Geek Speak: Jennifer Ramsay, founder of Wee Black Sheep Entertainment
Smartphones can turn your dinner companions into unsociable zombies, but Jennifer Ramsay has a solution. The 34-year-old Vancouver mom has created a mobile application intended to encourage conversation around the table.
Ramsay is the founder of Wee Black Sheep Entertainment, an independent developer of mobile apps in the lifestyle and entertainment categories. Foodie Conversation Cards—released for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad on January 17—is her newest product and the latest installment in her series of $1.99 Conversation Cards apps, which serve up questions to get people talking.
Born in northern B.C., Ramsay previously worked in the marketing and recruiting side of the video-game industry. She started up Wee Black Sheep in November 2010, when she released Girls Night Out, a card-based app meant to be played by women at the bar.
The Georgia Straight reached Ramsay by phone at home.
How did you get the idea to make the Conversation Cards apps?
I had made Girls Night Out first. It wasn’t selling that well, so I wanted something that had a little bit of a broader audience. We were sitting around—quite a few friends and myself—just having drinks, and I was going through the App Store, trying to find a game or something to liven it up a bit. It was Friday night. People were just a little tired. I couldn’t find anything that was really useful.
So, I thought, “Let’s just start asking random questions.” We started learning more about each other. We’ve known each other for quite a few years. So, I decided to make Conversation Cards. Girls Night Out was already done, so I already had the technology.
Where did you get the questions for Foodie Conversation Cards?
I asked my friends. We just went around in a circle.
But isn’t it rude to pull out your iPhone at the dinner table?
You go out to restaurants, and you see people on their iPhones anyways. I call them social interactive apps. So, you’re still using your phone, but it’s sparking up conversation. You still have your phone in your hand, but rather than just checking your texts, you’re conversing with the person across the table. I was in Chambar the other night. There were five tables with couples, and they were all on their phones, not talking to each other.
Girls Night Out is also like that. You’re using your phone in a social situation, conversing with another human.
What are you working on next?
I am working on baby-shower games. I want to stick with apps surrounding life’s celebrations—you know, babies and weddings. The next one will be a baby-shower app. So, that’s the next one.
Every Friday, Geek Speak catches up with someone in Vancouver’s technology sector, video-game industry, or social-media scene. Who should we interview next? You can tell Stephen Hui on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.