Category Archives: Creativity

Duncan Stutterheim on the Business of Dance Music

Duncan Stutterheim, founder of Dutch entertainment enterprise ID&T, gave an intimate talk at the Amsterdam Dance Event in October.

ID&T has been around since the early 90’s, and is one of the largest electronic dance event organizers in the Netherlands, with events such as Sensation, Mysteryland, and Tomorrowland in its portfolio. Stutterheim recently announced that the US entertainment giant SFX acquired the final 25% of his company.

Here is a video we made of the talk, where Stutterheim discusses house music, success and failure in merchandising, changing trends in music, and going global.

On the impact of house music on the scene:

“And then the house music came, and I never experienced a fight ever in my whole life again. Never. And that feeling of being together and laughing and always having fun…and then, everybody was dancing. Then, a guy could just dance by himself and that wasn’t strange. Where a year before if you danced by yourself, it was like ‘what is he doing?’. So I think that was the whole change. To be exploring that new world, and the first new steps, and exploring yourself.”

On changing trends and nearing bankruptcy:

“And then we made a decision–we have to change. Hardcore is going down. Let’s take Mysteryland from a night festival to a day festival. We moved to Amsterdam. But from 40,000 tickets, we dropped to 15,000 tickets. We lost nearly 1 million Euros and nearly went bankrupt. We were lucky to have some funds left from the music business. But we did it, and the second year we found the new beautiful site where we are now, and then we went from 13,000 tickets back up to 40,000 and sold out again. So those were big changes and steps for ID&T.”

When asked about limits:

“I think the limit of electronic music…there is no limit. Because it’s getting easier and easier to make the music. There are some producers in the office already who are 13 or 14, with tracks, and you’re going ‘wow!’. With the electronic distribution of the music, there’s no limit. With the creativity, I also think there is no limit, because if you want to organize an event, if you really want to do it now, next week you can organize an event.”

A Singapore-Style Food Hawker Center in Amsterdam?

Amsterdam is a great city, and there’s not a lot to complain about living or visiting here–except perhaps the lack of diversity of the street food. However, with a few changes, the city is poised to become one of the world’s leading street-food destinations.

One of the unsung components of a healthy business and social ecosystem is a thriving street food scene–providing readily available, high-quality, affordable food. In the Netherlands, you can’t go far without bumping into a herring stand. In major cities in the western world, the hot dog/currywurst/sandwich stand has been a great urban asset for the past century. Whether you call it “street food” or “hawker food”, it’s hard to imagine a thriving metropolis without it. 

In Southeast Asia, street food is everywhere and has been for centuries. It often takes the form of independently-owned stalls clustered together. Sometimes called “hawker centers”, these are permanent halls or covered plazas, with food stalls around the edge and a single seating area in the middle. 

food court, hawker center

A Singaporean food hawker center

The Singaporean hawker center pictured above is centrally located in an urban setting, with independent chefs in each stall preparing their own signature dishes. In Singapore and Malaysia, these food courts are central to their communities. This is in stark contrast to the “food courts” that North America knows so well–usually in suburban shopping malls, populated with chains like Cinnabon and Sbarro.

US Food Court

Typical North American mall food court

CNN TV host, chef, and author Anthony Bourdain says hawker centers are one of the most important ingredients for a robust culture. They have energy, vibrancy, and a lack of pretentiousness, with people from all walks of life gathering to eat together, creating an environment conducive for business, networking, and casual socializing.

Recently, food trucks have taken off in the US, diversifying the food options and allowing for impromptu food court formations by “circling the wagons”. In the Netherlands, the annual Weekend of the Rolling Kitchens festival started 6 years ago, which brings 75 food truck vendors to Amsterdam in the spring for a weekend festival. And this past summer, every week you could find multiple food courts featuring new trucks and types of food.

On Wednesdays this summer, just across the River Ij from Amsterdam Central Station, a collective of food trucks gathered in front of the former Shell Oil office tower. The trucks drew a big crowd each week, using the outdoor tables and chairs already set up for the cafe in the bottom of the tower. Hungry people came out to lounge in the sun together while they enjoyed their food.

Weekly Wednesday food truck court in North Amsterdam

Food trucks, North Amsterdam, Amsterdam Noord

Lots of options in the food truck court

The food truck trend has even spread to more traditional places like Haarlem, just outside of Amsterdam. In August, the city hosted the first edition of ProefPark Haarlem, sort of a trial food festival featuring only food trucks. The weekend pilot was a success, with easily more than 10,000 people coming through to try out the different foods.  

