Guerrilla Branding for Entrepreneurs: A Prototype Class at the d.school

Pictured above:
Fig. 1: A card-carrying Cardinal (who still roots for the Cal Bears).
Fig. 2. Studio 2 in building 550, the best class room at the d.school.
Fig. 3. A student creates the mind map of her homepage concept.

A little over ten years ago founder David Kelley and Executive Director George Kembel tapped me to help to them articulate and launch the Institute of Design at Stanford University. It was a true privilege and an honor. Over the years I’ve stayed involved, be it lightly, advising and guest lecturing for classes.

However, this last summer, I conspired with Caroline O’Connor, a former d.school fellow and current lecturer, to develop and teach new course curriculum.

The driving idea was to create a series of classes specifically geared to aspiring entrepreneurs, providing design training and frameworks that they could immediately apply to their own budding ventures. Dubbed “Founders Studio”, our mission is to offer hands-on experience (and tools) for some of the most pressing needs facing new businesses — everything from brand strategy to user experience design.

Authentic to the d.school’s ethos, we begin by developing a prototype to test our idea, and ran a three-evening class in the fall called, Guerrilla Branding for Entrepreneurs. Each night was a three-hour intensive workshop that featured a series of mini-lectures, followed by group and individual exercises for the students. Additionally, each class had special guest advisors, to help guide the students.

We started by introducing a concept stub — a germ of a product concept, specific enough for the class to quickly grasp the idea, but open enough for their own direction and interpretation (see the course ‘teaser’ below for the details).

Day one focused on research and need finding for the target audience. Day two focused on positioning and articulating the brand. And finally, day three focused on bringing the brand to life and expressing it on a prototype home page.

Yes, from product concept to testing homepage designs in three nights. That’s a lot. Perhaps too much, but the prototype absolutely served its function. It was clear the students got a lot out of the studio, and in the process, the whole teaching team learned a ton from the students. Learnings that will certainly be applied to develop future Founder Studio classes. So, look out for more in 2013.

Volunteering in SF: Ten places to put your skills to use

You are not here merely to make a living.
At least that's what Woodrow Wilson said. And I bought it.

Volunteering has been a recent topic of discussion at Odopod – what we're doing individually, and how we might make it a larger part of our culture. To some, the mere thought conjures up images of ladling soup and picking up litter. Such duties are vital and good, but there are plenty of ways to apply specialized skills in fields you're excited about.

I've rounded up some volunteer opportunities that are, for the most part, relevant to those working in digital – storytellers, designers, developers, et. al. These are specific to San Francisco, but I bet you'd find no shortage of options upon digging in your own backyard.

826 Valencia
826 Valencia is a free writing and tutoring lab founded by author/publisher/philanthropist Dave Eggers and veteran educator Nínive Calegari. Beyond tutoring, 826 assists with in-classroom projects, hosts bookmaking, screenwriting, and poetry field trips, and empowers kids to become creative writers – with a good possibility of getting published. (If that's not enough, it's also a pirate supply store.) There are lots of ways to help out, mainly during or right after school. 826 also has chapters in Brooklyn, LA, Seattle, Chicago, Ann Arbor, Boston, and DC.

Good for: Storytellers, writers, illustrators, educators, natural born tutors, fans of kids.

Continue Reading »

Little "i" Innovation: Why Small Ideas Matter as much as Big Ones

I was in Portland last week to speak at DMI’s Design/Management Thinking Conference — Balancing Extremes: Tensions in Design. The two-day event, at the stunning Gerding Theatre, offered focused presentations, discussions, and interactive sessions with leading business and design leaders.

The program kicked off with John Hoke and Angela Snow, Nike’s VP of Global Design and Global Director of Creative Operations, who spoke about how tension fuels Nike’s breakthrough design innovations. Their big, bold keynote was peppered with high-energy videos featuring cutting-edge products and triumphant sports moments.

I immediately followed with my own session, Little “I” Innovation, in which I proposed that committing to incremental improvements and pivoting on adjacent innovations are just as critical to business success as the big breakthrough ideas. It was a fitting juxtaposition. I was however compelled to employ the multi-talented Justin Timberlake to help me make my point.

PyCon 2012

Python is one of the main programming languages that we use at Odopod to build back-end systems for our web apps and websites. So I recently was really excited to attend Pycon, the annual Python conference. And I had a blast.


Photo credit: Orion Auld

This year’s Pycon was the largest yet. There were 2,500 attendees (twice as many as last year), 133 official sponsors and 127 talks divided in 5 parallel tracks. The fact that the conference took place in Santa Clara, right in the middle of the Silicon Valley, probably was a determining factor for the exceptionally large attendance, yet still these numbers undeniably demonstrate the increasing popularity of Python in the tech world.

