I would run out of fingers if I tried to count the New York Tech Meetups I’ve attended but last night’s event was a little different. For one thing, I sat for the first time at a simulcast at New Work City, a co-working space, rather than the main event at the NYU Skirball Center. Secondly, they started the night by bringing to the stage some tried and true New York startups.
For those that haven’t been before, the New York Tech Meetup (NYTM) usually runs to a pretty standard format – two hours of on-stage demos from startups. No Powerpoint, no conceptual ideas, just things that entrepreneurs have actually made and launched (some products just that day). Among them: apps, websites, software products and robots. Rarely do you see big, established brands with polished performances. It’s scrappy, and that’s what makes it so cool.
Having said that, it was very cool to see the more refined “demos” from three established New York-based startups as they returned to the same stage some of them originally launched on. Here’s my quick overview of what How About We, Shelby.tv and Catchafire.org are up to now…
How About We: Co-CEOs Brian and Aaron launched How About We two and a half years ago at the NYTM. They now employ 45 people in their Brooklyn HQ with the shared goal of helping people fall in love by taking online dating offline.
They used last night’s forum not just to give an update, but to announce the next rendition of How About We which also caters to dating couples. The 1,000 couples already playing with it during the beta period have been exposed to discounts, date gifting and a concierge service to help keep their romance spark alive and now it’s live for everyone to use.
How About We is a fabulous New York startup success story and it’s great to see this outfit grow. The company has found a niche in a cluttered dating marketplace with a well-defined brand and they certainly used PR to help them along. I remember reading about them just after they launched and they’ve stayed well on my radar since, through regular appearances in earned media.
Shelby.tv: Another darling of the New York tech community, Shelby.tv, got its start not just through NYTM exposure, but also through their earlier selection as team HomeField in the NY TechStars incubator program; a program that is featured on BloombergTV.
Full disclosure: I’m not a big consumer of online video and Shelby has stayed on my radar mainly due to their presence in earned media and an impressive brand tone consistency. I read some articles in July last year about the difficult decision Shelby made to shut down their service to allow them to rebuild. Not only was the decision bold (and their CEO Reece Pacheco was publicly praised for this) but the company’s use of PR was gutsy too.
They used earned media to amplify their reasoning and from last night’s display, it certainly seems like it worked. Reece and his team’s tenacity and enthusiasm are bang-on brand for Shelby and it has consistently shined through in their press, their social channels and in this case a web TV show, right from day one. Big props.
Catchafire: Self-proclaimed “How About We for volunteering,” what’s not to love about Catchafire? Not all of us are made for food distribution and we can’t all attend volunteer efforts in-person. Catchafire helps non-profits define what they need and identify who they need to make it happen and that’s where the matchmaking comes in.
Catchafire members detail their skills – be it coding, web design or copywriting – and the site algorithm matches them to prospective non-profits that need those specific skills. It’s inspiring to see these guys up on stage so passionate about what they’re accomplishing.
In the leadup to SXSWi where the nation’s hottest startups, agencies and brands congregate in Austin, what strikes me about these three startups in particular is the dedication they have to building their respective brands. Not only do they believe in what they’re doing, but they appreciate that staying power can be found through engaging their community and working with earned media, alongside solid product innovation.
The NYTM is streamed live (and taped). You can check it out the recording here: February 2013 New York Tech Meetup.
Our Friday Feature usually recaps some of our clients’ best media coverage of the previous week. This week, we want to draw attention to the good work our clients are planning at SXSW Interactive. In other words, the second most important voting event of 2012 is upon us: the SXSW PanelPicker 2013!
A number of our clients are vying for a spot on the stage at SXSW Interactive 2013, and even our very own DGC executive team has thrown their hats into the ring with two panel ideas.
The SXSW Festival has increasingly become one of the most popular events of the year among the advertising, music and film industries. The event uses a crowd-sourced format to populate the speaker sessions, along with input from the event’s advisory board and SXSW staff.
The process for voting is simple. First, you have to sign up for a SXSW account, if you don’t already have one. After you’ve signed up, search/vote for any and all of your favorite panel ideas by hitting “thumbs up!” Voting closes August 31 at 11:59pm CT. Take a look below at a roundup of a number of great sessions you definitely don’t want to miss.