Food Truck Festival in Haarlem

One of the 30 food trucks at the Haarlem festival

More food trucks in Haarlem

This is great in the summer, but given the cold and wet Dutch winter weather, getting under a common roof in a food hawker center setting would make it possible to have this style of street food year-round. It would also provide a permanent location and anchor for community and other related development around it. 

At the large indoor street-market in the nearby industrial city of Beverwijk, there is a Singaporean-style food court. Its popularity, along with the recent success of the food trucks in Amsterdam, suggests that developing a Dutch-adapted, city-center indoor food court would find enthusiastic support. 

The city of Rotterdam is already building a large indoor market hall in its central square, with offices and apartments on top. Using this building as a model, we could imagine what a modern light-filled Dutch food court could be like.

Rotterdam market hall

Rendering for the Rotterdam Market Hall, scheduled for completion in 2014

Along Amsterdam’s riverfront on the north side of the Ij, the former industrial docklands are slowly being transformed into a high-density city-center hub, and would be a perfect place for a permanent food court. And like the Singaporean food courts, it could be open late into the night, providing much-needed food options for the large-scale nightlife scene planned for the area.  

Amsterdam Noord

Amsterdam North, perfect location for the first food court development

The Netherlands is a hotbed of expat activity, and is famous around the world for its international orientation. These potential food courts would add to the appeal of Amsterdam as a top location for technology, design, and innovative companies, as well as entice the younger skilled expat workers that the city is trying so hard to attract. While we can’t change the Dutch weather to make al-fresco street food dining a year-round possibility, we can give it an indoor home.

Next up in this series: A more in-depth look at the details of a successful southeast asian food court.

Many thanks to John Giusto and Alex Pineda for contributing photos. 

Duncan Stutterheim, founder of ID&T

Old Tower Resurrected as Nexus of Amsterdam Nightlife Culture

To entrepreneur Duncan Stutterheim, a dynamic urban ecosystem is essential for creative businesses to thrive, and he’s going to help make it happen in a vacant tower in central Amsterdam.

Stutterheim, founder of electronic music festival promoter ID&T, was one of the speakers featured at the recent Spotlight on Creative Industries event in Amsterdam. Three world-renowned entrepreneurs shared their stories about the power of Amsterdam’s creative industries, and their thoughts on the international competitive strength of the region.

The topic was creative entrepreneurship, and not surprisingly, a common thread for all three speakers was urban design and its impact on the creative/innovation ecosystem. As the evening unfolded, it became clear that, as a city, you either have good urban design that fosters that ecosystem, or you don’t. And cities that don’t pay a large price in terms of attracting talent and and business.

The Architect

Ben van Berkel

Architect Ben van Berkel

Dutch Architect Ben van Berkel of UNStudio talked about the importance of co-creativity and collaboration in his work, and he showed images of his buildings from around the world. He included his famous Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam, along with other minimalist-style buildings he has designed.

‘Living Tomorrow’ by Dutch architect Ben van Berkel

Van Berkel’s work is more relatable, and humanistic than a lot of other “starchitect” buildings out there. However, the connective tissue between the buildings is still mostly missing. But that’s not unusual, because that’s what well-known architects are paid to do–to focus on their own building, sometimes at the expense at what’s surrounding it.

Van Berkel acknowledged that the key to making creative cities is more about the space between buildings than the buildings themselves.

“It’s clear that vitality of creative ecosystems thrives in the public spaces–the cafes, the streetscapes–the spaces between everything,” he said.

The Designer

Renny Ramakers, founder of Droog

Next was Renny Ramakers, the famed international ambassador of Dutch design. In the early 90’s, she founded Droog, a design foundation in Amsterdam that has grown into a retail/webshop, event space, cafe, and hotel. Droog focuses on “creating innovation and discussion” in Amsterdam and around the world.

Fairy Tale Garden at Droog

Her talk centered around the challenges she faced with the strict urban development rules and restrictions when first establishing Droog in central Amsterdam. She wanted to open a hotel, but the neighborhood and city wouldn’t let her do it. However, these constraints forced some creative problem-solving, resulting in what Droog is today. And she got her hotel after all–in the form of  the “one and only bedroom.

So while Amsterdam is understandably a museum city that needs to be protected, she said there’s also the need for experimental free zones–areas that support new and non-conforming ideas and urban development strategies.

