourself?
A. Everyone knows I was in the military but no one really knows what kind of things I’ve been through or seen over seas. Those are things I like to keep to myself. I pull them out of my memory bank when I’m stressed or down in life. Those memories keep me motivated to keep working hard at whatever I’m struggling with and they remind me that life could be (and was) much worse.
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