The Tech Off: Back to Back!

The Tech Off: Back to Back!

Two big events back to back. One in London at Retail Week’s Tech Conference, the second a day later in Brighton for BrightonSEO‘s pre-party. Two days, two venues, two very different audiences!

The first event (held at Here East – London’s home for the best innovators and digital marketers) was a bit of a surprise for the many well-groomed professionals seeking insights into the future of retail tech. We imagine they weren’t quite expecting such a raucous entertainment that Wednesday afternoon.


The second event was at Concorde2, a music venue usually reserved for bands and DJs, situated on the Brighton beachfront – the crowd were energetic and suitably inebriated. It was loud and electric!

But what IS The Tech Off??

If you haven’t heard about The Tech Off, it has been called “the love-child of TED talks and WWE”. Competitors have strictly 5 minutes to rant about anything tech-related to wow the crowd. The audience then choose the winner, who then gets to take away the coveted ‘Belt of Tech’. There’s no expense spared!

You can find out more about The Tech Off here.

First, let’s take a look at the Battle For the Future at Retail Week:


Retail Week held Europe’s largest festival of innovation in retail technology at ‘Here East‘ at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on 13th and 14th September. The Tech Off crew were invited to bring a bit of Shoreditch attitude to the afternoon’s programme.

Make way for the LEGEND…

The audience weren’t quite sure what hit ’em when the host with the most, MC Danimal and his entourage/security team The Fabulous Bakewell Boys entered the room…

DING DING! Who’s first into the arena?

First up was Jeremy Bassinder, Leader for Consumer Products, Retail and Travel & Transport at IBM iX, who has a lot to say about the humble avocado, which he calls the ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ of the grocery. As soon as Nigel Slater introduced #AvocadoToast to the nation, there was more demand by the consumer for ripe avocados – which made the retail market think about how they needed to improve their delivery.

CLANG! Bring on contender number two!

Next was Vincent Haywood, Digital Marketing consultant at VHDigital, who talked about the crazy metrics that tech brings – covering everything from facial recognition to VR: how Isobar is using iMotion which employs eyetracking and galvanic skin response; our offline habitual metrics; emotional metrics as our devices read our expressions… Quite a lot to think about.

Vince has won The Tech Off twice before, so his reputation was at stake.

ROAR! Two down, two to go!

Next up, Colin Lewis, a journalist from Marketing Week and CMO at OpenJaw Technologies, spoke about putting the ‘F’ in retailing – ‘F’ standing for ‘friction’!

“Friction is anything that slows the customer down when buying your stuff, and we can choose to introduce it or not. But just remember, friction costs you money.”

Colin argues that if retailers remove the friction from the consumers’ experience, the customers will be happy and will want to repeat their experience and make you more money!

Colin has also won The Tech Off before, so he’s adept at handling the situation (and his competitors – especially his Number One Rival, Vince! It’s a battle for supremacy between the two!)

You can read more about Colin in his blog here.

KLAXON! Last up!

Finally it was our second ‘Jeremy’ for the day – a “Jez-off!” –  Jeremy Basset, founder and CEO of CoCubed, who shared his top tips for corporate people looking to engage in the world of startup tech. Startups are pioneering the future and through collaborative innovation, they have the advantage of being low risk but with high impact.

The Tension Mounts!

Normally, at this point, we’d have a Wild Card from the audience to have an improvised stab at winning the Belt of Tech, but this time we had no volunteers (we think we spooked the crowd too much!) so it was straight onto the judging! The Fabulous Bakewell Boys brought on the extremely delicate and high-tech Techometer that gauges the applause from the audience…

The four contestants wait with bated breath…


With a rousing applause from the audience, Jeremy Basset was deemed the champ of the afternoon.

Right! That done, it was time to pack up and head to THE BEACH!


BrightonSEO is a one-day digital marketing conference held twice a year and brings along the best speakers and the best crowds in the business.

The venue was the fantastic Concorde2 on Madeira Drive looking out onto the English Channel. It was perfectly suited for the night’s entertainment.

OG’s @beyonceoftech @fabbakewellboys

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We had eight speakers that evening, so the night was broken up into halves.


First up was Engagement Manager at Cobb Digital and Director at Brighton Digital WomanAllegra Chapman, who kicked off by talking about sex (how it has been proven that it no longer sells) and encouraging inclusivity in the world of digital. Diversity sells! 48% will avoid buying from a brand that appears to oppose equality.

“John Lewis have uncovered groundbreaking research that suggests that if you dress a girl in a dinosaur top, she won’t actually grow a penis. Furthermore, the study claims that if you put a little boy in a pink top, his penis doesn’t fall off.”

Next was Kelvin Newman, founder and Managing Director of Rough Agenda. Kelvin spoke on the subject of robots and AI and the depressingly plausible effect of automation on a suggested 15 million jobs – that’s about half of the working population. So it’s not just an invasion of Daleks and Cybermen we need to be afraid of.

“Never do a job a machine could do quicker (or better than) you…”

Kirsty Hulse, founder and MD of Manyminds, was up next telling us how to prevent an existential crisis when your work is ultimately meaningless. As a digital marketer, is she merely “Flogging shit on the Internet”. In a brief summation of her job as an SEO, Kirsty says “We make people with money some more money so they give us some more money to make them more money!” Simple!

Ending round one was Greg Gifford, Vice President of Search at DealerOn, Inc. Greg taught us all how to create a kickass PowerPoint presentation (without being a boring wanker) – the most important thing to remember is never, ever use bullet points because…


During the interval, The Fabulous Bakewell Boys had a ‘dance-off’ much to everyone’s enjoyment and amazement.

ITS A DANCE OFF! @thetechoff @fabbakewellboys @brightonseo

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Round two was kicked off by Stacey MacNaught (SEO and Content Marketing Specialist at Tecmark UK) who explained how difficult it was explaining about one’s digital job to one’s parents and friends, and how, as a child, she wanted to become a tea-drinking, cake-eating nun…

…but being an atheist sort of buried that idea in the ground rather quickly.

Rachel Finch, Digital Marketing Manager at Traveltopia, followed with a multitude of Jeff Goldblum images to tell us about Jurassic Park Based Wisdom for marketers!

Then, Dom Hodgson, founder of Little Warden blew us all away with a SONG about online shopping detailing all the stupid shit he’s bought on the Internet.

Finally, we had Chris Romero from Florida as our Wild Card –  Chris had weathered and survived the recent hurricane and still managed to get to Brighton, get roaring drunk, and send his love to the crowd. He was swift and gregarious and he seemed to have a massive amount of fun.

After Chris concluded his speech with a mic drop, the previous contestants were guided back onto the stage. The infamous Techometer was brought on by the Fabulous Bakewell Boys and, once more, we had to gauge a winner…

…and it was without doubt the most easily predictable winner we’ve ever had. Dom won it hands down. The crowd loved him!

What a night it was! Thanks to all who participated in both events.

So, that’s it from The Tech Off for now… until November 9th where we’ll be at the MADE Festival in Sheffield. Put the date in your diary! It’s gonna be one helluva show!

For more information on previous and forthcoming events, check out The Tech Off website and sign up for the newsletter.

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