“Really free zones where you can do what you want. No regulations, no neighbors who are complaining. That would be fantastic,” she said.


Droog in Amsterdam City Center

And thankfully, Amsterdam has space available where this sort of free zone would fit in nicely into the overall urban fabric.

The Event Promoter and His Tower

Duncan Stutterheim, founder of ID&T and Twenty4 Amsterdam

Which brings us to North Amsterdam (the “Noord”) and Stutterheim. He was smiling about the recent announcement that he sold 75% of his company to US event promoter giant SFX Entertainment in a $120 million deal. Already the largest electronic dance event company in the Netherlands, this partnership makes ID&T part of a new globally dominant force in the industry. The other 25% of the company is the design division, which Stutterheim is keeping so that ID&T can maintain creative control for its events.

ID&T Sensation Dance Event in Amsterdam

“So here we are at the table as Amsterdamers from the Noord, talking with billionaire people about how we’re going to create a global growth company,” he said. “And their vision is really centered around our product and what our company is doing, and that gives us a good feeling–to still be in creative control, with big guys behind it.”

Now Stutterheim is now turning his attention to developing Twenty4 Amsterdam in the Overhoeks Building in Amsterdam Noord, his utopian tower of creativity, entertainment, music, and start-ups.

Overhoeks Tower (right), future home of Twenty4 Amsterdam. View from ferry going south to Central Station.

Anyone who has spent time in Amsterdam will recognize the Overhoeks building, It’s the tower next to the EYE Film Institute, which is visible looking North across the river from Central Station. The building formerly housed Shell Oil, and has been vacant since 2009. Now it is used as a giant tower-shaped billboard.

Stutterheim’s plan for the building, which won out over more than 30 proposals, ia a layer cake of music and technology, with night clubs, a hotel, studios, apartments, and a free working space for creative companies in the plans.

Twenty4 Amsterdam Plan

Strutterheim and his partner were inspired by the creative co-working spaces they saw in New York.

“You have this working space for the young generation with a laptop–they don’t have money to start up. I’m getting older, and if we have all these young people around us, that gives a lot of energy and inspiration  So we created this space downstairs, 1000 sq meters, to be a free working space for the creative industry,” he said.

Even though the project is projected to finish 2015, Stutterheim says the space in building is already fully-booked.

“In Amsterdam, everyone’s complaining about ‘a million square meters’ [of commercial space being vacant]. and within a month we’re all leased,” Stutterheim said.

A New Vision for Amsterdam’s Creative Growth

Most of all, Stutterheim hopes Twenty4 Amsterdam will be a new chapter in Amsterdam for creative industries and development.

“We came from Amsterdam Noord, so it’s very important for us to give something back to the city. For the business community, the entertainment community, the music community–the whole creative community,” he said.

Indeed, this tower development could be a major catalyst for a New Amsterdam in the Noord.

The Amsterdam Noord has historically been home to heavy industry and warehouses, along with some  newer residential development. The area is in a unique position–it’s right next to the historic city center (separated by only 500 meters of water and a free ferry), yet it’s wide open for forward-looking ideas and development.

Imagine if the entire Noord was a free zone like Ramakers envisioned in her talk, where crazier-than average ideas have fertile ground to grow. What could this New Noord look like? Twenty4 Amsterdam is just the beginning. The opportunity is there if we embrace it and make the most of it.

Twenty4 Amsterdam Future Rendering, looking south toward Amsterdam Central Station

PromaxBDA Europe Conference 2013

18 Buzzworthy Apps for the TV Marketing Community

I recently gave a presentation at the PromaxBDA Europe Conference, which is the largest gathering of marketing, promotion and design professionals in European television and entertainment media. I was there for Appsterdam to talk about the “best, most innovative and breakthrough applications of the last 12 months.”

PromaxBDA Europe Conference 2013

A Snowy Paris for the PromaxBDA Europe Conference 2013

Among many other things, people in the PromaxBDA community make a lot of cool promos as part of their work. So to try to speak their language, we put together some videos of our own for the app reviews. The guys from One More Thing provided the on-air commentary. They usually do their live streaming broadcasts in Dutch, but they did these special videos in English just for us. Thanks Jesse, Jan David, and Koen!

Many thanks also to MediaMonks who provided the final editing of the videos.

