In 2007, as a Senior at Indiana University, the director of a large, respected theater requested to meet with me. She'd heard of the acclaimed work that I'd done with the nonprofit Hip Hop Congress in the past. In the wake of the closure of the only GLBT nightclub in town, the director asked me to develop a nightlife concept that would be GLBT friendly, but not exclusively so. Coming from Chicago, the birthplace of house music, I already had the archetype for what would later be known as "People Are Still Having Sex" (PASHS) in mind. Named after a 1991 house song, the title was saucy enough to turn college students' heads, acknowledging sexuality as a uniting factor without losing credibility as smut. The trial run of PASHS attracted nearly 300 students and locals. We'd struck the right vein, now it was time for the main stage. With PASHS 2 approaching, I walked into the Indiana Daily Student newsroom and bluntly requested an interview and event coverage in the paper. The idea was sufficiently disruptive and I was not denied. Shortly thereafter, a front page story came out, headline - "Theater to Throw Sex Party." The salacious headline perfectly complimented our tongue-in-cheek branding and it pulled eyeballs that would have otherwise never taken interest in an electronic music event. We were golden. The second People Are Still Having Sex had more facebook RSVPs (back when they still meant something) than Bob Dylan who was playing the same night. 750 people attended and hundreds more were estimated to have left the block-wrapping line on the coldest night in January 2008. Women waited outside in dresses for hours. We literally couldn't take their money fast enough. To this day, many people at Indiana University consider the PASHS events the beginning of an era and a precedent that many event designers would later follow.
Several years out of college, I founded my second startup, The HOTH. The HOTH was born in an industry filled with fly by night companies, unreliable vendors, horribly cheesy, almost indistinguishable products and a sea of disillusioned, painfully unhappy clients. The first thing The HOTH needed to do was win their trust. We were asking businesses to build their offerings on our platform, so our aim was not merely superficial compliance, but bone-deep respect. As founders, we put our names, faces, locations and phone numbers on all marketing collateral. We were the only company in our vertical with a publicly listed, US number *that actually answered.* We took a Zappos-like attitude towards customer service and communication. We failed many times, but our customers stuck with us because *The HOTH* was the brand they trusted. In addition to trust, we broke through cloud of gag-inducing marketing speak and cheesy stock photos and developed a mascot that people could fall in love with, in person and online. In the most impersonal, un-human and boring space, we made things personal, accessible, and even fun. People would run up to us at conferences and tell us that our branded t-shirts were their kid's favorite thing to wear to school. They'd flock to take pictures with "The HOTH Monster" and share them online. All of this positive sentiment, coupled with an unapologetically UX-focussed product strategy, resulted in a brand which unequivocally, undeniably made our customers believe "We Have a Dream that Life Can Be Better." And we delivered on that dream.
The HOTH grew astronomically from 2010-2013, when it was acquired by the "dot com" of its industry, Next Net Media. Not only was the product kept intact and grown into a line of online marketing solutions, but Next Net Media took the lessons of The HOTH brand and implemented them across its 13+ other products.
Years apart, neither The HOTH nor PASHS was a fluke. Their success was not accidental.
They were the product of deep understanding of market history, competitive landscape and public perception. They were the product of intelligent media leverage, clear brand vision, and uncompromising follow through on brand promise at *Every. Single. Touch Point*.
Since 2007, I've developed and helped others develop countless brands in industries ranging from entertainment to biotechnology. Brands that are engaging, deep, moving, memorable and, most importantly, effective.
I ask the important questions that let *us* turn *your* raw material into a blockbuster, irreplaceable, irresistible brand. I am interested in creating brands that penetrate to the core of the human spirit. And I am willing to hurt your feelings if that's what it takes to get the results.
If this sounds like the kind of help you need, I'm here for you.