Author: Howard Gray

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Tickets features the visionaries, producers and operators behind some of the world’s most exciting and innovative live experiences.

Joining the dots between disciplines, Tickets seeks to find out what goes into bringing amazing ideas, companies and concepts to life.

In this our second season we’re exploring the future of education, and how emerging forms of technology and entertainment are changing the ways we learn and interact.
21 Episodes
SXSW's Todd Hansen on live event programming and spotting talent & trends
In the Spring of 1987, a group of music fans and journalists organised a small live event in Austin, Texas. They were pleasantly surprised by its success - around 700 people showed up.That first edition of South by SouthWest has become a 10 day conference and festival with over 28,000 attendees heading to Austin each March.It’s now one of the most recognised and respected live events on the planet, and its core tracks of music, film, technology and education inform as well as reflect what’s happening in modern culture.Today on Tickets I’m joined by Todd Hansen, SXSW’s head of conference programming.In this conversation, Todd shares insights into the programming team’s process, what makes for a compelling keynote, and how to handle one of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs showing up at 1 day’s notice. We also reminisce about a surprise gig from a member of purple royalty straight out of Todd’s hometown of Minneapolis. Episode overview03:00 SXSW’s history12:00 Programming for a rocketship18:00 Predicting trends25:00 Getting found, getting noticed32:00 Embracing serendipity40:00 This year’s highlights, and the role of technology in our lives45:00 The long drive from MinneapolisAbout Todd HansenTodd Hansen has spent his career chasing what interests him. The chase began by playing in bands in the ever-creative Minneapolis music scene, and with those relationships in play: a record label was born. Co-founding a record label gave rise to other fast-paced pursuits in the consulting and entrepreneurial worlds. Later, he started a couchsurfing platform for bands, pre-AirBnB, called Better Than The Van, and soon after that created an intensely popular Tumblr called Rich Kids of Instagram. Today, he is the Head of Conference Programming at SXSW, and leads a team of content curators across twenty-five tracks of programming. He's always fascinated by culture, tech and the human condition, and ever-inspired by those creating and collaborating in the arts and sciences: the framework builders of our future. Todd Hansen is a history nut, who asks, "What's next?'.The chase continues.
Betaworks’ James Cooper on building products, brands, and communities
Spend some time around the world of startups and it probably won’t be long until you hear someone mention the term startup studio. It’s recently become a bit of a buzz term for consultancies, ad agencies and brands, but New York company Betaworks have been working in and around this area for over a decade.As well as their work building and investing in companies, Betaworks have recently opened Studios, their own membership space in the city’s Meatpacking district.James Cooper is the company’s head of creative, working across a diverse range of projects from GIF sharing platforms to spatial design, voice recognition to meditation. We talked about how we can use technology to escape technology, what Betaworks look for when programming live events, the future of the shared experience, and the benefits to looking outside to find inspiration in an always-on digital world.Episode overview04:00 Going from digital to physical products07:00 Why now for building a brick & mortar space?10:00 The thought process behind Studios’ live event programming18:00 The role of a creative director in a startup studio25:00 Inside Betaworks’ ‘Camp’ accelerator program33:00 The future of the shared experience; from games, to meditation, live quizzes and beyond37:00 Where James finds inspiration, and how he stays on track 40:00 Advice for people wanting to build something newAbout JamesJames has been Head of Creative at start-up studio Betaworks since 2013. His role is to explore creative opportunities for betaworks products and tell the betaworks brand story. Some of the betaworks brands include the no.1 game, Dots, which has been downloaded over 150 million times and won many industry awards.Other betaworks products include GIPHY, the search engine for Gifs recently valued at $600M, Poncho, the most popular bot on Facebook and recent star of Apple's, 'Planet of the App's and Dexter, a bot building platform. James also produced ‘The Intern’, a hit podcast about working in betaworks and the tech world. Recently James launched betaworks Studios, a club for builders. Studios is a physical space where the new generation of builders can find one another and learn the secrets of sustained innovation betaworks has uncovered over the last ten years.Before betaworks, James was a creative director in the ad world where he has won many awards including two gold lions at Cannes. He was a Creative Partner at Anomaly and ran Dare - named Digital Agency of the Decade in London and sold for $50m in 2007. 
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