Conference

THIS MONDO THING
September 26, 2016 9:59 am

At  the Mondo NYC music conference earlier this month, every conversation began the same way: “Sucks about CMJ, doesn’t it?” “Yeah, what do you think of this Mondo thing?”

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To be honest, I went into Mondo disappointed for various reasons; one, because it was not a rebirth of my favorite dance party, and two, because I was very much looking forward to (the currently defunct) CMJ. Though Mondo was created by Bobby Haber and Joanne Abbot Green, the pair sold the conference in 2012. Could Mondo hold a candle to CMJ, my favorite local music conference? And could it ever grow to compete with the behemoth that is SXSW?

ATYPICAL SOUNDS was lucky to grab a few minutes with Austin natives Kelly Barnes and Brian Cole of the band Darkbird (who put on an absolutely incredible Saturday-night show at Pianos), and get their opinion on Mondo vs potential-future-competitor SXSW:

Kelly: My feelings about SXSW from years ago were great, because it was aimed at getting newer artists like ourselves up and running, getting seen by people that can actually take bands to the next level, and now it’s Kanye West performing or Bruce Springsteen. And there’s thousands and thousands of people coming to see that.

It’s just becoming this huge shit show, [which] is probably the best way to put it. And it’s just over-saturated. So it kind of lost its focus. I think if Mondo were to grow into what SXSW was…[SXSW] did have a time, and it peaked, and it was something really great and useful.

Brian: SXSW has turned into a monster that can barely contain itself. It’s having issues keeping itself together because it’s so big now. There’s lots of corporations involved now, like it’s “Lady Gaga on the Doritos stage”, and it’s not really about getting bands exposure, getting them in contact. It’s about the industry and the bands, giving them a place to meet, and that’s what I would like to see Mondo do. And I think they’re starting on the right foot. I went to a couple panels yesterday, and it was inspiring.

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Kelly: The business has changed so much. It’s not like someone sees your show and is like, “Come on, baby. Let’s make you a star!” Everyone’s kind of throwing their hands up in the air like “How does this work?”.

When [music] is something you do to try to make a living, it’s really frustrating – you’ve got the talent, you have all these things you want to do. But how do you do it? How do you get there? How do you get your music in the right hands? How do you get someone to listen to it? And maybe these conferences give you some tools and ideas that maybe you haven’t thought about. And you feel like you’re learning something very valuable. There’s so many question marks about how to do it anymore. It’s frustrating.

Brian: One aspect that I like about Mondo is they’re bringing in new technology, as well. The music industry is changing because of new technologies. Nobody buys CDs anymore. Nobody has the attention span to listen to a full album.

Kelly: Record deals from big labels aren’t worth anything anymore. Now it’s independent labels, or people are DIY-ing everything. But it’s possible that way. Here, you’re learning about how to utilize technology.

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The utilization of technology was an important topic throughout panel discussions at Mondo, which included talks called Why Can’t Music Apps Get Funding? and Digital Entertainment and Content. The honesty of many of the panelists was refreshing and informative. However, it was jarring to watch these presenters, some of whom with 20+ years of experience in the music industry, insinuating they don’t really know what’s going to happen with the music industry since file sharing essentially wiped them out. Then again, no one should have had to pay $20 for a CD in the first place, so they kind of had it coming. And there seems to be a lot of freedom right now to figure out what the “next big thing” in the music industry will be, so that’s at least one positive to come out of the Wild West the industry has become.

Mondo featured 3 days of panel talks, with 5 days of music showcases happening at venues throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. The showcases were not all day and night (as in CMJ), but happened only at night after the panel talks. While conferences like CMJ and SXSW thrive on their ability to offer band exposure from constant showcases throughout, Mondo limited this time by keeping the showcases nightly. Spreading the showcases out between Manhattan and Brooklyn also limited the number of showcases that could be seen in one night, with attendees being forced to choose one borough over another.

Ultimately, for their first year, Mondo made a pretty decent go of things. Having corresponded with the organizers, it’s clear they’re looking to grow and improve, and are doing so through open communication with attendees. Because of their willingness to “give the people what they want”, Mondo could grow into a strong contender in music conferences in the coming years. I’m looking forward to seeing that happen.

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E3: THE GAMERS’ MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR
June 17, 2016 1:31 pm

Four days of video game conferences, new game trailers, demos and entertainment? This is the most anticipated week of the year for gamers and tech enthusiasts. And this conference was the 22nd gathering of companies and people for E3 with some serious surprises.

If you don’t know E3, here is a quick run down. It stands for Electronic Entertainment Expo, and vast numbers of enterprises, journalists, bloggers, gamers and tech geeks flock to the event to go on a mad binge of tech demos, playing new games and nerding out to the max.

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Sony busted out a huge lineup of new games and some big show stoppers. God of War’s fourth major installment was announced and looks amazingly beautiful, an amazing surprise for fans. The Last Guardian’s release date for October 25th 2016 was finally announced after 9 long years of development. Hideo Kojima, legendary game creator of the Metal Gear series and others, announced a new original game, Death Stranding, which had everyone in awe and wonder. Lastly, Sony announced that their VR headset will be coming out October 13, 2016 with a full lineup of games, demos and all sorts of different experiences. A spectacular presentation, especially the live orchestra that performed the music for all the trailers. 