It was impossible to physically attend all the talks that I was interested in. Fortunately all were video-recorded and published online so I could catch up later after the conference. In this post I’m going to present a short recap of the most notables things that I’ve learned and enjoyed.

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The Awwwards gets to know Jason Hardy and you can too.

Our friends at the Awwwards asked some questions to Jason Hardy, one of the Creative Directors here at Odopod. He's on the panel of judges this year, so treat him right. Here's the interview, republished in full, for your viewing pleasure.

...

Odopod is one of the best and most awarded agencies around, It’s based in San Francisco and is formed by top designers, developers, strategists and in general very inventive people. They’re responsible for works like: IWC, Sony Tablet S and many more amazing works. We’ve had the pleasure of talking to their creative director, Jason Hardy.

Awwwards: Please tell us a little bit about yourself: who are you, where do you come from and where are you going?

JH: My name is Jason Hardy, I am a Creative Director at Odopod in San Francisco. I originally come from Nebraska. I’m not really sure where I’m going, probably to get a sandwich or some coffee.

Awww: What did you do before becoming a designer / developer?

JH: I went to school for Journalism and intended to be a writer. When I graduated there were no writing jobs where I lived (surprise!) so I took a basic design job instead. I had always been interested in design, mostly through skateboard magazines and album art, the typical influences, but never really thought of it as an option for making a living. Once I went down that path, I became pretty driven to learn as much as I could and never really looked back.

Continue Reading »

Upcoming events featuring talks and panels from the Odopod crew

We've got a busy next few months, packed with projects launching, a growing studio space, and some amazing new clients coming on board. In the midst of all that good stuff, we're also sending some Odopod thought leaders out into the world to participate in some talks and some panels in some amazing places. Come meet us!




RE:DESIGN/UX Design
April 30 - May 1, San Francisco

Join Albert Poon, Odopod's Director of Interaction Design in his talk, Welcome to the Post-PC Era.

About this talk: The age of desktop being the primary platform for digital experiences is over. Yes, there are hundreds of millions of traditional PCs with web browsers. They will not disappear. But even the most cursory look at the sales numbers should make it clear that the era of the big screen-keyboard-mouse digital experience is waning.




Planning-ness
May 17 - 18, Santa Monica

Join Guthrie Dolin, Director of Brand and Strategy and David Bliss, Founder and Executive Technical Director in Connected Personal Objects: Getting Intimate with the Internet of Things.

About this talk: The Internet of Things is a vast and rapidly expanding landscape that encompasses complex infrastructural systems to the everyday objects found in our homes and even on our person. At its core is a network of uniquely identifiable “things” with the ability to sense their environment then communicate with one another and us. In our presentation we will breakdown the key attributes and technologies that define these connected “things” as well as demonstrate how some of the most progressive connected personal objects may be shaping our future.




C2-MTL
May 22 - 25, Montreal

Join Odopod Founder and Executive Creative Director, Tim Barber in The Eureka! Moment, a discussion lead by Dr. Rex Jung, assistant research professor in the department of neurosurgery at the University of New Mexico who is exploring the structural and biochemical correlates of intelligence, creativity and positive affect.




DMI Design/Management Thinking 24
June 19-20, Portland

Guthrie Dolin will be doing a talk on Little "i" Innovation: The Practice of Continual Incremental Improvement

About this talk: When it comes to design-led innovation, we love the big idea—those breakthrough inventions that signal a disruptive change. But these big ideas are rarely the result of a single moment of genius. Instead, it comes from the culmination of smaller ideas, developed over time, from the minds of many. The ideas that really stick in our fast-paced digital world are the ones that “live in beta”—embracing a culture of learning, adapting and improving every day. In Little “i” Innovation, we will explore how the process of continual, incremental improvement has been used to develop some of the world’s most innovative and dominant consumer brands.


If you're headed to any of these events, please be sure to join us or just stop by and say hello. We'd love to meet you!

Odopod & Fluid Discuss Adobe, HTML and Flash

Big thanks to our friends at Adobe for calling on Tim to chat about HTML, Flash and our work at Odopod. This video was featured during Adobe MAX October 1-5, 2011. Check it out.

Meet up with ododeveloper, Telly Koosis at DjangoCon Sep 6-8

Starting tomorrow through September 8th, Telly Koosis, Senior Developer at Odopod will join 350+ other Django developers at DjangoCon in Portland, Oregon. Django is Odopod's preferred back-end framework, which makes this conference simply too important to miss.

