Live blog: Creative3 life lessons


Virgin Australia’s Christopher Stubbs on business innovation

Read the day one live blog post

The first day of Creative3 ended on a high note. Virgin Australia’s Christopher Stubbs provided a masterclass on internal innovation systems, explaining how to develop an outside-in mind-set that places the customer at the centre of business decisions.

Ideas can and should be tested quickly and iteratively: why spend a lot of money adding salad to your airline menu when you can test the product on a small scale with a few flights? Christopher advocated for design-led innovation to become an essential part of company culture.


Day two opened with a quick Creative3 origami ‘fortune teller’ paper folding session. Event MC and Archipelago Architects director Peter Edwards asked attendees to think of a question and then randomly reveal an answer from the folded paper.

When quizzed by Peter, an attendee revealed her question had been “Should I leap?”. “Signs pointed to yes” the paper foretold. It was an appropriately positive note for the day to start on.

ImageBrief CEO Simon Moss

ImageBrief CEO Simon Moss

However, it was a near-death experience that propelled first speaker ImageBrief CEO Simon Moss to start his own business. Suffering a stroke and experiencing an out-of-body experience in hospital, Simon realised what he truly wanted to do.

“If I get out of here, there’s no chance I’m going to work for another company again,” he shared in an emotional presentation at Creative3.

Continuing the conference’s trend of quoting Steve Jobs, Simon said if you have an idea and it hurts you not to do it, then you know its the time to do it. Simon and his wife used their shared professional experiences to find an appropriate market fit and scale creativity for capital investment.

ImageBrief started as a photography “drinking well” in order to iterate a creative product. It has now grown to 21,000 global photographers, providing clients access to hyperlocal and contextualised content. The company connects photographers and their product with the people who need it.

Bringing the product to market, Simon said he was taken surprise by the development build and and sale process. He encouraged the audience to become a “bush expert” very quickly, suggesting a number of lean business books to help aspiring entrepreneurs.

Simon described an “absolute moment of clarity” when he found AARRR – the start-up metrics for ‘pirates’. The model features Aquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral and Revenue, a process that he uses to measure metrics of both photographers and media clients.

Shorthand's Ben Fogarty

Shorthand’s Ben Fogarty

Brisbane resident Ben Fogarty gave a quick demonstration of Shorthand, an application that allows publishers to easily create compelling, immersive stories for the web. Only 18 months old, the company has gone on a journey that has brought them in contact with BBC, Guardian and ESPN. Ben’s presentation revealed his entrepreneurial approach and a philosophy that allowed Shorthand to fail.

“We wanted to become experts in failure – but in a good way,”  Ben said.

New York Times’ investment in the Snowfall multimedia story in a 2012 was a “game-changer” that encouraged Ben and Shorthand to test the market. They first approached the Guardian to create a story and further develop their system. The experience taught them where to find value – news media is discovering not only how to produce this type of  multimedia content, but whether they actually want to do it.

Shorthand is not just selling a product to clients – they become intimately involved with each multimedia story.

“What value are we bringing, who are we bringing it to, and is there scale in it?” Ben said.

Above video: Shorthand’s Ben Fogarty at Creative3 discusses ‘failing quickly’

Both sustaining innovation and disruptive innovation are needed to be successful, he said. Every fortnight the Shorthand team will write their assumptions and re-evalute them. They drip-feed new features iteratively and wait for demand before implementing them. They deliver an evolving value proposition through experimentation, testing and learning more about the market. They want to know how to monetise their product without placing ugly banner ads that distract the user.

“Audiences are coming to news from Twitter – there’s no loyalty… this format seems to be challenging that,” he said.

Their approach appears to be working – in the past month they have been approached by 16 new clients in the UK.

DWNLD Media's Alexandra Keating gave some vital life lessons to starting a business

DWNLD Media’s Alexandra Keating gave some vital life lessons for starting a business

The world is moving to a multi-platform way of thinking, and Alexandra Keating wants DWNLD to be the go-to brand for converting websites into apps. She shared her personal story and the lessons she had learned from her first start-up at just 20-years-old. Alexandra said that she has made her share of mistakes while fund raising, and she learnt there is a formula that can be followed.