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Microsoft on the other hand really showcased their new consoles and some good games. Their biggest reveal was the Xbox One S (slim). It is 40% smaller, beautiful white design, supports 4K output, built in power supply and only $299. If you don’t have an Xbox One, this is quite the steal. But, they also oddly revealed the Scorpio, a new gaming console for next year that has 6 teraflops of power, which sounds made up but it’s a real thing. To explain, think of the difference between the power of a horse and car, that is roughly the difference between the Scorpio and it predecessors.

There is way too much information from E3 and I couldn’t tell you all about it here. Games like Legend Of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Call of Duty: Infinity Warfare, Gears Of War 4, Battlefield 1, Batman VR, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and so many more were shown and a lot of them playable. Check out Youtube’s gaming channel HERE and IGN has a great amount of coverage and demos HERE.

A great week for gamers and a superb E3 conference, from live orchestras and fantastic game demonstrations to tech surprises and amazing guest appearances, this was really an amazing event. What games are you most excited for? Tweet us @AtypicalBeasts with what you’re dying to play.

NY TECH DAY DELIVERS BIG FOR STARTUP NETWORKING
April 27, 2016 11:41 am

Tech Day came to New York City again this year and did not disappoint. Showcasing Startup companies from over 15 different sectors, TechDay is the largest startup event in the US. Connecting 30,000 press, investors, job seekers and early adopters to more than 550 amazing companies. Another draw of the event this year was Shark Tank hosting their open casting call at the event.

If you didn’t attend this years TechDay, it means you skipped out on the opportunity to network with more than 500 startups from NYC and the rest of the world. From popular sites like Delivery.comIVY, and Bandsintown to explosive startups like Uber, MiniBar, and CommonBond. There was plenty of competition for HIRED with competitor sites like Planted and Hireart on hand. NY Tech Day is a unique opportunity for those  looking to make a move in their career or to grow their network.

On Thursday, April 21st, from 9:30am to 5pm, TechDay took over Pier 94 on the West side of Manhattan with the likes of big names sponsors such as HIRED, Capitol One, Digital Ocean, The Tech Garden, WSGR, HEARST, Skaled, Columbia School of Business, and their major partner, General Assembly. This is some major growth from last year, increasing the amount of floor space from last year’s 27,000 square-feet to Pier 94’s 77,000 square-feet. Understandable, though, when you consider the 550+ exhibitors expected to show, plus the 10,000+ expected attendees (co-founder Alex Hartman says they hope to expect upwards of 20,000 attendees).

Founded in 2011 by Hartman, co-founder of DigitalOcean (of Techstars fame) and CEO of NYC DevShop, and Jesse Podell, a former Wall Street trader, TechDay NYC was created as a way to bring the then-nascent NYC tech community together. “From day 1, TechDay’s focus has been to help find talent and support, to get press for the startups, and to find early investment to help them gain traction in the market,” says Hartman.

And the event has accomplished exactly those goals in the past three years, bringing together hundreds of startups, potential employees, various publications, and billions of dollars of venture capital (last year, the event saw over $20 billion in venture capital, not including angel investments) in one central location, for one day. Since year 1, when the event was still new, and only invited NYC-based startups, TechDay NYC has expanded its influence across the country and abroad, pulling institutions and startups from the U.S. and beyond. Students from 58 universities are expected to attend, as well as startups from abroad.

For Hartman, the whole point of TechDay NYC is to bring the NYC startup community together, and to show each of them that there’s a wide net of support in the city for them. It’s also a way to really get things off the ground, whether you’re a startup or a person: “TechDay is really kind of like a springboard for people who want to make it in tech.”

There was so much to see and so many people to connect with, that it was the first time other than SXSW that I truly felt overwhelmed, but in a good way. Making my way through each section, I was looking for companies that not only stood out visually, but could explain their product passionately and had a story to tell.

Here are the top brands that stood out for me this year and garnered my interest to want to know more about their platforms.

Mogul

 

Mogul is an online platform for women. It was founded in 2014 by Tiffany Pham. Users can view trending content including stories, products, and jobs which are personalized to their interests, location, or career. Users can then up-vote, down-vote, comment on, and share the published content. I really connected to this idea of empowering women, well, because I am a woman dammit.

HOOCH

HOOCH is a App that you can discover new bars and have a drink on them every day.  So basically you register for the App for $9.99 a month and a new drink will be available in your App every day after 5am. Ok, SOLD! I got a chance to speak with Aleksey Kernes, CMO of Hooch and I realized quickly that I knew him from some great dance parties and live music events at Hotel Chantelle. Solid dude who definitely has a pulse on the nightlife scene, and that pulse could help propel this brand into new markets. Cool concept, interested to see where it goes.