We've used Django on some of our most robust websites, including IWC.com, DonQ.com, and even our own site – odopod.com. With Django, we can create a rich variety of experiences, develop rapidly with the core features needed for content management systems, and access Django's vibrant community to easily extend its core capabilities.

For Telly, DjangoCon is not just about the sessions. We're sending him on a mission to find people who want to join our team. We’re looking for people of varying skill-levels who are passionate about Django (including the sysadmin bits) who also enjoy pixel-perfect front-end coding. Our developers all share an interest in design and user experience in addition to writing great code.

Of course, we're also interested in meeting freelancers, development agencies, and related technology vendors. So, If you're at DjangoCon this week and want to learn more about Odopod, say hello and we'll connect you with Telly.

Danger is Everywhere: Illuminating common pitfalls of marketing's in-between times.

The Agricultural Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, the Atomic Age, the Jet Age, the Space Age and the Information Age - every technological era has brought about profound effects on socioeconomic and cultural conditions. They've reshaped human behavior and reset reality.

But, before the full effects of each of these technological developments have taken hold and fully permeated the collective understanding, people and businesses undoubtedly found themselves navigating a strange "in-between" time - a time where future visions are uncomfortably mingled with legacy artifacts and pre-existing expectations.

Today, in the Connected Age, technological innovations are bringing about seismic shifts in our reality every day. The dust is far from settled, and perhaps, it never will be. For businesses and brands this uncertain and unpredictable landscape is wrought with danger. Red herrings, pitfalls and fruitless dead-ends surround us, while opportunity is elusive.

But fear not, Larry Johnson (Odopod's Associate Director of Strategy) and I (Director of Brand and Strategy) have been hard at work cataloging the common mistakes, collecting helpful techniques and distilling best practices to survive and thrive in today's in-between times. We've compiled them neatly, into a presentation of course, and would love the opportunity to share them with you, our industry friends and peers at SXSW 2012.

But we need your help. Please vote for our SXSW session: Danger is Everywhere: Illuminating common pitfalls of marketing's in-between times and take a peek at some example slides here.

This preview is just a taste of what's to come. We promise to keep it short, sweet and useful so send us a vote and we'll see you there.

The Summer According to Odopod’s First Intern

This summer, I was given the amazing opportunity to pioneer the first design internship at Odopod after meeting with founder Tim Barber at RIT’s Industry Day. From my first day, I felt like a part of the Odopod family.

Right away, I became heavily involved with major projects for both IWC and DonQ, working on interface design, user experience, and motion studies that kept me busy throughout the summer. I was also delegated to conquer some design and development for internal projects as well.

As the team became more confident in my skills, I was given more work and more responsibility. By the end of the summer I had done everything from animating an After Effects motion study to coding HTML/CSS and designing web pages. I even had the opportunity to render stylized 3D assets, making my summer experience extremely well rounded.

Working at Odopod has really boosted my knowledge of the industry and has greatly enhanced my skills as a designer. I had the privilege of working alongside a team of incredible designers who were always ready to answer my questions, show me helpful shortcuts, and share special design techniques to improve my work and help me become more efficient.

Perhaps the most important part of the experience was learning how to work with a full team that included strategists, designers, developers, creative directors, and producers. From client meetings to lunch breaks, everything I did was always a part of a team effort. I was honored to be included on a team of people with such similar interests and personalities to my own.

I am thrilled to have had such a wonderful experience working here at Odopod. The "odopeeps" are a fun and energetic group of people that made me excited to get up and go to work each day and tackle challenges for huge clients. I am now looking forward to taking my newly acquired knowledge and skills back into the classroom so I can make my senior year the best one yet.

Same Team, New Name

It's been thirteen years since we started Odopod.

We've always wanted one thing: to do the best work of our lives. Along the way, we have been joined by an eclectic and exceptionally talented bunch of people who wanted the same thing. Together, we've built a company we love.

Two years ago, Odopod was acquired by Nurun.

The acquisition was a validation of everything we had built. It was also a catalyst for some big changes we wanted to make. We began to tackle bigger, thornier problems and to work all over the world. With Nurun, we've had a series of huge wins and have been producing our best work yet.

That's why we recently decided to retire the Odopod brand, formally adopt Nurun as our name, and take the reins of Nurun's US operations.

We're all still here—same team with the same appetite for great work, only now with different e-mail addresses and more frequent flyer miles. And we're growing, so send your talented friends our way.

Keep an eye out for new work from Nurun. It will be our best yet.

Tim, Dave, Jacquie, JT & Guthrie


The best way to reach us

For new business, contact Stacy Stevenson
stacy.stevenson@nurun.com

For general inquiries, contact us at
sf@nurun.com

For more about Nurun, visit
www.nurun.com