DGC – Building Buzz for Your Company via PR & Social
In this session, learn the basic steps to create buzz among your target audience. Hear practical and actionable guidelines from Sam DiGennaro, communications strategist and founder of DiGennaro Communications, the leading PR agency serving the advertising, media, marketing and entertainment spaces. Sam has been an integral force in managing the public image and strategic messaging of well-known C-suites, in addition to serving as counselor to many independent companies on the road to acquisition.
Learn how to use PR & social media to get news coverage in today’s complex media marketplace, align PR strategy with new-biz goals, raise an exec’s profile, recruit A-list talent & establish category expertise.
DGC – How Your Personal Brand Makes Your Company Shine
It is critical today for business leaders to build and manage their personal brands. A CEO’s brand can add incredible value to an organization as a whole. In this age of social media and self-published content, smart business execs must position themselves as thought leaders for industry “street cred” and to raise their companies’ profiles. In this session, former Forbes Executive Editor Melanie Wells explains the value of developing a strong personal brand and shares “inside” tips on how to craft a compelling one.
MEC – Is Big Still Beautiful?
Can and how do big agencies and small agencies partner with start-ups effectively?
In today’s changing landscape, big and small tech and media companies equally have an opportunity to partner with big name brands to create transformative marketing programs for consumers and clients – but is that really true? Is that really happening?
RAPP – E-tymology. How Digital Decimated the Dictionary
OMG. OMG is an official word. Mankini is in the Oxford English Dictionary. FOMO, tablet, and occupy have been nominated for Word of the Year. In this session, we explore the dramatic changes in language over the last decade, unprecedented in human history. And we ask educators, anthropologists and linguists: WTF?
RAPP – Graphic Design: Data Is The New Vector
Data has become the new fodder for design. As we become a more mobile focused on the go consumer of data, interface design is taking a back seat to data design. My discussion will focus on how to design around data, for data and with data as a means to influence interface design. Harnessing the power of data and being creative with the types of data that is available can be one of the most creative endeavors one can undertake. Designers now must think beyond just the aesthetic and move into the realm of big data and creative ways to design with it.
Organic –The Endless Aisle
The future of retail lies in the intersection of online, mobile and in-store behaviors and experiences — what we call “the endless aisle.” Think real-world purchase experiences that build off real-time data and stores that know you. Future retailers will suggest products that may best fit personal styles, or even help navigate through stores better. Consumers have become more educated than ever before, with the ability to check prices on the fly. This session will give a glimpse into the store of the future, and spell out the big opportunity for brands and emerging technologies in the retail space.
Organic – Kiss Cash Goodbye
Rumors of cash’s death are very real. Consumers have made clear their interest in going cashless — with major marketers beginning to reap the rewards. But there are still barriers to entry. The mobile payment space is highly fragmented and consumer trust in new technologies must still be established. This panel will give an overview of the mobile payment landscape –from major players to emerging companies — and insights about consumers’ behavior around mobile payment. It will outline the big opportunity for brands in mobile payments, and show how going cashless will go from mere concept to reality.
Wing – El Nuevo Gringo: Quantifying the Latino Influence
Latino influence on American culture is hard to miss. From food to fashion to entertainment, Americans are embracing Latino culture like never before. But evidence of that influence has always been solely anecdotal — until now. In this panel, Wing and Experian Simmons will reveal the results of a first-ever study quantifying this phenomenon, The Latino Influence Project. Panelists will demonstrate how non-Hispanics are taking on more and more traditionally Hispanic attitudes and behavior when it comes to food, travel, technology use, and media consumption. Attendees will walk away with stats about the changing consumer landscape and ideas for engaging Hispanic and non-Hispanic audiences alike.
Hyper Marketing Inc. – Mind Space, Digital Space, Shelf Space
Connecting with your audience is one part art, one part science. It begins with understanding your customers’ behavior (which reflects their needs and wants), sparking consideration for your product or service, and then converting that progression from mind space to digital space to shelf space to a sale and ultimately back again. That’s what it takes for marketers to win today.
Carbone Smolan – Video That Connects
No matter the product you’re launching or service you’re selling, it’s your goal to spark the interest of customers and inspire action. You need to connect with your audience, whether its buyers, recruits, internal teams or investors. What’s the best way to do this? Storytelling through video.
Cole & Weber – Project Butterfly: Escaping the Net to Be Sociable
Just being in social media and accumulating “likes” doesn’t make brands sociable.