I hand-picked this group of 18 apps over 10 categories for the conference presentation–apps that have either launched or exploded in buzz and exposure over the past 12 months.

Of course there are many other great apps out there. We want to do more Appsterdam/One More Thing reviews in the future, so please add your suggestions in the comments.

Below are the reviews. Enjoy!


Photo and Video

  • Vyclone automatically makes an edited 4-camera movie that you can then share with the community.
  • Scoopshot is a professional version of the citizen journalist apps out there.


Design and Creativity

  • Paper is so successful because of its simplicity, elegance, and how much of a pleasure it is to use.
  • POP is a tool for making an interactive wireframe for your app using paper drawings.



  • Syncpad allows brainstorming on a whiteboard, even if everyone is in a different location.
  • Clear “has no interface” and uses only simple, intuitive gestures for your to-dos.


Social Media

Vine is the Twitter for video that lets you capture and share short looping videos of 6 seconds or less.



  • Stevie pulls videos from your friends’ social media feeds and presents them to you in a “lean-back” experience.
  • Snagfilms lets you watch films and shorts for free on your iPad. They have more than 3,000 items in their library–you only have to watch an ad first.


Augmented Reality

Blippar has a special system for brands to use for building their augmented reality experiences.



  • Figure makes a musician out of everyone, with a unique but intuitive interface.
  • Nodebeat helps you make dreamy songs by pulling “nodes” into the field.
  • 22tracks is a streaming music app with curated playlists from well-known DJs from Amsterdam, Paris, London, and Brussels.


News and Inspiration

  • Flipboard pulls your news feeds into a unique but intuitive interface that invites browsing and exploring.
  • Prismatic figures out what news you’re interested in by looking at your existing social media, music libraries, and whatever else it can find.


Second Screen

  • Walkers Kill Count for The Walking Dead TV series syncs with episodes and makes a game out of predicting the zombie kills.
  • American Idol is about the community around the TV show and keeping the experience going between episodes.


One More Thing

TshirtOS is a concept in beta. It’s a programmable t-shirt controlled by an app.


Texas Innovator Finds Alternative Universe in Amsterdam

It’s 8:45 am, cold, and rainy, and William Hurley is riding to a press interview on a bicycle, wearing a suit. Not something you normally do as a guest of honor brought to tour a major city–unless that city is Amsterdam. And he thinks it’s brilliant.

Appsterdam International Genius–Whurley

In December 2012, Appsterdam and the City of Amsterdam Economic Affairs invited William Hurley (a.k.a. “Whurley”) to receive the International Genius Grant. He is the second recipient of the honor, which brings one of the “world’s smartest and most interesting people” to share knowledge and learn about the creative, business, and technology opportunities in Amsterdam. Last year’s recipient was Dom Sagolla of Twitter fame.

Whurley is co-founder of Chaotic Moon in Austin, TX, which develops mobile apps and launches hardware and software innovations. He is a leading authority on open source, open innovation, and augmented reality. He is also a popular public speaker with a lot to say about the business of innovation and how to make cool stuff as quickly as possible. For example, the Board of Imagination, a mind-controlled skateboard that he made with his team in a few weeks, and The Smarter Cart™, the “shopping cart of the future,” which follows you around the store and makes suggestions for what to buy. Both have been featured on TV shows like The Gadget Show and Gadget Man.


Austin and Amsterdam

Whurley is also an established member of the Austin “Silicon Hills” tech scene. He came to Amsterdam with hopes and ambitions for increasing commercial ties and cultural relationships, having recognized the many obvious similarities between Austin and Amsterdam. “In both cities, there’s an openness to international trade, a liberal atmosphere with a high level of social contentment, and the arts and sciences are highly valued,” he said.

He also noted how similar the people are in the two cities–creative, open-minded, and progressive. “By the second or third day, I stopped feeling like I was traveling, because everyone I met reminded me of someone back home. I felt like I was in an alternative universe version of Austin.”

As an avid cyclist and skateboarder in Austin, Whurley especially noticed the ubiquity of bicycles in Amsterdam. “I thought there were a lot of bikes in Austin, but, wow! The extent of the cycling infrastructure here and the way it’s integrated makes such a huge difference. If we had this number of bikes in Austin with our existing infrastructure, it would be chaos.”


A Week in  Amsterdam

Along with plenty of time on the bicycle seat, Appsterdam and the city scheduled Whurley for back-to-back meetings with some of the most innovative companies and people in Amsterdam. They also put him to work–giving talks and lectures, and interviews with the media. (See the full schedule here.) His days were filled with a variety of activities around the city, from hobnobbing with app makers and people in the Amsterdam startup scene, to visiting the Waag Society’s FabLab to check out the 3D printers and milling machines.


Whurley with his key to the city–made in the Waag Society’s FabLab maker space.


Talking with students at Hogeschool van Amsterdam.


Whurley at One More Thing Live broadcast in Rotterdam


Vaporware to Makerware

The biggest event of the week was “Vaporware to Makerware”. The event was moderated by Kerrie Finch of FinchFactor, who joined Whurley along with two Dutch innovators:

  • Daan Roosegaarde (Studio Roosegaarde) creates “interactive landscapes,” from women’s wear that responds to intimacy by becoming more transparent, to smart highways that are interactive and sustainable.
  • Antoinette Hoes (Tribal DDB Amsterdamis an expert in digital strategy for established global brands, who provided a corporate perspective for the discussion.

The evening centered around the rise of the “maker movement” and what it means for innovation and the way we create things. The topic was inspired by the maker culture in Amsterdam and the recent announcement that Wired editor Chris Andersen is leaving the magazine for his own DIY firm, 3D Robotics. The panel took questions from the audience, which covered everything from 3D printers, community access to tools, creating your own weapons, and what it all means for brands.

“I think the way we’re experiencing information and consuming things is going to evolve enormously,” Roosegaarde said on-stage. “We often talk of technology as if it’s mysterious, which of course it’s not. We are fortunate to finally be emerging from an era where technologies were both alien and rapidly obsolete, to a time when new materials and fabrication methods enable technology to be reliable and accessible once again.”

Hoes spoke of the impact that personal products being made at home will have on big brands. “The coming argument from your average customer is going to be ‘I’m an adult, and I don’t want to be beholden to anyone to buy what I want to make or have’,” she said. “But until the day that the material capabilities of the individual at home exceeds that of the big brands, brands will continue to have a dominant impact on retail commerce.”

The Panel: Daan Roosegaarde, Whurley, Antoinette Hoes.

They also discussed the more inspirational aspects of the emerging maker technologies. “It’s very important for people to understand that we live in the greatest time ever as makers–as people who have ideas,” Whurley said. “Never before has there been such easy access to technology, hardware, and being able to be creative. People who may not think they are creative, but who have ideas, are now able to take their ideas and make them into creations. It’s incredibly powerful.”


Experience the Ecosystem

Even with his packed schedule, Whurley always found time to talk to people. It was amazing how he brought out the tech and creative communities and stimulated discussion and ideas. After every presentation, people stayed afterwards because they wanted to keep the conversation going. Each night you could find people hanging out around the fireplace at his hotel, chatting with him until the wee hours of the morning.

“Everything is so close here, and people can just hop on their bikes or on a tram to get together on a whim to share ideas,” he said. “And that’s what makes Amsterdam such a perfect ecosystem for entrepreneurship and innovation. It facilitates ideas and collaboration, which I love to see, and it attracts a goldmine of energy and talent.”


Just the Beginning

On his last day in Amsterdam, Whurley and his partner Pamela were greeted with snow and an orange weather alert. By then they had fallen in love with Amsterdam and their OV-Fietsen, and they had a blast riding their bikes to Central Station–even through the snow and slush.

“Amsterdam is a perfect combination of the best parts of cities around the world: freedom, safety, tolerance, art, and business- and tech-savvy,” he said. “It’s also proof that committing to solid urban design principals has commercial, cultural, and health rationale.

“I now understand first-hand why for centuries it has been a place where people from around the world come to live, learn, and do business–and it feels like home.” (Appsterdam Mayor Mike Lee agrees.)

And on his way out of town, he was heard saying, “I’ll be back sooner than you know.”


Whurley and Pamela loving their OV-Fietsen, their main transportation for the week.


Whurley’s International Genius Grant Week

Sunday: Appsterdam Game Day, Trans-Dimensional Portal demo, tour of the Waag Society FabLab, dinner and networking with Appsterdamers

Monday: City of Amsterdam Economic Affairs meetings with local businesses

Tuesday: City of Amsterdam Economic Affairs meetings with local businesses, lunch with leaders in the business and startup world, presentation to Amsterdam Makers event, tour of THNK Amsterdam School of Creative Leadership, dinner with leaders in design and innovation

Wednesday: Interview with, interview with Virtueel Platform, Appsterdam Weekly Wednesday Lunchtime Lecture, Appsterdam Meeten en Drinken

Thursday: Lecture for Strategic Management Students at InHolland University, presentation to students at Hogeschool van Amsterdampresentation to students and staff at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam INTERTAIN Experimental Research Lab, Vapoware to Makerware event at Pakhuis de Zwijger.

Friday: Interview with CiaoBasta, meeting with Alexander Klöpping from De Wereld Draait Door, tour of  Studio Roosegaarde in Gouda, One More Thing live broadcast in Rotterdam.


Media Links

One More Thing Live broadcast interview    (video)

Vaporware to Makerware event    (video) interview    (video) interview, pt. 2    (video)

Austin American-Statesman Article

Austin Chamber of Commerce Article

Profile on CiaoBasta

Urban Times Vaporware to Makerware Review

Urban Times Board of Imagination Article

Check out the Appsterdam Meetup page for more information on their events.



Your first job is to entertain. Jonathan Carter of Glimworm knows how to do that.

Public Speaking for the Rest of Us

It doesn’t matter how great your idea is if you can’t communicate it to others–in writing, but also verbally. One of the best ways to propel your cause or idea is to get out there and speak in front of anyone you can–conferences, meetups, and club meetings are all great opportunities.

Preparing for and giving a talk is also a fantastic way to get your creativity flowing, and to clarify and organize for yourself your knowledge about something. Through the process of researching and preparing an hour-long talk, you will become at least a semi-expert on that topic.

The best way to get started is to just sign yourself up for any opportunity and start doing it. It’s like a muscle that has to be exercised. The more you do it, the easier it gets. It’s best to start small in lower-risk environments and work your way up to bigger events.

There’s a lot of information out there about public speaking, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Here’s a great video by Mike Lee, with tips geared particularly toward speaking at conferences and similar settings.

Mike is the Mayor of Appsterdam, and an entrepreneur/engineer who is highly sought after to speak at various events and conferences. Mike knows how to give a great talk, and he was kind enough to pass on some of his tips and tricks in this video. He describes a practical and concise method that’s easy to incorporate. It’s a slightly different angle than you might have seen before, touching on the logisitics of speaking at an event as well as actual speaking tips.

Here are some highlights:

Your Mission as a Presenter It’s a mistake to think you’re up there to teach and educate people. You’re not. Because in order to educate people, you first have to engage them. This is a critical point.

Your job is to do the following, in order of importance:

1.  Entertain. If you get them laughing, there’s oxygen flowing to their brains, they’re paying attention, engaged, and ready to receive information. Even if they leave without retaining any information, if it was funny, at least they will feel they had a good time. And that’s worth something.

2.  Inspire. For example, if you’re showing an API, say “look at all the great things this API will let you do”. Get them inspired to learn more about it after they leave.

3.  Educate.  Only after you have entertained and inspired them do you try to educate them. If you try to educate first, it doesn’t work.

Make them laugh, make them interested, and then make them smarter.

Your first job is to entertain. Jonathan Carter of Glimworm knows how to do that.

Being Prepared As a speaker at any event, no matter how big or small, you need to plan for the failure of all of your systems and tools. Being a professional means pulling it off even when everything goes wrong. This includes:

  • Being ready to present without slides or notes. (Sometimes, all systems fail. It happens. You still need to be able to do your presentation.)
  • You and only you are responsible for your presentation coming off well. (You cannot trust the event organizers or anyone else.)
  • Bring your own speaker kit (even if they say they will have one at the venue):

-Laptop with slides

-Video adapter

-Power cord

Clicker (Most important. You do not want to be walking up to your laptop each time to change the slides. And not a wifi clicker. Get one with a USB dongle.)

Stage Presence You want to command the room and have the entire audience focused on you. Be animated and passionate in a way that would be completely unacceptable on the street. Be dynamic, move around, and get excited. Also, always stay positive. Always think “how can I say this in a way that is positive?” Forget the negative when you’re up on stage. And a great tip–don’t look back at your slides while speaking, because not looking back is so cool. It says that you’re so good that you know exactly what’s happening behind you without having to look.


Mikey Ward from Big Nerd Ranch demonstrating how to command the room.

