Author Archive

Push and Studio Y

pus

^ An example of some of the software that Push offers

On Thursday we visited the studio Push, located within the MaRs complex in downtown Toronto. Push is sport technology company started within MaRs that focuses on a wearable armband that helps competitive athletes refine their workout through scientific certified metrics. It began as a small company of about 3 people. They used a start up “assistant” located within the MaRs building to help get the ball rolling. The assistant helped train them in common business practices and marketing, as well as helping to establish their brand. The starting team had little experience in running a business so the help proved invaluable. The company knows it target demographic quite well and has tuned to their product accordingly, which was very important in their process. However, they intend to expand their target audience to more casual users. The company also emphasised the freedom of starting your own business.

This trip proved to provide some helpful insight into the operations of a start-up business. In many ways, Push reflects some of my own goals in terms of business. The person we were talking to emphasised the freedom and flexibility you obtain from starting your own business. This is one of the biggest reasons why I want to start my own business. I’ve never wanted to work for a large scale corporation where my word means nothing. It also fascinates me that the workforce is shifting from specialized employees to more multi-faceted employees who carry a variety of skills. This improves my disposition towards our course considerably. It makes me more comfortable about the future.

  1. Were there any money problems when you were starting out?
  2. How big was the team when you started and how big is It now
  3. What were some of things that Jolt taught you?

studioY

On the same day as Push, we visited the Studio Y space in the lower portion of the MaRs building. It was a welcoming space, filled with plenty of young students. Studio Y is a gathering place of young people from around the North America that come together to collaborate with each other. There are 25 “fellows” that make up the entirety of Studio Y. Every 8 months these 25 “fellows” change. These fellows each bring their own personal projects where they recruit the help of their fellows to assist them. They bring a new perspective that can be incredibly valuable to their projects. The system challenges they take on are similar in themes to their personal projects, except they are on a much larger scale. They invited us to communicate with them and raise discussion topics that would be debated in small groups. The topics ranged from more tangible discussions such as the concept of Online friends while some were more abstract, like the discussion on our ways of communication.

I found this visit to be an intriguing venture. I never really knew that such spaces existed, where students were brought in for 8 months – with all their expenses covered including room and food – and were given the freedom to pursue their own personal projects. It seems like an incredibly useful tool and also a very fun experience. The new perspective that these fellows could bring to each other’s projects sounds like perhaps the most useful part of the Studio Y experience. I’ve often found that having a fresh pair of eyes on something that you’ve been slaving over for hours can you can give some much needed perspective.

 

  1. How does one become a “fellow” in Studio Y
  2. What are the types of projects that are encouraged in Studio Y?
  3. What are the types of projects that you guys tackle for your system challenges?

 

 

 

 

New York Times and Bob Stein

IMG_20150317_104131

The first visit of the fantastic New York Trip was the New York Times. The interior hallway had an incredible piece on display. It was the first sign that this trip was going to be incredibly memorable.  The piece consisted of multiple small displays that would display live feeds of the New York Times website. In the department itself, we discussed the R and D at the New York Times, and their approach to analytics and relationship with readers. Everything they use is stream based, allowing for live feedback. This allows for excellent feedback which is integral to running a news oriented service. They have many other feedback sources told through beautiful looking data visualizers. These help identify what he called “postures” in the readers, allowing them to discover and analyze trends. The goal is to deepen the relationship with the readers as opposed to increasing web traffic. “They aren’t chasing after clicks”

For me, this was by far one of the most influential visits for me. I never realized that the R and D department for something as big as the New York Times would be so open and friendly. The work ethic was incredibly powerful to me. Their focus on transparency and being honest to their readers and subjects was such a relief amidst all the speculation of piracy scandals. It was also a very collaborative environment. Everyone was always bouncing ideas off of one another. One of the incredible things however was how they aren’t pressured by the higher ups to create something that will increase revenue or readership. They are given breathing space which sounds like an incredible change from most corporations.

  1. Is the workspace a collaborative environment where you share ideas and make decisions together?
  2. What are the development times from prototyping to actually using something in the workspace?
  3. How do you feel about the scandals popping up about privacy and transparency?

