Wednesday, April 24, 2013

KASEY CRABTREE ON SXSW. This week Kasey is a guest blogger. She tells us about SXSW and its importance for business.

First let me tell you a bit about South by Southwest (SXSW). It's a set of film, interactive/technology, and music festivals and conferences that take place every spring in Austin, Texas. It began in 1987, and continues to grow in size every year. If I could sum up SXSW in two words I would say it's a trendsetting conference (for example, Foursquare was introduced a few years ago at SXSW).

Shamrock's interest in SXSW is quite simple: We want to know what the next big trends in interactive/technology will be so that we can prepare to have it, as needed, available to our clients. We always want to keep ahead of the interactive/technology curve to see how new trends can apply to our clients' needs. Actually, I think it's important for any business to know what's ahead in technology and interactive since it affects all our lives.

While I didn't attend SXSW in Texas, I was fortunate to attend a recent luncheon of the American Advertising Federation's Cleveland Chapter, where guests heard from three Northeast Ohio-based speakers who spoke about their experience at this year's SXSW and the future trends we may expect in interactive and technology.

Among the speakers at the Cleveland Ad luncheon was Chad Milburn, who attended SXSW, and introduced his startup. It's called Plotter (, and it won top prize at this year's SXSW Accelerator for interactive, which is a pretty big deal, since you have to be approved to even join the competition. Hooray for Cleveland!

Essentially, Plotter organizes multiple locations onto your phone to plot the locations on your own custom created maps. For example, if you're going on a trip and want to see all of your stops, you can plot out the trip in advance right on to your phone so you won’t be constantly searching for locations. The Plotter app is downloadable at the app store.

Another speaker at the Cleveland luncheon was Markus Vogl, Assistant Professor of Art, Graphic Design Area at the University of Akron. Vogl discussed a project he is working on, called Coded :: Fashion, which he describes as being at the intersection of new media and fashion design. Coded :: Fashion was premiered at the international BIFT/ITAA (Beijing Fashion Institute/International Textile Association) conference in Beijing, China, and you can find out more information about it at

The third speaker was Margarita Benitez, an Assistant Professor and fashion technologist with the Fashion School at Kent State University. Benitez talked about computer integrated textile. Her passion lies in interactivity and interaction design with an emphasis on interactivity in textiles and fashion. Her recent research involves working on OSLOOM (, designed to create an open source electromechanical thread-controlled floor loom that will be computer controlled. The software will allow anyone to simply weave a photo, import weave ready files from other software (such as Bhakti/Alice photoshop method), and then post the software on a repository for others to further develop or customize into their weaving. Benitez successfully used the "KickStarter" fundraising website to raise $10,000 to fund the OSLOOM project, which is presently in pre-production.

I think Benitez summed up the 2013 SXSW conference nicely when she said, "It was an honor to present at this year's SXSW. It truly is an overwhelming event where all the latest innovation is showcased. We were representing Ohio's academia with a progressive agenda as artists and by doing so we are strengthening Northeast Ohio's position on the forefront of innovation."

I couldn't agree more. Not only are Northeast Ohio entrepreneurs gaining great benefits from the exposure they received from SXSW, but, thankfully, with the help of the American Advertising Federation Cleveland chapter, we're gaining more exposure for the tremendous talent right in our own backyard!

Best Regards,

Thursday, April 11, 2013

NEITHER RAIN, NOR SLEET... This week Bob talks about keeping positive, whether it's the Cleveland Indians or the workplace.

This year's home opener sold out in 6 minutes on Feb. 25, marking the 21st consecutive home opener sellout and the 20th at Progressive Field, which opened in 1994. It was one of the fastest sellouts in Indians history.

Was it playing our nemesis, the New York Yankees that created this sellout frenzy? Maybe part of it was, but Cleveland fans are always there, giving one for the team. We've sat through home openers that were held in biting cold weather, snow, rain, sleet. You name it, Indians home openers are always flooded with fans.

And even if you're not a baseball fan, you likely heard the Tribe lost to the Yankees. But knowing Indians fans, and being a fan myself, I'm quite sure we'll be back there cheering the team -- and some really good players such as Michael Bourn (OF), Nick Swisher, (1B/OF), Brett Myers (P), Drew Stubbs (OF), Mark Reynolds (1B), Trevor Bauer (P) -- on, up until the last pitch is thrown at the end of the season.

That energy, that enthusiasm, is contagious. I'll bet everyone who was in town for the Tribe's home opener felt it, and was pumped up by the activity around them. That's Cleveland fans. That's who we are.

Now, I challenge you to take that same energy and enthusiasm into work every day. Can you imagine what that might create?

Believe me, I know that every day can't be a home opener, or a solid winning streak, and sometimes it's going to "rain" on your well-planned campaign. But I truly believe that attitude plays a big role in creating a positive outcome -- even if it's something as simple as being in an encouraging environment with your co-workers.