Like many entrepreneurs, I thrive on accomplishing the impossible. Perhaps you can relate.
About one month ago, I had an idea to meet with my friend Robert Scoble (Futurist at Rackspace) during the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference. I live about a mile from the site of the annual, famed and secretive “billionaire conference,” and we thought it would be fun to hang out and see who we could run into around town.
Of course, like all entrepreneurs and creative people, Robert and I couldn’t just leave well enough alone, and we started one-upping each other with ideas until the concept grew to become a major media event: Tech on Deck.
This is Tech on Deck in a Nutshell
Tech on Deck wasn’t a pipe-dream. We actually pulled it together in about 2 weeks, secured sponsorships and assistance from Cisco, NewTek and UStream (in addition to our companies Rackspace and SCOTTeVEST), and fully fleshed out the concept.
It started as two tech-oriented friends discussing the future of media and technology while riding on the coattails of a much bigger conference across town, and it essentially became the pilot for a TV show and proof-of-concept for a new media brand. We had tons of viewers, had some phenomenal guests and even crashed a Mark Zuckerberg karaoke party….
We interviewed Guy Kawasaki, Hap Klopp (founder of The North Face), Gary Shapiro (CEO of CES) and close to a dozen other major tech influencers on topics that helped to dissect their vision of the future of tech. While it’s fun to imagine the far-flung future, we were most curious about their take on what to expect in the next decade in music, clothing, cars, startups and virtual reality. You can check out the interviews here.
As hosts, Robert Scoble and I are about as deep in technology as you can get, and some of what our guests discussed was cool and eye-opening for us, too. We could not have asked for a more diverse and intriguing set of guests.
It’s a Double Entendre
Tech on Deck is about what is “on deck” in the near future of technology, but it also literally took place on a deck! The SCOTTeVEST headquarters (and my home) overlooks Sun Valley’s Mt. Baldy ski mountain, and it has not only an amazing backdrop, but provides some of the best views in the area.
The view acted as a character in the broadcasts, and the iconic location helped us create a brand out of thin air. (Truly… the mountain tops out at nearly 11K feet.)
Robert Scoble is a dynamo. We’ve known each other for a long time, but this was really the first time we’ve gone head to head on camera. We don’t always agree – which makes it interesting – but we definitely respect each other’s opinions. Someone commented at one point that our banter reminded them of NPR’s Car Talk, which I took to be a supreme compliment, and a goal for future broadcasts. We joked that we were Pocket Man and Robert, like Batman and Robin.
Thomas Hawk – one of the most incredible and prolific photographers in the world – was there with us every step of the way. He is generally more reserved than we are, and brought a great perspective on tech and the world of finance.
Thomas’ camera is always within his reach, and he documented not only Tech on Deck, but as much of the Allen & Company conference as possible. We even took a day trip out to Craters of the Moon National Monument and took some truly epic photos at a truly historic location. We used some of today’s cutting edge tech at the place where the Apollo astronauts tested their day’s cutting edge tech before the moon landing.
The Support was Amazing
To pull off a broadcast this involved in such a short amount of time required the help of some impressive partners.
Cisco flew in 3 people to assist with the setup and network support to ensure we would be able to stream live video without any technical hiccups. Philip Nelson from NewTek used their TriCaster to make the transition between our cameras and guest cameras completely smooth.
We had the equivalent of a TV studio set up on my deck. It was a great reminder of how far technology for broadcast has come over the past several years.
UStream provided premium access to their service, and it worked incredibly well. We streamed media live for hours at a time, and interspersed some pre-recorded interviews Robert did. No problems at all, and we were impressed with the bandwidth support we received from our local ISP Syringa as well.
How many times have you heard of a live TV show produced from scratch with 1 week notice by people who are not already in the industry?
We Went Beyond the Deck
It was great to get out and about during the Allen & Company conference, too. The towns of Sun Valley and Ketchum are normally filled with notable and recognizable faces, from Adam West to Bruce Willis, but during the Sun Valley Conference the celebrity density gets turned up a few notches.
Since we were producing a media event (and we’re never above making a spectacle of ourselves), we parked my eye-catching vehicle the Pocket Rocket in front of some key places around town.
Pocket Rocket at Mark Zuckerberg’s private karaoke party at Whiskey Jacques
And it never hurts to have a famous photographer like Thomas Hawk with you. We were able to take advantage of some amazing photo ops.
Scott Jordan (me) with Carol Holding, owner of the Sun Valley Company
We also ran into James Robinson and had a chance to hang out with him for awhile. Jim is a resident of our area and a friend… who also gets invited to the Allen & Company conference. It wasn’t surprising to see him there, but it was great to get to chat for awhile.
To paraphrase what Robert Scoble said at the outset, we were interested in seeing what serendipitous encounters could take place when so many fascinating people came together in a small mountain town. Mission accomplished.
Go with the Flow
To be perfectly honest, the original idea of Tech on Deck was to ride the coattails of the Allen & Company event in some way. Before the cameras even started rolling, it had already evolved into something much more potent. We took the broadcasts seriously, and the caliber of guests we were able to engage was a testament to the professionalism of the endeavor.
We will be doing this again, and evolving as we grow.
Tech on Deck will definitely be at CES in January, and we’ll probably broadcast from a deck at the Cosmopolitan in Vegas. Next year, we’ll broadcast again from Sun Valley during Allen & Company, but probably at the tail end of their conference. It was actually a more interesting time, and everyone was more relaxed.
Most immediately, we are planning to create a Tech on Deck podcast very soon. It will repackage some of our content from the live broadcasts, then expand into a weekly interview format with Robert Scoble and I as the hosts. We will continue to talk about the future of tech, media and lifestyle topics. (If you’re interested, follow me on LinkedIn for an update with links.)
Tech on Deck was an awesome experience where we broadcast some amazing live interviews about the future of technology from one of the most interesting locations in the world.
As we evolve and grow the brand into podcasting and beyond, we will continue to listen to our audience about how we can “break through the noise.” It’s possible for just about anyone to put out content these days, and we want to make sure that our content cuts through the static. The only way to do that is to hear from you, so please do comment about what you would like to see and hear!
As always, thank you for tuning in. I am outta here!
For more thoughts about entrepreneurship, business and life, follow me on Facebook. Be sure to follow me at the top of this page for future LinkedIn articles and updates from Tech on Deck.
ABOUT SCOTT JORDAN and SCOTTeVEST
Scott Jordan is the CEO and Founder of SCOTTeVEST, which creates multi-pocket clothing designed to carry electronics. He is the author of Pocket Man: The Unauthorized Autobiography of a Passionate, Personal Promoter.
Read a sample of Scott’s book for more about his experience on Shark Tank and the pocket empire he has built.