For the first time in London we ventured out of our Soho cellar. Blinking into the light, The Tech Off marched East to “Schexy” Shoreditch – the pumping heart of Tech City.
Their team of “schexy” geeks were inhabiting an amazing pop up space on Shoreditch High Street, with a stellar line up of events (featuring such creative tech luminaries as Michael Acton Smith and Richard Ayoade). There was a week-long tech accelerator programme running (complete with investor pitch day), as well as free ‘werk’ space for anyone passing by.
True to the spirit of ‘Schexy Tech’ the space featured pole dancing robots!
— Gemma Milne (@gkmilne1) April 29, 2015
We were up on the penultimate night, Wednesday 29th April, with a brief to bring some tech inspiration to the sharpest tech scene in Europe. With the gauntlet thrown we duly picked it up, grimaced intently and fist pumped the air in anticipation of fight night. BRING IT!
As the sun set on The City, our crowd queued around the block (no, really) – eager to witness what would become one of our most hard-hitting events, with the biggest of big ideas.
— ioet LTD (@ioetglobal) April 29, 2015
— Safie (@8Safies) April 29, 2015
…And what a line up of heavyweight contestants we brought:
Matt “Defending Champ” Mapleston
Technologist and Founder of Chanza Chanzo
After flooring the room with his ‘meat box’ story at The Tech Off: Rumble In The Urban Jungle, Matt brought back the Belt Of Tech to defend his title.
Matt took the fight to the other contestants with our first ever musical presentation! With a guitar accompaniment by his colleague (complete with ‘tag-team’ singalong interludes) he took us on a polemic (ie a personal rant) about how the talk about The Internet Of Things is missing bigger and more interesting opportunities, particularly for sports and entertainment.
Rather than a fridge you can email, why not boxing gloves that would tell you the impact of the punch in a boxing match? After provoking us to think differently about this hot trend, he invited us all to his Internet Of Things meet up.
Jeremy “The Razor” Waite
Head of Digital Strategy, EMEA @ Salesforce Marketing Cloud
With one slide, sharp tailoring and several props, Jeremy challenged us to rethink our relationship with technology, and what we ask of it. Maybe, rather than focusing on the tech – we should look harder at ourselves. What is our purpose in the world?
In a barrage of rapid fire ideas, of particular note was a vintage book he bought on a whim which in its pages talked about ‘the end of privacy’ due to technological progress. If the issues created by progress are as old as time, perhaps we need to also progress our thinking.
Jeremy focused us on the principle that people don’t buy what you do – they buy why you do it. Does your brand have a higher purpose?
This may be fine in principle, but how does that work in practice? As it happened, he’d only the night before launched his book – From Survival To Significance – from which ALL profits are going to buy code-training hours for kids on Code.org. Within that one day he’d raised 200 hours of code training…
This is the way we should now build meaning with our customers, by behaving ‘bigger’ than the bottom line. This is a man putting his money where his mouth is – you can (and should!) buy his book here.
Gemma “Cruncher” Milne
Creative Technologist, Ogilvy Labs
A trained mathematician – Gemma now works in advertising, and took us on a journey past technology deep into the world of science. Yeah science!
Highlighting how cool technology has become in recent years, she noted that science is un-cool – simply reminding us of schooldays – why is that? This is even more confusing when you realise that the science of today is the technology of tomorrow.
If the Apple fingerprint scanner is cool tech, what about the science that makes that possible – and indeed can differentiate between a living and a cold-dead hand? Surely that’s more interesting? How does this then apply to the world of marketing and advertising?
She argued that science needs to ‘sex up’ its storytelling to attract more people. Making a prediction (which we think is sure to come true), Gemma saw a world where science will become the ‘tech’ of the future – where cool kids will be pitching investors to fund their science start up.
Scott “Motherf**ker” Morrison
Founder of IAccelerateU, ex-Marketing & Commercial Director Diesel
Bouncing onto the floor like a bearded badass, Scott grabbed the crowd by the scruff of the neck and forced them to face some harsh truths…
He pointed out that ‘customer journeys’ are never how real people behave, and people don’t actually want to be treated in this way. When have you ever gone on holiday and said: “ooh, I’m looking forward to the journey”! We want the destination, and more than that – we want ‘adventure’.
Scott challenged us to see a future for retail where the customer was taken on an adventure, which would both engage them more – and make more money (which he soon established was the aim of everyone in the room!). After sharing candid experience of what didn’t work when he was at Diesel, he gave us a vision for the future of retail marketing alongside a picture of a hipster’s backside: V P L.
Virtual Commerce (V), Personal Commerc (P), and Loyalty Commerce (L) are the future, so if you’re wanting to get into that space – you heard it here first!
In what is fast becoming a staple of The Tech Off, we challenged the crowd to come and give a Wild Card presentation. And one brave challenger took that challenge: Yaseer Sheriff
Taking to the floor with no preparation, and nothing but Google Images for backup, Yaseer took us to the world of science again – into the genetic make up of our very selves.
Breaking down the science behind the human genome, he focused us on the fact that we are all basically a series of pieces of information, of code. And that if we can figure out the way we are coded, we could debug ourselves. In other words, get rid of cancer, HIV and other nasty diseases which continue to blight humanity.
With the biggest of big ideas saved for the end of the night, we were given an insight into how science will become the next frontier for the forthcoming generation of smart young things. Cancer? There’s an app for that.
After taking a short break while DJ Rocky cut and air-horned his way through some booty-shaking tunes, we reconvened the speakers for our grand finale…With the crowd barely believing their eyes, we unveiled The Tech Off’s method of choosing a winner: our ‘connected device’, The Techometer.
The Techometer uses an unimpeachable human-machine interface to translate audio frequencies from the crowd (as they cheer for their favourite speaker) into a score on the board. As is customary, we unveiled an update to our App, this time a wireless audio monitoring device that our glamorous assistant Joe bravely took into the baying mob…BUT WHO WOULD WIN?!
In a close-run finish the champion was Jeremy Waite, with a knock out score of 11 – narrowly beating Scott (10.5), and Yaseer (10.75)!
Taking charge of the Belt until the next London event, Jeremy enters our hallowed hall of creative tech fame. But no-one goes away empty handed at The Tech Off, as each speaker received a Golden Fist Of Fury & a bottle of bubbly ☺
What a night! We definitely made tech ‘schexy’, with great feedback from everyone who came. Thanks again to the fine folks at Trans IP, check em out.
Here’s some footage of the event for your viewing pleasure!
We also have some photos for you to check out too.
From Shoreditch to South of France!
So we’re next up in Cannes with a Creatives vs Coders Special at Lions Innovation on Friday June 26th at 4.30 pm on the Experience Stage. See you there, it’s going to be a good one! Learn more.
We’ll be in London again in September, make sure you don’t miss it – sign up at www.thetechoff.com
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