Namely

Namely is an All-in-One Human Resources software. They provide HR staples like a database with time-off tracking, reporting, full service payroll, benefits and on-boarding. Can they fire you too? That would be a real innovative add on. Ok, so Namely didn’t blow me away with disrupting the digital HR market but they are giving Zenefits a run for their money so it will be interesting so see if they can leverage the recent bad press Zenefits has received to become a top competitor.

The Take

 

 

The Take is an App that lets you discover products and places from your favorite movies and TV shows. Am I an idiot? Why was I so amused by this.  It felt brilliant in the moment when one of their team members, Victor was demoing it for me. Ooh, wait it is pretty cool. You are watching a movie or something and boom you see an item you like and you can find out where to purchase it. It is sort of like a way cooler Pinterest.

 

 

 

Compass.to

Compass.to is a social proximity mobile app based out of Brooklyn that is used to keep and discover relevant content in your proximity while joining like-minded people nearby. This Brooklyn-based startup was founded in 2012 with the goal of using social proximity to improve digital and physical lives. The company claims to be tackling two main things: endless texting and miscommunications, and finding interesting content only relevant to you. Their core feature, Join Me, shows you interesting people in your proximity and the time they spent at specific places. With a slick and elegant design, Compass.to is meant to help you navigate the physical world through a digital journey. By the way, they have these really dope, company t-shirts with Brooklyn on them and they need to market those bad boys. They didn’t even have an extra one for me. Get those t-shirts made and give them away. Branding wet dream boys.

 

2020Shift

2020SHIFT is a social enterprise that’s designed to educate minority snake people on careers in digital media and technology. It offers programs custom created by the team at 20/20 to help educate and empower those snake people who may not have gotten the chance to jump on the high tech train as early as others. With mentorship opportunities, hands-on industry preparation, and instructors that reflect what the students might see in themselves as inspiration, these programs are a hot ticket to becoming a part of the largest innovative tech boom. I dig what they are doing.

PhotoSesh

 

Photo Sesh is an on demand (or scheduled) photography discount platform. It is the easiest way to find, book, and pay for a highly rated affordable photographer. The App uses GPS and calendar syncing to connect you to nearby photographers at incredibly friendly rates ($30-75/hr). Photographers can fill up openings in their schedule that would otherwise yield zero income. You can PhotoSesh Now or PhotoSesh Later by booking up to 90 days in advance (includes digital printing rights and usage rights. There are 16 categories of photography to choose from and 5,000+ photographers across 12 metro areas. Now, allow me to say that as someone who is highly connected in the music and photography world, I find this site’s service to be relevant. Well, I mean it sure beats making a Facebook post asking anyone if they know of any good photographers.

 

Beer Menus

Beer Menus – Started by two brothers with a love of brewing, Beer Menus created a way to browse and search beer menus so you never have to wonder where to find your favorite beers. Think of this as a beer lovers shopping guide. Their site could use some polishing but the concept is solid.

POSSE

 

POSSE is a mobile app development shop based in New York. Allegedly, they “make apps that rock.” With clients like Jet.com, Gatorade and Sixpoint Brewery the company is making a name for itself quickly in the mobile development market. Now most honorable mention of the day goes to POSSE for several reasons.  They have catch phrases like “WE MAKE APPS, NOT CRAP” and t-shirts that say “No Bullshit.”  Who are these beautiful weirdos? Cool developers with personality??? Which leads me to Louis. Ooh Louis, the ever charming developer who attempted to sell me on the App. While he was no Bus Dev Guru, he certainly was the most endearing character I came across that day and with that being said he made enough of an impression on me to make this list. Give Louis a raise, he’s got heart.

Ok, now on to the MVP’s of the day.  The stand out company of the day for me was Gooten.

Gooten

Gooten is a custom, print fulfillment service that enables businesses to simplify product fulfillment through the world’s best manufacturers. Gooten offers an intuitive API, iOS and Android SDKs for white-labeled print sales, a Shopify App which seamlessly automates product fulfillment, and B2B direct sales of merchandise and promotional products. The company site states that they enable businesses and entrepreneurs to simplify product fulfillment through the world’s best manufacturers.

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So what separates Gooten from competitors like Print Aura, Printly or Printful?  First off, I would have to say is the great selection of products they offer for fulfillment. Second was the fun spirited team that I encountered. I am not exactly sure what Frank does at Gooten, (according to their site, neither does Gooten) but he sure was fun to talk to.  Ooh, and he gave me this really cool branded pen that had a laser on it and folded into a iPhone stand.  I mean, who isn’t a sucker for good swag? In all seriousness, it was talking to the company’s CEO, Brian Rainey and CTO / Co-Founder, Micah Smith that captured my full attention. These guys are not only hilarious but their conviction for their service is compelling and they are also both brilliant with a serious track record in e-commerce, development and finance. Really great team combined with a great service = Startup company with it’s star on the rise. We will be watching this very cool company closely.

Well, another TechDay has come and gone.  I guess it’s time to get ready for TechCrunch Disrupt coming to Red Hook, Brooklyn on May 9th!