Feeling Nervous Everyone feels nervous on-stage. It’s how you deal with that nervous feeling  that matters. If you say to yourself, “I suck. This is going terribly,” then you’re right. But if you say, “well, there’s that familiar feeling”, but push through it? It’s go time. You embrace the adrenaline rush, and just go.

Know your material There are three steps to success: practice, practice, and practice. Don’t wing it. The great speakers who look like it’s so natural and off the top of their head? They have practiced. Know what you’re talking about. Make it so deeply burned into your consciousness that you can switch it on and present without thinking about it. Be able to do the presentation backwards, forwards, in your sleep, on your bike–and you will always be able to deliver it without a hitch.

Giving Demos Do not do live demos. Even after reading this, you still may be tempted to do it, thinking it’s the only way to truly show the functionality of your product, etc. But really, don’t do it. Especially if it relies on wifi. If you do, you can bet it will fail. Create a movie or canned demo on your hard drive instead. This isn’t cheating. It is an assurance that your demo won’t fail.

Be passionate and animated on-stage, but watch those fingers! Samantha Hosea of GRASPe is a wonderful speaker who would never make this gesture intentionally–caught by the camera in a funny moment.

Creating Buzz Make it easy for your audience to talk about you. Let them know your Twitter handle, right at the beginning (put it on your starting slide). Speak in 140-character sound bites, so people can text or tweet about it right there. Take your main points and boil them down to a single sentence so they are easily transmitted. If it’s something you really want people to talk about, write the tweet yourself ahead of time, then say it. And put it right there, on a slide, in big letters. Try it–it works. Even if you’re only giving a talk to 20 people, you can still get some buzz going.


There are more great tips in the video.

If you’re in the Amsterdam area, check out the Appsterdam Meetup page for the speaker training events (last Monday of every month). It’s a great way to get practice in a low-risk environment, with honest and helpful direct feedback.


Photo by  Koos Looijesteijn.

PICNIC Festival 2012

This year, Appsterdam hosted the “App Ecosystem Tent” at the PICNIC Festival in Amsterdam.

The tent was outside the main venue at the EYE Film Institute, and we partnered with 12 different universities and businesses to put on a three-ring circus of business, education, and app-making. It was an exciting event with lots of energy and innovation happening in the tent.

Photo by Koos Looijesteijn.

Here was our Blurb:

Appsterdam returns to PICNICwith a closer look at the now bigger and better ecosystem of App Makers in orbit around the historic Dutch capital. Together with partners in business and education, Appsterdam is creating a three-ring circus of learning, commerce, and app-making fun. We invite guests and PICNIC attendees to meet the city’s App Makers and look at this exciting new economy from several perspectives. Share your ideas and dreams, get expert advice, and learn more about the role of apps today and in the future.

People got to learn new things, have some fun, make new contacts, and catch a glimmer of hope for the future.

Learning stuff in one of the workshops.


Making new connections during "Speed Networking"

Making new connections during “Speed Networking”


“I have a great idea!”


Data Visualization Workshop

Data Visualization Workshop


Open data app from Waag Society

Open data app from Waag Society


Open data app demo from Waag Society

Open data app demo from Waag Society


About to go onstage for the Pitch Contest

About to go onstage for the Pitch Contest


Creativity isn’t Magic. It’s Hard Work–Over and Over

Psychology Today published an interesting article about the aspects of creative thinking that we’re not usually taught in school. The overall point is that creativity is not some magical fairly dust sprinkled on a few special people who can create artistic masterpieces or brilliant inventions on the first try. It’s actually a lot of repetition, work, and practice, along with plenty of ambiguity, frustration, and failure. But realizing this is inspiring and gives hope. It means that if you believe you are creative, and you’re willing to put the work into it, you can be creative.

On the trial-and-error involved:

“All creative geniuses work passionately hard and produce incredible numbers of ideas, most of which are bad. In fact, more bad poems were written by the major poets than by minor poets. Thomas Edison created 3000 different ideas for lighting systems before he evaluated them for practicality and profitability. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart produced more than six hundred pieces of music, including forty-one symphonies and some forty-odd operas and masses, during his short creative life. Rembrandt produced around 650 paintings and 2,000 drawings and Picasso executed more than 20,000 works. Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets. Some were masterpieces, while others were no better than his contemporaries could have written, and some were simply bad.”

From a project management perspective, it helps explain why creatives and developers cringe when a project manager asks them how many hours it will take to come up with the perfect concept or solution. They can’t really tell you how many iterations it will require. The better question is, how much time do they have to do it in?