Jay Ferracane Reviews BDW's RE: Event

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A week ago, right about now, BDW’s event RE: was well under way. The RE: event, billed as a 3 day celebration and showcase for innovative thinking, is the essence of the CU-backed grad school that is bent on honing the talents of the next generation of makers, doers and entrepreneurs by mixing innovation and ideation built on a strong understanding of technology, design and strategy.

Day 1 saw an introductory event at Boulder's BMOCA, where a good mix of startup/tech folks and agency types were in attendance. The main event that evening was a social mixer, highlighted by an interactive game show of sorts, MC’d by Brian Morrissey, Editor in Chief at Digiday. The intent of this game show was to pit agency vs. tech and ultimately determine who was the best liar. The agency team was represented by the always controversial and pot stirring, Jon “Schoenie” Schoenberg of TDA, and the impeccable, and possibly the worst liar ever, Rachel Donaldson of Karsh/Hagan. On the tech side, we saw the Sendgrid team of CEO Jim Franklin and VP Revenue, Denise Hulce. Beer was served and wine flowed. After a series of hilarious personal reveals, slams and distractionary tactics, the agency team emerged victorious. Surprise.

What did we learn? Agency folks are only marginally better liars than tech folks, but much more entertaining.

Day 2’s main event saw a takeover of the Boulder Theater, for a day of improvisational creativity and reveal of the current cohort’s start-up projects. The current crop of BDW students were tasked with concepting, developing and launching a startup in only 16 weeks. A pretty good primer for anyone to understand what it really takes to launch a brand — whether you end up in an agency, in a client-side role, or take on your path.

The event was hosted by Gary Hirsch, co-founder of On Your Fee, an improvisational outfit that balances fun, business and unexpected results. With a full house, Gary led the audience and the current cohort through a series of improvisational practices that yielded some surprisingly good if not hilarious ideas and outcomes. The students then took the stage and ran with it. An amazing amount of ideas and professionalism were revealed, but what was most evident is this crop of thinkers were all taking a common consideration into their products: People. Refreshingly, empathy ruled all of the startups' ideas in one way or another. The startup teams were led by faculty members, John Weiss of Human Design and Chris Zernold of Ship Better Product, in addition to mentors and advisors from the agency, tech and entrepreneur community. It was very rewarding, having been on the journey with the team members all 16 weeks as part of the design faculty, to see the final solutions they arrived at and delivered with story, authenticity and conviction.

The result was well thought out products that are real or will be real very soon, and most importantly they all had a conscious intent to make products that made our personal lives a bit better.

To closeout, Day 3 kicked off with a specially located Caffeinated Morning — with CP+B's Executive Director of Creative Development Evan Fry. Again, the audience of student, ad folks and tech was a good one to hear Evan provide some insight into his experiences and that what we all do everyday should be approached like a craft. Because it is a craft. And any craft or trade has a journeyman-ship to it — learning comes though experience, trial and error, serious failure, spectacular achievements and if we do it “right” it results in amazing things, that have purpose, intent and meaning.

In the end, RE: is a focused glimpse, of what BDW is about every day. But it's also a reminder to approach whatever the hell we do every day, with unbridled curiosity and excitement.

See you next year.

Jay Ferracane runs the brand and design consultancy know as AngryBovine, he also founded the monthly creative speaking series called Caffeinated mornings and serves as the design faculty for BDW, he is also much better at design things than writing about them.

Photo Credit: 23rd Studios | Paul Talbot
And Jay Ferracane


Sounds awesome. Wish I could have been there! Congrats to the bdw startups.

Nice write up Jay. I'm going to wear my "bad liar" status with pride, my heart's on my sleeve, everyone knows that. xo

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