You don’t need an original idea – just take an existing process and make it more efficient and online. Only raise what you need, when you need it. Start with one or two investors to support 1-2 employees, and build from there.

“Don’t call yourself a startup. Startup is just an excuse for making mistakes,” she warned.

If your business has no revenue, it likely wont work. You will have to pay to make customers, so work out the value of each customer beforehand. Work towards business goals, not the product goals. You only launch once, so know your launching goals. Give your product to the press when it is completely works and get them involved. Once you are in the market, no one will write about it because it is already out there.

“After launching, many people people freak out and then spend their budget on viral videos and public relations,” she said.

No strategy meetings, ever. Create a thought and place it into a Google Doc, where in the team can contribute. One hour group sessions with ten people are ten wasted hours.

Always be pivoting. Pivot where the market is and move towards traction. Listen to the marketplace and adapt. Alexandra said she has pivoted three times to get to where she is, which she believes is the average number for a starting business.

The insightful experiences shared by the young entrepreneur were well received by MC Peter Edwards and the Creative3 audience.

Grumpy Sailor's James Boyce encourages creative insight in business

Grumpy Sailor’s James Boyce encourages creative insight and curiosity above all else

Generating creativity through collaboration is James Boyce. The creative director of Grumpy Sailor works at the intersection of technology, art, design, drama and dance. For him, digital technology is a “magical toolbox” that can “open doors that you never thought possible”.

His values are informed by his experiences tinkering with prototypes and launching a number of businesses that haven’t worked. The projects that never see the light of day are the ones that inform you best, he explained.

James used the classic ‘hype cycle’ chart to track different businesses and products, such as email and Google Glass, to where they are currently placed. “Where you want to be is across the changes that are coming at you,” he said.

Use technologies to change things. Someone down the road from you has the same business as you. They are the disrupters, are working hard and and know how to adapt. Do you?

 Above video: Grumpy Sailor’s Hangouts in History

James advocates Google’s mantra of ‘user first’. He uses creative insight to inform his thinking, and then learn by doing. Some simple grabs he provided included, “Don’t take a knife to a gunfight” and “You are not your idea”. Strict employee deadlines work best to re-evaluate what they are doing and prioritise time spent.

Some of his other grabs include:

  • Drawing is important, your prototype should fit on a small napkin.
  • Understand the state of technology, read the small detail. Keep a list of user needs.
  • Seek out metaphors to convey your ideas, this will help explain what you are thinking.
  • Keep and share notes.
  • Get a prototype in front of real users.
  • And then throw your prototype away. It’s all a learning experience.
Bupa Australia's Jared Fossey and Kate Symons

Bupa Australia’s Jared Fossey and Kate Symons

Finishing the speaker presentations was QUT Industrial Design graduate Jared Fossey with Kate Symons. They are custom experience designers bringing design-led thinking to Bupa Australia.

According to Kate, the health care sector needs creatives and designers to improve patient health experiences. Bupa has given a mandate to transform the way the business works, and design practice will lead. Their aim is to marry business and design together. They want to encourage enthusiasm in the organisation, but ensure it is focused on productive behaviour providing business value.

They summarised the ‘good, the bad and the ugly’ of working inside a large corporate organisation. They were encouraged that design methodology is valued outside the traditional design industry, but there are still some hurdles to jump.

Talking the same language as business is a top priority. In general, measurement of value from design can be “shady”; sometimes there is a lack of business maturity; the presence of hype mentality can be a problem; and tangible examples are hard to find.

When businesses ask “what’s the ROI?”, it can slow the pace of change. The design duo’s goal has been discovering the corporate value of customer empathy, and then describing its impact on revenue to the board.

You don’t need to sell your soul to work in big businesses, they explained.

Creative3’s final session is a workshop on creative digital engagement for brands and retail, hosted by Holition’s Jonathan Chippendale.

1 response

Post a comment
  1. Pingback: Live blog: Creative3 tech, fashion and collaboration | Creative Cluster

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *