After getting the confirmation from Kohei Nishiyama, founder of Japanese user innovation company cuusoo.com, I had little more than a month’s time to prepare and organize this “HK International Design & Innovation Forum” event.
You can read about the reason why I wanted to create this event in my previous post. I wanted to do something meaningful for the local design and technology communities, yet during the preparation stages, I encountered quite a few disappointments. For example, Youth.gov.hk, I sent them an info email like the one I wrote in my previous blog post, and all I got in response was this:
To: Nick Wang@
Sent: Thursday, April 9, 2009 9:44:14 AM
Subject: Re: Design and Innovation Event
Dear Mr Wang,
We are sorry that the forwarded message has been send to us by mistake.
And then there was the events & marketing department of the Polytechnic University School of Design. I blasted multiple emails to firstname.lastname@example.org, but never got any replies. Then, through the help of CCHK Creative Common‘s Haggen So, I got in contact with one of the professors inside the School of Design, I dropped off a stack of posters for him to post at the school but when I returned a few days before the event, I found that none of my posters were posted! I really wanted the speakers to be able to share their experience and inspire young design students… so I barged into one of the classroom and spoke directly to the students inside, invited them to check out the event web page and spread the news to their friends! (I was one step short of kidnapping the students and dragging them to the event 😛 )
Besides blogging about the event, creating a web page, a directions page and an event sign up form, making sure my event page pops up as #1 in both Yahoo and Google search, I also tried my hands on some guerrilla marketing, like the job hiring posters above and a Youtube video! That was a first for me, kinda fun.
Finally, come the day of the event, picked up Kohei and had a quick dim sum lunch in TST, rushed to the JCCAC at 2, met up with Thomas and Douglas as they arrive, none of us prepared anything to talk about, the guests were relying on Thomas to lead them into different topics. I briefly explained to them one more time about the reason why I created this event, (to inspire the youths) and off I went on stage to start the talks. (Deep breath~~)
While I was all nervous talking on stage, looks like the guest speakers were quite tensed as well.
The talk was great, Douglas gave us a glimpse into their design process as a team within G.O.D. How he realized Hong Kong’s unique cultural importance, and later on, he spoke with Kohei about how G.O.D. could use cuusoo.com’s system to harness user innovations in Hong Kong.
As expected, there were lots of interests in cuusoo.com’s user innovations and designers collaborations model. The audience asked questions about “how cuusoo.com retain its users”, “how much cuusoo.com reward its users”, “how do you protect the artists’ IP? (Intellectual Properties)”… etc etc. The “protecting artists’ assets” is a typical concern for all artists and designers all over the world. I’ve heard the same concern when I was in New York. “Trust” is a big problem on the internet, I had a few long conversations with Kohei in regards to that in the days after. This is a personal interests of mine, solving this “trust” problem, and I’m continuing to work on a solution(s).
Questions were predominantly business and money related, I was hoping Douglas and Kohei would talk about how they started out and how they struggled, ‘coz I think stories of unrelenting spirits are great motivations for people. One audience did ask Kohei about his decision to leave McKinsey & Co. to start his own biz. That was a good question. Kohei recounted that it was like social suicide! His colleagues all told him to think twice, as he wouldn’t be allowed back! The business was only in its most infancy stage, Kohei saw the potential (far into the future!), and took the leap of faith. The reward is that he has been doing what he loves for the past 10 years, and he’s happy to continue doing it till the end! I guess this is the kind of message I want the youngsters to have. Don’t just look at jobs that pay the most amount of money. Find your passion, follow it, don’t be afraid of failures and tough it out!!
After the event, we spread into small group discussions. That was cool, got to meet quite a few new people.
After both Thomas and Douglas had left, Kohei stayed behind and discussed with a group of really enthusiastic folks.
Kohei said he’s really impressed with the amount of interests and talents in Hong Kong. We are currently working on the details of a “first international project” on cuusoo.com. I’ll be posting the details up here later.
Once again, I would like to thank G.O.D. and Douglas Young for helping to make this event come true, Thomas Crampton for moderating, Kohei Nishiyama for taking time out of his busy schedule to come spend an entire afternoon with us, and everyone who came and participated in the event! Thank you!