Many will say that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but here at .ME we beg to differ. For us, Spark.ME is the best and most wonderful time of the year, and the time we all get together to share, brainstorm and develop amazing new ideas on the beautiful Montenegro coast.
It’s no wonder then that we’re at our happiest today when the conference is in full swing. Spark.ME 2017 brought some of the most interesting speakers and panelists to Budva on its first day, and we’re still enjoying the second day today. For everyone who didn’t get the chance to see what we’re all about, we decided to provide a short recap of day one, so you can at least relive the part of the atmosphere that makes Spark.ME unique.
The opening keynote speaker this year was dr. Max McKeown, and the keynote was special in a number of ways: he came to Spark.ME for the first time this year, after 4 years of invites and emails. This simply goes to show that hard work really does pay off, and Max did indeed live up to the hype by providing us with a funny, smart and genuinely interesting keynote, accentuated by a large whiteboard that let us see what he’s talking about in more detail.
His keynote (aside from the jokes and casual crowd work) was based on the principles behind successful strategies. He noted that all success is successful adaptation, and all failure is the result of poor adaptability. This was emphasized by the point that all innovation is actually ideas made useful. To innovate simply means to take an idea and make it useful. Just because something is new, though, it doesn’t mean that it has a use to a wide range of people and that’s not a true innovation.
The basis of the theory he shared with us on Spark.ME was the three islands where we all tend to wind up sooner or later. The first one is the “bloody awful” island, where everyone understands you and does the same thing as you do. This is the place you’ll want to escape as soon as possible, and land on “Yes but no” island, where you create things that are unique, but obvious so everyone copies them and you’re back to square one.
The island we all need to aspire to is the appropriately named “paradise” island, where you understand what you’re doing, your customers love it and your competitors just can’t get it. This is the place you want to be in, and the place you should aspire to go with your business. Max concluded his keynote with tips about nowist philosophy, where you should aim to live in the moment and take life in positively and as it comes, so you minimize stress and remorse about the bad events that happen.
To describe the keynote in one word would be extremely hard, but we’re immensely glad that Max made it to Spark.ME and delivered one of the best speeches in recent memory.
When it comes to making things awesome, there’s few that do it better than LEGO. That’s precisely why Peter Kim titled his speech everything that can be awesome, will be. In his talk, he gave us insight into his personal life and career spanning more than a decade, to show us what he and others like him think about the future. Peter says that everything that can be digital will most certainly be digital, and everything that can be awesome will be truly awesome, too.
This includes the paradigm of the digital world acting on the physical world and vice versa, with tech revolutionizing the previously physical music market and the delivery industry as prime examples. To make something awesome, you just need to follow good causes and goals, and not stick around in an industry that’s making you unhappy.
The third speech of the day came from Robert Fitzpatrick, who held a great, inspiring talk about ideas and customer relations. He reasoned that you should never tell your ideas to someone, as they will probably support you without reasoning, just because you’re doing something. Instead, you should ask your customers and potential users about their lives and things they care about and learn to solve the issues that they have.
When it comes to the clients, you need to be quick and casual. No interview should last an hour, according to Rob. You should better be communicating with your clients over a cup of coffee or a beer and learn what they care about and how to make it better. Lastly, it’s extremely important to work with good people that encourage you to work better, as a good team is the foundation of any good business.
In the day’s panel discussion moderated by Matt Desmier, Cate Murden, Fern Miller and Mary Keane-Dawson discussed the links between tech, health and well-being in the connected world, from social media to artificial intelligence that can help us work more efficiently. The discussion also considered brands and how they can make the online interactions on their sites better and influencers, who are shaping up to be the future of marketing all over the world.
Jason Romeyko talked about braving the way in his talk, where he described the need to be brave to do good things in business. He illustrated it with the project of printing a magazine with the blood of HIV-positive volunteers to raise HIV awareness globally. It was a scary project, but in the end, it turned out amazing and helped put HIV on the global map again, relieving the stigma that the HIV-positive people face daily.
In an interesting turn of events, Jason asked us to fire up a mobile game called Sea Hero Quest that also helps provide data for dementia research, to see how gaming can help people while being casual and fun. The Spark.ME crowd provided the organization with some useful data which only proves that great things happen when people start to share information and data between them.
The last keynote of the day was reserved for Kamran Elahian, and revolved around making the world a better place through assistance in the education of younger people in Africa and the other less developed regions of the world. The idea, called iTechpreneurship, is based on making controlled chaos to combat actual chaos, similar to how Uber and Airbnb have disrupted their respective markets.
Kamran informed us that oil and gas will be worthless in 20 years and that we need to start thinking outside the box and helping underdeveloped economies to create tech jobs that will be sustainable in the future. It’s not an easy task, but Kamran is positive about the ability to create 10 million innovation jobs in the next 10 years. All we can say is good luck!
The final part of the Spark.ME day one was, of course, the startup competition. One of the highlights of Spark.ME, the conference once again gathered startups from the entire region to pitch their ideas to the judges in order to win a trip to TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco. The runner-up team will have the opportunity to stay for free at the Startup Embassy residence in Palo Alto, Silicon Valley.
The three startups that will compete in the finals today are Velocy, Churn and CouchCoach. We’re itching to see who takes away the grand prize today on the startup competition finals and gets to give their idea a boost in California.
Spark.ME continues today, with more inspiring talks and great speakers!
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