Nothing Always Something New Under The Sun

The fourth installment of StartUP on Wednesday night was one of our most inspiring yet, with a packed house of idea-hungry creative and six rapid-fire PechaKucha (20 slides, 20 seconds per slide) style presentations on the topic of cultivating innovation. Coming from an array of startups and agency labs, the speakers each had their own take on the subject—and quite a few pieces of indispensable advice.

Host Sam Olstein of Ignition Factory East, OMD’s media innovation unit, emceed the evening and started off by giving the crowd a gift: an innovation toolkit! With seven components, the toolkit includes advice like “look elsewhere” and “think small” and will be a great resource for attendees who will inevitably find themselves stuck on something on the way to realizing entrepreneurial greatness.

Alexis Tryon, co-founder and CEO of Artsicle, told the story of how her passionate but “terrible” idea grew to be the growing resource and media darling that it is today (including some of the embarrassing PowerPoint slides and staff photo shoots that happened along the way). She boiled down her recipe for cultivating innovation to three must-haves: world changing dreams, delusional self-confidence, and faith in innovation.

Imari Oliver of mcgarrybowen LABS introduced the audience to the new “innovation economy” and declared disruption as the new norm. He advocates for a “Driver to Captain” approach, where companies acknowledge that the brand is in the hands of the consumers and that anyone can be a star. Imari summed up his motto nicely in response to a question about the future of Facebook: “there’s always something new.”

Kim Bost, Product Design Lead at Etsy, gave the audience a sneak peek into a development blooper reel of the e-commerce powerhouse and encouraged anyone testing a new idea to “fail as fast as possible.” Though the site is home to its fair share of cutesy knick-knacks, Kim said Etsy keeps itself innovative with the belief that “nothing is precious” design-wise.

Aaron Shapiro, the CEO of Huge Labs, revealed some of the biggest challenges with (and solutions to) establishing a culture of innovation within such a large firm. The first lesson that birthed the lab to begin with was that billable work always wins over idea development when it comes to employee attention. The solution? Separate the offices. And as big an advocate for innovation as he is, Aaron pointed out that it does not equal entrepreneurship. Similarly, a product is not necessarily a company. But he didn’t just give a bunch of don’ts: his biggest guidance was to pick a problem you really understand and sell it to people you know.

Lest the crowd should think they would only be listening to other people’s ideas, Jason Wisdom & Andy Hagerman of Design Gym took the stage and put them to work mapping out their next big innovation. “Where were you the last time you had a wild idea?” they asked. “Draw it.” But it wasn’t all doodling: Jason and Andy then shared their own techniques for making time to think creatively and stressed the importance of holding yourself accountable to your ideas.

The author of the best Tweet of the night won an ADC membership and some serious mingling followed, facilitated by all the wisdom that our speakers had bestowed upon guests, plus an open bar.

Thanks to WeWork for supporting StartUP and Design Gym for partnering. Their exclusive afternoon WeWorkshop was a great success, with highly collaborative and interactive activities to help guests get a head start on their next big idea.

More than a few brilliant ideas were born, but don’t fret if you missed out—you’ll be reading about them in Forbes sometime in the near future.

Stay tuned for the next ADC StartUP event in this quarterly series by following us on Twitter @ADCGlobal or

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