The office was eerily quiet last week whilst our Head of Sales/Merry Making was putting her ninja networking skills to best use over on the sunny shores of Santa Monica. With a suitcase half full of business cards, Fleurie, along with 21 other Bournemouth digital gurus jetted off to for LA’s Silicon Beach Fest. Here’s an account of what happened from the lady herself . . .

“With a camera full of beautiful photographs, business cards stacked high over my laptop and suffering from 11-hour jet-lag, I think it’s time I told you about my week…
On the morning of Tuesday 23rd June, with enough time spare to get lost, stuck in traffic for two hours, eat breakfast and do a spot of shopping in the airport – an eager group of Bournemouth’s digital leaders began a journey to Los Angeles for Silicon Beach Fest 2015.

Having coined the name Silicon Beach for his own flourishing digital event on Bournemouth’s sandy shores, Matt Desmier connected with the festival’s creator Kevin Winston to send some of the best of British digital talent to mix, mingle and learn how digital is done in The Golden State.

Amongst the group was myself, Merry Maker extraordinaire @AmuzoGames, Bournemouth Borough Council (recently voted digital council of the year), Salad Creative, Thinking Juice, Base, 3 Sided Cube, Ratio, Make Studio, Folk, Media Lounge, LV=, Createful and UKTI.

Day 1. Meeting The Neighbours

After establishing our own Twitter handle (#BmthinLA) to pool our knowledge throughout the trip, UKTI took us over to Cross Campus for a lesson in running a business in the USA and to meet some of the local entrepreneurs. After a bite to eat and an inspiring chit chat with some of the local inventors in LA, I went solo for afternoon meetings in the sun.

That evening I dived head-first into the first night of networking (following advice that Americans love to network too) at the opening party in the Marina Del Rey hotel. There are brilliantly talented people in the LA start-up community, many of whom have travelled far and wide to start there.

They may not all look like they belong on Saville Row but their passion for tech and improving the world radiates through. It was a delight to be among them.

Day 2. The Conference Begins

For me, the first session of the day began with “Women In Tech: Actionable Advice for Change”, which refreshingly was less of a slinging match and more of a positive perspective about how the gender landscape is changing and can continue to change. It’s always inspiring to hear from powerful leaders and even more so when they are women. Hats off to Murriel Perez @ Girls in Tech LA for brilliant moderation and useful questions.

Time spent in “Game People Actually Want” brought game producers of web, mobile and console together to talk about breaking down the barriers between producers and players to ensure a happier gaming community. Twitch was highlighted as a great space where producers can connect with their audience while simplicity and coordination of the marketing message reigned most important.

Before I took to the stage, I indulged in some refreshing goodness in the “Conscious Commerce” panel (see above) featuring TOMS, Omaze and KarmaKarma. They shared inspiring stories of business models that hold their social responsibilities as high as their financial gain “Don’t use social good as a crutch to lean your business on, make it the cherry on top”.

As the day came to a close, I took to the stage with associates from Base, 3 Sided Cube and Createful to talk about the role of Apps within a business digital portfolio. We each shed light on the different ways that Apps can hold value for consumers long-term, whether for entertainment purposes, to provide a practical hands-on use or even to save lives. The underlying message: if your App can’t contribute positively to your consumers’ brand experience in a useful and unique way it will quickly become obsolete and face risk of deletion.

Day 3. The Conference Finishes

It was Friday and the last day of the conference brought us fantastic news for humanity before we’d even had breakfast as it was announced that gay marriage was finally legal across all 50 States of the USA. What a brilliant day to be there!

After all the excitement I kicked off the day supporting our associates in a brilliantly crowded room as they discussed digital branding from a UK perspective. Tweeting like a maniac, you can see the headline takeaways from that session below:

The afternoon gave us an opportunity to get hands-on and experiment with the rapid prototyping process – enabling people to get ideas out on the table quickly and efficiently. My team (having joined fairly late in the process) created an App that helped to improve accessibility to the local public transport with live transport information, locational tech and price estimations.

To close the day the team headed to the main stage where the cream of the crop had reached the final round of the Silicon Beach Fest Dragon’s Den with a 3D printed trophy and other goodies up for grabs. One project that seemed to win everyone’s vote was Vytmn – growth as a service – perfectly pitched by CEO Hank Leber.

Day 4. The Brits & The Beach

Luckily, our trip to the conference also gave us time at the weekend to enjoy being tourists and explore what the rest of Santa Monica had to offer these tech brainiacs. Turns out, it’s not all about digital (which we already knew of course)…

A beautiful four mile bike ride along Venice Beach…

…followed by a stroll along Washington Pier…

…a lesson in how shopping is done, LA style…

…and finally time for a celebratory drink!

I would like to say another thank-you to Matt Desmier for organising the trip, to UKTI for kicking-off our trip at Cross Campus and all of the LA bods I met out there who shared their stories with me and made the trip so memorable.

Fleurie”

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