Yoxi Meet And Greet, Participant, Inc., New York
January 25, 2011
Last night I headed down to the Bowery/Lower East Side area of Manhattan, packed tightly with cabin fever. If you're in NYC, you're tired of the weather -- and if you're not in NYC, you're tired of hearing about the NYC weather. I'll put a positive spin on it and say I welcomed the opportunity to bundle up and go for a nice 20-minute walk from my home office into the city darkness. This place has sizzling corners in the face of any weather or trappings of the clock, which is why I love this column so much - I get forced out at night to meet new corners and new people, like the team at Yoxi, who have some ideas for that BlackbBerry you can't put down.
Of course I walked right by. The venue was tucked in between a full block of construction graffiti and spooky residential buildings and the glass doors to the Participant, Inc. space were coated with tinting that reminded me of my 19-year-old boyfriend when I lived in Detroit (not last year, but when I was a teen myself. Because last year would be weird.)
While waiting for Gail Hilton of Thought Equity Motion outside, I ran into Mark Ballard of Rosen Group PR as he was heading in. Mark is a one-in-a-million PR type. He's just a genuine dude with a great sense of humor and an underlying nerditry that pops him into the "real people" bucket. We talked about Maker Faire, for the love of [insert your favorite deity or lack thereof here!], with giddiness and awe, I mean, seriously. He's good people.
I looked around for food. Because the invitation said "free food." Dear event planners of the future, if your food is cheese cubes and crudités, be specific. Cheese cubes are anger makers when an empty stomach arrives hoping for "food." Just a tip. I didn't let it get me down as I wandered the room, meeting Sharon Chang, Founder of Yoxi; Yoxi Director of Strategic Development and Operations Randy Makiej; and Creative Director/Video, Daniel Liss (aka Father Dan). Why the AKA Father Dan? Because he manned the Digital Confessional, where sinners confessed their digital sins on camera.
This little Meet & Greet was to announce their latest challenge: Balance Your Digital Diet. Teams will compete with real business ideas through short videos (and eventually be paired up with real agencies) to win 40,000 bucks to put their money where their mouths are. The last competition, Reinvent Fast Food, was a little more tangible, with food being the product, you can see it in action (or taste it!) I can't wait to see what the teams come up with. It will be hard to beat Team Awesome Space Pizza (warning: sound begins on launch). That is a winning name. Actually, it's not. It's the name of a team who competed last year and got cut, but they're my personal favorite.
Speaking of reinventing fast food, the "brief" presentation by Yoxi Editorial Director Josh Fischer was downright mean in the face of cheese cubes. I sat at the front, scribbling away while on the projection screen a man practically made sweet, sweet love to fast-food fries and a burger. Then I was forced to watch people happily make pad thai, encase it in some sort of edible portable wrap, and trundle about town, smiling and munching on their reinvented fast food. The winner of the "Reinvent" challenge, The Udon Project, won, rebranded themselves "The Spoke,"and seem to be toiling away. I almost ate the projection screen.
Comedian Jared Logan took over the mic after Fischer declared "I'm not going to do this presentation any longer because I'm comfortable," and I took to the street leaving people like The Economist's Luiza Oleszczuk and Chine Labbe, and Design Technology Consultant for the Wall Street Journal behind as I searched for dinner. Of course I ended up at Tara Thai, influenced by the delicious presentation imagery.
Tonight's event has been canceled due to snow, so maybe tomorrow you'll read a short story about the life journey of a mole rat. Or something more appropriate.