In the past couple of years, crowdsourcing has been a way to get attention and signal a connection to a brand’s customers. Now that budgets are cut across the board, effectively outsourcing your product development, marketing and/or PR to a loyal community feels like owning a Prius when gas is $6 a gallon. But while some brands are finding ways to add community into their mix, it’s baked into the DNA of others; at Threadless and Etsy, for instance, the community IS the business model. Others, like 20×200, combine community with expert curation for a different result. What have these pioneering companies learned about creativity, constraints, and corralling community? What C words could we add to make this more compelling? Bring your questions for this panel of capable curators.
Jennifer Pahlka is the founder and executive director of Code for America, which is dedicated to the idea that government can work for the people, by the people, in the 21st century. She is an Ashoka fellow, and received the Internet and Society Award from the Oxford Internet Institute in 2012. Government Technology named her one of 2011’s Doers, Dreamers and Drivers in Public Sector Innovation and the Huffington Post named her the top Game Changer in Business and Technology the same year. She is known for her TED talk, Coding a Better Government, and is a frequent speaker. Previously, she ran the Web 2.0 and Gov 2.0 events for TechWeb, in conjunction with O’Reilly Media, and co-chaired the successful Web 2.0 Expo. She is a graduate of Yale University and lives in Oakland, Calif. with her daughter and eight chickens.
Jen Bekman is an art-dealer, curator, writer, and entrepreneur whose inventive approach to the art world has created new models for connecting artists and collectors. Her experience as an internet media executive informs a multi-faceted enterprise, including her eponymous Manhattan gallery (which pioneered the Lower East Side art scene upon its opening in 2003), the online endeavor 20×200 (a place to buy limited-edition fine-art prints at ridiculously affordable prices), and the international photography competition Hey, Hot Shot!
Jen Bekman’s projects have been featured in numerous international publications including, The New York Times, Art in America, Der Spiegel, Martha Stewart Living, and Wired. She frequently lectures and participates in panels about art, technology, media and marketing and is a popular portfolio reviewer at photo festivals. Her writing has appeared in GOOD Magazine and photo-eye Booklist. American Photo named her an Innovator of the Year in 2006 and she was honored with the Rising Star Award at Griffin Museum of Photography’s annual Focus Awards in 2008. 20×200 was recently named one of “America’s Most Promising Startups” by BusinessWeek.
Jeffrey is your average 29-year-old tattooed metal-head with an eye for design and nose for tomfoolery. His time is spent as partner and Chief Creative Officer of the Chicago-based, community-business-centric skinnyCorp.
Jeffrey started out as a design partner for the Threadless website, but soon joined the team full-time. As CCO, Jeffrey oversees design and strategy for skinnyCorp’s numerous community-based web projects. These projects range in scale from Threadless, a multi-million dollar tee shirt business and ongoing design competition, to YayHooray, a just-for-fun design and technology community site.
Jeffrey’s work has been published numerous times, and he has had the pleasure of speaking to students and peers all over the world from MIT to the University of Copenhagen to CNN to NPR.
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