Our Take on NewCo’s Bay Area Festival Oakland Experience
The tech boom is sweeping across the Bay Bridge and into the heart of Oakland, but the city hasn’t lost its soul. While NewCo host companies are mostly tech firms — and indeed, Uber is opening a 3,000 person office downtown , and companies like Pandora, VSCO, and Huge have made the city their home — it was a different story in Oakland: host companies were also . They opened up their doors and told their story.
But, as NewCo Bay Area Festival made clear, the city is working hard to maintain the soul and creativity that makes it so unique. Take a look at some of the highlights from the day.
Session Mini Spotlight: The Port Workspaces
This Oakland-born co-working organization occupies a wide-ranging series of private and not-so-private work areas across a number of floors in a building on 20th Street in Oakland. It’s a stone’s throw from Lake Merritt and the space was created when an aging, mid-century shopping mall, Kaiser Mall, was converted into a modern hive of productivity. And the Kaiser Mall space is one of three co-working options for Port Workspaces members!
We arrived at The Port Workspaces for the first session of the day on Tuesday (2/7) amid a deluge of rain. Our run to and from the BART station was a wet one but we were happy to duck into The Port’s cozy atmosphere and be greeted by friendly NewCo Ambassador faces at the door. They directed us to the escalator and we ascended to the third floor where a large open room with deep leather chairs, thick wood tables, coffee and pastries called out to us. We grabbed coffee and a snack and sunk into this enticing seating arrangement and enjoyed the view while COO Karen Wertman and CEO Joel Pool prepared their slide presentation. They took us through a short talk about their vision for The Port Workspaces and enlightened us on topics around Oakland’s renaissance as well. We finished off the session with a tour of the facility.
We stuck around The Port for the next session with Jared Brick of Brickhouse Media. We love Jared’s story: he was a fan and attendee of NewCo events from our early days. Then, he created his scrappy and extremely creative digital marketing agency in Oakland and became a host company. He has welcome attendees to his NewCo talks for the last two years. His NewCo session this year was about leveraging media for thought leadership. Jared’s presentation was very buttoned up and we left wanting more! We’ve a strong suspicion that our work with Jared is far from over.
Brick House Media’s NewCo Session:
— Brick House Media Co (@BHmediaCo) February 8, 2017
Session Mini Spotlight: VSCO
After a quick lunch break we headed to VSCO for their session at 1pm. VSCO’s headquarter is located in the heart of Oakland downtown. As you enter the office, you instantly feel the hip and fresh vibe from its well-decorated industrial themed office and the young and smiley employees casually hanging out with the visitors. This was VSCO’s first ever NewCo host session and we could feel they were excited as much as the visitors.
As soon as the full group of attendees were seated, VSCO’s co-founder Greg Lutze started introducing a bit about their business. We learned the two interesting facts about VSCO: First, 75% of VSCO users are either women or young millennials. Regardless of this user stat, our audience was a good mix of all generation and genders. Can we say this means VSCO has a potential to expand its user base? Secondly, VSCO app doesn’t have the common social components such as comments or like even though the business pursues building a community through the app. The removed them intentionally as they wanted users to focus on their own visual storytelling without having to have a pressure on increasing followers.
Even the session itself was innovative and fun at VSCO. After the short introduction, the attendees were teamed up with the VSCO employees and took portraits of their team members using the VSCO app. Not to mention we all got to download the app (a smart sales technique right there!) we were also be able to casually tour around the office and become much closer with the VSCO team through this activity. Finally, we submitted our photos in the app using the hashtag #NewCoVSCO and we could see a beautiful collection of our portraits were instantly created within the app.
— Yumna (@yumnabahgat) February 8, 2017
Session Mini Spotlight: Huge
Huge is an international design agency with a Bay Area office just off Broadway in downtown Oakland. We arrived at their 17th Street address and skipped up the stairs of the historic building that also houses renown alternative energy incubator Powerhouse. Huge’s friendly team greeted us and we were led to a makeshift presentation room already packed full of eager NewCo attendees. The room actually appeared to be the office kitchen, but we didn’t care. Many of the sessions at NewCo Bay Area were set up in informal areas. We were just happy to get an inside peek at the inner workings of this exciting agency.
Huge’s energetic Creative Director Jen Tank led us through a talk focused on the firm’s core values, recent work, and some of the unique functionality they bring to their clients’ projects. Huge has led groundbreaking campaigns for TED, Nike, Pepsi, Audi, and HBO. They are a development shop with a mobile slant (you pretty much have to be these days) and bring a holistic approach to their work, which is very NewCo, as we like to say. The core value that we all chuckled when presented was, “we give a shit”. Also very NewCo!
The highlight of the talk for us was Jen Tank’s description of the Pepsi Refresh project created by Huge. They convinced Pepsi to divert its $20M Super Bowl budget to a campaign aimed at a grant program that would fund applicants with ideas to make the world a better place. We loved it!
— Timothy Nordvedt (@bellatimmy) February 8, 2017