2014 Speakers14 amazing souls with delicious 'ideas worth sharing.'
Artist & Designer
In primary school Adam’s irresistible urge to hack, re-engineer and reimagine the world around him, inspired a redesign of the family vacuum cleaner, reversing its action. The bags contents were expelled in a puff of dust and debris on the lounge floor. In high school a swift hack got the school clock to tick backwards. His concerned parents sent him to design school.
Adam Ben-Dror has recently graduated from Victoria University School of Design in Wellington. He also spent a year at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. He creates beautiful objects that are designed to inspire debate, provoke thought or simply bring about delight.
His work spans a continuum of art, design and technology and explores the boundaries between functional purpose and whimsy. Often utilizing both the physical and digital worlds, bringing together bits and atoms.
Adam has exhibited work internationally, most recently Pinokio (in collaboration with Shanshan Zhou) at the Barbican Center in London.
Adam is currently a tutor at Victoria University and is taking a class in Multispecies design.
Founder and CEO
Alan Schaaf is the founder and CEO of the website Imgur.com, which allows you to upload and share images with the world. He’s been programming professionally since he was 14, and has started 2 successful bootstrapped companies through his keen eye for design and user experience.
He created Imgur in 2009, and since then it’s grown into an online community where millions of people express their ideas and opinions through images. By the end of Alan’s talk, you will learn about the future of communities, how they’re changing the world, and what that means for you.
Arcee, aka Rona Wignall began rapping when all good rappers do. At birth. A little later (2011) she dropped her first major track (Won’t be by me) in the competition, ‘Choice not Chance’. After being the only female in the Top6 of the competition, Arcee performed with Scribe and Ladi 6 in Wellington, and earned a spot on the ‘up and coming NZ rappers list’.
Arcee has since performed with a few bands (Cinco). Last year Arcee got involved with DJ Daz and amped up one of her previous tracks ‘Go Hard’. The song has had 10,000 hits (and counting) on youtube and has been dubbed ‘a fucking mean song’ by many a kiwi hip-hop fan.
Although she’s not dinner table topic yet, Arcee is just beginning. Hip Hop can be simple, it can be poetic, it can be inspirational, it can be taunting, inappropriate, and make you wanna go out all night. You haven’t heard female rap until you’ve heard Arcee.
Arcee has now dropped her first EP, ‘The Cool Zone’ (June 21st). Electronic rap is ready for a female takeover. Back collaborating with DJ Daz, this 6 track playlist won’t disappoint.
Cassandra’s background is medico legal, gaining her masters degree in medical law and ethics from King’s College, London University. She loves living in New Zealand for the skiing, tramping, running and general outdoor lifestyle it enables.
Having spent a year in Argentina on a student exchange when 16, New Zealander Cass spent time at an orphanage and was confronted for the first time with poverty in the developing world. The injustice effected her a great deal.
Working in Africa now she gains so much from the people in the communities she works with. They teach her to be grateful for what she has got rather than complaining about what she has not got, they teach her to live in the present, they teach her the value of community, the definition of Ubuntu and the importance of global balance.
Startup Investor, Director, Community Leader
Dave is a professional director and startup investor. He’s invested in a number of New Zealand startups that are now performing on the world stage, and is on the InternetNZ and Open Polytechnic Councils. His sweet spot is the busy intersection between technology, commerce, and making the world a better place.
Dave was born in California, wrote his first computer program at age 11, joined the nascent IT industry, and then immigrated to New Zealand in 1982. After starting a Ph.D in Applied Linguistics studying the phonology of New Zealand Sign Language, he cofounded one of Wellington’s early Internet startups in 1995 which later sold to a multinational. He still loves coding.
Dave is on the national leadership team at Startup Weekend and Startup New Zealand, and has helped many entrepreneurs refine their ideas, find the right cofounders and team members, secure investment, enter global markets, and scale internationally.
Creativity is at the heart of anything Dylan does. Trained in 1995 as a Classical Animator, Dylan’s career has evolved right through the Digital Revolution in the production sector.
