INITIATIVES | THNK team members were on the receiving end of some serious creative inspiration after attending the Creative Company Conference near Amsterdam on June 7th. The event’s goal is to “connect creativity with business” and it was great to hear about energizing initiatives out of the Netherlands, other parts of Europe and the US. Some companies featured: Stanford University, LBi Lost Boys, Rabobank, Van den Ende & Deitmers Venture Capital Partners and OMA.
Overall, nice event format: informal presentations and couch discussions in the morning and afternoon and a lunch break filled with 15 interactive activities for networking, sharing ideas and getting practical advice from experts on a range of issues.
Some event highlights:
• Banny Banerjee of Stanford University discussed how design-thinking processes can address meta challenges such as uncertain energy futures and rapidly evolving technologies to create the future. Banerjee also showed what it takes to foster an organizational culture and network that supports risk behavior and multi-disciplinary collaboration, leading to ecosystem level innovation.
• Sarah Lacy’s engaging stories about her two-year trip around the world hunting down “the best entrepreneurs Silicon Valley had never heard of”. Sarah is a Senior Editor at Techcrunch and author of “Brilliant, Crazy, Cocky: How the top 1% of entrepreneurs profit from global chaos”. According to her, some of the most driven, risk-taking entrepreneurs are busy in BRIC and developing countries including Rwanda and Indonesia. She claimed that Western business leaders and entrepreneurs need to pay attention to these entrepreneurs in order to compete successfully.
• Steven van Belleghem’s presentation on his new book, “The Conversation Manager”. He concluded that word of mouth continues to be the key driver of consumer decisions. He challenged the audience to turn every interaction with customers into positive conversations and cited Tony Hsieh of Zappos.com and his legendary 365-day return policy as his inspiration. “Zappo’s customer service budget is its marketing budget”.
• Niel Robertson’s presentation on the growing influence of crowdsourcing. He said that crowdsourcing is streamlining business, creating new marketplaces for services, ideas and creativity and allowing creative professionals to focus on what they do best, instead of time consuming marketing, sales and customer service. He gave great examples of different crowdsourcing models, including single winners (99designs), collaborative efforts (Trada, UTest) and expert networks (Odesk, Victor & Spoils, Mechanical Turk).
Exciting news for Amsterdam: Jim Stolze, better known locally as the man behind TEDxAmsterdam, is launching the Amsterdam chapter of the Founder Institute, a Silicon Valley business incubator program. Entrepreneurs with great ideas can tap into funding, expert training and support from other start-up CEOs without giving up their day jobs. There will be a EUR 900 entry fee and participants have to pledge 1% of profits back to the Institute to help fund other startups.