 

TheLastofUs_feature

 

(The game that I mention. It is one of the most powerful games I’ve ever played)

On the same day we visited the ITP department within one of the New York University buildings. We listened to a lecture by the amazing Bob Stein on the nature of publishing and fiction. Bob Stein believes that modern publishing is clueless to certain trends in the modern world. He showed that the trends are moving past static and non-interactive mediums for more interactive and collaborative mediums. Publishing companies are still stuck in past of non-interactivity and static-ness when everything is pointing in the opposite direction. In particular, he strongly believed that gaming is going to become the dominant form of fiction and literacy in the future. He cited games like World of Warcraft as an example of collaborative fiction, as each player works together to create their own worlds and stories. He also noted that games are introducing new forms and techniques of storytelling.

                This was another very interesting discussion that is actually quite relevant to family. I read from time to time but I am by no means a heavy reader. However, my father adores literature and is pretty much always on a novel or three. We don’t really see eye to eye on gaming as a source of well written narrative. Games such as the Last of Us has taught me that games can be an incredibly tool for storytelling. I agree with Bob Stein on many of the points he made. I also found his metaphor of the mountain to be quite profound. It has me looking into the past now to see if what he says is true.1

  • My dad believes that games are not a powerful form of narrative. What do you think is a good way to convince him otherwise
  • What are some games that you feel really push the boundaries of storytelling?
  • Where would you recommend starting in terms of looking at the past?

 

 

((I have no idea why its formatting my posts to squish the photos like this??????)))

Indiegogo and Hot Pop Factory

  1. How successful is the average Indiegogo campaign
  2. What are some examples of very successful campaigns?
  3. What were some of the key elements that you found in those campaigns to be integral to their success?

On Tuesday, Steve came into OCAD to discuss indiegogo. He discussed and presented a series steps and tips one should take when creating his own business. He in particular discussed strategies involving the audience, building a brand, identifying and strengthening your brands “champions” and dethroning the gatekeepers. He also emphasised a few other key points. He made it quite clear that a polished product is very important to the success of a business. In addition to this, he made a few points involving urgency and membership. He reiterated the importance of creating a sense of membership – something to keep them coming back. Creating a sense of urgency through exclusivity and deals can play a huge role in the early success of your campaign or product. Perhaps his most important point was the fact that alienating certain audiences is ok. If you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing nobody.

I found Steve’s advice and speech to be incredibly helpful in terms of business start-ups. I have always been interested in business and how companies grow into very successful businesses.  In particular there were a few key points that really spoke to me. His one line “If they aren’t going to buy it for it’s main feature, they won’t buy it for its main feature” was probably the line that stuck most with me. I find it incredibly relevant in regards to today’s technology market. Phone companies nowadays just focus on jamming their phones with as many accessories and bloat ware as possible. However, I find it incredibly unintuitive. If the phones focused on one or two key features and fleshed them out as much as possible I believe that would be a much better approach.

  1. What were some challenges of getting started
  2. How did you establish your brand in the beginning
  3. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages to 3d Printing

After Indiegogo, we went to Hot Pop Factory on Spadina. We were introduced to the two very nice founders, who discussed their business as well as the rise of maker culture. In particular, they were very positive about the influence that 3d printing and services such as laser cutting has had on their work ethic as well as the industry. They also believed that the rise of laser cutting, 3d printing services and other similar services will create a drastic change in the industry, bring a stronger emphasis on the user. In particular, they believed that these new technologies will bring a new level of customization and personalization that has never been seen before. They also mentioned how these new technologies allowed them to be incredibly agile when it comes to prototyping and testing. They now longer have to wait long or for other studios to create their prototypes. They can do all of it now thanks to 3d printing and laser cutting.

I found this visit to be very insightful into the world of 3d printing and the maker culture. I’ve always been fascinated by the explosion of 3d printing and 3d related products and now I’m beginning to understand why it’s such a huge deal. The idea of personalizing and customizing your own product through 3d printing really struck a chord with me. I’ve always embraced personalization and I believe this could potentially be the natural progression of the industry. Also the efficiency and ease of prototyping seems incredibly useful to me. The ability to reiterate and revise easily sounds like an incredible boon.

Use of this service is governed by the IT Acceptable Use and Web Technologies policies.
Privacy Notice: It is possible for your name, e-mail address, and/or student/staff/faculty UserID to be publicly revealed if you choose to use OCAD University Blogs.