The Tech Off: Part Deux

The Tech Off: Part Deux

DING DING ROUND 2! The Tech Off returned on Weds 15th October, to a packed cellar-full of people in The Sun & 13 Cantons pub in London’s Soho.

Picking up where we left off in July, the event was a no-holds-barred battle of ideas – which pitted some of the UK’s most talented creative technologists against each other to try and win The Tech Off Winner’s belt!

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Unfortunately, the last winner – Dan Crow, the CTO of Songkick – got stuck in a meeting & couldn’t bring the belt with him! So we dispatched our glamourous assistant Joe to travel to the depths of East London, bringing the belt back for the glory.


Yet whilst that excitement was unfolding, the crowd was wowed by our line-up of creative tech heavyweights, which included:


We kicked off with our first ever crowd-sourced presentation. Ian runs one of the UK’s most exciting creative agencies, Studio Output. He took us through a current challenge, working on behalf of Action 2015 : how to communicate the UN’s new development goals to 7 Billion people.

In an inspiring talk, Ian set our sights to the highest level – in scope, and social imperative. Could the crowd at The Tech Off come up with the killer app to answer this global brief?

Fast forward to the end of the night, we invited people to step up to the mic and share their ideas:

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This included printing messaging on aid parcels, baby bunnies (!), offering an audience with Obama, and taking the UN to task – to reduce their objectives from 18 to 5 and inviting the millennials to solve the issue.

Saul “The Lean Standup” Cozens

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Saul Cozens is a freelance digital technology strategist. He helps organisations adapt to using the Internet – with the aim to make better things, and to make things better. He has worked for agencies, corporates, public sector and third sector organisations and bangs on endlessly about how to make digital teams work effectively together.

After witnessing Saul’s talk we think he may have a future career at the Edinburgh Festival – as a standup! Taking everyone through his passion for making things – interacting with tech that isn’t trapped in a screen – he showed us an anti-racism air fresheners, a bus stop sign for swearing on and LAZERS

However, his big vision was to turn Sheffield University’s Arts Tower into a giant gaming platform – but more than that, as an inspiring communications platform based on an open API – which would allow anyone to take the platform and create new apps and ideas to work with it.

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Basil is a bit keen about connected gadgets, and has turned that passion into a publishing platform. His blog, Btekt, covers everything from the Swiss army knife of gadgets – the smartphone – to tablets, smart watches and connected devices. In his vision, Btekt serves as a destination for all those a little too obsessed with gadgets to function – and it’s working: his YouTube videos get 2m views a month, more than big names like Engadget and Techradar.

With great candour about his own personal experiences, Basil took us through the 6 steps you need to make a DIY tech web site – including, most importantly, the “cake” phase (overlooked in most tech accelerators).

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He proved his point particularly well by bringing a hefty amount of extremely lovely salted caramel brownies. These were baked by his good self – check out his baking blog – and were so good we’re considering renaming the next event to be The Great British Tech Off!

Art “Animal” Tindsley
Creative Technologist – Microsoft

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Art is a Creative Technologist working at Microsoft, where you might find him working on anything from live streaming ping pong firing Arduino websites to old fashioned interactive texting experiences… Or just down the pub chatting about geeky stuff like at The Tech Off!

Art picked up on a theme which will be recognised by anyone working in tech – The Gimmick Gap. In other words, that the tech platforms start to get in the way of an idea, being chosen for being “hot” or new, a habit that was beautifully lampooned by this video:

Art’s argument is that the tech should happen behind the scenes, to be unexplained to the person experiencing it. It is only by bridging The Gimmick Gap we can achieve something akin to magic – exciting and enthusing people in the process.

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Vincent has 14 years digital agency experience across planning and buying, strategy, SEO, social media and content, looking after the likes of Harry Potter, Smirnoff, Guinness and WWE. He has aspirations to win Wrestlemania 31, so The Tech Off is his first step in that directionl! In addition to being Shine’s digital guru, he’s the founder of two startups set to take over the world…or at least pay the mortgage off.

Vincent took us around a new room he’s been kitting out – or is planning to! – which transported us through the home of the future, yet with products available today. From mood sensitive light bulbs, to kettles you can email, to a highly seductive vacuum cleaner, and a device that will track your mood based on your behaviour, Vincent’s extremely funny talk showed how the digital and the real will blend.

What’s more this blending will creating unique insights which can be employed to generate relevant, targeted & anticipatory marketing content in a systematic way.

We don’t record the speaker’s talks at The Tech Off. Why?
Because we want the talks to be candid, open and honest –
revealing the unvarnished truth behind the tech!!!

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After such high impact performances in The Tech Off arena, how could we possibly select a winner?

Luckily we have The Tech-ometer, our unique un-patented R&D tech app which we trialled in July in it’s BETA format. However, we were now able to unveil our ALPHA version…

The Tech-ometer ALPHA version integrated via a wired connection to a portable, foldable, computer device (a laptop) which was running a 3rd party Clap-ometer app. This allowed us to take direct visual feedback from audio input from the crowd (aka clapping, cheering and wooping!). Science yo!

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It was close run battle, with the crowd getting behind all the speakers – but the Tech-ometer achieved its ultimate score for Vincent Haywood from Shine > an ELEVEN!

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So congratulations to our new champion Vincent and massive THANKS to all The Tech Off competitors. It takes true guts to step into the ring. Or at least a couple of pints…

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The Tech Off Hits Helsinki!

The Tech Off is next up on Tuesday 2nd December at the Eurobest Festival in Helsinki – and will feature talks from Martyn Ware (founder of The Human League & Heaven 17, and sonic pioneer), Dave Bailey (the BBC’s Creative Director across all their digital touchpoints), and Renate Nyborg (CEO of mobile product agency Pleo).

But we’ll be back in London in 2015!

We’ll be running The Tech Off in London again early in the new year – date TBC. You can sign up at and we’ll make sure you’re kept up to date.

And if you fancy talking at a future event – just drop us a line @Techdept.


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