Day 93

Day 93

Brooklyn Beta is largely about inspiring people and it's not just designers. It's designers, developers, and entrepreneurs.

— Cameron Koczon

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Brooklyn Beta announced this year’s 2012 conference dates—October 10th, 11th, and 12th—and launched Brooklyn Beta Summer Camp, a new incubator that will “bring early funding to designer-developer teams looking to build the next generation of web products.” It is a conference that aims high. It encourages its participants to tackle meaningful issues and solve bigger problems outside of the insular design community.

We met with BB co-founder, Cameron Koczon this past Winter when they were still scheming up plans for this year’s conference. We asked him if they planned to create a community or environment unique to Brooklyn. He said, “That’s not how it started but we’ve got ideas. BB is largely about inspiring people and it’s not just designers. It’s designers, developers and entrepreneurs: ‘the work hard and be nice to people crowd.'”

Since Cameron has spent some time on the West Coast (he grew up in San Diego and studied business at Stanford) we asked him if he wants to set Brooklyn apart from the startup culture of Silicon Valley. He said, “It doesn’t matter where it happens, I would just like more designers involved with the building of products, and I’d like that to happen on the web. I think that Brooklyn has a different vibe, and I would like to keep that culture, have money come over to it, and then let’s see what happens when these folks start building out products here.”

He gave us a breakdown of the past years’ goals for BB. Cameron said, “The first year was about inspiration. The second year was about inspiration and direction. This year it’s like here are some people from Education, here are some people from Healthcare, and here are some people from Non-Profits…let’s get them together.” The conference is about getting creative, driven, friendly people in the same room to pitch projects and leave with some goals for products. This year they’re taking that matchmaking even further by starting the Summer Camp, and removing the “biggest barrier of all, money.” BB invests $25,000 in a participant’s company for a 6% stake, and they provide lots of guidance and advice along the way.

SwissMiss writes, “Summer Camp is part of the Brooklyn Beta nonprofit, so any gains made in this year’s investments will go right back into the community and hopefully fund the next round of Summer Campers.” The fact that they put all the profits right back into the local community says a lot about their love for where they live, and their desire to see it become an even greater creative hub.

Brooklyn Beta itself is the product of a collaboration between Fictive Kin and Analog, who both work together at Studiomates, a collaborative workspace of designers, illustrators, bloggers, writers, and developers. So they know firsthand the power of crafting great teams and the importance of creating space and events for those relationships to grow.

One of the benefits of going through an accelerator or incubator program like BB Summer Camp, is the access to a range of mentors and direct guidance from those who have gone before. They have an amazing list of “Summer Camp Advisors” on board including: Svpply founder Ben Pieratt, Kickstarter co-founder, Charles Adler, Union Square Ventures partner, Fred Wilson, and many more. It’s a great mix of designers who make products and designers who run startups.

Cameron said, “I want to tell people, ‘Hey you know, you’re doing client work, you’re making things, but you could do so much more.'” It was those words that helped shape some of our ideas for Kern and Burn and we believe them. It’s true, we can do so much more, and a large part of our mission is to inspire our readers to get out there and do it.

We feel fortunate to have been able to speak with some of the Summer Camp advisors for Kern and Burn, benefit from their wisdom, and of course, share it with a larger audience. The more inspiration the better. We can’t wait to see the products that are launched at the end of Summer Camp. Meanwhile, we need to move on finding a developer buddy so we can get crackin’ on our application, the deadline is May 31st. Get to work and get your ideas out there!