As a Director, Producer & Business Owner, his creative approach to Business and his experience managing Artistic & Technical Talent in Animation Production has led to many projects with Hollywood Studios. In 2002, he founded Karactaz Animation – current projects include Hulk & The Agents Of S.M.A.S.H & Avenger’s Assemble TV Productions for Marvel Animation Studios (US). Dylan’s team of 12 Artists Design, Build & Deliver the digital assets for the TV shows running on Disney XD.
In addition to his work in the animation industry, this year he has opened a retail store and art studio in Miramar called “The Action Station” dedicated to the production and sales of Graphic Novels & Film Craft books.
Fraser Callaway & Oliver Ward
Fraser Callaway and Oliver Ward aren’t your typical graphic designers. With a passion for experience design, problem solving and environmental graphics these recent graduates take design off the screen any chance they get.
Fraser and Oliver are driven by the current landscape of design. They believe that as the lines between traditional design disciplines blur, and the importance of collaboration increases, there is a great opportunity to use design for positive change in society.
Although they are fresh in the world of design they attribute their successes to embracing a multidisciplinary mindset, approaching projects with open minds and letting the problem at hand dictate the solution.
Since graduating in October of last year the pair have used their design skills as a vehicle for other entrepreneurial adventures. They have established two companies and have recently launched a new product from their cosy studio space here in Wellington.
At the Wellington Chocolate Factory Gabe is part of the new revolution in chocolate, exploring how artisan production methods, ethical trade, and local communities can reinforce each other in building a strong international business.
Fascinated by the natural flavour characteristics of cocoa beans, Gabe went on a voyage of discovery across South America and the Pacific. Meeting cocoa farmers in person, and charting the complex path from original plants to final chocolate, led Gabe to believe that a small business dealing fairly and directly with its suppliers can gain access to highest quality source ingredients as a competitive advantage.
With master chocolatier Rochelle Harrison, Gabe co-founded NZ’s first open-to-the-public, bean-to-bar chocolate factory in 2013. Gabe plans one day to wind-sail a shipment of cocoa beans directly into Wellington harbour, accompanied by the farmer who grew them.
Guy loves making this happen, and is particularly passionate about young New Zealanders unleashing their potential to change the world.
Over the past few years he’s worked with a crew of remarkable people to create a string of initiatives including Inspiring Stories Trust, Festival for the Future, and New Zealand’s first social enterprise accelerator programme, Live the Dream.
Laura has been a practising scientist since her toddler years and she began tinkering in the laboratory at age 17.
Whilst masquerading as an adult, she has worked across a wide spectrum of research fields from cancer vaccines to bacterial superbugs and is now investigating new therapies to treat multiple sclerosis.
Recently awarded the 13th Zonta Science Award, Laura has been recognised as an up-and-coming female scientist to watch. She is passionate about making everyday science accessible to everyday people and is currently collaborating with local entrepreneurs to develop entertaining and engaging science media through effective storytelling, humour, and of course, cartoons.
Musical duo Ryfe formed in 2011 when living in the village of Ndhiwa, Western Kenya.
Inspired by their experiences and surroundings, they began writing together and upon their return to NZ they were determined to continue on their musical ventures whilst juggling the art of study. In 2013 they released a self-produced debut EP – Moving Starts.
More recently, Ryfe have completed a second EP titled Ang’eyo Nengo, which is a raw live session intended to invoke their experiences in Kenya, with all proceeds going towards the Ndhiwa community. Developing further as budding live performers and passionate creatives, Ryfe blend melodic lyrics and harmonic warmth with a hint of soul.
Co-founder Letting Space and Urban Dream Brokerage
Sophie Jerram is a broker between worlds and a connector of people, with her work intersecting arts, enterprise and investment. Training in both philosophy and marketing, she has always balanced an interest in business with artistic practice.
Sophie was the National Communications Manager for the Sustainable Business Network and was subsequently investigating ethical investment alternatives before the 2008 “Great Financial Crash.”
Late in 2009 she was called to an early passion: public art with social impact. With arts writer Mark Amery she co-founded Letting Space and then Urban Dream Brokerage – now widely acclaimed projects that aim to broaden shared social space.
In 2010 she co-founded Now Future with an aim to increase dialogue and deepen cultural understanding about climate change. Sophie is an investor in clean technology businesses and is currently a director of Celsias.com, as well as being a founding director of Wellington software startup Loomio.