So on Tuesday I made the snap decision to head along to the First Meetdraw Presents event “Silicon Beach”. The Meetdraw crew have been gradually building some good momentum for all things ‘digital’ in Bournemouth and surrounding area. In my opinion the event was a great success and I’m already looking forwards to next year. Organiser Matt Desmier has done an excellent job and helped continue the growing digital conversation in the area.

Below is a very brief summary of my thoughts about each session:

David Worthington – Chariman of Holmes & Marchant, Lloyd Northover and Designersblock

David compared the event and provided a daily summary of his thoughts. I also had the privilege to chat with him at the evening event and lunch. He has a humble and observant presence yet is very insightful and was clearly interested in all of the speakers topics and provided an interesting perspective on the sessions and beyond.

Nicole Yershon – Director of Innovative Solutions at Ogilvy

Was tasked with bringing Ogilvy into the modern digital world. She focuses on one specific technology at a time in ‘semesters’ and then invites the organisation to come and “play” in labs harvesting ideas and discussion throughout the organisation. She seems to often cause a stir and effectively practices the art of “easier to seek forgiveness than permission”.

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Tony Williams – Bournemouth Borough Council

Tony is one of the few council members that has an appreciation for digital businesses within their locale and the value and future proofing it offers. Through people like him, Bournemouth Borough Council seem to be starting to take notice of the creative space. Although it still feels very slow moving, it is at least some deserved recognition.

Greg Hadfield – Cogapp

Impressive story to tell from his past projects and career up to his present involvement with Cogapp. Some very interesting and ambitious thoughts with regards to open data and the potential that could be realised with it.

Michael McClary – Business Development Manager for Digital Solutions, Microsoft

Showed some impressive projects and pushed the point of innovation above and beyond just demonstrating what the technology is capable of. The tech should be an enabler of the idea not just be the idea.

Matt Locke – Storythings

Had some really interesting stories from his time at Channel4, particularly fascinating insights into feedback loops and the relationships between broadcast media and on-line and the affects they have on each other when used together.

Tim Malbon – Made by Many

Great talk on applying startup mentality and processes (iterative / agile) to big brand projects. Making projects meaningful and reducing the amount of “landfill marketing” in the physical and digital worlds. Loved it.

Steve “Buzz” Pearce – Skype

Undeniably accurate with his self defined summation of himself: “I have the mind of an engineer and the heart of an artist”. Interesting insight into the amount of effort, time and fidelity that goes into his creative work and direction at Skype.

Mark Malone – Managing Director, Grape Digital

An invaluable insight into social media by a guy who clearly ‘gets it’. Really made me face my ‘social media’ hatred/fear and forced me to recognise it’s importance and that it can actually be leveraged in different and clever ways.

Dan’l Hewitt – Demand Media

This was a sales presentation for a huge content creation/curation/community management platform that was made far more digestible than it sounds by Dan’l’s delivery and the fact they have some pretty interesting projects. The deck alone would tell a much less interesting story but the scale of the operation is very impressive.

Mike Hawkyard – Director 4T2

Mike shared some fascinating statistics on some of their work for Lego amongst other useful general information about publicising online games. He also gave some great advice for steering gameplay in casual games and how to optimise a “freemium” model game. He finished with some interesting insights of their ambitious future projects.

Andrew Sturmey – C4L
Andrew had then unenviable task of trying to translate the term ‘cloud’ to a very diverse crowd from all different sectors within the digital space. And he did a good job and demonstrated he clearly knows his stuff and can tune his tech talk to the appropriate level. With no previous knowledge of C4L they seem to be a solid hosting company with clearly knowledgable staff.

Mike Jones – Platform Evangelist, game development, Adobe

I spent a lot of time throughout the conference hounding Mike about all things Flashgen and Adobe and it was good to hang out for the couple of days. After seeing his presentation I feel Adobe have a tremendous asset with Mike. Faced with the diverse crowd who would clearly have mixed interests in the gaming side of his talk (the main focus) he also tackled more generic Adobe and Flash Platform topics in a confidence inspiring and entertaining manner. He also managed to wow the audience with some of the upcoming Flash Player 11 advancements.

Jeff Dodds – Executive Director, Brand and Marketing, Virgin Media


Jeffs carpet bomb approach to his session allowed him to target his talk in response to the feedback from the audience. He obviously has a lot of experience which enabled him to do this seamlessly. He gave some thoughts on the future of Virgin Media and their objective for end-to-end wifi (from home, through commute to office) and fielded some generic questions about Virgin. The real value came when the conversation shifted towards his marketing experience and how he has dealt with agency relationships and the value he sees in creating a single client<>agency team rather than utilising a “black box” approach.