So we set out to understand how sociable people interact in the real world, and apply that learning to help brands behave differently. Project Butterfly is a multi-city, online and offline project that merges social psychology, digital anthropology and cutting edge ethnography to dissect the DNA of highly sociable people, how they behave both on and offline, and how they differ from “hyperconnectors” – people who are extremely active on social media.
Favorite Brand Activation: Tie between Amex and Chevy
Why? Both provided true value to even the most grizzled SXSW veterans. In Chevy’s case, its “Catch a Chevy” program gave those of us with barking dogs and a waning patience for expensive shuttle service a comfy ride to off-campus panels. Amex’s promotion showed us that simply having an Amex and a willingness to Tweet on behalf of brands spells big rewards for cardholders – like exclusive tickets to a Jay-Z show. While two lucky DGC-ers were in line to see Jay in a 2,000-person venue, we heard more than one person say, “I’m so glad I have an Amex.” Now that’s brand loyalty.
With Pinterest’s skyrocketing popularity, it’s not surprising that curation was one of the week’s “buzziest” terms. In the publishing world, the debate was about how to give credit where it’s due, to both authors and the curators themselves. For brands, the question is how to either become curators, or integrate seamlessly into a user’s curating experience. It will be interesting to see how that plays out in the future.
Also big this year was talk of how advertising should embrace a tech start-up culture – the Mark Zuckerberg “move fast and break things” philosophy. This means less and less of “the big idea” and many more small, nimble ideas. As ad exec Tim Leake put it: advertising in these times is no longer about telling a story, but inspiring one, listening to the conversation about your brands and saying – to borrow terms from Leake’s improv background – “yes…and” to that idea.
With all the foot traffic in downtown Austin, the restaurants were almost as hard to get into as the packed early morning marketing sessions (and they were packed this year – most had a one-in, one-out policy). Branded Today Show trucks were serving up delicious breakfast from renowned chef Danny Meyer throughout the day and night. And Whole Foods was in the right place, at the right time, with the right vegan chickpea sandwich when one DGC-er almost had a hunger meltdown.
Brunner was in full-force on the ground at SXSW. DGC not only had the chance to talk with Executive Creative Director Rob Schapiro about his experience, but also we got a hold of an interesting commentary by strategist Michelle Latta on decision making. Take a look to read and hear more:
Ninety-five percent of our decision making is unconscious. At SXSW, I took a fascinating journey into the brain. A panel featuring A.K. Pradeep, Brian Clark, Derek Halpern and Roger Dooley took the room through the unconscious responses that people make on the internet. They discussed psychological studies that identified how we react to text, imagery, and the reasons we use social media. I’ll share three important learnings.
The first insight (but really no insight at all) was that the visual of an attractive woman “makes a man impatient and short-term oriented,” says Dooley. On a video-game website enrollment form three designs were tested among men. The first version was plain and had no women. The second design featured a headshot of a women and the third showed cleavage. The version with the female had 65% more enrollment than the first and the boobs attributed to a 95% increase in enrollment from version one. In fact, the title of this article may have just jettisoned the readership of my blog way over that of my colleagues. So this isn’t really news with Paris Hilton’s Carl’s Jr. car wash ad and the antics of GoDaddy, but it is a reminder, that at the end of the day, stereotypes aside, we are hardwired a certain way.
Below is Rob’s take on SXSW, plus some odds and ends about Brunner best practices and talent recruitment:
Sunday night was the highly anticipated Mashable SXSW party at a giant pool hall/bar in downtown Austin called Buffalo Billiards. As throngs of party-goers waited outside, we crept in to check out the Nature Valley Trail View
display, say hi to the creative folks at McCann who came up with it, and enjoy some “Kow-a-bunga” (an energy tea that frankly, can stay in Texas).
Nature Valley, one of the main sponsors of the event, with their team at McCann recently launched “Trail View,” a website that allows you to explore some of America’s iconic natural parks from the comfort of your computer. Think Google street view, but over miles of hiking trails in Yellowstone, the Smoky Mountains and the Grand Canyon. The display at the Mashable party featured interactive big screen TVs where guest could explore the trails, as well as watch some of the behind-the-scenes footage of the McCann teams hiking through the great outdoors with all their cameras and equipment. The whole project took almost three months to film—not a typical assignment for a bunch of ad folks!
Nature Valley’s first big foray into the digital space is true to the brand, focusing on preserving nature while using cutting-edge technology to capture it authentically. The display had many people taking a break from beers and billiards to wander over and see what the beautiful landscapes were all about. Congrats McCann on a successful launch!