Weekly Wrap Up - Lessons of Life and Ketchup
28 Jun 2016
Did you miss us, Denver? Were you lonely without us, Big Blue Bear? You don’t need to answer—your eyes peering into our collective soul through 6’’ worth of glass say it all.
As promised, we headed back down the hill for ISTE to see some of our favourite people in education and meet the acquaintance of a few new ones. Education is a big passion of ours and who says learning shouldn’t also be fun?
Our bots are in thousands of schools across the US, teaching kids how to code through art, math and science activities. Not only are SPRK Edition and now SPRK+ popular with educators, but our favourite adrenaline junkies Ollie and Darkside are ripping through the classroom as well; all of which are programmable through our Lightning Lab app.
Not a teacher? Graduated from school, you say? At the risk of sounding corny, aren’t we all life-long students? It’s never too late to learn something new. If one of our bots has done little more than be driven around your house hitting doorways and chair legs along the way, download our Lightning Lab app and give your driving thumbs a break by coding some sweet moves with a cool drag ’n drop interface. Have your SPRK+ perform some color-flashing synchronized swimming in the pool. Race your Ollie from your driveway to your neighbor Craig’s house. Patrol the dark corners of the scary basement with BB-8. Paint beautiful ketchup and mustard masterpieces at your Fourth of July BBQ; the possibilities are endless.
Whether you’re a student in a classroom or a student of life, take it from those of us who create and play with bots all day: learning should never be boring.
Enjoy learning. Enjoy America’s birthday. Enjoy your SPRK+ with or without ketchup.
A Day In The Life: Ben Carney
Q. Hello, Mr. Carney. Oh—for those who don’t know you—who are you and what’s your title?
A. I'm Ben Carney, and I'm the Director of Finance at Sphero.
Q. And what exactly do you do at Sphero every day?
A. I'm in charge of the forecasting, budgeting, and financial analysis at Sphero - a function that’s commonly referred to as Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A). I spend a lot of time in our financial systems and in spreadsheets analyzing the past and modeling the future!
Q. So what advice can you impart for those who also want to predict the [financial] future?
A. There are few different paths somebody could take to enter the FP&A field. A traditional Finance major will typically provide the background for FP&A. There are junior analyst roles that lead to senior positions, or various other routes. However, you could also take the path that I did. I got an MS in Accounting and started my career auditing with the Big 4. After I'd left public accounting I worked horizontally into a FP&A role given Accounting and Finance have many similarities.
Q. Nice move. Can you share what you’re currently working on or is it detrimental to the future?
A. Sure! I have my recurring forecasting activities that occur monthly and then usually have a high-level of ad-hoc work and longer projects. Right now, we are working on a bench-marking exercise where we take metrics from publicly traded companies in our's and adjoining industries and compare our company's performance and financial composition to theirs. It's a great way to evaluate your position in the market and your long-term financial goals.
Q. I was always told to never compare myself to others, but in this case I guess it’s a necessity. What is your favourite aspect of working at Sphero?
A. I love the creativity that comes out of this company. We have a brilliant set of engineers that are really good at making the imaginable become possible through creative tech - I love seeing that process.
Q. We do make some pretty rad stuff. So, which bot is your favourite?
A. For pure play, I love Ollie with its fast speeds and high flying tricks. However, I think the bot I love the most is SPRK (and now SPRK+). Lightning Labs is a fantastic app, website, and community that is full of great content for teaching kids STEM principles and being a father of 2 kiddos myself, I love that!
Q. SPRK has been on a roll (wink) in popularity lately. What do you like to do outside of Sphero?
A. When at home, I love to spend time with my family and garden. I also have a fascination with maps and can spend hours looking at them and researching places online. When we step out of the house I love to fly-fish, white-water raft, hunt, hike, mountain bike, run, camp, and anything else that involves exploring nature.
Q. So basically all the things. Can you tell me your absolute favourite thing about living in Colorado?
A. It's amazingly beautiful and full of recreational opportunities. I don't love I-70, but I love all the places it takes you and how much there is to explore!
Q. The adventure’s life is the only life for me. What else can you tell me I gotta check out?
A. I'm not much of a foodie, so no big suggestions there. But you should definitely check out Lost Creek Wilderness area. Its pretty close to the front range and ignored by many. Its named for Lost Creek which starts high off Kenosha pass and disappears 7 times into the mountain before re-appearing on the other side. It's got un-worldly rock formations and incredibly scenic vistas (not to mention an arch!). For quick scenery and more established hiking enter on the goose creek side. For a more remote experience check out the Lost Park side - it's a family favorite.
Q. I have not heard of this place…the name alone warrants a visit. Ok, one last question—tell me something about yourself that will blow my mind. Or at least that I will find unexpected, thus semi blowing my mind.
A. While spending time in the Lost Creek Wilderness I encountered an African Serval in the wilderness. I got as close as I could until it started to hiss at me and bear its teeth - my wife was not impressed with my bravado! We took GPS units and pics and worked with Fish and Game to get it captured but they were never successful. Best guess was that somebody had illegally kept it as an exotic pet and released it as they couldn't handle it. True story - mind blown!